Economics Professor, School of Business, Whitworth
Dr. Ocasio moved to the US from Puerto Rico at the age of eleven. She received her BA in Philosophy, Politics and Law (PPL) from Binghamton University in New York. She received her Master’s and PhD degrees in economics from Colorado State University. Dr. Ocasio’s vocation as a teacher and a researcher is centered on the idea of equal access as a way to reduce economic and social inequalities. In her work, she finds that when there is access to resources, the population develops both, socially and economically. This premise is inherent in Dr. Ocasio’s teaching philosophy, her research and her involvement in the community. She was appointed to the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Multicultural Affairs for the City of Spokane and reports to the Mayor and his cabinet on the stability, health, and status of underrepresented groups in the city. Dr. Ocasio joined Whitworth University as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Economics in the School of Business in the fall of 2011. Dr. Ocasio moved to Spokane from Colorado with her husband, Manny Hochheimer, in 2011. They have two little boys, Noah and Luca. Dr. Ocasio is a runner and enjoys camping and skiing. She also enjoys major league baseball (go Mariners!) and is a devout Whitworth Pirates fan!
Lead Superintendent/ CEO, The Rural Alliance
Kevin was involved in the development of the policy/procedures during the first two years of the Washington State Charter School Commission. He is the Co-Founder of The Rural Alliance, developed through the Mary Walker School District in 2010. Kevin was the superintendent of the Mary Walker School District for 12 years and has understanding of small rural district superintendent issues and concerns. He started his career as a Marketing teacher and taught Marketing, Business and PE for 18 years. He is a proud graduate of Eastern Washington University.
Washington State Director, Fight Crime, Invest in Kids
Erica serves as the Washington State Director for Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. Prior to joining Fight Crime, Hallock was the Director of Government Relations and Communications for Empire Health Foundation, a health conversion foundation in Eastern Washington. She also spent eight years as the President/CEO of the United Ways of Washington as well as eight years on the State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission as a public member. Erica sits on the board of the Spokane area YWCA. She has a BA in Political Science from the University of California at Riverside and a Master of Public Policy and Administration from California State University Sacramento.
Association of Washington Businesses (AWB), Director of Government Affairs, Workforce & Education
Amy K. Anderson is AWB’s director of government affairs for education, workforce development and federal issues. She also oversees the work of the AWB Institute, AWB’s research, workforce and economic development arm. Before joining AWB’s government affairs team, Amy was a strategic consultant for the AWB Institute for almost four years, bringing more than 10 years of policy analysis and advocacy experience to the position. She began her career working with the Washington State Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee as well as the Washington State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board as a policy analyst. She also spent seven years heading up the policy and workforce efforts at Greater Spokane Incorporated. She has also worked as Oregon and Alaska legislative director at Premera Blue Cross. Amy has also taught graduate health policy and law classes for Washington State University Spokane and Kaplan University. Amy holds a law degree from Gonzaga University School of Law, a graduate degree in Health Policy and Administration from Washington State University Spokane, a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Colorado and a B.A. in Government and History from California State University Sacramento.
President, BreakThrough Inc.
Chris is a passionate professional who works in the Health & Human Services field. He is the founder and CEO of BreatkThrough Inc., a Specialized Residential Youth Treatment Service Agency with proven, competent and compassionate professionals who provide a wide range of client based services. His agency currently employs 100 FTE’s. He has also been a Life-Long Resident of Spokane, Washington.
Growing Up. As a ward of the court, Chris was fortunate to grow up on the outskirts of Spokane in the Elk, Chattaroy area. He went to Riverside High School where he graduated. Living in the country and growing up on a farm as well as working for other farmers. During High School summers he worked at the School District under the Speedy Youth Employment Program. It was during this time that Chris really grew up and discovered the satisfaction that comes from hard work. Upon graduation from High School Chris went to the Job Corps in Curlew. Chris is very determined and motivated individual who has high expectations for serving the Health & Human Services Field. He began his agency, BreakThrough, Inc. in 2006. A Specialized Youth Treatment Program that provides a safe, consistent and structured environment for kids age 7-21 who struggle with Autism, Developmental Delays, Down’s Syndrome, mental illness and various behavioral challenges. Their corporate objectives are to expand in all areas of HHS (Social Services Areas) by consistently providing the best possible outcomes for success and safety for all concerned. BreakThrough, Inc.’s relentless focus on the client and their needs is the foundation to their ongoing success. Also, he and his wife Dalene own a Franchise in Lynnwood, Washington called “Phenix Salon Suites.”
