Project Hope Spokane just hired its first executive director, Joel Williamson, to lead the West Central based organization through its next phase of life, according to a press release.
Project Hope is an organization that provides the means for disadvantaged youth in Spokane's West Central and Emerson Garfield neighborhoods to escape poverty and gang affiliation through entrepreneurial initiatives.
“Hiring our first executive director marks a great achievement for Project Hope”, said Thom Caraway, board president, “and will allow us to work more effectively towards the fulfillment of our mission with added capacity.”
Up until now the organization has been an all volunteer effort led by a board of directors and key community partners and volunteers. The organization started in 2006 with the core purpose of creating jobs for West Central youth to give them opportunities to avoid gangs and jail. Each year the organization gathers a group of 30 or more youth ages 11 to 18, and teaches them job skills and leadership hands on through their network of urban farms in the West Central, according to a press release.
Project Hope hopes to further develop their financial position, streamline organizational processes, and build a stable base from which to grow their program in the future to serve more neighborhood youth.
Williamson is a Spokane native that has a passion for community economic development and the creation of a robust local food system. He is currently an MBA student at Bainbridge Graduate Institute and just finished working as City Council member Jon Snyder’s legislative assistant. His family started Jacobson’s Greenhouses, a flower growing nursery, in 1917 up on the Moran Prarie and feels that this kind of work is in his blood.
“I am very excited to be working with Project Hope to empower Spokane youth while building our local food economy,” said Williamson in a press release.
Tracy Simmons is an award-winning journalist specializing in religion reporting and digital entrepreneurship. In her approximate 20 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, Connecticut and Washington. She is the executive director of SpokaneFāVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Washington. She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and national publications. She is a Scholarly Assistant Professor of Journalism at Washington State University.