About the Center: Meet the Staff

Tali HairstonTali Hairston

Director of the Perkins Center
(tali@spu.edu )

Tali Hairston is a known mentor in reconciliation, a loving father and family man, trusted leader in the community, and a minister in the church.


Born and raised in the diverse environment of Seattle’s Rainier Valley has served as a central piece of influence for Hairston's heart for community development and service through the ministry of reconciliation. Living as an urban outreach youth worker, Tali Hairston came to SPU in 2001 as assistant director for campus ministries.


His multicultural upbringing and ministry experience prepared him for leading SPU in a unique partnership in 2003 as director of The John Perkins Center. He has also served as special assistant to the president advising the University in its Reconciliation and Diversity Initiative. He affirms his work as a definite calling to multi-cultural ministry. Read the full story in Response.

Read Tali’s full biography.

Max HunterMax Hunter

John Perkins Center Teaching Fellow
(huntem1@spu.edu )

Born and raised in Southern California, Max Hunter was an urban youth who had a transformative encounter with Christ. Once

in Seattle, he attended and worked at Seattle Central Community College for almost 10

years (with a break to study abroad in Japan

'91). He has served in local churches, and he was a volunteer chaplain in the jail system. He is a recognized scholar at the University of Washington.

He then spent six years at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. While there, he studied in the Graduate School of Arts and Science, the Graduate School of Education, and Harvard Medical School. He has an A.M., Ed.M., and the certificate in bioethics from Harvard Medical School. He also interned and worked in Boston public schools: teaching history to urban students at the Snowden International School, and serving as the secretary and promoter of the Race, Culture, Identity, and Achievement seminar series for the Center for Leadership Development. In 2007, he spent a year as a teaching fellow at an independent high school in New England. Before leaving Cambridge, Christine Mitchell  invited him to join a pioneering committee of community bioethicists at Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. In 2011, he finished his doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Washington. Specializing in the social and cultural foundations of education, his dissertation focuses on the ambivalence some black males have experienced regarding literacy, an anxiety that he traces to the antebellum period.

Max joined the Perkins Center staff in 2008.  Since then, he has been involved in campus life and community outreach on a number of levels. In 2009, he worked with faculty and staff to develop a transfer agreement and full-ride scholarship for transfer students from Seattle Central Community College. He also worked with Dr. Cindy Fitch to being the SPU chapter of the Minority Association of Pre-Med Students. The same year, he began to teach the diversity course in the school of education and a bioethics oriented course in the biology department.


Possessing a strong belief in community engagement has led to Max speaking around the city to students--elementary, high school, and college--and community members. He has co-led the center in community partnerships, which include co-sponsoring a citywide diversity speakers series with the Bush School and reading group on Michele Alexander's book on mass incarceration, The New Jim Crow. Over the last two years, he has asked to serve on the boards and committees of several non-profits including the Education Committee at the Seattle Art Museum.

When not working, Max and his wife, Risako, explore Seattle with their three small children, rediscovering the diverse food and church offerings that are so plentiful in the Northwest.

Read more on Max in an article in Columns Magazine.

Caenisha WarrenCaenisha Warren

Budget Manager, Coordinator for Events and Student Clubs

Native to Seattle, Caenisha received her bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Washington, while serving in ministry and leadership at Interbay Covenant Church (now merged with Quest Church). Combining a youth ministry background and a passion in mentoring people, she was led away from the world of banking and came onto the campus ministry staff at SPU in 2005.

After a transformative experience on Sankofa with the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), she began to dive deep into her personal story and identity in search of understanding and reconciliation. In her experiences after this journey, she discovered that the discomfort of race is saturated into the infrastructure of our institutions, including education and the church, as much as it is a part of our every day social and personal interactions.

Caenisha joined the Perkins Center staff in 2007 not realizing how much it would steward her vocational call toward reconciliation. Motivated by the life-work of community development, yearning with a heart for relationship building, and growing in a thirst for Biblical reconciliation, she completed her masters in Christian ministry, with a concentration on justice, from North Park Theological Seminary in 2011.

She has enjoyed work on a number of different justice and compassion projects, centered around the church, youth, homelessness, culture, and race/ethnicity - including a local youth and justice conference called Feet 2 Faith, the Journey to Mosaic –North Pacific trip with the ECC, and a few community committees. While at SPU, she is excited to encourage further training and awareness on community development and reconciliation work with campus and community.

She has an enthusiasm for people, enjoys learning their stories and walking through life with them. Other interests vary from art, dance, music, and even watching the occasional professional bull riding event.

Owen SalleeOwen Sallee

Coordinator for Global and Urban Involvement

Owen is a Seattle Pacific University graduate who says he once naïvely vowed never to live in, or care about, the city. But then he participated in SPU's Urban Involvement program while an undergraduate student in 1995. Owen now advises the Urban Involvement, Latreia and SPRINT programs at SPU.

Trained under World Vision's Vision Youth Initiative, Owen served as youth director for Choose Life Youth Ministries in White Center for 12 years, during and following his time as a SPU undergraduate. In 2006, he completed his master’s degree in school counseling at Seattle Pacific.

When he’s not at work Owen enjoys spending time with his wife, Janiess, doing yard work, or taking a walk with their dog, Snickers.

Caenisha WarrenClaire Takahashi

Administrative Assistant

Claire was born and raised in southern California in a diverse home. At a young age, she is thankful that her parents exposed her to a love of other cultures, from her mother’s large and boisterous Mexican family to their Japanese “sisters” (exchange students) who stayed in their home every summer. In addition, Claire is thankful for the blessing that opportunities in music (violin) provided, allowing her to travel and make friends with unique and talented individuals from around the world.

In 2006, Claire graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a major in Biblical Studies and a minor in Theology. She joined the Perkins Center in the Fall of 2011 excited to work with the amazing staff and contribute to the vision of the Perkins Center.

Currently, Claire serves in the children’s elementary ministry team at Eastlake Community Church and enjoys spending time with her husband and their two dogs, Teyla & Carson.