We are committed to the Yakima Valley and equity.

We are a philanthropic organization with a mission to connect people, resources, and ideas so the community we know and love thrives.

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Park mural in Wapato

About us…

We were founded in 2003 with a mission to improve access to healthcare throughout the Yakima Valley. As our understanding of our community and what constitutes a healthy individual, family, and community expanded, so too did our philanthropic focus.

We have three primary areas of focus:

Quality Education

Health & Well-being

Civic Vitality

As a community foundation, we are a tax-exempt public charity that exists to build and strengthen our region by bringing together people and organizations that want to make a difference. We listen to our community and those impacted most to understand the needs and community solutions. We work collaboratively and provide leadership, support, and funding to solve challenging issues and initiate positive and lasting change.

We make decisions for the greater good. Everything we do is because we believe it will make a positive change in our community.

About our community…

Located in heart of rural Central Washington, the Yakima Valley is rich in natural resources and diverse cultures, all with a strong reliance on the land and water for economic prosperity and survival. Abundant agriculture, protected forests, and tribal lands - all ancestral land of the people of the Yakama Nation describe the place we proudly call home.

Over time, cultural and economic divisions have developed as a result of disparities in access to opportunities shaped by intentional and unintentional racism, bias, oppression, and historical trauma. Inequities are apparent in our institutions, our neighborhoods, our schools, our health, and our perceptions and interactions with each other.

We believe people in our valley should have equitable access to opportunity, and when equity is addressed our community will be stronger economically, healthier physically and mentally, and better prepared educationally to meet the challenges we face.

We center our work on equity and justice in education, health, and civic engagement by creating access to opportunities for those who have been historically and frequently left out or left behind.

We believe as a philanthropic organization we have a responsibility to understand our impact by raising issues, questioning systems and decisions, and addressing policies and practices that may be well-intentioned and meant to work for all but miss the mark.

Happy mother and daughter talking

We are committed to:

  • Appreciating the dignity and worth of all individuals
  • Listening and elevating the voice of the community
  • Inviting honest discourse about equity, diversity and inclusion
  • Developing operational policies that advance diversity and belonging
  • Nurturing an open and welcoming work environment
  • Promoting the dismantling of structural and cultural barriers to individual achievement
  • Collaborating with and supporting organizations that address equity, change systems, and deliver services
  • Advocating for public policies and practices consistent with our commitments
  • Using our resources to make the Yakima Valley a place where all people can fully realize their aspirations

About the Foundation

Sharon Miracle

President and Chief Executive Officer

Sharon Miracle 2022 crop

Sharon has 20+ years in non-profit leadership as a CEO, executive director, vice president, and director for healthcare, higher education, and philanthropic organizations ranging in size from 2-4,500 employees and revenues from $350,000 to $4 billion annually. Sharon also worked in the private sector for a large agricultural cooperative in the Yakima Valley for nearly a decade leading communications and corporate social responsibility. Earlier in her career, she worked for one of the nation’s national laboratories writing proposals, negotiating contracts, and monitoring deliverables on research projects related to atmospheric sciences, technology, artificial intelligence, and more. Sharon holds a B.S. in Business Administration and Marketing Management from Central Washington University and has recently completed extensive graduate work in communication and leadership while pursuing her M.A. from Gonzaga University.

Lindsay Boswell

Director of Grants and Programs

Lindsays photo pick

Lindsay Boswell has spent her career in philanthropy and higher education and has a passion for creating pathways to educational opportunities. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and Psychology and a master’s degree in Education with a focus in Educational Psychology and Human Development. Both degrees are from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!) where she also worked for four years with The Information School, managing their graduate admissions processes. She joins the foundation after most recently serving for ten years at Heritage University managing their fundraising activity. Lindsay is a transplant to the Valley, moving here with her husband who is a Grandview native with Mabton roots. Lindsay is a busy mom of three active children, and when time allows, they enjoy traveling together and also spending time with their large extended family.

Lisa Fresco

Chief Financial Officer


Lisa Fresco has spent her career in finance, serving to insure the fiscal integrity of community-centered organizations. She spent ten years in the Credit Union movement and held positions as Investment Manager, CFO and CEO at community credit unions in Middle Tennessee.

