2018 Women of Achievement Honoree Bios

Categories: Awards, Community, Events, Impact, Other, Success Stories

2018 YWCA Women of Achievement Award Honoree Bios

Winners of a YWCA Woman of Achievement Award embody the mission of YWCA Spokane by giving generously of themselves to make Spokane a better place for all citizens to live. They must also demonstrate leadership through their professional work or service to the community in one or more of the following categories: Arts & Culture; Business & Industry; Carl Maxey Racial and Social Justice; Community Enhancement; Education; Science, Technology, and Environment; Young Woman of Achievement; and the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The 2018 Women of Achievement Awards Honorees:
  • Sandra Olgard, Owner and Founder, Sandra Olgard’s Studio of Dance – Arts & Culture
  • Sharelynn Moore, Senior Vice President of Networked Solutions Group, Itron – Business & Industry
  • Sandy Williams, Publisher and Editor, Black Lens News – Carl Maxey Racial & Social Justice
  • Karen Winston, Director, Children’s Advocacy Center – Community Enhancement
  • Sally Pritchard, Vice President of Community Impact, Spokane County United Way – Community Enhancement
  • Lisa Taylor Laurier, Ed.D, Department Chair for Teacher Education Program and Professor of Education, Whitworth University – Education
  • Lois James, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, WSU College of Nursing – Science, Technology & Environment
  • Rebecca Long, President and Founder, Future Ada – Young Woman
  • Sister Celine Steinberger, Sisters of Holy Names of Jesus and Mary – Lifetime Achievement

2018 Women of Achievement Honoree Announcement Press Release


Photo provided courtesy of Hamilton Studio.

Sandra Stejer Olgard slid into her first pair of pink leather ballet shoes at the age of 5. Her mother had enrolled her in Spokane’s renowned Tessa Williams School of Classical Ballet where her career as a dancer got its start. At the age of 11, she was promoted to teacher’s assistant. Her dancing ability was not only noticed by Williams, a Royal Academy of Dance instructor, but she was also invited to attend summer schools in Vancouver, Edmonton, Banff, and London at the Royal Academy of Dance. As a teenager, Sandra danced in plays at the Spokane Civic Theatre and performed solo at Our Lady of Lords Cathedral Easter Services.

After graduating from Ferris High School, Sandra went on to dance professionally on MGM’s glitzy stage in Las Vegas and the Lido in Paris, France. She also became the principal dancer for Sun City’s Extravaganza in South Africa. Sandra returned to Spokane and opened the Sandra Olgard’s Studio of Dance in 1988. For over three decades, she has taught thousands of students, growing the number of classes and the curriculum to teach 200 students annually.

In addition to running the studio during the school year, Sandra spends summers choreographing, selecting costumes and music, and preparing for the next year’s recital including Olgard’s interpretation of classics such as Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Les Fille Mal Gardee, and Don Quixote and modern ballet themes such as the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Frozen, The Swan Princess, and Candy Land.

Sandra has also taken her work to film. She received film credit cast as the Dance Teacher, Mrs. Maxfield, in the movie, Different Drummers. She also choreographed the dance scenes which included many of her students.

Sandra says her greatest pleasure is nurturing students of any age to learn and love the art of dance. Several of her students have moved on to professional careers. However, helping her students develop a passion for the appreciation of dance, music, athleticism, good posture, and confidence, is what brings her the most joy.

Along with her husband Bruce Olgard, administrator in Mead SD for 26 years, they raised 4 daughters: a teacher for District 81 Skill Center, a senior marketing manager for Amazon in Seattle, a financial analyst in Seattle, and their youngest is in CA after a professional volleyball career.

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Photo provided courtesy of Hamilton Studio.

With an unwavering passion improving her community, creating a more resourceful world, inspiring innovation within the next generations of “wholehearted” leaders, and encouraging women to take leadership roles, Sharelynn Moore is the epitome of women in business leadership.

Sharelynn Moore has established herself as a leader in the business industry with over 20 years of experience in the energy and technology sectors. As a senior vice president of one of Itron’s largest organizations: Network Solutions, Sharelynn is responsible for global networking platforms and for creating partnerships for smarter city utilities.

