About us

Our Mission & History

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 on improvements that Spokane County will be a flourishing community for all who live and work here.

OUR HISTORY:  In 2004, Eastern Washington University’s (EWU) Institute for Policy and Economic Analysis commenced the Community Indicators Initiative (CII). This initiative involved the collection of data – or indicators – to assess the state of the Spokane community in terms of economic vitality, education, health, environment and numerous other factors. A group of community leaders involved in the CII process recognized the value of the indicators for identifying priority community problems and for measuring change on these issues over time. These leaders represented local government, businesses, nonprofit organizations and local funders. With the vision to prioritize community action to measurably improve the community, these leaders officially launched Priority Spokane in 2008.

Would you like to duplicate our award-winning process in your community?

Priority Spokane has provided training, consultation, and support to other communities across the country to create a collaborative system/organization to identify and address priorities.  Contact us for details.


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

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

What We've Done

Graduation Rates Increased

Priority Spokane partnered with community organizations to successfully raise our graduation rate from below 60% to above 80% in just five years! Priority Spokane realized that by assuring the success of our students we assured the health and success of our community, our economy, and Spokane County as a whole. We received the national RWJF Culture of Health Prize for our work!

Award Winning Data Driven Process

Priority Spokane has created an award-winning and data-driven process to identify and address Spokane’s biggest problems. By allowing data and research to guide our decisions, we can tackle problems with laser point precision! One of the important resources we utilize to track data are the www.SpokaneTrends.org and www.CountyHealthInsights.org!  These two great sites provide one-stop-shopping for great data for Spokane County.

Leadership Involvement

Priority Spokane brings together government, education, business, health, philanthropy, nonprofit, Tribes, and community leaders to address our community’s biggest problems. Community leaders and stakeholders provided input, feedback, resources, and support during our last project. Community leadership, ownership, and involvement from all parties is key!

Stabilized & Housed Homeless Students

Priority Spokane created an evidence-based pilot to stabilize homeless students and their families from pre-K to 8th grade in high need schools. Priority Spokane stabilized or housed 272 children or 80% of the students and their families engaged in the 3 year program.

What We Do

Priority Spokane identifies and addresses priorities for Spokane County through a unique collaboration and commitment to a data-driven process. By focusing efforts on a few priorities and leverage points associated with economic vitality, education, the environment, equity, health, housing & transportation, and community safety, the resulting success can serve as a catalyst for measurable improvements regionally. Priority Spokane values collaboration over competition, so we appreciate being fiscally sponsored by the Innovia Foundation instead of becoming our own 501c3.  This helps assure we’re dependent on collaboration and partnership to succeed and is one of the things that makes us unique.

  1. Conduct Data-Driven Community Assessments
  2. Research, Map, & Identify Root Causes, Gaps, & Opportunities
  3. Convene Leaders & Stakeholders At Monthly Steering Meetings
  4. Identify Evidence-Based Priorities for Spokane County
  5. Collaboratively Create a plan to Address Regional Problems
  6. Fund & Identify Resources to Address Priorities 
  7. Evaluate & Measure Our Efforts to Prove They Work 
  8. Raise Awareness & Educate


Priority Spokane’s charter allows for up to 25 Steering Committee Member with up to two voting members being from the same organization. Organizations pay an annual membership fee of $2,500 per voting member which funds the administrative costs of the organization. Members guide and oversee the organization.  They participate in the community assessment process and receive: 1 vote per membership, input in selecting priorities for Spokane County, 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.

Ryan Oelrich MA, MBA Executive Director

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. Ryan also formerly served as a City of Spokane Council Member and is an experienced presenter and trainer having spoken at conferences nationally and internationally.


Madelyne Cole, Community Assessment Coordinator (Wolff Fellow) 

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

– Mayor Lisa Brown

-Alternate: Dawn Kinder, Director of CHHS

-Council Member Paul Dillon

Community Building Foundation

– Katy Sheehan, Executive Director

Scholarship Sponsor!

Kaiser Permanente

– Angela Matson, Marketing Strategist


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 (Chair)


Providence Health Care

– John Kleiderer, Chief Mission Integration Officer
– Christina Kamkosi, Manager Community Health Investment Programs

Spokane County

-Commissioner Amber Waldref

-Commissioner Chris Jordan

Spokane Regional Health District

– Danielle Wrenn, Program Manager Data Center

United Way of Spokane

– Mark Tucker, Interim CEO

Washington State University Health Sciences

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

Women Helping Women Fund

– Geneva Johns, Operations Director

Community Minded Enterprises

-John Hindman, CEO

Excelsior Wellness Center

Drew Comito, Associate Director (Vice Chair)

Asuris Northwest Health

-Brady Cass, President

Junior League of Spokane

-Ann Smith, President/Sustainer

Believe in Me Foundation

-Julie Wukelic, CEO

Spokane Fire Dept.

-Jamie McIntyre, Community Risk Reduction Manager

Eastern Washington University

-Dr. Vernon Loke, Associate Dean

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