Lisa holds a Masters's Degree in Business and has successfully completed the testing requirements for the certification in public accounting. She believes strongly in the mission of the Community Foundation and looks forward to building opportunities in the Yakima Valley where she and her family now call home.

Faviola Gomez

Co-Director, Act Six - Ready to Rise


Faviola Gomez was raised in lower (southern) Yakima Valley. She was a First Scholar recipient and graduated from Washington State University with a bachelor’s degree in communication. As a first-generation student, student of color, and low income she understands the importance of having the right tools when pursuing higher education. Faviola served as the foundation's program coordinator for the Act Six and Ready to Rise initiatives prior to taking on a new role co-directing the programs. Faviola is looking forward to giving back to her community. She also enjoys spending quality time with family and friends through cooking or watching new shows.

Alex Gonzalez

Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Alexs headshot

Alex was born and raised in Wapato. He was the first person in his family to graduate college by receiving a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a specialization in marketing at Central Washington University. Alex started his marketing career by helping minority-owned businesses and startups achieve their marketing goals. Alex is eager to help make a positive impact in the Yakima Valley.

Chelsea Hanson

Data and Operations Manager


Chelsea grew up in the Yakima Valley in Grandview, where her family still resides, and she recently returned. She graduated from Washington State University with a B.A. in Social Sciences before exploring other parts of the nation and world for several years. She has spent time volunteering and working in Norway, Peru, Ecuador, and Pakistan and a bit closer to home in Wyoming.

She is TEFL certified to teach English online and abroad and holds a graduate certificate in Sustainability from Portland State University. In addition, the Oregon Employment Leadership Network accredited her to provide state-funded job services to people experiencing disabilities. Besides her volunteer and lived experience with other cultures and people with different abilities, Chelsea brings excellent office administration, research, data collection and recording experience to the role.

Marina Medrano

Bilingual Coalition Coordinator

Medrano Marina Small

Marina Medrano is currently a student at Central Washington University working towards her Bachelor of Arts degree. She was born and raised in Xochimilco, Mexico City but immigrated to Yakima with her mom at the age of 12.

Marina is an avid writer and worked as a writing consultant at the Yakima Valley Community College Writing Center for two years. During her time as a consultant, she had the opportunity to work one-on-one with students and community members from all walks of life. Her time as a consultant gave Marina a newfound love and appreciation for her unique community.

Marina graduated in the Spring of 2022 and continues to work for and amongst her community.

Amber Ortiz-Diaz

Program Officer

Ambers Photo Choice

Amber Ortiz-Diaz has experience working in higher education/college access and the nonprofit sector. She obtained her Bachelor's in Science from Heritage University and Master’s in Education from Concordia University. In her role as Program Officer, she works alongside the Grants team and leads the Youth Leadership Council. She has a passion for removing barriers for first-gen college students and she intentionally brings her lived experiences and equity lens to her role. Amber is dedicated to working with nonprofit organizations, BIPOC students and professionals, and youth who want to make a difference in their communities. Outside of work she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling and volunteering.

Heidi Pelletier

Director of Donor Advising

Heidi headshot

For more than fifteen years, Heidi has had the privilege of working with individuals, families, foundations, and corporations to make change through meaningful philanthropy. She has partnered with benefactors to move forward the amazing mission and visions at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, and Heritage University. She is a proud graduate of Washington State University. She is a 21/64 Certified Advisor, with extensive training in multigenerational family philanthropy.

A Seattle native, she moved to Yakima in 2021 and loves spending her free time discovering all that is great about her new hometown with her husband and spoiled dog.

Mayra Quintero

Administrative Assistant

Mayras Head Shot

Mayra was raised in Wapato from a very young age. In 2018 she graduated from Wapato High School and received the Act Six scholarship and made the choice to continue her education close to home at Heritage University, where she recently earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology. Mayra hopes to contribute to the foundation's impact on the community during her tenure as a staff member.

Anita Mendoza

Co-Director, Act Six - Ready to Rise

Anitas Headshot

Anita Mendoza was born and raised in South East Yakima. She graduated from Washington State University where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Human Development with a certification in Adolescence. Anita has a passion for working with students and helping them reach their fullest potential. As a first-generation student and now a first-generation professional herself, she believes it is her responsibility to better serve her community and support with the progress of her people. Anita stays active with her Latina Based Sorority, Gamma Alpha Omega Sorority Inc, by holding positions at the local and national level. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Central Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Anita stands with womxn of color, the Black Lives Matter movement and the LGBTQIA+ community.