Sharelynn is a visionary, achieving a ripple effect of empowerment on future leaders within the science, technology, and environment industries around the world. Under her leadership, Itron launched an interactive STEM curriculum called Resourcefulness, which was recognized by the White House at the Water Summit as a forthcoming educational tool that inspired resourceful use of energy and water on a global scale. The interactive curriculum and accompanying educational documentary were made available to students and the public for free with the intention of improving water and energy literacy, encouraging conversation, and inspiring the next generation of innovators.

While Sharelynn represents a global corporation, her roots are in the Inland Northwest, where she got her start. Native to Northern Idaho, she received her bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Idaho and received an MBA with an emphasis in IT at Gonzaga University.

In addition to standing as the lead speaker and presenter for Itron within the Spokane executive community, Sharelynn also acts as a role model and mentor for those in STEM careers as well as for her colleagues and supervisees. She is also a member of the Greater Spokane Incorporated’s Board of Trustees and the Urbanova Board of Directors.

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Photo provided courtesy of Hamilton Studio.

Sandra Williams is an activist, lecturer, filmmaker, and entrepreneur, with an extensive background addressing issues of discrimination, equity, and social justice. Sandra is currently the Publisher and Editor of The Black Lens, the only African American focused newspaper in Eastern Washington, which published its first issue in January of 2015. Sandra is also a consultant, offering workshops, training, and board development to businesses and non-profit organizations.

Sandra received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Washington State University and her Master’s Degree in Film/Television Production from the University of Southern California School of Cinema. She has been involved in anti-oppression/anti-discrimination work for over thirty years, as the Coordinator of the Pride Center at Eastern Washington University, the Executive Director of Odyssey Youth Center, the Spokane Field Coordinator for Youth Suicide Prevention Program, and as an HIV/AIDS Prevention Educator focusing on communities of color.

In addition to activism and grassroots organizing, Sandra has effectively used the mediums of film, video, theater, and the spoken word as tools to address discrimination and oppression. In 2008, she ventured into radio with the development of a bi-monthly public affairs program on KYRS Radio 92.3 FM in Spokane, WA. Her program, Revolutionary Spirituality, which aired for four years, looked at the diversity that exists within religious and spiritual beliefs, and addressed the ways that organized religion has been used as a weapon of oppression.

Currently focusing her attention primarily on the needs of Spokane’s African American community, Sandra accepted an appointment by Governor Jay Inslee in 2013 to the Washington State Commission on African American Affairs as the Eastern Washington representative. She is a member of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Multicultural Affairs (MACMA), a founding member of Spokane Community Against Racism (SCAR), and a member of the Spokane branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Recently, Sandra joined forces with a local non-profit organization, Friends of the Black Lens, to spearhead the creation of The Carl Maxey Center, a newly envisioned hub in Spokane’s East Central neighborhood that will focus on Cultural Enrichment, Economic Development, and Social & Racial Justice.

In all that she does, Sandy builds relationships based on genuine engagement, real listening, and authentic shared values. She speaks truth to power in a way that honors, rather than hides, the emotional impact of injustice and racism both personally and systematically. She gives voice to that emotional truth, she holds that vulnerability and honesty as strength, dignity, and power – a rare and transformative approach in a culture that frequently shames and silences truth and emotion.

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Photo provided courtesy of Hamilton Studio.

Sally Pritchard is a champion and steadfast supporter of women and children in Spokane. Her professional career, volunteer engagement, and philanthropic fervor align deeply with YWCA Spokane’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women.

A true champion for children, Sally is dedicated professionally and personally to making sure every child in our community has the opportunity to be successful in school and in life. Recognized statewide as an early learning expert and champion, her work as Vice President of Community Services for Spokane County United Way is more than just a job, it is her life’s passion.

Early on in her career, her work with the Children’s Alliance, Columbia Legal Services, and Spokane Legal Services provided Sally with a deep understanding that education is the cornerstone for individual success in life. Sally also does not shy away from surfacing racial disparities and closing the gap of opportunity, particularly for children of color. She has advocated for the frame of racial equality to be applied to education policies in the early learning and K-12 systems and collective impact initiatives.

