YWCA Announces 2019 Women of Achievement Award Honorees

Categories: Awards, Community

Congratulations To Our 2019 Award Honorees!

YWCA Spokane is proud to announce its 2019 Women of Achievement Award Honorees. These 10 women will be honored at the 2019 Women of Achievement awards luncheon, held at the Spokane Convention Center, Friday, October 11, 2019, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

“This year’s honorees are truly astounding,” says Regina Malveaux, CEO of YWCA Spokane. “We are honored to recognize so many extraordinary women for their talent, commitment, and contributions to our community. Each is truly an inspiring leader and woman of great achievement.”

The 2019 Women of Achievement Award Honorees:
  • Ginger Ewing, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Terrain Spokane – Arts & Culture
  • Carla Cicero, President and CEO, Numerica Credit Union – Business & Industry
  • Freda Gandy, Executive Director, MLK Community Outreach Center – Carl Maxey Racial & Social Justice
  • Susan Ashe, Executive Director, Health Science & Services Authority (HSSA) of Spokane – Community Enhancement
  • Ann Ciasullo, Professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies and English Department Chair, Gonzaga University – Education
  • Traci Ponto, Officer, Spokane Police Department – Government and Public Service
  • Anne McClain, Astronaut, NASA – Science, Technology & Environment
  • Celestina Barbosa-Leiker, Associate Professor, Washington State University College of Nursing – Science, Technology & Environment
  • Christine Dugger, Spokane Valley Youth Voice – Young Woman of Achievement
  • Marion Moos, Spokane’s “mother of feminism” – Lifetime Achievement

To be awarded a YWCA Women of Achievement Award, a woman must embody YWCA Spokane’s mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. Selected honorees demonstrate leadership through their professional work or service and give generously of themselves to make Spokane a better place for all to live.

Announcement Flyer

“This awards celebration allows the community to pay homage to women who are changemakers in Spokane,” says Laura McAloon, YWCA Spokane Women of Achievement Award Luncheon Co-Chair and YWCA Spokane Board Vice Chair. “It is an inspirational event that ignites and mobilizes guests to participate in solutions that transform lives: one child, one teen, one woman, one family at a time.”

ARTS & CULTURE – Ginger Ewing

When you think of the arts and culture community in Spokane, you think of Ginger Ewing. Working tirelessly to empower and showcase a wide spectrum of artists in Spokane, Ginger is an instrumental component of the arts community in Spokane. Through her work, she is realizing her vision of a future where age, gender, race, and wealth are not factors.

With more than a decade of experience as an arts educator, advocate, and organizer in Spokane, Ginger currently serves as executive director of Terrain, an organization she co-founded. Terrain works to ensure artists, makers, and culture creators thrive in the Inland Northwest. Her energy, dedication, and commitment to diversity of leadership, she powers Terrain’s vision and work. Through Terrain, she has improved Spokane’s access to a vibrant arts community by bringing more art to gallery spaces, streets, theatres, and storefronts.

Aware of the community’s concerns and hopes, Ginger created Window Dressing, a storefront gallery program that fills vacant buildings and disused spaces with art installations and creative business. Window Dressing originated as a side project after Ginger reflected on a complaint about a lack of exhibition space. Taking on liability insurance for spaces in various locations, the program allows local artists to display Artscapes installations in neglected spaces. Since founding Window Dressing in 2014, Ginger has helped highlight more than 40 installations, reducing vandalism in those areas to zero.

Ginger has gone on to support additional artists through the second arm of Window Dressing called Creative Enterprise. This program provides artists with access to low-cost retail space, such as From Here inside River Park Square, where they can test out new ideas with little risk.

Ginger is determined to better the Spokane community by empowering and investing in “culture creators” who are the soul of the city. This includes artists, musicians, and those in the food industry. Ginger believes in investing in the creative economy in order to foster a vibrant and creative cultural scene that results in a thriving community.

From overpasses and parking lots to catered events highlighting local makers, you cannot live in Spokane without experiencing the impact of her efforts. Ginger is also on the board of Spokane Arts Commission and the Washington States Art Commission.

back to top >>


A commitment to empowering women is at the heart of Carla Cicero’s professional career. Her ability to celebrate and equip the women around her has transformed Numerica Credit Union, where women make up more than two-thirds of its workforce. She is a committed leader in the banking industry, who utilizes her influence and talents to encourage women.

