Our current priority:

Reducing the harmful impact of trauma and violence on children and families across Spokane County.

The Facts

In Spokane County:

  1. 57.7 Child Abuse/Neglect Cases in 2017 per 1,000
  2. 618 Youth completed or attempted suicide in 2017 per 100,000
  3. 13.7 Domestic Violence Offenses in 2017 per 1,000

Each of these data points is on an upward trend and significantly higher than the average for Washington State. Thank you to our members The Women Helping Women Fund and Spokane Regional Health District for this important research from their “Changing Our Forecast: State of Women & Children in Spokane County” report.

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: Earnest dialogue and active listening are keys to challenging our assumptions and understanding those who are different from us. 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 priorities for Spokane County and then collaborating to address them. Our goal is to foster measurable improvements in key areas of community vitality. By focusing efforts on a few key priorities, Priority Spokane aims to create a 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.

PDF of basic info

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 Our Executive Director

Spokane County has the highest domestic violence rates in Washington state as well as substantially higher child abuse and youth suicide and self harm rates.  In fact Spokane County saw over a 400% increase in youth suicide and self harm over just 10 years.  This is not what we want for Spokane’s kids.  This is not what we want to be known for. These problems are at the root of our community’s challenges with homelessness, addiction, and mental health. We’re thankful for the work of the Domestic Violence Coalition, the Women Helping Women Fund’s ground-breaking report on women and children, and the work of our many partners.  We’ll only get ahead of this through collaboration and coordination, and that’s something Spokane has proven time and time again it does well.  Join us in assuring Spokane County is a safe and healthy community for all who live and work here.”


-Ryan Oelrich, Executive Director


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

– Kristine Meyer, Avista Foundation

City of Spokane

– Councilmember Karen Stratton

-Mayor Nadine Woodward

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

– Ranjan Shakya, Program Coordinator

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 Mary Kuney
– Member TBA

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

-Michelle Grover, Past President/Sustainer

Believe in Me Foundation

-Julie Wukelic, CEO


Priority Spokane 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 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 with a link to your organization, 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.

Community Sponsorships

Sponsor a community organization who otherwise could not afford membership 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.

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