With over 30 years of unshakable devotion towards the empowerment of others, Sally represents the best of servant stewardship in our community. She is a powerful and authentic leader with a quiet yet unyielding approach, able to effect incredible change within our community’s most entrenched social issues.

Sally has served as chair of YWCA Spokane’s Board of Directors, vice-chair of the Chase Youth Commission, and as a board member for the West Central Community Center, YMCA Downtown Advisory Board, Roosevelt Elementary School PTG Board, Spokane Neighborhood Action Program, and was a founding board member of V.O.I.C.E.S. She is actively involved in supporting the Native Project, served on the statewide board for TeamChild, and has made several legislative presentations on behalf of our community’s early learning system.

With humor, a strategic mind, a humble demeanor, and a “let’s roll up our sleeves” attitude, Sally inspires others to tackle issues head-on and work to become the leader and champion she so aptly portrays.

She is married to Tom Tremaine, her life partner in social justice work (legal services attorney, expert in Indian Child Welfare law, tribal court judge, adjunct faculty at Gonzaga Law School). Together they have raised four children in Spokane: a high school teacher, a youth worker, a civil engineer, and a sous chef!

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Photo provided courtesy of Hamilton Studio.

“Love is something you do, not just something you say.” Provided by her mother Vivian Winston (1982 Women of Achievement Honoree), these are the words Karen Winston has been known to live by.  This philosophy has characterized her life, her accomplishments, and her outstanding contributions to the Spokane community.

This simple yet powerful life lesson has guided Karen toward a career of caring for women and children, especially those with special needs. With a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Washington, Karen began her career through the progression of social work, counseling, consulting, and program director for social service organizations dedicated to the well-being of others. She has held positions with the Girl Scouts, Child Welfare Services, Child Protective Services, the Juvenile Court, Child/Teen Court Program, and Partners with Families & Children.

For 24 years, Karen has been a vital member of the Spokane community, working closely with law enforcement, Child Protective Services, and judicial services to help protect child abuse victims and those exposed to drugs and violence. In addition, Karen sought specialized training as a Child Forensic Interviewer in order to support the Regional Center for Child Abuse and Neglect.

Karen’s work is a manifestation of her mother Vivian’s teaching. In a 1985 interview with Spokesman-Review columnist Dorothy Powers, Vivian went on to say, “we can’t let those who are unable to make it themselves just fall through the cracks in our system. We need to help every kind of child. We need to remember that these children are going to be part of our world.” As the Director of Partners with Families & Children’s Child Advocacy Center since 1995, Karen has made sure that no child falls through the cracks.

Karen’s work with child abuse victims takes more than love, it takes incredible courage. Courage to address head-on some of the most unconscionable acts in order to make progress. With the same voice that whispers gently to a child in need, Karen is able to speak boldly in a court room, while facing an accused perpetrator, with the steadfast determination to keep children safe and protected.

Karen has facilitated more than 5,500 interviews with children and has testified in court more than 100 times. In partnership with the People’s Institute, she was a key leader in bringing the Undoing Racism training to Spokane. Karen is on the Board of Directors of the Children’s Justice Task Force and the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Washington, working closely with state and federal legislators to ensure that improving the lives of children and families remains a legislative and fiscal priority.

Love, courage, and justice are admirable qualities Karen possesses to work towards the elimination of racism and to empower all people, especially women, children, and marginalized members of our society. Karen understands that early intervention is critical to effectively break the cycle of abuse within a multigenerational cycle. She advocates for women’s empowerment, skill building, and access to meaningful resources in order to effect lasting change in one’s own life as well as within the lives of our children.

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Photo provided courtesy of Hamilton Studio.

For Lisa Laurier, education is the key to empowerment, yet impossible to access unless we are willing to move outside our comfort zone and learn to see the world from more than one perspective. When we do this, Lisa believes we can truly improve the world.

This viewpoint is evident in Lisa’s profound 30 year history as a highly acclaimed professor, counselor, mentor, advocate, and volunteer.  With a Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, a Masters of Education in Counseling, and a Masters of Arts in English and Literature from Northern Arizona University, as well as a Masters in Teaching with Certification and a Bachelors in English and French from the University of Redlands, Lisa has dedicated her life to improving literacy within our community.

