Reflections from the Executive Director

by Rafael del Castillo, September 2021

My first six weeks at Rainier Scholars have flown by. I am grateful to those who have taken the time to share their perspectives with me and eager to connect with those I have yet to meet.

I’ve had several opportunities to witness our program in action, visiting the Academic Enrichment Phase at The Bush School, participating in Career Expo, and witnessing several leadership and community engagement events. I’ve also had a chance to celebrate our scholars’ achievements at a Rites of Passage ceremony for Cohort 19, as well as celebrations to honor our most recent high school and college graduates. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to meet the families who support our scholars at these events. 

I want to express particular gratitude to the faculty and staff who made in-person learning happen this past year. Watching incredibly gifted teachers working with highly motivated students was yet another reminder that our educators are heroic!

As we look ahead to an important season of reflection and strategic planning, I am delighted to announce that Kaila Davis Nsimbi will serve as our associate executive director. Kaila has been with Rainier Scholars for 10 years, in many roles, most recently as co-acting executive director. Her deep knowledge of the program and our scholars and families, along with her strong community roots, will make her an excellent organizational leader, who helps us grow and strengthen our partnerships. I look forward to working with her. 

I hope you’ll stay connected with me on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook. You can also reach me at 

Best wishes for the start of a new school year. If we have learned anything this past year, it is that our scholars are resilient and they are surrounded by caring adults who will overcome every barrier to connect with students – in the classroom, remotely, or somewhere in between.