Meet the Director

Jenifer Chao

image of Jenifer Chao, a Southeast Asian woman with long brown/blonde hair. She is smiling and wearing a black turtleneck top under a grey blazer.

Jenifer Chao is honored to serve as the Director of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON).

Jenifer is of Mien ethnicity and immigrated to the U.S. with her family as a refugee from Southeast Asia. She was raised in the Central District and Beacon Hill and now lives in South Seattle. A graduate of the University of Washington, Jenifer has more than 23 years of experience in public service. Prior to joining the City of Seattle in 2009, Jenifer worked in the non-profit sector and as a small business owner.

Building and supporting community has always been important to Jenifer. Her previous work includes helping young people pursue their education and career pathways, implementing the City’s first innovation fund that promotes racial equity, neighborhood planning and community development in the Chinatown International District, and creating a cannabis equity program that addresses the historical injustices of the war on drugs by providing opportunities in the cannabis industry to those who have been most impacted.

Race and social justice are close to her heart. Jenifer believes in centering humanity and bringing people together. She understands the value of uplifting the voices of impacted communities and including those voices in the creation of policies, plans, or programs for equitable decision-making. Away from work, she is a social coffee drinker, enjoys spicy food, and loves spending time with her son and daughter who keep her active. Jenifer relies on her faith community to keep her grounded and accountable in advancing racial equity, belonging, and inclusion.


Jenifer Chao, Director
Address: 600 4th Avenue, 4th Floor, Seattle, WA , 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94649, Seattle, WA, 98124-4649
Phone: (206) 684-0464
Fax: (206) 233-5142

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Seattle Department of Neighborhoods provides resources and opportunities for community members to build strong communities and improve their quality of life.