In her role as the Department Chair of the Teacher Education Program and Professor of Education at Whitworth University, Lisa teaches strategies and skills needed to effectively educate future generations. With countless publications, course developments, and local, state, and national presentations, Lisa has been distinguished as a leader in her profession.

Through her passion to make sure children are receiving the kind of literacy instruction they deserve, she envisioned, developed, and initiated a University/Elementary school partnership with the Mead School District. It was implemented with great success. Due to the significant improvement in reading scores, Lisa has taken her work into 2 additional schools with the end goal of ensuring all Title 1 schools are provided the same opportunities and benefits experienced by Mead’s non-Title 1 schools.

Lisa served as consultant for the literacy initiatives for the Innovia Foundation (previously the Inland Northwest Community Foundation) and for the Common Core Writing and Reading Evaluation initiatives for the Mead School District. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Washington State Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and the Mead School District Truancy Board as well as being the university liaison to the Inland Northwest Council for Reading Development.

Awards and honors she has received include the Chandler Endowed Professorship in Education Inaugural Recipient, Association for Independent Liberal Arts Colleges of Teacher Education Scholar Award, and the Dean’s Award for Junior Faculty Achievement. Whitworth students have also chosen Lisa as Influential Professor of the Year on three separate occasions.

Lisa’s leadership style has been identified as quiet, caring, and supremely compelling.  With a gentle, brilliant, and loving yet firm approach, Lisa tirelessly inspires her students to pursue excellence in their ability to teach skills critical for foundational success. It is not uncommon for Lisa to meet with students in her home, at her office, or at a local coffee shop to make certain each students’ developing into the teacher they are meant to be.

Lisa is known for celebrating diversity and empowerment within her student’s experience. She also embeds the importance of equity and inclusion by intentionally incorporating materials and methods into her teaching that are reflective of culture, gender, linguistic, socioeconomic, racial, and religious differences representative in our multifarious world.

Her generous spirit and unwavering dedication to her work are self-evident from the numerous success stories shared about her incredible impact on her students, fellow teachers, associates, and on children in our community. Lisa exemplifies selflessness, enthusiasm, courage, compassion, and perseverance; traits proven to be an essential key to her success as an effective leader within our community.

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Photo provided courtesy of Hamilton Studio.

Dr. Lois James is an assistant professor in the Washington State University (WSU) College of Nursing, where she focuses on bias, stress, sleep, and performance in “high stress” populations such as police officers, military personnel, nurses, and top tier athletes. She is one of a handful of research advisors for the International Association of Chiefs of Police, has received multiple honors and awards for her work, and is internationally recognized as a leading expert in her field.

Lois’ simulation-based research on the impact of bias on police decision making has significantly advanced what is known about how a suspect’s race and ethnicity (as well as other factors) influences police officers during critical encounters with the public. She is the founding director of Counter Bias Training Simulation (CBTsim), a novel and innovative simulation-based implicit bias training program that has been featured in National Geographic and the recent feature-length documentary bias.

Lois’ work has been published extensively in academic journals, practitioner magazines, and mainstream media such as the New York Times and the Washington Post. During her time at WSU, James has brought in approximately $5,000,000 of extramural funding, making her an important contributor to WSU’s Drive to 25 goal of being recognized as one of the nation’s top 25 public research universities, preeminent in research and discovery, teaching, and engagement by 2030.

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Photo provided courtesy of Hamilton Studio.

With 15 years of experience in the software industry, and a Bachelors and Masters in Computer Science, Rebecca Long is a catalyst for gender equity and the empowerment of women in computer science and engineering. Currently working as the Lead DevOps Engineer at a startup in Spokane called RiskLens, a cyber risk quantification software company, Rebecca continually steps up to lead her peers on a daily basis.

As a rising star in the tech and computer science world, Rebecca is a driven professional who has dedicated herself to overcoming the pronounced gender gap within the science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) industry by encouraging and supporting women’s career interest and involvement through community activism.

In 2011, Rebecca started a local group called Spokane Geek Girls. The group is focused on inspiring interest in tech and geek culture and offering community and support in an otherwise male-dominated arena. Rebecca then went on to co-found the SpoQuality User Group for industry professionals interested in software quality assurance.