Since 2011, Carla has served as president/CEO of Numerica Credit Union in Spokane, Washington. In addition, Carla serves on the Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI) Executive Committee, the Inland Northwest Community Foundation Board of Directors, the 2nd Harvest Board of Directors, and on Rosauers Board of Directors. At the national level, Carla serves on the Board of the World Council of Credit Unions. Carla is a past board member of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), past Chair of 2nd Harvest, and past board member and Chair of the Credit Union Executive Society (CUES). In 2010, she was inducted into CUES Hall of Fame.

In 2016, Carla was honored to receive the 2016 Dream Builders award for community service, and in 2014 was honored to receive the Inland Northwest Catalyst Business Leadership Award. Also in 2014, Numerica, under Carla’s leadership, received the GSI AGORA Award for Business Excellence and the Spokane’s Philanthropic Corporation of the Year Award.

Carla holds the unique position of being a woman in leadership in an industry where there is a disparity based on gender, and she recognizes this. Carla has made it her goal to create a culture of care at Numerica, with concern for both the physical and mental wellbeing of employees. Her management model promotes a healthy work-life balance and makes it clearly known that family comes first. Parents are able to embrace a flexible work schedule, maternity and paternity leave is provided, and nursing rooms and paid “Family Days” off are made available.

Demonstrating her commitment to developing future female leaders, Carla champions opportunities for mentoring, coaching, and a tuition reimbursement program that allows employees to further their education and careers. In addition to her servant leadership at Numerica, Carla is committed to serving the community through charitable giving and volunteer programs through Numerica, including volunteering alongside her staff at 2nd Harvest’s food sorting, for Tom’s Turkey Drive, through YWCA Spokane, and many other nonprofit events and fundraisers.

Carla is admired and adored by her employees and respected for her genuine, selfless leadership in the greater Spokane community. She encourages the people around her to succeed, while caring for each individual’s needs and unique challenges. As shared by many of her staff, “Our community and business industry is better because of Carla’s efforts to raise up the next generation of female leaders and community advocates”.

back to top >>


Freda Gandy is a determined advocate for women, children, families, and senior citizens in Spokane and is dedicated to the elimination of racism in our city. As the Executive Director of the MLK Community Outreach Center, Freda passionately ensures that the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lives on in Spokane.

Twenty years before Freda began running the MLK Center, she was a parent seeking services from the Center. Believing in the work and mission, Freda started volunteering. Soon after she became a beloved part of their staff. In 2017, the Center began facing structural issues including flooding and was forced to close temporarily. With unwavering gumption, Freda and her team successfully raised $3 million through a capital campaign. Soon after the East Central Community Center was acquired, providing a clear road map to new and improved services for the community.

Under Freda’s guidance, the Center works to pave the way towards a more equitable future by encouraging families to take responsibility for their success, preparing children to succeed in school and life, providing leadership opportunities for youth, celebrating cultural diversity, and encourages community connections.

Freda leads programs that support families who are experiencing hardship due to limited income, domestic violence, childhood trauma, and other work/life challenges.  Freda works tirelessly to improve our community by making sure people have access to vital resources such as eye exams, affordable healthcare, counseling, tutoring, food, and access to recreational activities.

Freda is also known as a courageous role model for our community’s youth. Everything she does is for what she calls “her kids,” the youth impacted by her work. Seeking to encourage our city’s young people to view the world from different lenses, Freda instills hope, fosters possibility, and bring communities together.

Through the Center, Freda leads an annual city-wide celebration and march that honors the work and life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Her efforts work to build bridges that unify Spokane in the fight for racial and social justice.

