February 8, 2022

2022 Arts & Culture Award Honoree

Congratulations Dawn!

Thank You for Living Out YWCA Spokane’s Mission

Dawn Wolski is Inland Northwest Opera’s (INO) first female general and artistic director and has significantly changed the landscape of performing arts in Spokane in her nearly five-year tenure. On the heels of a successful international singing career and two enlistments in the Unites States Army, she brought a small opera company back from the brink of closure, and in-turn, has created many opportunities for local singers to perform alongside world-renowned professionals. She is incredibly intentional when casting roles and tries to ensure there are opportunities for all singers to be represented. Not only was INO’s 2021 Mainstage opera, Orpheus and Eurydice, led by an all-female principal cast, Dawn currently leads a primarily all-female executive team at INO. She has managed to expand the team triple-fold within the past year.

Dawn is the driving force behind the growth and international reputation of the region’s only professional opera company. Through fundraising efforts, inclusive repertoire choices, and cultivating an active and deeply invested board, Dawn has not only quadrupled audiences and more than doubled INO’s budget size, but she has fostered essential partnerships with local arts organizations – even changing the name from Opera Coeur d’Alene to Inland Northwest Opera to serve the whole region more equitably. She oversaw INO’s critical partnership with the Spokane Symphony in 2017, which yielded multiple subsequent fully-staged productions at the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox.

Dawn is particularly passionate about the Inland Northwest commitment to nurture our own.  As INO’s general director, she has fostered relationships with every local university, proud to offer the only professional opera outlet in the region to both emerging and established artists in the field.  She is further devoted to education of our youth, believing that meaningful and engaging connection to the arts can and should begin at any age!  From INO’s children’s opera) program to providing masterclasses and private instruction both at home and at local universities, she believes in filling in the gaps that waning arts education can leave behind.

Dawn is a fighter and a tireless advocate. During the early days of the pandemic, as performances were canceled through no fault of the artists, Dawn found ways to make sure singers and directors were still paid for their preparation – something even the Metropolitan Opera could not do. She has fought to ensure her team members at INO are paid competitively, paving the way for additional hires and a strong infrastructure poised for sustainable growth. She created the Opera Grams program – a personal singing telegram of sorts offered at low cost to individuals at safe distances outdoors –  not only to provide additional opportunities for artists to perform, but to bring a bit of beauty to the community during some of our darkest days.  She personally lobbied Governor Inslee to allow Opera Grams to continue as the arts remained shut down, and this program became the first and only live performance permitted in the entire state for the greater part of summer 2020.

To bring even more art to the region at large, Dawn dreamt up a project called the Opera Truck: a fully refabricated 16-foot box truck that opens to unfold a stage. The Opera Truck was completed in August 2021, debuting at the Northwest Museum of Arts, bringing back a beloved tradition previously fulfilled by the now-defunct Spokane Opera. With the Opera Truck, INO has been able to travel throughout the Inland Northwest to present FREE community concerts as well as children’s opera to so many who would not have experienced this art form otherwise. Dawn’s vision and advocacy was honored with the 2021 Leadership Award from Spokane Arts.

Dawn has helped put Spokane on the map in the opera world, continuing to bring in incredible artists and hiring local artists to work alongside them. She has given her entire heart, soul, and voice to the region’s arts community and she will continue to advocate for the arts along the twisting road ahead. “Our job is just to keep putting one foot in front of the other. That applies to us as individuals, to us as a community. If you know what your core mission is, you can adjust. My mission is not just opera. We’re looking to bring people together. We’re looking to find ways to unify across different demographics, different age groups. If we can bring a little bit of joy, then I feel really grateful.” YWCA Spokane is honored to present Dawn Wolski with the 2022 Women of Achievement award for Arts and Culture.

Dawn Wolski | Nancy Mahoney | Hanncel Sanchez | Fawn Schott | Lee Williams | Alison Gregoire | Oladunni Olywoye | Sarah Dixit

Join Us In Honoring These Outstanding Women At The Awards Celebration And Benefit For YWCA Spokane On March 24, 2022

Over the last 40 years this awards luncheon has evolved into YWCA Spokane’s largest fundraising event. Sponsored by more than 50 companies and organizations each year, it has become one of the area’s most prestigious award recognition events for women. Friends and supporters who believe in YWCA Spokane’s mission come together to invest in the safety, hope, and healing  of those served by YWCA’s critical programs through their support of this spectacular celebration of women.

All proceeds raised support YWCA Spokane’s critical services for domestic violence victims and their children, including emergency shelter, counseling, legal services, job readiness, child care, and Pre-K programs for low income children. Learn more about the impact of YWCA Spokane.

Registration Is Now Closed

Please contact Jennifer Evans at jennifere@ywcaspokane.org with any questions or concerns.

Admiral Howard Embodies Honor, Courage and Commitment

Born when female participation in the military was legally capped and women were not allowed to become generals or admirals or to attend service academies, Admiral Howard shattered every glass ceiling. She was the first women to command a U.S. Naval Ship, achieve the rank of four-star admiral and the first woman to be appointed to the position of vice chief of naval operations (the second highest rank in the Navy). She was also the first African-American woman to reach the rank of three-star and four-star in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces and the first African-American woman to command a ship in the Navy. We are honored to welcome Admiral Michelle Howard (Retired) as our 2022 Keynote Speaker.

Give in Honor of A Women of Achievement Award Honorees

Consider making a donation in honor of an outstanding woman acknowledged through this inspiring celebration. As our most critical fundraiser of the year, support received through the Women of Achievement awards celebration helps us serve approximately 16,500 clients through programs and services impacting the lives of those affected by domestic violence, homelessness, and unemployment. Your support allows our reach to go further and our mission to be realized. Simply put, we cannot do this work without you!


Your Health and Safety Remains our Priority

While we look forward to Women of Achievement’s in-person event, the health and safety of our guests and staff remains our top priority. With the evolving nature of the COVID-19 situation, a lot is changing quickly. We are looking at the published guidance from federal, state and local health authorities and government and making decisions to accommodate all of our guests and promote a safe gathering. We continue to assess health and safety policies for the event in light of changing state/local and venue requirements. Beginning March 12th, there will no longer be a statewide mask mandate, nor vaccination requirements for large events. While masks are recommended, they will not be required. Please contact Jennifer Evans at jennifere@ywcaspokane.org for additional information regarding our COVID-19 plan.

This awards celebration would not be possible without the incredible support of our sponsors.

To learn more about sponsorship opportunities contact Briana Berner, YWCA Spokane Donor Engagement Coordinator, at brianab@ywcaspokane.org or call 509-953-5992.

Signature sponsor

Keynote Sponsor

Honoree Sponsor

Survivor Sponsor

Video Production Sponsor


Women’s History Month Sponsor

PhotoBooth Sponsor

Staff Sponsor

Champion Sponsors

Trailblazer Sponsors

Pioneer Sponsors





Corporate Sponsors


Northwest Renewables

US Bank

Spokane Public Schools

Traci Bemis Real Estate – Homes for Change

Volunteers of America

Washington State University

Davenport Hotels

Wendle Ford Nissan

Columbia Bank

By: Bridget Smith

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