Rebecca is currently launching a 501(c)(3) non-profit called Future Ada to more formally support women, girls, and non-binary individuals in the STEAM fields. This new venture offers training in coding, computer science, career preparation, employee rights, and personal branding. The organization will also work with local high schools and colleges to offer workshops and mentor support to expand STEAM field participation.

With a conscious effort to always be visible and transparent around issues of equity, inclusion, women in technology, and diversity in STEAM, Rebecca actively demonstrates why representation matters and the importance of having diverse people at the table in order to arrive at inclusive solutions.

She serves as Vice Chair on the Eastern Washington University (EWU) Computer Science Department Professional Advisory Board, is an executive member of the Spokane Chapter of the National Organization for Women, has served on the Speaker Committee for the 2018 Write/Speak/Code Conference, judged the Association of Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest for several years, and held a position as a career mentor at EWU for women, non-binary individuals, and other underrepresented students. She has been a guest speaker and volunteer at multiple conferences around the county with a focus on diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.

Rebecca has dedicated a significant amount of her time to volunteer activities and leadership roles within the community. She actively lives out a strong passion to advocate for the rights of women and minorities and to establish programs that help young people obtain the right tools, knowledge, and experience to pursue careers in STEAM fields.

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The dearly departed Sister Celine Therese Steinberger’s lifetime achievements have significantly impacted both the religious and secular communities locally and globally. She worked resolutely for over 55 years to create a better world through serving as a teacher, principal, and director of the Sisters of Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM).  She was deeply passionate about empowering women and expanding diversity within our city.

Born in Seattle, Washington, Sister Celine entered the Congregation in 1960 and pronounced her vows in 1962 as Sister M. Lorene Therese. She earned a BA and an MA in Education from Fort Wright College of the Holy Names. In her earlier career, Sister Celine was a primary school educator in Spokane, Tacoma, and Seattle. She also served as principal at Holy Names Rosary School in Edmonds with many students thriving under her academic care and direction.

Sister Celine served on the Diocesan Foundation Board and worked many tireless years for the Holy Names Music Center, avidly supporting their grant and scholarship programs. Notably, Sister Celine’s guidance and vision helped foster a collaboration between community leaders to create the Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute, an intensive English and American Culture program. Now, 28 years later, a successful campus is in place, creating bridges between two cultures through a unique opportunity for thousands of young Japanese exchange students.

In recognition of her gifts in telling the story of the Sisters of the Holy Names and inspiring others to join the community in mission and ministry, she was invited to be the Development Director for the Washington region of the congregation, a position she held until her passing.

Sister Celine was known for bringing out the best in those with whom she engaged. She was a whirlwind of joy, kindness, creativity, and authenticity. With her wholehearted approach, she was able to nurture relationships in order to broaden services in the church and civic community. As shared during celebrations of her life’s work, it is not possible to overstate her incredible success. Thousands of people call Celine friend. She was professional, competent, perceptive, inquisitive, and very effective in her work and mission.

At the heart of Sister Celine’s life was her spirituality, her deep faith in God, and her constant nourishing of a hopeful heart. She was a shining example of a life dedicated to the betterment of all.

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For 36 years, YWCA Spokane has honored the achievements and diverse contributions of over 230 women in the region at their annual Women of Achievement awards luncheon.

This year’s celebration will be held on Thursday, October 4th, 2018, from 11:30am – 1:30pm. Gathered at the Davenport Grand Hotel, attendees will honor the accomplishments of 9 amazing women leaders and feel inspired by keynote speaker Gloria Norris as she shares her charismatic story of a young girl who survived significant childhood trauma.

Family trauma has been identified as Spokane’s most urgent concern by the Community Indicators Initiative of Spokane. In just 1 year, 14,532 domestic violence related calls were received by law enforcement, and domestic violence continues to be the #1 call to 911. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Together with over 1,200 friends, YWCA Spokane will raise awareness about domestic violence, family trauma, and vital services focused on the safety and well-being of women, children, and families in Spokane.

As YWCA Spokane’s largest and most critical fundraiser, Women of Achievement guests are instrumental in helping to raise vital funds focused on creating a community where women and families have access to safety and housing, opportunities to achieve self-sufficiency, and freedom from domestic violence and discrimination.

Women of Achievement 2018