With a commanding presence and magnetic leadership style, Freda is known for resolving issues with confidence and ingenuity. When the MLK Center was graffitied with hateful messages, she rallied the community to find artists to cover the racist messages with inspiring art. When tension built as both Representative Cathy McMorris Rogers and her challenger Lisa Brown were given platforms to speak at the commencement of the 2018 MLK march, Freda brought the room together in unity with grace and candor. Freda is not afraid of difficult situations. She handles adversity with poise and courage. She is a fearless advocate for racial and social justice, deserving of this recognition.

back to top >>


Susan Ashe has served as a distinguished leader and fierce community advocate in Spokane for more than 35 years. Susan sets a powerful example as a servant leader, utilizing her influence and talent to support the mission and work of many non-profit organizations and community initiatives that promote economic opportunity, equity and justice for all. It has been said that Susan “lights the way” for up and coming community leaders by demonstrating the importance of building community and lifting up others.

Susan serves as the Executive Director for the Health Science & Services Authority of Spokane County, which provides funds to discover and advance new ways to combat diseases and promote public health in Spokane. Susan helped establish this organization when it was created by the Washington State Legislature with a goal of promoting economic development through bio and health sciences research. Due in large part to HSSA’s efforts, the organization has invested over $8 million, creating more than 500 jobs and over $100 million in economic growth.

During her 24 years at Kaiser Aluminum, Susan demonstrated exemplary leadership in serving her fellow employees and the community. Susan started her career at Kaiser as an administrative assistant and single mother and rose to the position of Northwest Public Affairs Manager, where she managed government and community relations. She successfully led a community effort to improve air quality in Spokane caused by windborne dust and worked to support retention of aluminum manufacturing jobs through reasonable power costs.

Upon early retirement from Kaiser, Susan spent five years serving as Director of Legislative Affairs for the City of Spokane. During this time, she raised $125 million in state and federal funding for important city infrastructure projects such as the Riverside Avenue extension (now MLK Way), Fish Lake Trail, Monroe and Freya Street bridges, and design work for the University District Pedestrian Bridge. She designed and implemented a successful $117 million bond issue campaign for Spokane streets.

Susan also supports the community by serving on many boards including Life Science Washington, Spokane University District, and Spokane Public Schools Foundation. She contributes as part of the Greater Spokane Incorporated’s Life Science Spokane Vision 2030 Executive Advisory Committee and the GSI’s Public Policy Council. She formerly served as the Board Chair of YWCA Spokane and on the board of the Association of Washington Business, where she was awarded the “Heavy Lifter” award.

Susan is an alumnus of Eastern Washington University and Leadership Spokane. In 2016 she was selected for the EWU Alumni Award for Service and was nominated for the City of Spokane Citizen Hall of Fame for her great work in our community. Susan loves and supports her family and friends in many ways.

back to top >>


Creating a more diverse, just, welcoming environment for her students is Ann Ciasullo’s goal as a professor at Gonzaga University.  Professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies, Chair of the English Department, and three-time recipient of the Exemplary Faculty Award at Gonzaga, Ann has been recognized for providing students with a transformative classroom experience rooted in a commitment to social justice. She is dedicated to cultivating a space for conversations on race and gender, empowering her students, and being a voice for justice in the Spokane community.

Of her many outstanding accomplishments as a professor, one of the most notable is her leadership on the development of the Critical Racial and Ethnic Studies minor at Gonzaga.  Along with three of her colleagues—Sara Díaz, Jessica Maucione, and Cynthia Stavrianos—Ann co-created the minor so as to provide a space for the voices and experiences of people of color in the Gonzaga curriculum.  With the establishment of the minor, Ann hopes to affirm to students and faculty members of color that they are wanted, welcome, and heard.  Through her leadership and commitment to collaborative work, Ann helped to make this much-desired program a reality at Gonzaga.

As former Chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies Department and a current member of the department, Ann invites students to study feminism, queer theory, and critical race theory across a wide range of courses, such as the Literature of Sexual Politics, Studies in Women Writers, and Literary and Cultural Studies.  Through her teaching, outreach to students, and leadership as chair, Ann helped to grow Women’s and Gender Studies at Gonzaga in significant ways, resulting in an increase both in the number of students minoring in the discipline and in the number of tenure-track faculty in the department.

Beyond the academic rigor and leadership she brings to her role as professor and chair, Ann empowers her female students in a number of other ways. Ten years ago, she created the Gender and Pop Culture Speaker Series in order to give students the opportunity to share their academic work on representations of gender, race, and sexuality in popular culture.  To date, she has mentored over fifty students who have presented their scholarship as part of the series.  She also regularly sends female students to workshops and leadership programs in order to develop their professional skills. Both in and outside of the classroom she encourages young women to develop their minds and their voices.