Cynthia Juarez


Cynthia Juarez

Cynthia Juarez is a leader and champion for early education and family services that set the foundation for lifelong success and well-being. She has been a life-long advocate for equity and social justice, which she promotes in all aspects of her personal and professional life.

Cynthia grew up in Grandview, Washington, and attended college at the University of Washington where she obtained her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She holds a B.S. in Speech & Hearing Sciences, an M.Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education, and endorsements in P-3 and K-12 Special Education. She recently completed her administrator/superintendent credential from Washington State University.

Cynthia’s community leadership includes membership on community boards and committees that represent higher education, migrant student populations, health care, and educational equity. Cynthia currently serves as the Executive Director of Early Learning and Migrant Education at Educational Service District (ESD) 105 where she leads the organization’s Early Learning and Migrant Education Departments, setting the vision and direction for child and family-centered services and academic supports that reach our most vulnerable community members. Cynthia is a champion for equity, working to establish systems that value and celebrate diversity and work to remove systemic barriers.

Cynthia resides in Terrace Heights with her husband, Rey, and two sons

Lisa Campbell-John


Lisa Campbell John

Lisa Campbell-John is the Sr. Director of Community Health Services for the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic. She is an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in Sisseton, South Dakota. She has over 25 years of experience working in non-profits and healthcare to improve the lives of children and families. For the past 19 years, Ms. Campbell-John has worked for the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic (YVFWC). She focuses on providing preventative dental and health access through YVFWC’s four mobile units, as well as helping to build strong healthy families through parenting programs, case management, and home visiting services for pregnant women, children, and families.

Kristin Kershaw-Snapp


Kristin Kershaw Snapp

Kristin Kershaw-Snapp grew up in Yakima. Her family has farmed in the area since the late 1800's. She has had a twenty-five-year career in the insurance industry, including two industry start-ups. Currently, she is the Director of Corporate Affairs for the Kershaw Companies. This role allows her to combine business with her passion for community development.

She has served on many non-profit boards, including two as a founding board member and ten years on the Kershaw Companies Board of Directors. She currently serves on the UW Foster School of Business Yakima Advisory Board. She is a graduate of Whitman College.

Kristin has lived and worked in the United Kingdom, Washington, DC, and Seattle. She and her husband have raised their two children on Bainbridge Island with a menagerie of dogs, chickens, and horses.

Josh Beck


Beck Josh

Josh Beck was born and raised in the Lower Yakima Valley. He graduated from Pacific University (Forest Grove, OR) in 2011 where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Economics and was a captain on the Varsity Football Team. Josh began his career in the financial institution industry and currently serves as the Financial Controller of Petersen Hastings. He has earned numerous certifications in the areas of financial management and compliance and was quoted and cited in numerous industry publications. He graduated and earned Honors from the prestigious, Western CUNA Management School based at Pomona College in Claremont, CA. Josh's involvement in the community includes serving as the Rotary President of Sunnyside Noon Rotary Club (2016). Outside of work, Josh enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, hunting, fishing, camping, sports, and more.

Wendy Aguilar

Wendy Aguilar

Wendy is the Controller at Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Yakima & Tri-Cities. The company is held by The Dolsen Company and she’s worked closely with the Dolsen family on their business development efforts in dairy and agriculture throughout the region. Wendy has been an active volunteer at the Wellness House.

Greg Bainter

Greg Bainter

Greg was born and raised in the Yakima Valley; his grandparents emigrated here during the 1920s. His grandmother Thyri Bainter started his family business the "Squeeze Inn" cafe in Zillah in 1932 and his brother's family continues to run it today. He enjoyed a diverse upbringing due to the restaurant business and working throughout High School in fruit orchards and packing houses near Zillah.

Greg's education included Yakima Valley College followed by studies in "communications" at Western Washington University and the University of Washington, as well as studies abroad.

Greg returned to Yakima to pursue a career in the fruit industry beginning with the Werthein Group of Argentina that owned fruit processing facilities in Eastern Washington. Tree Top Inc, in Selah purchased the Werthein operation in 1987. Greg was very fortunate to stay on with Tree Top for nearly 30 years as "V.P. of National & International Sales" within their Ingredient Sales Division. His responsibilities included business with the top food companies across the U.S. and over 30 countries around the world.

