Hey Neighbor: Meet Jenifer Chao

The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods’ Hey Neighbor! series introduces you to the people behind the scenes working to build, strengthen, and engage the communities of Seattle.

Meet Jenifer Chao!

Jenifer serves as a Strategic Initiatives Advisor on the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON) Outreach and Engagement team. She joined DON last November and works on citywide projects to embed community engagement throughout all levels of the planning process. Her key projects include Sound Transit 3 and the CID Framework in the Chinatown International District. She previously worked in the non-profit sector before joining the City of Seattle Human Services Department in 2009. Jenifer is from the Mien community, has two children and cares for her elderly parents and brother in-law who live with her. She enjoys spending time with her faith community and seeing her children grow up with their grandparents.


Having trouble viewing the video? Watch it on our Facebook page.

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VIDEO: How to Equitably Engage Your Community

Every voice in your community has purpose and every voice in your community brings value!

Here at Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, we understand just how much work is required to do effective and equitable outreach and engagement. It demands a large amount of time, resources, and experimentation. But, all that work pays off when you are able to engage your WHOLE community in an idea, process, or project.

Watch our short video below to get helpful tips on simple actions you can take to build and sustain equitable outreach and engagement into the work of your community group or organization.

For more tips and information, visit the Get Organized Toolbox in our Community Resource Hub!

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Get to Know Our New Deputy Director: Sarah Morningstar

Department Deputy Director for Community Investments


  • Where did you grow up: Right here in Seattle!
  • What neighborhood do you call home: Currently, Eastlake is home, but South Seattle was home for 37 years.
  • What makes your neighborhood special: I love the variety of housing and architectural styles that make up Eastlake!
  • Dogs, cats, or both: Both! We’ve a cat and a puppy.
  • Go-to-coffee order: Two shots over ice with a splash of milk.
  • Embarrassing moment: Once, while on vacation, I had the opportunity to be a back-up dancer for Robin Williams. Let’s just say I didn’t miss my professional calling.



For the last two years, Sarah worked as a campaign director with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society where she raised money to support the fight against cancer. Prior to this, Sarah spent 16 years with Seattle Public Schools as both a teacher and vice principal where she worked with students, families, and teachers to close the opportunity gap. In her role with Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, Sarah will oversee established, thriving community building programs such as P-Patch Community Gardening Program, the Neighborhood Matching Fund, Historic Preservation, and Major Institutions and School Program, along with the department’s internal operations.

“I’m excited to identify occasions where we might better serve all Seattleites. I’m also eager to establish new connections with historically underserved communities and to guide our programs’ incorporation of thoughtful, equitable environmental stewardship.”

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Seattle Renters’ Commission issues statement in support of Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA)

Members of the Seattle Renters’ Commission appeared before the Seattle City Council’s Select Committee on Citywide Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) yesterday to voice their support of MHA.

They have also issued a statement urging the Seattle City Council to pass Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) legislation.

“This is the first step in a long road to making Seattle affordable for all renters, and as such, we support City Council starting this journey with MHA.”

Read the full statement from the Seattle Renters’ Commission.

The Seattle Renters’ Commission provides information, advice, and counsel to the Mayor, Seattle City Council, and departments concerning issues and policies affecting renters. Learn more at seattle.gov/neighborhoods/seattle-renters-commission

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Learn how to get funding for your community project!

Our Neighborhood Matching Fund staff will be hosting three workshops for those interested in applying to the fund. Each workshop will provide an overview of the Neighborhood Matching Fund, the qualities of a strong application, and the review process. Neighborhood and community groups interested in the fund are invited to attend.

At these workshops, you will:

  • Learn about funding opportunities ranging from $1,000 to $100,000.
  • Find out if your project idea matches our funding requirements.
  • Get tips for a competitive application.



Tuesday, July 10, 6 – 7:30pm
2100 Building, 2100 24th Ave S

Tuesday, July 31, 6 – 7:30pm
Yesler Community Center, 917 E. Yesler Way

Thursday, August 9, 6 – 7:30pm
University Heights Center, 5031 University Way NE

To attend a workshop, RSVP at surveymonkey.com/r/nmf-summer18 or contact us at 206-733-9916 or NMFund@seattle.gov.



The Neighborhood Matching Fund has two funds – the Community Partnership Fund and the Small Sparks Fund.

  • The Community Partnership Fund provides funding up to $100,000 with three opportunities to apply a year. The deadline for the last round in 2018 is September 10.
  • The Small Sparks Fund provides funding up to $5,000 per project, and applications are accepted on a rolling basis through November 30.



More than 5,000 projects have occurred across the city since this program began in 1988. To learn more about the Neighborhood Matching Fund and its support to community-initiated projects, visit seattle.gov/neighborhoods/neighborhood-matching-fund.

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