Ann has also been a voice of justice for women in the Spokane community. One has to simply search “Gonzaga” and “Ann Ciasullo” on the internet to discover a host of articles discussing how Ann has used her position and voice to encourage a more just society. She applauded Gonzaga’s decision to remove t-shirts featuring the slogan “boys will be boys” and twice gave a keynote at the annual Take Back the Night event at Gonzaga, which is dedicated to addressing and eradicating sexual violence.

As Ann herself said at Take Back the Night in 2013, “to speak is to be at once vulnerable and brave.” This award recognizes Ann’s courage and character in advocating for marginalized communities through education.

back to top >>


For nearly 25 years, Traci Ponto has worked as a public servant through the Spokane Police Department.  She currently proudly serves as the Neighborhood Resource Officer (NRO) in the West Central neighborhood of Spokane. Traci is known for empowering communities who have experienced crime to take back their neighborhoods.  Her efforts improve community health and build bridges between the police department and Spokane neighborhoods. She is dedicated to creating positive and trusting relationships between law enforcement and the community.

Serving an NRO in West Central, Traci is known as the “go-to” person when suspect activity occurs. Over the years, she has addressed issues from thefts to homicides and everything in between. With incredible compassion and care, Traci has built lasting relationships with people in the community, investing her time and energy into identifying ways to better serve Spokane. She goes above and beyond the call of duty to care for the neighborhood, going so far as to build a fence for an elderly woman who was repeatedly impacted by vandalism.

In her limited free time, Traci volunteers with the Spokane COPS organization. In 2018, she founded their successful Mounted Patrol Unit, where volunteers ride horses in local parks, events, parades, and numerous other outings in Spokane to draw the community out of their homes and into communal places. People spend time with the horses, discuss crime, and learn about crime prevention.

Traci’s passion for the community is apparent. She has received a Community Service Award and Distinguished Service Award from the Spokane Police Department. In a letter congratulating Traci on her Distinguished Service Award, the interim police chief highlighted Traci’s tenacity and consistent communication with neighbors when a boarded house became a chronic nuisance. Traci opened an investigation and tirelessly collected information on the case. She assured worried neighbors that police were aware of the house and acting to address it. Her thoughtful communication with neighbors made them comfortable with coming forward to testify.

Traci is a true asset to the Spokane community. She demonstrates the importance of partnering with the community through diligent and compassionate public service. Her exemplary work ethic and heart for her community makes Spokane better for everyone.

back to top >>


After 204 days of living in an orbiting space station, Anne McClain returned to earth, fulfilling a vision she had dating back to her days at Gonzaga Preparatory School. As a NASA astronaut and participant in one of the longest missions accomplished by a woman, Anne demonstrates that women have an important place in the science, technology, and environmental industries.

Born and raised in Spokane, Anne graduated from West Point Military Academy where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and was commissioned an Army officer. A 2002 Marshall Scholar, Anne attended the University of Bath in England where she earned a master’s degree in aerospace engineering. She went on to the University of Bristol where she earned a master’s degree in international relations.

In addition to her impressive academic credentials, Anne is a Senior Army Aviator and Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army with more than 2,000 flight hours in 20 different aircrafts. She served in more than 216 combat missions as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2013, she was selected by NASA to be a flight engineer of the Astronaut Group 21 which lead to her historic mission orbiting the space station.

Anne was also an avid rugby player who played in the Women’s Premiership for the United States women’s national rugby union team, known as the Women’s Eagles. Although her dedication to the U.S. Army superseded her international rugby career, she notes her success as an astronaut in part due to her rigorous training as an athlete. Her nickname “Annimal” established during her rugby days is now her NASA call signal and also contributes to her twitter handle, “AstroAnnimal,” where fans can follow her work on the International Space Station.