Greg is now retired and resides in Selah with his wife Maryanne. Together they raised four (now) grown children and are enjoying their four (not so grown), grandchildren.

Gwen Chaplin

Gwen Chaplin

Gwen is a retired non-profit director who spent decades as the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood of Central WA. She has served on several other community boards and brings experience in health care, granting, advocacy and non-profit finance and management.

Cragg Gilbert

Cragg Gilbert

Cragg was born in Yakima in 1952, the son of Virginia McCormick and Cragg D. Gilbert. He graduated from Eisenhower High School, Pomona College, Princeton Seminary and Claremont School of Theology. His intellectual passions are history, geology and fruit farming. He grew up working on the family’s apple and cattle farm and loved working beside his father, brother and friends. In 1975 he married another Yakima native, Barbara Smith and together they have two children, Nate and Sean, both of whom work on the farm. Cragg and Barb are blessed with three perfect grandchildren. They started and operated The Campbell Farm, a retreat and conference center on a 40-acre apple farm outside Wapato. In 1988 Cragg became Orchard Manager and, later, President of Gilbert Orchards. Cragg has been a member of the Yakima Pomological Club and the Yakima Rotary Club, Chair of the Yakima Growers and Shippers, the Chair of the Washington Apple Commission and Chair of the Yakima Valley Museum. He enjoys serving with many community organizations which help to make the Yakima Valley a great place to grow the next generation.

Esther Magasis

Esther Magasis

Esther is the director of Yakima County’s newly restored Department of Human Services and formerly managed the County’s homeless program. Esther brings to the Board a strong understanding of the social determinants of health and equity. Prior to moving to the Yakima Valley she was the Polack Food Bank Manager at Jewish Family Service (JFS) and served as the Co-Chair for the Seattle Food Committee (SFC), a coalition of food banks from across Seattle. She was invested in building partnerships between food banks and farms, in order to create access to fresh, nutritious, and organic food for low-income urban communities while simultaneously supporting local growers and farmworkers. She also worked for the Domestic Fair Trade Association (DFTA), a nonprofit dedicated to protecting and promoting the integrity of domestic fair trade through moderating conversations between stakeholders of the agricultural industry, the development of fair trade principles and standards, and audits of existing fair trade labels. She has also supported the efforts of Familias Unidas por la Justicia, an independent farmworker union of indigenous families located in Burlington, during their Sakuma and Driscoll boycott efforts.

Esther holds a BA in International Business from Western Washington University.

Ignacio Marquez

Ignacio Marquez

Ignacio is the Regional Assistant to the Director for Eastern and Central WA at the Washington Department of Agriculture. He currently serves on the Central WA State Fair board and is also involved with a number of industry organizations.

Corinne Murphy-Hines

Corrine Murphy Hines

Corinne retired from Astria Heart Institute where she held the position of executive director. She has served on the Yakima Symphony Orchestra board for a number of years and is an invested community member who relocated here from Chicago. She is an avid photographer and Yakima Valley fan.

Paul Nagle-McNaughton

Paul Nagle Mc Naughton

Paul Nagle-McNaughton completed his B.A. in Psychology at the University of Michigan and received his M.S. in Organization Development through the psychology department at Central Washington University. His career spans over 30 years in counseling, social services, and human development. He has a background in community behavioral health, counseling, and organization development. Throughout his career, Paul has worked with individuals, families, and organizations to optimize individual potential, develop healthy families, and enhance organizational effectiveness. Paul has offered a wide range of training and consultation services to local businesses and community organizations. Paul has conducted numerous workshops and seminars locally and at state and regional conferences. He is currently a Senior Director with Comprehensive Healthcare in Yakima, Washington.

Martha Rickey

Martha Rickey

Martha Rickey is an attorney for the Northwest Justice Project in Yakima. Born in Spokane, Martha attended the University of Washington and earned degrees in fisheries and history. Following Peace Corps service in Guatemala, Martha rededicated her career to advocate for marginalized immigrant communities in the United States. She received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Minnesota Law School and worked in government and nonprofit sectors before returning home to settle in Yakima. Martha is a member of the Washington State Bar Association and the National Immigrant Project. She is also a certified Master Knitter and enjoys gardening.

