Executive Director Tracy Simmons: Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 13 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. Currently she teaches Strategic Communication at the University of Idaho and serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She also writes for the Religion News Service and is a reporter and columnist for the Spokesman-Review.
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Board President Debbie Selzer: Selzer is a lay minister with the Spokane Valley Community of Christ. She holds a BA in Communication and most of her career has been in communications, marketing, and administrative support roles – in the profit and non profit worlds, including working for different church organizations. She also has some interesting stories of her time as a substitute elementary school teacher. After several years as an administrative coordinator for a global financial group, Debbie recently made the switch to an administrative role with an international construction man
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Board Secretary Elizabeth Backstrom: Elizabeth Backstrom majored in journalism at Western Washington University and currently works as a content analyst and grant writer in Spokane. Her background is in newswriting and features, but if an overabundance of caffeine is consumed, she has been known to write a humor piece or two. Backstrom attended various Christian churches growing up in Spokane and currently attends First Covenant Church, an inner-city ministry in downtown Spokane.
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Board Treasurer Mari Haworth: Mari Haworth is a retired researcher whose love of research began at age 3, with a brand new set of the Encyclopedia Britannica. She was raised Lutheran and is currently studying Jodo Shinshu Buddhism at the Spokane Buddhist Temple, an all-volunteer temple. Mari is the past treasurer of the Temple, and currently serves on their Religious Education Committee, is the publicity and social media volunteer, newsletter editor, and fundraising committee co-chair. She volunteers on the Board of the Spokane Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) and publishes their newsletter. She is grateful for being a mother and grandmother, playing taiko drums with Spokane Taiko, and for the laughs and tunes with her karaoke family.
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At-Large Member Mark Hilditch: Mark Hilditch is happily retired after a 46-year work adventure which included seasons of learning opportunities in business promotion, graphic design, pastoral leadership, senior care management, website marketing, and hospice education and promotion. He does copy editing and proofreading and provides development consulting for Vino y Aceite International (a network of 100 new churches based in Mexico.) Hilditch and his wife, Sharon, are part of New Community Church in Spokane.
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At-Large Member Riff Mattré: Employed 20 years behind the scenes at the The Spokesman-Review, Mattré currently serves as its Post Press Manager. In 2018, he completed his first bachelor’s degree in Integrated Social Sciences through the University of Washington, Seattle. A champion of investigative journalism, Mattré believes exploring difference is the key to strengthening commonality. It was in his 20s Mattré set out upon his own quest for answers regarding faith and values. His adventures eventually landed him at a Buddhist monastery in Southern France where he decided Jesus and Siddhartha would have been great friends. Mattré is convinced our greater society’s future health depends upon easing gaps between ‘either-ors.’ Helping others recognize the truth of one path reflected in aspects of another is Riff’s highest aim and since 2013 he has imagined and supported FāVS fulfilling this vital role especially for today’s youth.
Contact Riff at: firstname.lastname@example.org
At-Large Member Francesca Nevil: Frannie is a senior student at Gonzaga University studying International Relations and Sociology with minors in Social Justice and Leadership. She is originally from Wenatchee and grew up in the valley engaging in all seasons of recreational activity with friends and family. She has a very strong faith life and holds her Christian identity at the center of who she believes and is. Meeting new people and engaging in different cultures brings her the most joy, hence she loves to travel. Nevil spent a year following high school graduation on a solo backpacking trip through Europe, then spent four months immersed in Costa Rican culture. Further, she thinks becoming culturally aware and religiously literate are of the utmost importance. Before joining the FāVS board, she served as a Wolff Fellow.
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At-Large Member Cate Wetherald: Cate Wetherald was raised in the Bible Belt, the progeny of an excommunicated Roman Catholic and a biblical fundamentalist. She first encountered theology at at Lyon College, affiliate with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), while earning her Bachelor of Arts majoring in communications and minoring in English and theatre. She has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry from Gonzaga University, and is a trained spiritual director. She has written extensively for publication in multiple formats, and most recently was the director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane.
Contact Cate at: firstname.lastname@example.org