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Commissioners

Commissioner Chair - Charlene Strong of Seattle

Charlene Strong was appointed to the Washington State Human Rights Commission in January, 2009. After the death of her partner Kate Fleming she became a tireless advocate of marriage and same-sex equality. Her work for this issue brought her to speak before the Washington State legislature a little more than a month after Kate’s death. Her testimony helped pass landmark domestic partnership legislation in the state of Washington. Charlene maintains a close working relationship with Equal Rights Washington (ERW).

Charlene’s past involvement, focused in the LBGT community, was with the Human Society’s Pet Project, who provided HIV/AIDS patients with help and care for their pets. Charlene designed and managed their veterinary clinic to insure pet care and wellness visits. She also implemented an intake committee to access candidate needs. She also worked with the Archdiocese of Seattle on an LGBT task force dedicated to improving acceptance and understanding within the Archdiocese of LGBT parishioners.

Before dedicating her life to same-sex marriage equality, Charlene worked in the dental field for over 20 years. She pursued a degree in interior design. She is a longtime resident of Seattle.

Term: 01/09 – 06/21

Commissioner - Guadalupe Gamboa of Seattle

Guadalupe Gamboa was appointed to the Commission by Governor Jay Inslee in April 2015.

Mr. Gamboa is the son of migrant farmworkers. He grew up working as a child in the sugar beet fields of the Yakima Valley, following the crops to Oregon and California, and living in labor camps. This early experience of the harsh conditions faced by farmworkers created a life long desire to fight for social justice.

As a teenager, he joined the farmworkers movement led by Cesar Chavez, which led him to the Grape Boycott in the East Coast then Toronto and to organizing farmworkers in the Yakima Valley and California.

Lupe was also the first Latino student from a farmworker background admitted to the UW Law School, becoming one of the first group of Latino lawyers in this state.  As a lawyer he became the Director of the Farmworker Division of Evergreen Legal Services, where he litigated precedent setting cases establishing important civil rights such as the right of farmworkers to organize and to receive visitors in their labor camp housing.  He also played a strategic role in a coalition of advocates that was successful in extending coverage to farmworkers under many of this state’s labor laws.

Lupe is currently working as a Lecturer at the UW’s American Ethnics Studies Department where he is teaching the history of the farmworker labor and civil rights movement to the next generation of leaders.

Term: 04/16 - 06/19

Commissioner - Skylee Sahlstrom of Seattle

Skylee Sahlstrom is a litigator practicing in complex commercial litigation. She also represents businesses and homeowners in their insurance recovery efforts.

Skylee enlisted in the Washington Army National Guard while still in high school, and was activated in support of Operation Enduring Freedom while obtaining her Business degree at the University of Washington. She served as a paralegal with the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate at I Corps and Fort Lewis, and was selected as the first reservist to receive the installation’s Paralegal of the Year award. Following her term of service, she returned to the University of Washington to study law. In 2008 she was elected as the Student Bar Association President and the University’s Homecoming Queen. Skylee supplemented her studies by spending her summers with Stoel Rives, competing in regional, national, and international mock trial competitions, and teaching Seattle area high school students basic principles of the law.

Prior to joining Nellermoe Wrenn, Skylee spent her first five years of practice with Stoel Rives’ trial and litigation group, representing business clients in matters ranging from toxic torts and class actions to products liability claims. Skylee has always been committed to civic engagement, including representing undocumented workers in a successful Pierce County lawsuit, supporting law students and new attorneys with the King County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division, representing people facing imminent evictions with the Housing Justice Project, and providing free legal advice to self-represented litigants through the Walk-In Clinic at the King County Courthouse. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of three organizations, including the Alumni Associations for both the University of Washington and the Law School, as well as the Pike Place Market Foundation, which supports the social services within Seattle’s historic public marketplace.