Jose Rivera

Jose Rivera

Jose Rivera is the Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning at the Grandview School District. He has been an elementary school teacher, principal and central office administrator. He received his B.A. in elementary education K-8 and also his master’s degree in professional development along with his administrative credentials from Heritage University. Jose is currently pursuing his superintendent credentials at Seattle Pacific University. He mentors and works with youth at the Extra Mile Youth Center in Grandview and has coached girls’ and boys’ AAU basketball for the past eight years and is currently coaching 6th-grade boys’ basketball. Jose has two beautiful children – a 17-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son.

Giovanni Severino

Severino Giovanni

Giovanni Severino is originally from South Los Angeles, CA. At the age of 17, he and his family moved to the Yakima Valley in 2013. Since then, he has engaged in community efforts to improve the livelihood of marginalized communities in the area. He attended Yakima Valley College where he earned an Associate's in Arts. He attended Central Washington University, where he served as the ASCWU Student Body President 2017-2018 and graduated in 2019. He currently works at the Latino Community Fund as Youth Campaign Manager, in efforts to show our youth across the state how to be civically engaged to make changes in their local communities.

David Severn

Severn David

David Severn is the Chief Financial Officer for Washington Fruit and Produce. Prior to returning to his hometown with his young family, David was the Director of Finance for Inland Construction and Development, a company that develops, constructs, and manages age-restricted apartment buildings throughout the western states. He previously worked for 10 years for Leucadia National Corporation, a diversified value-oriented investment firm. As a Managing Director, he was responsible for managing investments in a variety of industries including auto dealerships, financial services, commercial real estate, wineries, and gaming. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor's degree in business and economics from the University of Puget Sound. David and his wife Chelsea have three young children.

Magaly Solis

Solis Magaly2022

Magaly Solis is the Executive Director of La Casa Hogar working with a resilient and powerful team to connect and educate Latina families and transform lives and the Yakima Valley. For nearly eight years, she held the position of Citizenship Program Manager with the organization. Magaly has also worked as a medical interpreter and a bilingual substitute teacher. She has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Teaching from Heritage University, a certificate from the University of Washington’s Michael G. Foster School of Business, and is an accredited U.S. Department of Justice Representative.

Miho Sugasawa

Sugasawa Miho

Miho Sugasawa, CPA, is the Controller of Gilbert Orchards – a 5th generation family-owned fruit grower/packer. She previously held financial positions for Seneca Foods and Independent Foods, after working several years for Moss Adams, LLP in Yakima. Miho grew up in a small farming community in Japan. As the first college-goer in her family, she values wider access to education and opportunities. She immigrated to the U.S. after attending college where she met her husband. She completed her graduate work in accounting at Central Washington University and has a BA in Political Science, International Political Economy from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Rhonda Taylor

Rhonda Taylor

Rhonda Taylor recently retired as the director of Yakima Valley College’s (YVC) nursing program and she was recognized with the College’s 2019 Faculty Emeritus Award. Ms. Taylor graduated from the YVCC’s Nursing Program in 1977. She then transferred to Washington State University earning and bachelor’s degree before continuing her studies at Gonzaga University, where she earned a master’s degree in Family Nurse Practitioner. She started teaching at YVC in the Nursing Program in 1989 and later served as the director of the program for over 20 years.

Ms. Taylor served two Governor-appointed terms on the Washington State Nursing Commission. During that time, she chaired the committee work that resulted in the Washington State continuing competency laws for nursing practice. She was also appointed to the National Council of State Boards of
Nursing, and served there for 10 years. At the end of her tenure on the National
Council, she was honored with the National Outstanding Contribution Award.

Newly retired, Ms. Taylor and her husband Mike divide their time between Yakima and Arizona.

Anita Quintana

Quintana Anita 2022

Anita Quintana is passionate about education, educational equity, community engagement, diversity, and bringing a different lens to all her work. She is currently the Family & Community Engagement Supervisor at the Yakima School District. In this role, she works with a team to evaluate school-based organizational and system infrastructures with the intent of identifying barriers and gaps that exist for families and communities, building relationships with families, and community-based organizations in support of student achievement. Previously she held roles at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences including Director, Office of Scholarly Activity, Assistant Director, and Research Administrative Assistant. She was an academic specialist at Northwest Community Action Center and Program Assistant at University of Washington’s College Assistance Migrant Program. Anita completed her Master’s degree in Education Policy and Organizations Research at the University of California, Berkeley, and has a B.A. in Spanish, American Ethnic Studies from the University of Washington.