Associate Professor, Gonzaga University
Dr. Suzann Girtz is an Associate Professor at Gonzaga University in the Teacher Education department. She specializes in research and assessment. Suzann began her education career in the late 90's, teaching high school math and science in a local school district. From 2005 on, Suzann has worked at GU's School of Education in a variety of capacities: in the Department of Educational Leadership & Administration – traveling to BC and AB to teach inservice teachers at the graduate level, in the Teacher Education program – teaching preservice undergraduates and graduates, as well as acting as the School's Director of Assessment. Suzann was awarded as an Emerging Leader of the ASCD as well as Outstanding Young Educator in Washington State, and regularly presents and publishes her research work across the professional community. In addition, she works as a consultant in grant and program evaluation.
Assistant Coordinator of the Spokane County Parent Coalition (SCPC), Arc of Spokane County
Darci Ladwig is the Assistant Coordinator of the Spokane County Parent Coalition (SCPC) advocacy program at The Arc of Spokane. The SCPC is a group of parents and family members who have an interest in the developmental disability system and want to affect change. Darci’s passion, knowledge and experience come from being the parent of a 15 year old, Zoe, who experiences intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and special healthcare needs.
Executive Director, College Success Foundation-Spokane
Susan Joseph Nielsen is the Regional Executive Director for the College Success Foundation-Spokane and Yakima. CSF provides a unique integrated system of supports and scholarships to inspire underserved, low-income students to finish high school, graduate from college and succeed in life. CSF Spokane and Yakima currently provide services to more than 2,500 middle and high school students annually in Spokane Public School and the Yakima School District. Susan has also been the Principal/Owner of Strategic Niche, LLC, a consultancy specializing in reputation management, branding, media relations, corporate and investor relations communications and crisis preparation. Susan's executive background and client engagements include the energy, technology, higher education, natural resources, nonprofit and health care sectors. As a small business owner, consultant and freelance journalist she has also focused on community philanthropy and volunteerism throughout her career. She is a graduate of Washington State University and received an advanced degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Eastern Washington University. Susan is Accredited in Public Relations (APR) through the Public Relations Society of America. She has been and continues to be an active volunteer on many boards and committees including Numerica Credit Union (board), American Red Cross Inland Northwest Chapter (board), Spokane Public Schools, Spokane Public Relations Society of America, Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, Junior Achievement of Washington, Spokane MARCOM, Greater Spokane Incorporated K-12 Roundtable Committee, Alpha Chi Omega alumnae chapter, Ham on Regal Hambones.
Susan enjoys traveling, walking, stream fishing, boating, reading, football (especially WSU and Seahawks) warm climates and spending time and going on adventures with her husband and family. A native of Walla Walla, Susan and her husband Scott have lived in Spokane for more than 30 years and have two adult sons who live and work in the Seattle area. Susan’s hashtags are #NoDaysWasted #TakeEveryOpportunity.
Director of Express and Afterschool Programs, Spokane Public Schools
Lisa White has been an administrator in Spokane Public Schools for the past 24 years in Spokane Public Schools – Director Afterschool STEM and Athletics Pre-K -6th. Successful development of program and funding for students with a lens of social justice and equity, workforce and economic development, and access to high quality academic and afterschool experiences.
Most recently, she was in the position of Director of Career and Technical Education for 11 years. Lisa has catalyzed an opportunity for all students (K-12) in Spokane Public Schools to participate in engineering and computer science through FIRST Lego League/JR, and FIRST Robotics Challenge. Lisa is an alumna of Gonzaga University with a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration.
Lisa is the proud parent of three beautiful daughters Krysten (27), Neva (18) and Bailey (17).
V.P of Community Impact, Spokane County United Way
Sally Pritchard is the Vice President of Community Impact for Spokane County United Way, where she has been employed since 2003. In that capacity, she oversees the organization’s community investments, volunteer engagement strategies and capacity building work. The organization’s three areas of focus are eliminating achievement gaps in education, increasing family financial stability, and mitigating the impact of ACEs on children and families. Sally is also a long-time board member of TeamChild, a statewide legal advocacy organization that upholds the legal rights of youth and ensures their opportunity to succeed. Sally and her husband, Tom Tremaine, have made Spokane their home since 1982, and raised four children who graduated from Spokane Public Schools.
Director of Education & Workforce, Executive Director Spokane STEM, Greater Spokane Incorporated
Meg Lindsay is the Director of Education & Workforce and Executive Director of Spokane STEM. Meg leads Greater Spokane Incorporated’s Greater Minds initiative. Meg oversees department staff, and coordinate community, education, business, and government collaboration.