Summer Search



635 Andover Park West
Building 8 Suite 200
Tukwila, WA 98188 MAP

T (206) 729-0911

F (206) 729-7303



Melanie Lyons

Melanie Lyons, Summer Search Seattle Executive Director

Melanie Lyons

Erik Toth, Summer Search Seattle Board Chair

See all Seattle Board


Meet our seattle staff 

Allie Denny

Donor Relations Manager                                                                 

Preferred Pronouns: She/her/hers

Allie came to Summer Search in 2017, fueled by her strong belief in the transformative power of mentorship and life-changing experiences. As a first-generation college graduate and member of Summer Search Seattle’s development team, Allie finds joy in building meaningful relationships within the Summer Search community and creating opportunities for rewarding partnerships.

Outside of work, Allie enjoys taking care of her houseplants, learning about different wellness practices, seeing live music, hanging out with her adorable dog Chewy, and spending time outside.

Susan Huynh 

Post-Secondary Access Coordinator 

Preferred Pronouns: She/her/hers

Susan is a first-generation college graduate born and raised in South King County, who graduated in 2013 from the University of Washington with a B.A. in International Studies-Southeast Asia with a minor in Global Health.


When she was an undergraduate, she mentored high school seniors on college access at Federal Way High School (where she graduated from) which sparked her deep passion and career in supporting low-income, first-generation and underrepresented groups in achieving their post-secondary goals.  Prior to Summer Search, she was supporting students with their post-secondary pathways as a College & Career Specialist in the Renton School District


When Susan is not working, she likes to spend time with friends and family, travel, hang out with her dog Benji the Frenchie, try out new restaurants, and binge watch Netflix TV shows and movies.

Monica Manzo

Program Associate

Preferred Pronouns: She/her/hers

Mónica is a strong believer of inspiring self-confidence, empowering youth and supporting youth as they achieve their highest potential. She has devoted countless hours in supporting young women of color with programs like La Voz de E.L.L.A. and Project Luangwa. Making Summer Search the perfect place to expend her work and efforts in improving access into higher education.

Mónica comes from a migrant family in central Washington that worked multiples seasons harvesting fruit. In 2011 she transferred into UW and as a first-generation woman of color she quickly learned to identify institutional inequalities and has since dedicated her efforts to advocating for social justice. She is very connected to her Mexican roots and enjoys spending time with family and dancing Banda. She also enjoys trying out new restaurants and bars in Seattle and meeting up with friends.

Ruben Miranda-Juarez Jr. 

Program Associate

Preferred Pronouns: He/him/his

Ruben's desire to listen and support students as they navigate inequities throughout their adolescence is what drew him to Summer Search. He comes from having worked at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington, within TRiO where he learned he had a passion for listening and engaging in difficult conversations around race, class, gender and sexuality. He is looking forward to having conversations about toxic masculinity while in his role at Summer Search. 

Ruben is a first-generation college student born to a Mexican mother and a Puerto Rican father, who met in a now-closed diner in the northside of Chicago. He received his B.A. in English with a concentration in Literary Studies from DePaul University in Chicago with mentorship from Billy Johnson Gonzalez, Steve Ramirez, and Francesca Royster. His focus was and continues to be Latin American & Caribbean Literature. Outside of work, Ruben is either cooking, on his way to a concert, reading, or at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practice while procrastinating on writing his first and only short story collection. He is also regularly holding mitts for his partner, Danielle, who is an amateur boxer.

Colin Petkus

Program Manager

Preferred Pronouns: He/him/his

Colin brought his passion for working with young people to Summer Search when he joined the Seattle team as a mentor in 2013. Since then, Colin has been continually inspired and motivated by the incredible students, families, counselors, and teammates who are part of the Summer Search community.

Born in Seattle and raised in the foothills of the Cascades, Colin attended Boston College where he received a B.A. in English, then quickly returned home to escape the frigid New England winters. Before joining Summer Search, Colin worked as an advocate for young people experiencing homelessness in rural and suburban King County.

Outside of work, Colin enjoys cycling long distances, exploring the lush wildernesses of the Pacific Northwest, and loud music. Sometimes all at once.

Sergey SmirnovSergey Smirnov

Director of Development

Preferred Pronouns: He/him/his

Dedicated to social change, service, and healthy communities, Sergey is inspired by how Summer Searchers stretch themselves, get out of their comfort zone, and create impact far beyond themselves. He works with the community of individuals and institutions who invest in our students and with volunteer leadership to grow the program to serve more students.

Sergey grew up in Russia before immigrating to Seattle at the age of eleven. He is a proud University of Washington and Bellevue College alumnus, where he participated in student government and too many clubs. Prior to joining Summer Search, Sergey has worked in resource development in healthcare and education at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the American Cancer Society, University of Washington, and the Hamlin Robinson School.

When not at Summer Search, you can find Sergey running, practicing yoga, seeing live music, reading or checking out new restaurants.

Rebecca Sullivan

Senior Program Director

Preferred Pronouns: She/her/hers

Two strong beliefs guide Rebecca's personal and professional life: the power of arts as an outlet for self-expression, and the potential in us all to achieve great things. These beliefs have been reinforced by the many students she has had the privilege of working with over the years.