Shelly Valdez

Shelly Valdez website pic

Shelly Valdez is originally from the Yakima Valley where she was born and raised. She attended the University of Washington and started her career in the Seattle area. A couple of years ago, Shelly and her husband, Santos Valdez, along with their two young daughters, returned to Yakima. Shelly has been on a steep career trajectory during her time with Microsoft Corporation, where she currently holds the position of Venture Integration Lead - Global Treasury and Financial Services. Shelly and Santos are happy to be back in the Yakima Valley, where they are closer to family and friends. She is enthusiastic about new opportunities to engage in the community and support the mission of the Foundation. Shelly states, “this Valley has provided me with ample opportunities and resources to succeed, so I'm excited about the opportunity to give back".

Cragg Gilbert

Chair, Investment Committee

Cragg Gilbert

Cragg was born in Yakima in 1952, the son of Virginia McCormick and Cragg D. Gilbert. He graduated from Eisenhower High School, Pomona College, Princeton Seminary and Claremont School of Theology. His intellectual passions are history, geology and fruit farming. He grew up working on the family’s apple and cattle farm and loved working beside his father, brother and friends. In 1975 he married another Yakima native, Barbara Smith and together they have two children, Nate and Sean, both of whom work on the farm. Cragg and Barb are blessed with three perfect grand-children. They started and operated The Campbell Farm, a retreat and conference center on a 40 acre apple farm outside Wapato. In 1988 Cragg became Orchard Manager and, later, President of Gilbert Orchards. Cragg has been a member of the Yakima Pomological Club and the Yakima Rotary Club, Chair of the Yakima Growers and Shippers, the Chair of the Washington Apple Commission and Chair of the Yakima Valley Museum. He enjoys serving with many community organizations which help to make the Yakima Valley a great place to grow the next generation.

Bill Dezellem

Past Chair

William J. Dezellem, CFA is Chief Investment Officer, and President of Tieton Capital Management, which he co-founded in 2005. Bill was the founding Portfolio Manager of the Davidson Investment Advisors Small/Mid Cap Value Strategy. Prior to joining Davidson Investment Advisors, Bill was Vice President of Research and Senior Research Analyst at ICM Asset Management in Spokane, Washington.

Heidi Boyd

Boyd Heidi 2022

Heidi Boyd is a Yakima native now living in New York where she is a Managing Director in the Infrastructure Group of Blackstone where she focuses primarily on investments in utilities and transportation sectors. Since joining Blackstone in 2018, Ms. Boyd has been involved in the execution of Blackstone investments, including Carrix and FirstEnergy, and serves on the Board of Directors of Carrix.

Before joining Blackstone, Ms. Boyd was at Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, where she was involved with numerous transactions in the utility, energy, waste, and transportation sectors. Prior to that, Ms. Boyd was a Consultant for the Boston Consulting Group.

Ms. Boyd received a BA in Science, Technology and Society from Stanford University, where she also co-founded Stanford Women in Business. Ms. Boyd received an MBA from Harvard Business School. Ms. Boyd currently serves on the Board of Common Denominator, a not-for-profit, mathematics tutoring program for middle school students, on the Investment Committee of the Yakima Valley Community Foundation, and on the Board of Stanford Professionals In Investing & Finance.

Jesse Licht

Licht Jesse 2022

Jesse M. Licht, CFA is the Managing Director of Hedge Fund Research at BlackRock Alternative Advisors, a division of BlackRock, Inc. BlackRock is one of the world's preeminent asset management firms and premier provider of global investment management, risk management and advisory services to institutional, intermediary and individual investors around the world. At BlackRock, Jesse is a Director and focuses on the selection and ongoing monitoring of hedge fund investments. Jesse's parents are Hamilton and Carol Licht and he grew up in Yakima. Jesse and his wife, Molly Tollefson, established a donor advised fund at the Foundation in 2006. Jesse graduated with a B.A. in Economics from Pomona College.

