Our current priority:

Conducting an innovative community needs assessment for Spokane County focused on the economy, education, the environment, health, housing, & public safety.

Top Priorities for Spokane County

1. Provide greater access to mental health services/resources to improve public safety.

2. Expand childcare capacity to boost the economy.

3. Expand the tree canopy to enhance the environment.

4. Explore alternative housing such as shared equity, tiny homes, co-housing, etc. to address housing issues.

Selected by vote on 5/31/2023. Visit our partners at www.SpokaneTrends.org and www.SRHD.org for Spokane County data. 

Culture of Health Award

Spokane County increased HS graduation rates from below 60% to over 80% in 5 years! As a result we’re stoked about our national Culture of Health Award from RWJF

Donate Now

Once completed, jump up and down in excitement, that you have contributed to a cause that helps the entire community of Spokane.

Our Mission

Priority Spokane is an endeavor to create a vibrant future for Spokane County by implementing community-defined goals. It is through collaborative and focused efforts that Spokane County will be a flourishing community for all who live and work here.

Our Commitment to Equity: Priority Spokane commits to listening first, meeting with groups where they’re at, and working diligently to be inclusive, culturally informed, and equitable in our work. We envision a thriving Spokane County where all residents live healthy, fulfilling lives free of racism, poverty, violence, and other systems of oppression. Where all residents will have equitable opportunities and resources, leading to optimal health and well-being.

Learn more about us

What We Do

Priority Spokane is a unique collaboration of organizations working to identify and address priorities for Spokane County. We foster measurable improvements in key areas of community vitality. By focusing efforts on a few key priorities, Priority Spokane aims be a catalyst for the creation of a larger thriving community for all who live and work here. We conduct a data-driven community assessment, identify and research root causes, develop regional evidence-based plans, convene community leaders and stakeholders, and lead a collaborative effort to achieve measurable results.  We are so committed to collaboration not competition that we’ve chosen not to become our own 501c3 and instead are fiscally sponsored by the Innovia Foundation (so donations are still tax deductible!). While this makes fundraising more difficult, not being our own 501c3 assures we’re reliant on community partnerships to conduct our work and is one of the things that makes us unique.

PDF of basic info
Virtual Tutoring

Stress & Trauma Education Program (STEP)logo

Priority Spokane has handed STEP back to our partners at the Center for Trauma & Stress Education. Please visit www.CTSEPrograms.org for more information on scheduling a STEP group.

STEP (formerly CSTEP) provides safe structured space to unpack and process the events of the last few years. Priority Spokane partnered with the Center for Trauma & Stress Education to provide virtual or in person Stress & Trauma Education Programs (STEP) for individuals and organizations across Washington State. STEP trainings are free of charge to participants, include six sessions 60-90 minutes each, and can include up to 14 participants per group.  When the 6 sessions are held is up to you- three sessions a day over two days, one session a week for six weeks, etc.   COVID and the events of the last few years have taken a tremendous toll on our health and well-being. This unique curriculum was developed by CTSE and Priority Spokane to provide tools and support to address stress and trauma.

The curriculum covers:
  1. Trauma prevention & recovery
  2. Coping with stress & uncertainty
  3. Managing increased work, life, and relationship stressors
  4. Accurate expression & validation: improving communication
  5. Managing attention & emotion
  6. Building connections
  7. Understanding grief & loss
  8. Reducing suffering through opposite action

“The COVID Stress and Trauma Group was one Zoom meeting I couldn’t wait to attend every week. The tools it provided were life-changing and the support greatly appreciated.” – Tammy

Groups use evidence-based techniques and are led by trained individuals. Priority Spokane offers free virtual STEP trainings for group leaders to successfully lead or co-lead groups. Who are STEP Groups for? Almost anyone!  These groups can be adapted for colleagues, clients, communities, or even just a group of friends.

This training has been made possible thanks to the generous support of these Priority Spokane members: Better Health Together, Innovia Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, & Providence Health Services.

Virtual Tutoring
Virtual Tutoring

What others have said about STEP (formerly CSTEP):


The Group Leader Training-

“The training exceeded my expectations and was the most valuable training I’ve taken all year.”

“These are the tools and the support we need right now. I’m excited to share this with my clients & colleagues.”

The Groups-

“I cried. I laughed. I learned a lot. I’d say that’s a successful group wouldn’t you? I recommend this.”

“I use the lessons and practices from CSTEP daily. At first I wasn’t sure about meeting virtually, but I really enjoyed each week’s group.”

“This was a Zoom group I actually looked forward to each week.”

For Group Leaders

What We're Doing

Priority Spokane is working to reduce the harmful impacts of family violence and trauma across Spokane County by expanding Peer Support.  We know that the trauma caused by family violence is at the root of many of the larger problems facing Spokane County: homelessness, mental health, addiction, etc.  For instance, from our previous work addressing student and family homelessness, we discovered that domestic violence is the 2nd leading cause of family homelessness in our region.  We’re expanding Peer Support to prevent family trauma, reduce suicide rates, enhance the equity and quality of services, provide meaningful employment, reduce hospitalization rates and associated costs, and address trauma and stress caused by COVID-19.  See our complete plan here.

How We're Going to Do It

Priority Spokane tried something new!  We’ve used a community mapping process to identify causal loops, gaps in resources, and root causes that helped us get at the heart of our family trauma and violence problem in Spokane County.  We’ve used this map to guide the development of our final plan.  We couldn’t do this alone, so we’ve worked side by side with researchers, funders, providers, experts, media, businesses, and individuals to assure that Spokane County is a safe place free of violence for the children and families who live here.