Despite her travels around the globe and outside of it, Anne has taken time to reconnect with her roots in Spokane. To encourage students to pursue careers in STEM and answer questions about her career, Anne conducted a live satellite NASA downlink to thousands of students assembled in north Spokane. During the conversation with students, Anne explained that from space she cannot see borders of countries, just one earth. Emphasizing the importance of collaboration, Anne also explained that she works with astronauts from other international space stations, who have more commonalities to her than differences.

Anne has spent her career pursuing excellence in technology and science, and we are proud to honor her and her outstanding accomplishments.

back to top >>


Dr. Celestina Barbosa-Leiker’s career has been dedicated to empowering women and reducing health disparities in vulnerable populations. She is a highly regarded researcher, professor, and advocate for women in science. Currently, Celestina is the Executive Associate Dean and Associate Dean for Research at the Washington State University (WSU) College of Nursing and the Director of the Program of Excellence in Addiction Research. Recently, Celestina was elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences and will be inducted in September, 2019. In addition, this October, she will become the Vice Chancellor for Research for WSU Health Sciences Spokane.

Celestina is a sought-after expert, speaker, and scientific collaborator at the national, state and local levels. Celestina has published research in more than 85 peer-reviewed publications and received over 20 million dollars in funding. In the research community, Celestina is known for her exceptionally strong sense of ethics. This moral initiative combined with her rigor for research, Celestina is passionate about helping those without a voice have a better future.

Her research focuses on substance use and women’s health, including assessing the transition from pregnancy to parenthood for women who use substances. Specifically, her research demonstrated sex differences in the measurement of opioid withdrawal, relapse in treatment, and relapse predictors. Currently, she leads an interdisciplinary research team seeking to improve care for women with opioid use disorders and women using cannabis during pregnancy. Her research aims to keep families together, while still providing the best available treatments to mothers and babies.

In addition to her impressive research skills, Celestina is known to empower those she works with. She acts as a role model for faculty, students, and staff. She mentors other scientists and clinicians, empowering them to pursue research to address health issues they see. As a Latina researcher, Celestina is committed to mentoring under-represented faculty members and students. Her efforts to encourage and uplift women have a positive impact on those around her.

Celestina is a woman of incredible talent, vigor, and passion. She demonstrates the importance of women in science by producing research that is both academically rigorous and relevant to societal challenges. Through her research, she is quite literally saving lives and improving the future of women from disadvantaged backgrounds.

back to top >>


When she was just 6-years-old, Christine Dugger lost her grandmother to a drug overdose. As a freshman in high school, Christine witnessed her best friend get hit and killed by a man under the influence. In response to these tragic events, Christine made the decision to stay drug and alcohol free, and became a leader at her high school, spreading awareness on how drugs and alcohol can affect your life.

Advocating to stay drug free as the East Valley High School Community Coalition leader, Christine spread awareness of the devastating impacts of drug and alcohol use to her peers. As a leader of Spokane Valley’s Youth Voice, Christine met with peers from school districts in the Spokane Valley to discuss safety, mental well-being, living without a home, substance misuse, and youth employment. Christine fearlessly stepped into leadership roles in high school, setting an example of a positive way to respond to devastating circumstances.

Christine has not let her age prevent her from responding to problems in the Spokane and Spokane Valley communities. With her parent’s support, she started her own organization, Socks for People Without Homes Spokane, to honor her best friend and provide socks, water, and hygiene items to individuals without homes in our city. During the first year, she collected 2,500 pairs of socks, which she donated to shelters in Spokane Valley. In 2018, she extended the reach of the organization to stuff 225 Christmas stockings with socks, hats, gloves and hygiene products for people in need. Christine spent her Christmas Eve passing out stockings to people in need.

Christine graduated from East Valley High School in June, 2019, and is now attending Spokane Falls Community College, where she plans to focus on special education. Christine wants to help students who are behind academically. She said, “I see past disability, I see a kid.” Christine is truly a young woman of achievement.

back to top >>


Marion Moos was known as an “activist extraordinaire” and “mother of feminism” in Spokane for her dedication and passion for women and our city. She committed her life to pursuing a more equitable world for women, and she was the mother of feminism in Spokane, owning the city’s first and only feminist bookstore.

