Our Team

Portrait of Sara Okun

Sarah Okun, Executive Director

Sarah has supported Washington educators in her work with the TMC since September of 2017. Prior to moving to Washington, Sarah served as the Special Education Director at a charter school in Los Angeles. She began her career in public education in northern Virginia, where she taught K-2 Special Education and led pre-referral intervention teams. Sarah has also worked as an academic coach for college students and a director of afterschool education programs in San Francisco. When not at work, Sarah can be found running, hiking, swimming, and exploring the Puget Sound region with her husband and three children.

Contact Sarah at sokun@thetruemeasure.org

Portrait of Sara Okun

Amanda Pharis, Associate Director – School Programs

Amanda leads the TMC team’s school-facing coaching, technical assistance, and professional development work. She brings to our team 20+ years of experience with charter and district schools and special education, as well as proven skills in behavior analysis, coaching, and program management. Amanda’s career started in California as a mentor teacher for San Francisco State University, a program director for the Down Syndrome Connection, and an inclusion specialist for the Berkeley School District. In Washington she has served as a consultant for school districts across the greater Seattle area and as a BCBA at an interdisciplinary clinic for clients with autism and neurodevelopmental disabilities. Amanda is a passionate advocate for equitable treatment of individuals with disabilities and applies practices to promote inclusion in all aspects of life. Amanda enjoys spontaneous weekend trips, trying out new cuisines, and attending shows by local musicians.

Contact Amanda at apharis@thetruemeasure.org

Portrait of Sara Okun

David Mendez, Associate Director – Resource Development

David has worked alongside educators his entire professional career as a teacher, community organizer, instructional coach and in various non-profit leadership roles. He is passionate about ensuring all kids have access to a high quality education, especially those who are furthest from educational justice. David has earned two Master’s Degrees; a Masters in Teaching at Relay Graduate School of Education in Newark, NJ and a Masters in Education Policy at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. When not at work, you can find David running after his two very active daughters and browsing flight deals abroad with his wife.

Contact David at dmendez@thetruemeasure.org

Portrait of Sara Okun

Cassie Watkins, Program Manager

Cassie has long been an advocate of equity in education. During her time as an undergraduate at Whitworth University, she was part of the Students for Education Reform (SFER) group. Her affiliation with SFER opened up many opportunities to advocate for change in education in Washington State. Shortly after graduating, Cassie was immersed in the work of teaching at PRIDE Prep charter public school. As the Director of Special Education at PRIDE, she was directly responsible for coordinating student services, overseeing the delivery of specially designed instruction, and ensuring that students of all abilities received the accommodations and modifications necessary for accessing their education. In her downtime you can find Cassie entertaining her two fur babies, traveling around the world, and most importantly spending quality time with friends and family.

Contact Cassie at cwatkins@thetruemeasure.org

Portrait of Sara Okun

Micheal Williams, Program Manager

Micheal has worked in traditional public schools for 15 years in Washington State. He began his career as a paraeducator, supporting students with a variety of cognitive, physical, social, and behavioral barriers to access their right to an education. During eight years as a district Behavior Interventionist, Micheal provided coaching and mentorship to guide educators through processes of identifying equitable strategies, strengthening inclusionary practices, and improving behavior intervention supports to reduce the impact of systemic school cultures that oppress youth development. Upon completion of his degree in legal supports and services from Purdue University, Micheal began working more with community organizations providing mentorship to youth and advocating for family engagement in schools. In conjunction with his current work in schools, Micheal is a member of the Washington Education Association providing professional development to educators across the state for the Special Education Support Center and the Substitute Community. Micheal has also served in the DSHS Vocational Rehabilitation department, working with counselors to reduce barriers to employment for individuals with disabilities. When not working, Micheal spends time with his wife and three children exploring the joys of life, living, and learning – attending church, sporting events, festivals, and community events, playing outside, or just hanging around the house playing board games, cooking, doing experiments, and arts and crafts.

Contact Micheal at mwilliams@thetruemeasure.org

Portrait of Sara Okun

Mikena Wemple, Program Manager

Mikena has over 25 years of professional experience in special education from Hawaii to California to Washington, with graduate degrees in Mental Health Counseling and Psychology, emphasizing Applied Behavior Analysis. Mikena has served primarily in large school district settings, providing leadership to special education teams with a focus on implementing supports and systems changes that ensure access to all opportunities for all individuals. She has spent the last 10+ years providing behavioral and educational coaching in traditional school settings; she is passionate about sharing knowledge to build capacity in teams that allow for generalized professional growth so that educators feel empowered to support their students. Mikena is passionate about organizational behavior management supporting a healthy workplace for the adults who serve students. Mikena is a design team member, content creator, and trainer for the Washington Education Association’s Inclusionary Practices Technical Assistance Network, which provides professional development to all stakeholders for students across Washington State. When not at work, you will find Mikena adventuring with her three labs (of all different colors) and finding a way to appreciate life spontaneously with family and friends.

Contact Mikena at mwemple@thetruemeasure.org