February 18, 2022

2022 Education Award Honoree

Congratulations Lee!

Thank You for Living Out YWCA Spokane’s Mission

Lee Williams has had an outstanding career as a teacher, advocate and leader in the field of education and empowering people in the Spokane community. Her passion for early childhood education makes her one of the community’s most valuable voices in fostering improved quality and accessibility for early childhood education and high-quality child care. Her impact has been most keenly apparent during the pandemic as others have now awoken to the importance of child care and early childhood education, and is now at the forefront of community awareness due, in part, to her decades-long leadership.

She has consulted with legislative leaders at the federal, state and local levels to ensure that child care is part of every discussion and strengthening families and communities and has been describe by legislative partners as a connector, a collaborator and a fierce advocate for women and children. She has worked with Tribal services, and minority-owned or operated organizations, to ensure quality services for all children. Child care and early learning are primarily – but not exclusively – a woman-owned and operated industry. Lee was one of the early champions of improving provider qualifications, enhancing training, raising state reimbursement rates and instituting a fair wage ladder to recruit and retain high qualified providers. 

Lee began her career as an elementary teacher teaching a multi-level kindergarten through third grade class. This experience prompted her devotion towards child development. During this period, she earned her master’s degree in early childhood education. Lee moved on to work in the local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency, later becoming program director and joining the state-wide network. Lee distinguished herself as a knowledgeable and forward-looking leader in the state. She served as the president of Washington State Child Care Resource and Referral Network for three years. During her tenure, the network became a formal entity with a paid executive and staff. They now operate as Child Care Aware of Washington. Lee was recruited to the Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), Division of Children and Family Services as a child care licenser. Lee attained a supervisory position, and then was promoted to regional director for licensing of DSHS Region 1. In 2004, Lee was hired as the founding director for St. Anne’s Children & Family Center. For 10 years, she directed and guided St. Anne’s as a model of quality care and early education in Spokane. In 2014, Lee was hired as the eastern Washington director of early achievers at Community-Minded Enterprises where she eventually became chief executive officer (CEO). Community-Minded Enterprises’ portfolio of programs under her steadfast leadership have resulted in individuals receiving education, child care, employment support on multiple levels and most importantly, a voice in their future. 

Lee is widely recognized throughout the community and statewide as a thoughtful, pioneering leader. She employs a quiet but steady leadership style that focuses on possessing a high degree of knowledge and study, combined with experience and innate wisdom. Lee is known as an active listener who can absorb information on all sides of an issue. She has remained steadfast in her commitment to improve the lives of children and families through early childhood education and improved human services in Spokane and throughout the region and understands the importance of including all children and parents, especially from historically marginalized and economically disadvantaged communities. 

Lee is always seeking new methods and evidence-based innovations in her work. While at St. Anne’s, she embraced the newest teaching methods based on the latest research on infant brain development. Another example of her bold vision was to institute the 32-hour workweek as the CEO of Community-Minded Enterprises. This was groundbreaking in our community and serves as model for organizations to better meet the needs of employees while maintaining high standards in organizational output. In each of her endeavors throughout her career, Lee has developed programs and improved the quality of organizations, based on her talents as a leader. 

Lee is a leader like no other. Beginning with her experiences as a parent and co-operative toddler and preschool class participant, she flourished into a passionate leader of early learning efforts. In the decades since, she has been an unwavering advocate for families with young children in our community. As the director of Saint Anne’s, a founding member of the Inland Northwest Early Learning Alliance and a program manager in the early learning division at Community-Minded Enterprises where she now serves as CEO, she never misses an opportunity to make a difference for others. Through conversations with lawmakers in Olympia, Lee is passionate, confident, and articulate – always speaking up for those who have no voice. 

Always an encouraging mentor, she promotes the best in others, while challenging and inspiring many. She nurtures growth in people and helps them fulfill their potential. Her desire to serve the community extends beyond her job. She gives generously to several philanthropic causes and volunteers for many nonprofits, including as a former board member of Every Woman Can, supporting women with breast cancer. As she approaches retirement, Lee continues to commit to working with the Early Learning Alliance. At YWCA Spokane, it is our honor to celebrate Lee Williams and her outstanding achievements as our 2022 Women of Achievement Education award recipient.

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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