Professional & Civic Activities

  • Board of Trustees, Pike Place Market Foundation (2014 – Present)
  • Board of Trustees, University of Washington Alumni Association (2014 – Present)
  • Board of Trustees, University of Washington School of Law Alumni Association (2013 – Present)
  • Chair and Trustee, King County Bar Association (KCBA) Young Lawyers Division (YLD) (2011 – 2014)
  • Founder, Co-Chair, and Volunteer Attorney, YLD Walk-In Clinic (2011 – Present)
  • Volunteer Attorney, KCBA Housing Justice Project (2010 – Present)
  • Coach, University of Washington School of Law National Mock Trial Teams (2009 – Present)

Experience

  • Nellermoe Wrenn PLLC
  • Stoel Rives LLP – Associate and Summer Associate
  • United States Army – Paralegal
  • Washington Army National Guard – Paralegal

Term: 06/15 – 06/21

Commissioner - Deborah Cook of Clarkston

Deborah Cook retired in 2018, after 37 years of employment with the state of Washington. She worked for the Department of Services for the Blind 16 years in progressively responsible positions: direct service provider, manager of the Orientation and Training Center, manager of the Assistive Technology Program, ADA coordinator, and Policy Development Specialist. She then spent 7 years with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, where she established and managed the WA Assistive Technology Act Program. She spent the remaining 15 years with the University of WA Center on Technology and Disability studies where she continued to manage the state AT program, the National Deaf Blind Equipment Distribution Program for WA State, the Older Blind Independent Living Program, and was contracted as interim Director for the State Independent Living Council, and the Department of Services for the Blind State Rehabilitation Council. In addition, she provided consultation to government and industry on accessibility of information technology, and was appointed by the Secretary of State to serve on the Voting Equipment Certification Advisory Board where she continues to serve post retirement.

Ms. Cook is passionate about the right of access to information for people with disabilities and served on the technical advisory committee to the Federal Access Board charged with drafting and later refreshing regulations for Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended serving as co-chair of the “Closed Products” task group.

Ms. Cook is serving her second term as a member of the American Council of the Blind Board of Publications, is Treasurer of the WA Council of the Blind, 2nd Vice President of Guide Dog Users Inc., and is on the board of Guide Dog Users of WA State.

After retirement, Deborah moved with her husband and her guide dog to Clarkston. Together they operate an internet radio station known as Ride Radio—the name is derived from Rick (ri) and Deb (de).

Term: 06/18 - 06/22

Commissioner - David Hackney of Seattle

David Hackney is currently working as in-house counsel and human resources director for a startup nonprofit dedicated to addressing income inequality in the United States. David joined this yet to be named organization in its infancy, and hopes to create the largest membership organization in the nation that promotes the financial security, interests and rights of working Americans.

David grew up in Columbus, Ohio and attended the College of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University after high school. At Cornell, David developed an interest in the history of the labor movement and how it influenced and interacted with the Civil Rights movement. David learned that his paternal grandfather, George Hackney, was a Pullman Porter and a member the first black labor union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. In addition, he learned his maternal grandfather, John Chapman, migrated from the South in the early 1940’s and joined the United Auto Workers.

After graduating from Cornell, David worked in labor relations at a Ford engine assembly plant in Cleveland, Ohio. After Ford, David was accepted into a four-year joint program with Harvard Law School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. After graduating from Harvard, David clerked for a federal judge and worked at a large law firm. David subsequently joined the US Department of Justice (“DOJ”) as a federal prosecutor, where he tried over 20 criminal jury trials in federal court, conducted hundreds of criminal investigations and taught trial advocacy at the National Advocacy Center. While at DOJ, David was assigned to Kosovo to teach trial advocacy to local judges and prosecutors and was assigned to the United Nations in The Hague, Netherlands, as a Legal Officer with the Office of the Prosecutor for the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. After returning to the United States, David worked in several organizations as an in-house employment counsel, including The Nature Conservancy ("Conservancy"), where he was the lead employment attorney for domestic and international issues in all 50 states and 37 foreign countries where the Conservancy operated. Finally, David volunteered with an international NGO, as a subject matter expert in the adversarial system of criminal justice in training programs for Uzbek prosecutors and defense attorneys in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

David currently serves on the boards of the following organizations in Seattle:

  • Tabor 100
  • Alliance for Gun Responsibility
  • Seattle King County Chapter of the NAACP