Rebecca joined the Summer Search as a high school mentor, has since guided the evolution of our College Success Program and now supports the entire program team in her role as Senior Program Director. One of the best parts of her job is getting to work closely with Summer Search alumni. 
She received a M.A. in Education from Seattle University and a B.A. in Dance and Leadership Studies from Chapman University.When Rebecca's away from work, she can be found, walking with family and friends, playing Power Rangers with her son or taking the occasional dance class.

Viche' ThomasHeadshot for Viche' T

School and Community Engagement Coordinator      

Preferred Pronouns: She/her/hers   

Viche' is native to Seattle, WA born and raised in the historical black neighborhood known as the Central District. She graduated from Garfield High School and then from the University of Washington with a B.A in Sociology. At the young age of 11 Viche' joined a rigorous college bound program where she received academic, emotional and career support up until college graduation. Knowing firsthand the impacts education and supportive mentorship can have, Viche' has always been committed to supporting and developing youth like herself who come from marginalized backgrounds. She has experience working as a High School Academic Counselor and as a Program Facilitator for different organizations focused on social injustices. 

Outside of work Viche' is most likely spending time with her younger sister and/or close friends and family while eating some form of potatoes, which she is borderline infatuated with.  

Jonathen WilliamsJonathen Williams 2

Program Associate

Preferred Pronouns: He/him/his

Jonathen is driven by a deep call to action. Jonathen believes that every student possesses the power of change and can navigate the challenges that stand in their way.

Jonathen earned his B.A. from Washington State University, where he majored in Social Sciences with a minor in Human Development. His experience as a Resident Advisor and Peer Mentor ignited an interest in mentorship and student empowerment.

As a first-generation college graduate, Jonathen can attest to the real barriers and challenges that exist for students from marginalized and underrepresented communities. When Jonathen is not in the office, he can be found spending quality time with family and friends, telling corny jokes, and watching cat videos on YouTube.

Therese Williams

Director of Post-Secondary Access & Success

Preferred Pronouns: She/her/hers

Therese is a Sacramento, California native that enjoys dancing, traveling, and quality times with her loved ones. Therese graduated as a part of the first inaugural class at the University of California, Merced (Go Bobcats!) and received her BA in Psychology, with a minor in Cognitive Science in 2009. In pursuit of a higher learning, Therese moved to the Pacific Northwest to complete her graduate studies in Student Development Administration (M.Ed) at Seattle University in 2013. Joining the Summer Search Seattle team couldn’t be more of a perfect fit for Therese because she was a product of mentoring and college preparation program called AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) during her high school experience. Since Therese’s high school AVID experience, serving students has been a calling that she is truly passionate about. Her background in education spans from transfer admissions advising, academic advising, career advising, and new student orientation within college institutions in both California and Washington State. In the words of the great Maya Angelou, Therese deeply resonates with the following quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. Thus, Therese considers it a privilege to invite students into a safe space where they feel heard, validated, and empowered to use their voice as a catalyst to spark positive change wherever it is needed. Moreover, Therese is deeply committed towards partnering with students in defining their pathway of success while helping them understand that they were born with the ability to succeed!

Therese resides in south King county (Federal Way), and when she is not at Summer Search, she enjoys dance fitness, Marvel superhero movies, live jazz music, eating lavender ice cream at Point Ruston, traveling to different countries with her best friend, fellowship with her church family, and spending quality time with her amazing husband.

Jasmine Zhu

Temporary Development Associate  

Preferred Pronouns: She/her/hers 

Jasmine is back for a second consecutive summer internship acting as the Development Associate at Summer Search, focusing on supporting the development team on fundraising efforts, managing Seattle's donor relations, and assisting with online event planning. In the past couple years, she has fought alongside advocates at The Borgen Project, The Sofia's Way Shelter, and Global Village Project to combat national poverty and interrupted education. 

As an active member of Emory University's campus life, Jasmine's passion is to build community through genuine conversations and creating engaging events for other students. Jasmine is currently studying anthropology, global development studies, and computer science, and hopes to find ways to intertwine these skills to make the world a stronger and better place. 

Outside of work, Jasmine loves to find DIY crafting projects such as her new hobby of embroidery, watching crime shows with family, or singing and strumming her ukulele. 

Elise Whisler

Summer Fellow

Preferred Pronouns: They/Them/She/Her 

Elise is excited to be joining the Summer Search team as a summer fellow intern through this August. They are currently studying for their M.A. in Student Development Administration at Seattle University, and they hold a B.S. from Wagner College where they double majored in Physics and English Literature. 

Elise will be working with Therese and Rebecca on a variety of projects, including some Summer Launch Meetings and Rites of Passage to help make the Class of 2020's Summer Search experience the best it can be!

When they're not in class, Elise might be found in the sci-fi section of the library or buried under a pile of all the craft projects they started and never finished. If there's not paint on their hands, you know something's wrong. 

Supporting Young People to Thrive.