Join us to explore race and gender in Whatcom County. Register for one event or all three. These lunch talks are over Zoom and will leave you with a greater understanding of the experiences of women of color in our community.

NEXT SESSION: Session Three: Bertha Reta, Owner of Colima Designs, Ferndale, WA – October 13 12p-1p Via Zoom

Bertha is a long-time business owner and community leader in Whatcom County. Her business, Colima Designs, is a busy alteration and clothing design shop on Main Street in Ferndale. The location is also home to the local Spanish radio station she and her husband co-founded, La Voz De Whatcom. Until recently, she and her husband also owned and operated Don Samuel Mexican Grill and Tequila Bar, a very popular Mexican music venue where she cooked, served, DJ’d, and taught Mexican and Line Dancing.

Bertha works hard for her community. When she is not hosting radio shows or DJ’ing events, she teaches Ballet Folklórico, traditional Mexican and Spanish cultural dances, to her young dance group and sews their traditional dresses. As Bertha is most comfortable communicating in Spanish, this event will have a translator.

Session One: Flo Simon, Interim Chief, Bellingham Police Department – March 24, 2022 – VIDEO RECORDING

Chief Simon was hired as a commissioned officer by BPD in 1989 and rose through the ranks to become Deputy Chief in 2008. She has served in that capacity for the past 12 years. Her experiences within the department include patrol, special investigations, field training officer, DARE officer, bicycle patrol, investigations, and first-level and middle management leadership. Interim Chief Simon served as a BPD Crisis Negotiator for many years and during several of her assignments. Interim Chief Simon is the first woman to achieve the rank of Sergeant, Lieutenant, Deputy Chief, and now Chief in the Bellingham Police Department since its inception. 

Chief Simon grew up in a military family and spent her early childhood with her family stationed in Europe. They moved to Tacoma, where she attended North Thurston High School, and then came to Bellingham to attend Western Washington University. She is a graduate of the FBI National Academy (FBINA.)  She is the treasurer for the FBINA Washington Chapter and has an important part in recruiting attendees to the National Academy. Interim Chief Simon currently serves as a board member of Bellingham Public School Foundation and the Whatcom Community Foundation and a member of the Bellingham Bay Rotary Club. 

Session Two: Kristina Michelle Martens, Bellingham City Council Member – May 19, 2022 12p-1p Via Zoom

Kristina is a vocal member of the community, working to facilitate local conversations and improve access to news and information for residents of the Bellingham area. Throughout 2019, she was a co-host of Bellingham Tonight, the host of the radio show Thursdays with Kristina Michele on KZAX-Lp 94.9 FM, and the podcast Mission Accomplished? on KPNW-DB. On the strictly fun side, Kristina is proud of starting the local singing competition Bellingham Idol.

In 2020, Kristina partnered with communities across the city as part of the rallies for racial justice that drew over 5,000 Bellinghamsters. Then, inspired by the wave of similar protests and the very real policy reforms that followed in communities across the country, Kristina began working to co-found the development of the Whatcom Racial Equity Commission.

Elected to the Bellingham City Council in 2021, Kristina serves as Chair of the Climate Action Committee and a member of the Community and Economic Development and the Public Works and Natural Resources Committees. Kristina is the Council’s representative to the Whatcom Council of Governments Policy Board, the Bellingham Public Library Board of Trustees, the Community Development Advisory Board, and the Sister Cities Advisory Board.

As the first Black woman to ever serve on Bellingham City Council, Kristina is honored to have the opportunity to bring a new voice and different perspective to the conversations on how to better our community.