Ascendance Pole & Aerial Arts is a nonprofit studio coming soon to the downtown Renton, WA area.

The board

The Ascendance board of directors are a small group of individuals who are passionate about pole as a transformative form of fitness and a community builder. We are each deeply invested in the operations and outcomes of Ascendance, and each serve on committees to further its mission.

Cynthia Tee

Cynthia discovered pole dancing and lyra over 5 years ago and was immediately hooked. She believes that anyone - no matter their fitness level or body size - can find strength, confidence, healing, and beauty in pole and aerial movement. She is passionate about guiding whoever she teaches to discover their flow and revel in it. In addition to her work for Ascendance, Cynthia is a tech executive and an advocate for women and underrepresented minorities in the tech industry. She serves on the board of Ada Developers Academy and advises for the Women in Tech Regatta She also serves on the Board of the Northwest School. She is a parent of two and an immigrant from the Philippines.


Maggie Nation
Vice President, Executive Director

Before discovering pole, Maggie had established a strong and diverse background in dance, with an emphasis on ballet, tap, jazz, modern and African dance.  She has been teaching pole dance for over four years, and enjoys performing and mixing burlesque and pole. When she's not in the studio you can usually find her crafting intricate and sparkly costumes and props for the performance community.   Maggie is most grateful for the confidence, strength, and beauty pole has given her, and looks to share those gifts with everyone who comes though our doors.

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Tara Steed
Treasurer, Program Director

Tara has spent most of her life as a classically trained dancer, teaching as ballet instructor and spending four years  as the Associate Artistic Director at Washington Contemporary Ballet.  She discovered Pole while looking for a new Dance outlet as an adult. She loves that Pole focuses on what we each can do and celebrates all differences and abilities. Believing that this positivity and encouragement is Pole’s biggest strength, Tara is passionate about pioneering Ascendance’s non profit mission to make it more accessible to everyone so that they too can benefit from this wonderful community

Tara has competed and placed in several national Pole championships and enjoys performing at other regional events whenever possible. During the day, Tara works for The Expedia Group as a Sr. Problem Manager and serves on the advisory board for IGNITE - a non profit whose focus is encouraging more young women into STEM careers. She lives in Renton with husband, silly corgi, and their brand new baby boy.


Candace Vaivadas

Candace began pole dancing in 2014 after an exhaustive search to find a fitness regime that would get her in shape, but also help heal her mind and soul.  In pole dancing she found the piece of the puzzle that was missing in her daily life - a focus on positivity, daily success, growth, goals and community.  As an instructor, she encourages her students to push through the physical and mental discomfort that this sport reveals in everyone, with the hope that it will help them harness the power of their inner voice in the rest of their lives.  Alongside her work with Ascendance, Candace owns and operates Spearpoint Investigations, a private investigations agency specializing in civil rights and police conduct cases.  

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Tram Le

Tram discovered pole 4 years ago by walking into an intro class and never looked back. Before pole, she spent years trying out yoga, gym classes, running, triathlons, barre, etc; but was never able to find anything that was both fun and challenging. Over the years, she has seen her self-confidence and self-love improve tremendously with the help of her pole practice, and hopes that she can help others find this as well. In addition to volunteering with Ascendance, she works as a Data Systems Analyst and loves to spend time with her family.


Annalisa Mai

Annalisa’s pole and aerial journey began in 2015. After taking an intro to pole and beginner lyra class, she knew it was the fitness regimen she had been searching for. She was originally seeking to gain strength, but quickly discovered a whole new side to herself. Pole and aerial dance has taught her self-confidence, perseverance, and has become her outlet. She loves the challenges of learning a new move on a pole or lyra and pushing herself to the next level. As an instructor, Annalisa uses her pole experience to empower students and to show them that anything is possible if they work at it. In addition to volunteering at Ascendance, she works as a supervisor in court operation, and also a service member in the U.S. Army Reserves.


Ashlee Della-Franca

Originally from Oregon, Ashlee grew up exploring creative expression through musical and sartorial mediums. She moved to England for university, where she graduated with honors from University of the Arts London and established her career in corporate fashion business management. After five years abroad, she relocated to Seattle and discovered pole in 2014.

Ashlee has been training pole dance and aerial flexibility for four years and has been teaching and performing for nearly three. She most recently placed silver in Exotic L3, Senior, at the 2017 US National Pole Dance Championships, and performed at PoleCon 2018.

Ashlee an advocate for self-love, using dance and aerial training as therapeutic and empowering mediums.

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Catherine Budinger, CPA

As a licensed accountant, Catherine started pole dancing when she was looking for something that would get her out from behind a desk.  She had been amazed watching her long time friend (and now fellow board member), Tara, progress in the sport and agreed to take a intro to pole class with a mutual friend.  After the class, she quickly realized these classes would not only help her become more active, but also tap into her creative side.  Two years later, she has gained strength, confidence and a community of positivity and friendship.  She participates in both pole and lyra and is excited to continue growing and learning in the upcoming years.  Outside of aerial fitness classes, she is a tax accountant at a small firm in Auburn and enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband, camera and dog.

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