Degrees of Change is home to the Ready to Rise National Office and licenses the Ready to Rise program materials to local community affiliates and partner colleges who run locally-owned Ready to Rise initiatives in their communities. Thanks to the support of College Spark Washington, the National Office provides behind-the-scenes training, coordination, logistical and technology support, technical assistance, and evaluation services to help our partners deliver the highest quality programs.

Ready to Rise, along with its sister program Act Six, is at the core of the Degrees of Change mission to help communities and colleges equip students to learn together through college and lead together back home.



DJ Crisostomo, M.P.A.

National Director

DJ Crisostomo is the Ready to Rise National Director where he supports college persistence, success, and leadership efforts for Degrees of Change.  DJ earned his BA from Pacific Lutheran University and his MPA from The Evergreen State College.  His professional and civic experience has centered on supporting scholars and their families make informed decisions about their futures.  As a proud Chamorro and first-generation graduate, DJ carries with him the legacy of his family and ancestors.

Alyson Atwater

Alyson Atwater

Operations and Alumni Manager

Alyson earned a dual degree in Education from Whitworth University. She worked as the Act Six Site Director in Spokane, WA before joining the Degrees of Change team in Tacoma. Alyson started as an Admin and has since transitioned into the role of Operations and Alumni Manager. As an Act Six alum herself, she is eager to engage with the broad alumni network to help build stronger communities.

Kelly Bay-Meyer, Ph.D.

Kelly Bay-Meyer, Ph.D.

Director of Research and Evaluation

Trained as a political scientist focused on education politics and direct democracy in Latin America, Kelly returned home to WA in 2010 to give back to her local community. She taught courses in research methods and social justice at Seattle University before serving as Senior Research and Evaluation Officer at the College Success Foundation. She holds a doctorate in Political Science from Brown University.

Francisca Chau, M.Ed.

Francisca Chau, M.Ed.

Program Operations Manager

Francis is an Act Six alum from the third cadre at Gonzaga University, where she completed a dual Bachelors of Arts in Criminal Justice and Sociology. She served as the Act Six Program Supervisor for the Spokane area for three years before transitioning to Degrees of Change as the Program Operations Manager. She holds a Master’s Degree in Higher Education from Central Washington University.

Tim Herron, Ed.D.

Tim Herron, Ed.D.

Chief Executive Officer & Ready to Rise Founder

As an urban high school math teacher in Tacoma, WA, Tim developed the Act Six initiative in 2002 at Northwest Leadership Foundation to help his students succeed in college and return to lead in Tacoma. He now guides Degrees of Change as we work to expand and share the success of both Act Six through programs like Ready to Rise. He holds a doctorate in Higher Education Leadership and Policy from the University of Washington.

Alex Martinez

Ready to Rise WWU Campus Coordinator

Alex Martinez was born in Oaxaca, Mexico and raised in Bellingham, Washington. He is the first member of his family to graduate from a university. Alex graduated from Western Washington University in June of 2018 with a B.A in Multidisciplinary Studies and minored in Spanish and journalism. At Western, he was part of Blue Group a club that supports undocumented student and worked in the Associated Students of WWU as the AS Personnel Director. He is very passionate about working with and for undocumented students and undocumented community.


Office Address

1102 Commerce St
Suite 400
Tacoma, WA 98402

Mailing Address

Ready to Rise National Office
Degrees of Change
PO Box 1573
Tacoma, WA 98401


[email protected]