Meet the Director

Headshot for Derrick Wheeler-Smith

Derrick Wheeler-Smith

(He/Him)
Director, Seattle Office for Civil Rights

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Derrick Wheeler-Smith is the Director of the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR) which coordinates the Race and Social Justice Initiative, a citywide effort to end institutional racism in City government. Additionally, SOCR advances race and social justice through its policy work with elected officials; and supports four commissions including the LGBTQ Commission, Women's Commission, Human Rights Commission and Disability Commission. The office also enforces federal and local civil rights laws on illegal discrimination, along with Seattle's All-Gender Restroom Ordinance, the Ban on Providing Conversion Therapy to Minors, and the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance.

Derrick is a native son of Rainier Valley. His impact on racial equity and community empowerment in Seattle and King County has spanned more than two decades. Since his beginnings as a youth outreach worker and coach at Franklin High School in the late 1990s through his most recent role as the Director of Zero Youth Detention for King County Public Health, Derrick's bold ideas, courageous voice, and ability to inspire community action has been a tidal force for progress in our region.

In his previous position, Derrick oversaw the implementation of the Zero Youth Detention Road Map which overlaps with the closing of the Children's Family & Justice Center by 2025, as well as the development of a regional public safety plan to address gun violence. He played an integral role in mapping initial steps for King County's declaration of Racism as a Public Health Crisis and the subsequent $25 million in funding that will be invested in community, and was a co-organizer of the "We Want to Live" march in South Seattle that brought together thousands of community voices in response to the murder of George Floyd in 2020. Derrick's powerful gift as a speaker has opened national doors for advocacy on topics such as youth violence, the value of Black lives, dismantling the cradle-to-prison pipeline, and other issues deeply impacting communities of color. A lifetime educator who has impacted countless young lives, Derrick has served as a teacher and counselor at Seattle Urban Academy, architect of the Federal Way School District's first Racial Equity Policy, and National Director of Youth Engagement for World Vision, where he developed strategies to expand the organization's Youth Empowerment Program to 17 cities.

Derrick believes the work of anti-racism is the work of becoming a better human toward your fellow humans, and recognizes marrying his wife Stephenie as his life's greatest decision and the raising of his children as its most important work. 

Headshot for Fahima Mohamed

Fahima Mohamed

(She/Her)
Deputy Director, Seattle Office for Civil Rights

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Fahima Mohamed is the Deputy Director of the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR). She is a true local to the Seattle area having grown up in Rainier Valley, graduating from Renton High School, and then onto University of Washington where she got her B.A. in Sociology and Education. She attended graduate school at Pennsylvania State University, getting a Master in Education, M.Ed. to pursue her passion in understanding the intersection between education, the institution, and how it affects different outcomes for people. During her time at school, she recognized that the notion of education being a great equalizer in humans rights wasn’t accurate as she noticed the lack of diversity in Black, Indigenous, and people of color in many of her classes. This sparked a change in her career trajectory, away from academia and into a journey to find out how her skill set could bring actionable change.

After completing school, Fahima was drawn back to her friends and family in the Seattle area. She shortly started working at the Human Services Department (HSD) in the City of Seattle in Youth Employment as a summer job. This spiraled into a career of public service, where she moved from HSD to the Department of Early Education & Learning (DEEL) from 2013-2019, and then onto King County Public Health in 2020 where she worked in Zero Youth Detention. Her work at King County took a novel approach in viewing violence as a public health epidemic and using COVID-19 as a model on how to approach preventing violence, not as a moral failing but a larger systemic issue. Her move into SOCR felt like coming full circle in her career, in thinking about what it means for people to have rights and tackle intersectional issues like housing discrimination, race & social justice work, and criminal legal system reform.

Coming from a collective culture and close-knit family, Fahima views relationships and cultivating authentic relationships as an essential priority in doing the kind of work central to SOCR. As a Muslim, she is also guided by the tenets of her faith. She believes in doing the right thing even when even when it’s hard and goes against the institution and has a strong sense for justice. She strives to be as collaborative as possible, being someone who listens to understand and builds bridges.

Fahima has learned throughout the last few years to find time for the things she loves, whether that’s spending time with family and friends or learning to cook some of her favorite dishes. She is a foodie who loves fashion and interior design and is also an avid crossfitter.