Where we are in our

We've found a 3-5 year system that works. Here's an infographic that shows how and where we are in determining and achieving our goals.

5 years

A Word from Commissioner Mary Kuney

“I’m honored to be a member of Priority Spokane and appreciate their data-driven and collaborative process. The impact of trauma and violence on children and families is a root cause of many of the problems we face across Spokane County. Please join us in assuring Spokane County is a safe and healthy home for all who live and work here.”

-Mary Kuney, Spokane County Commissioner

A Message from City Council Member, Karen Stratton

“Priority Spokane’s community assessment process provides the necessary tools to evaluate and prioritize community needs. Through data review and community collaboration, important social and health issues are identified. Priority Spokane is leading the way to positive change and improving our community for everyone. I am proud to be a part.”

-Karen Stratton, Spokane City Council Member


Research is extremely important when finding a solution to any conflict or problem, and this priority is no different.

Our Framework Coming Soon

Who We Are

Priority Spokane brings together leaders and stakeholders from government, education, universities, business, health, Tribes, philanthropy, and nonprofit sectors. It’s only through their guidance, coordination, and support that we succeed. Below are our outstanding Steering Members who have committed to working together to improve the health and vitality of Spokane County.  Are you interested in becoming a member?  Contact us.
Avista Corporation

– Melanie Rose, Regional Business Manager

City of Spokane

– Council Member Karen Stratton

-Jenn Cerecedes, Director of CHHS

Community Building Foundation

– Katy Sheehan, Executive Director

Scholarship Sponsor!

Kaiser Permanente

– Kim Wicklund, Director Community Health

-Alternates: Kelly Stanford, Jennifer Wilbur

Kalispel Tribe of Indians

-Leslie Bytnar, Charitable & Governmental Affairs Manager (Secretary/Treasurer)

Scholarship Sponsor!

MultiCare Health Foundation Inland NW

– Jennifer Vigil, Equity & Outreach Program Manager

Numerica Credit Union

– Melanie Whalen, VP of Analytics and Insights

Empire Health Foundation

– Lu Hill, Community Engagement & Strategy Director

Gonzaga University

– Dr. Yolanda Gallardo, Dean School of Education

Greater Spokane Incorporated

– Stacia Rasmussen, Health & Life Sciences Business Development Manager 

Innovia Foundation

– Dr. Scott Ferguson, Associate Director of Grants (Vice Chair)


Providence Health Care

– John Kleiderer, Chief Mission Integration Officer
– Member TBA

Spokane County

-Commissioner Amber Waldref

-Commissioner Chris Jordan

Spokane Regional Health District

– Danielle Wrenn, Program Manager Data Center (Chair)

United Way of Spokane

– John Dickson, CEO

Washington State University Health Sciences

– Andrew Perera, Director of Student Equity, Leadership, and Community HUB

Women Helping Women Fund

– Heather Hamlin, Executive Director

Spokane Valley Fire Department

-Caroline Kusher, Community Risk Reduction Specialist

-(Alternate) Brett Anderson, Deputy Fire Marshal

Community Minded Enterprises

-John Hindman, Executive Director

Excelsior Wellness Center

-Aaron Chavez, Executive Director Excelsior Schools

-Drew Comito, Associate Director

Asuris Northwest Health

-Brady Cass, President

Junior League of Spokane

-Ann Smith, President/Sustainer

Believe in Me Foundation

-Julie Wukelic, CEO

Spokane Valley Fire Dept.

-Jamie McIntyre, Community Risk Reduction Manager

Eastern Washington University

-Dr. Vernon Loke, Associate Dean


Priority Spokane’s charter allows for up to 30 Steering Committee organizations with up to two voting members being from the same organization. Most organizations pay an annual membership fee of $2,500* per voting member which funds the administrative costs of the organization. Members guide the organization and participate in the community assessment process and receive: 1 vote per membership, recognition as a member in all publications and press releases, recognition as a member on our website, annual recognition via social media, public recognition at all Priority Spokane events and an invitation to several annual private events.

Our Staff

Ryan Oelrich MA, MBA  Executive Director

Ryan became Priority Spokane’s Executive Director in 2015. A Gonzaga University Graduate, he’s founded and directed several nonprofit organizations and businesses. He’s a RWJF Culture of Health Fellow and received the Peirone prize for service in 2016. He’s received Congressional recognition for his work on poverty issues and is an advocate for increased coordination and collaboration to achieve results which was the subject of one of his TED talks.

Christi Patterson, STEP Facilitator 

Laurel Lemke, STEP Facilitator

Madelyne Cole, Community Assessment Coordinator (Wolff Fellow) 

Community Sponsorships

Sponsor a community organization whose voice, experience, and perspective are needed at the table at a reduced rate of $2,250 per year. Community Sponsors help us assure that diverse voices are equitably included at the table. Please contact us for additional details. Thank you to Avista Utilities, Community Building Foundation, Kaiser Permanente & Kalispel Tribe of Indians for their past sponsorship support. 

How you can help

Making measurable change in our community requires community-wide action through collaboration and through individual action, such as volunteering and contributing resources. Priority Spokane is committed to collaboration not competition and as a result has chosen not to become a 501c3.  Priority Spokane is instead fiscally sponsored by the Innovia Foundation so all contributions are tax deductible.  Not being a 501c3 assures that our organization has to partner and collaborate with other community organizations to fundraise and conduct our work, and is one of the things that makes us and our process unique. We appreciate your support and investment in our work.

Get in touch

Contact Us

We'd love to hear from you regarding any general questions, suggestions, or comments.

We're a busy group that is constantly working to reach our goals, but will get back to you at our earliest convenience.

Office Phone
(509) 499-0536
Email Address