Funders Group Leadership and Staff

Michael Brown

Co-Chair, SkillUp Washington Executive Committee

MBrown_head_shotBefore joining The Seattle Foundation as Vice President, Community Leadership, Michael Brown served as a legislative aide to  Seattle City Council member Richard McIver from 1997 to 2000. He also served as Deputy Director for the Washington Association for Community Economic Development, a nonprofit  that provided training and technical assistance to community-based development organizations statewide. Michael holds a master’s in public administration from the University of Washington and a bachelor’s in political science from Loyola University. He is the past chair of the Impact Capital Board of Directors, Vice President for Building Changes and is a board member of the Washington State Budget and Policy Center and the King County Housing Authority. He also serves on the Interagency Committee for the Committee to End Homelessness in King County and is an advisory board member for Neighbor to Neighbor. Michael is an American Marshall Memorial Fellow and a graduate of Leadership Tomorrow.

David HarrisonDavid_harrison_head_shot

David S. Harrison is a lecturer at the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington. Harrison's career has been devoted to creating bridges between the policymaking community, policy researchers, and citizens. While chairing the Washington Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, he brought together business, labor, education and government to devise, implement and evaluate workforce training strategies for the state of Washington.

In 2006, David initiated Strategies to Eliminate Poverty under the auspices of the Seattle Foundation. Made possible by a five year commitment from the Northwest Area Foundation, this new program will assist researchers in developing new governmental policies to combat poverty.

He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy  School of Government.

Staff Bios

Susan Crane, Executive Director

susan_headshotSusan Crane has more than two decades experience in workforce development. She has been Executive Director of SkillUp Washington since 2010. Prior to that, she led Port Jobs, a nonprofit organization focused on economic and workforce development.

Under her leadership, Port Jobs expanded opportunities for job-seekers and employers, making good jobs easier to get and good employees easier to find.  She also oversaw the Airport Jobs employment program at Seattle-Tacoma Airport and Working Wheels, a transportation-to-work program for low-income workers.

Susan also worked for ten years as a policy analyst for the Seattle City Council, where she provided policy support in the areas of public safety, housing, health, human services, labor policy, and personnel.  She also administered programs for Evergreen Legal Services, the Seattle-King County YWCA, and the New Beginnings Shelter for Battered Women.

Susan is also the public member of the Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council, a position to which Governor Locke appointed her in 1999.

Susan holds a master’s degree in public administration from Seattle University and is a graduate of the Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at Harvard University.  She is a founding member of the NNSP Organizing Committee. (206) 388-1660. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Chris Pierson, Program Coordinator/Budget ManagerChris_Pierson_tight_640x480

Before coming to SkillUp, Chris was with the YWCA of Seattle, King County, Snohomish County as the Program Manager for Youth Employment, and managed their GirlsFirst, Young Parent, and Greenbridge Youth Employment Programs.  He has a special interest in working with young people and is very excited to use his position at SkillUp to find new ways to effectively connect young people with jobs and education opportunities.  Chris has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Washington's Evans School of Public Affairs. Born and raised in Akron, Ohio, Chris has lived in Seattle for over ten years.  He is an avid soccer player, hiker, camper, and a musician.  Chris and his wife live in the Central District with their daughter and their dog. (206) 388-1653. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Ashley Plaga, Administrative Assistant

Ashley moved to Seattle in the fall of 2011 to attend graduate school at Seattle University.  She completed her master’sheadshot degree in public administration in March 2014.  Prior to moving to Seattle, she lived in Nebraska where she attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and earned her bachelor’s degree.  While in Lincoln, she held the position of events and activities coordinator for the Dialysis Center of Lincoln for 6 years.  Ashley loves traveling, attending music and arts festivals, camping, Phish, skiing, kayaking and all things vegan. (206) 388-1670. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it





Latest Research

  • Economic Opportunity Center Feasibility Study

    The City of Seattle in cooperation with SkillUp Washington, Impact Capital and SouthEast Effective Development (SEED) examined the feasibility of integrating multicultural service delivery at a single location accessible along the light rail line. This project stemmed from the legislature’s interest in replicating the Opportunity Center for Employment and Education model located on the campus of North Seattle Community College. Examined here is the possibility of creating a similar Center in Southeast Seattle that could help people get an education, get a job, or grow a business, and the findings suggest that such an Economic Opportunity Center is needed in and desired by the community.

    Download the Executive Summary: EOC: Executive Summary

    Download the Full Report:EOC: Final Report


    To request a hardcopy of the Executive Summary or the full report, please email Ashley Plaga at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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