A Spokane native, Marion was born in the West Central neighborhood of Spokane, graduated from Lewis and Clark High School, and received a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Washington State University. She served as an American Red Cross World War I Army Nurse. After years away, Marion returned to Spokane in 1974 and truly began her social activism, which earned her high praise from Martin Luther King Jr, who described her as “a cheerleader for justice.”

During her more than 50 years in Spokane, Marion devoted her time and passion to lifting the voices of women in Spokane and she achieved incredible transformation in the community. The store she started in Spokane was said to be “more than just a book store”. Marion saw it as a resource center for women and a place to give assistance and counsel to those who faced discrimination. It offered a lifeline to many women and men during turbulent times of social change in America.

Marion was passionate about ensuring opportunities for women, fighting for reproductive rights, and unveiling racism in the community. Her many investments in our community included helping found the first chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), being a founding member of the Older Women’s League (OWL) and the ACLU. Marion also ran the YWCA’s Women’s Resource Center and served on the board.

Marion participated in NAACP, Washington Environmental Council, Peace and Justice Action League, AARP, and in the Founders Circle of Women Helping Women. Marion was also a leader in the establishment of The City of Spokane Human Rights Commission in 1992.  She cared passionately about equality, social justice, civil liberties, and a woman’s right to choose.

In retirement, Marion still contributed generously to the Spokane community. She diligently kept detailed records of her work and historical events related to social justice and women’s rights. The Museum of Arts and Culture archived boxes of her papers to provide a record for scholars studying the women’s movement and social justice. Her vast knowledge was a source of hope and wisdom for aspiring politician and activist, who continued to seek her advice until the end of her life. The advice she often shared with women was to, “Be bold. Be brassy. Mean what you say, then act on it.”

In 1985 Lindy Cater interviewed Marion, and she said, “Women’s time has come. It is authentic. It is a revolution. It is a movement. We are really a part of it.” She was truly the mother of feminism in our community and is worthy of recognition.

back to top >>


YWCA Spokane asks guests to not only celebrate the accomplishments of women leaders at this year’s award luncheon but to also consider joining us on a critical mission to address the community epidemic of domestic violence, which significantly affects our families and our economic health.

“With over 1,200 guests joined together at this luncheon,” says Leanne Scott, YWCA Spokane Women of Achievement Award Luncheon Co-Chair and YWCA Spokane Board Member, “YWCA sends a powerful message to survivors of domestic violence that their community is here to support them, that we care, and that help is available.”

The October 11th luncheon will feature keynote speaker Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who presided over the USA Gymnastics Team sex abuse scandal involving Larry Nassar, sentencing him to 175 years in prison for the sexual abuse of young women that lasted more than two decades.

In addition to traditional table and ticket registration options for individuals and organizations, this year, YWCA Spokane is providing a special discounted ticket opportunity for high school age young women to attend the event. Opportunities to sponsor tickets for young women to attend are available to help ensure all young women interested in attending are able to join the event.

Register Today!

Corporate table, table captain, and individual and young women ticket registration is now available. Consider registering today! Click the link below to learn more.

Women of Achievement 2019

Thank you to our Deeply Valued Event Sponsors!

This awards celebration would not be possible without their incredible support. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities contact YWCA Spokane Chief Philanthropy Officer, Dana Morris Lee, at danam@ywcaspokane.org or call 509-742-0111.

Signature sponsor

Keynote Sponsor

Honoree sponsor

GoodGuys sponsor

Photobooth sponsor

Video Production Sponsor

Champion sponsor

Trailblazer Sponsors


Pioneer Sponsors

Corporate sponsors

Davenport Hotels

First Interstate Bank

Global Credit Union


Horizon Credit Union

Hoyt, Lewis & Associates

HUB International

Moss Adams

PotlatchDeltic Corporation

Umpqua Bank

U.S. Bank

Wells Fargo

Wendle Ford Nissan

YMCA of the Inland Northwest

Non-profit sponsors

Catholic Charities Eastern Washington

Eastern Washington University

Eastern Washington University, Office for Diversity & Inclusion

Gonzaga University

Hospice of Spokane

Martin Luther King Community Center

NATIVE Project

Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho

Spokane Fire Department

Spokane Police Major Crimes Unit

Spokane Public Schools

Women & Children’s Free Restaurant & Community Kitchen

WSU College of Nursing