David Severn

Severn David

David Severn is the Chief Financial Officer for Washington Fruit and Produce. Prior to returning to his hometown with his young family, David was the Director of Finance for Inland Construction and Development, a company that develops, constructs, and manages age-restricted apartment buildings throughout the western states. He previously worked for 10 years for Leucadia National Corporation, a diversified value-oriented investment firm. As a Managing Director, he was responsible for managing investments in a variety of industries including auto dealerships, financial services, commercial real estate, wineries, and gaming. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor's degree in business and economics from the University of Puget Sound. David and his wife Chelsea have three young children.

An adaptive planning philosophy guides our grant-making and areas of focus. We recognize that today’s problems often require collaboration and learning. There is not one solution or even one organization that can solve every issue. Finding solutions to tough social challenges requires listening deeply to our community, curiosity, commitment, partnerships, and perseverance. Our adaptive philosophy gives us the flexibility to find solutions with the biggest impact.

We have adopted a compass as a metaphor to help explain the shift in our approach to adaptive planning. Using a compass, travelers are able to determine the correct direction and take detours using real-time data from their current location. Similar to a compass, our adaptive planning philosophy analyzes outcomes against our goals and helps us adjust course as needed. Because of this flexible approach, we are able to achieve significant results.


To connect people, resources, and ideas so the community we know and love thrives.


A community leader in education, health, and civic engagement -supporting equitable access to opportunity with special attention to those who are frequently left out and left behind.

Value Proposition

We are uniquely positioned to aggregate and grow private and public resources to improve life in the Valley.


Results. Capability. Excellence. Transparency. Collaboration. Inclusion.

Goal 1: Sustain a visionary organization

We play a trusted role in identifying and responding to the challenges and opportunities facing the Valley. Our donors, partners, grantees, and the general public expect the highest level of professionalism, stewardship, and integrity from our staff and board. We will take all necessary steps to deliver on those expectations, ensuring we remain a trusted and valuable voice for the community, on sound financial footing long into the future.

Goal 2: Focus on education, health and wellness

We believe by focusing our resources in specific areas of interest we will be more effective. We and our donors have a strong commitment to advance access to quality education and increase attainment, which we view as an important measure of thriving communities. Dramatic changes in the state's health care system create important new opportunities for us to continue our legacy in health and wellness. Community and civic engagement is the “glue” that sustains the effectiveness of our strategic investments.

Goal 3: Increase and align resources for the benefit of our community

We are committed to inspiring and attracting financial resources, intellectual expertise, and citizen engagement to deal with the most pressing issues in the Valley. We want to continue building on that core competency and to reach new donors, as well as new philanthropic and public partners.

Goal 4: Build a cohesive community

We strive to break down barriers and bring nonprofit organizations, community members, and other stakeholders together to address critical issues in the Valley. We want to increase civic engagement and collaboration because we believe it will improve the likelihood of developing enduring solutions for issues facing the Valley. We play a unique role because we can listen to all parts of the community, collect data, share information broadly and engage thought partners.

Each year, an independent audit is conducted and an audited Financial Statement is made available to our stakeholders. Assets at the end of FY2022 were in excess of $80 million and we made available more than $4.6 million in grants to the community during the year.

Clark Nuber is our independent audit firm and brings a depth of experience in the particular accounting requirements of Community Foundations. You may review the two most recent Audited Financial Statements here: 2021 and 2020.

Our Tax Return

Our current year tax return, Form 990, is available upon request.

Davis Educational Fund

In 2011, a portion of the Estate of Mollie Monroe Davis, valued at over $20 million, was donated to the Yakima Valley to be gifted to students in the form of scholarships. We designated Yakima Rotary Trust, at the request of Ms. Davis, to administer the scholarship. This incredible gift has funded over $5 million in scholarships to Yakima Valley students and over $600,000 in Yakima Rotary Trust grants.

We have grown the fund by over 30%, to a total balance of over $26 million. Clark Nuber, an independent accounting firm, performs an annual audit of the scholarship program; those financial reviews can be found here.

If you are interested in applying for a scholarship, find out more information about the Mary Monroe Davis Scholarship program here.

2022 Youth Leadership Council

The Youth Leadership Council supports students in a variety of philanthropy work such as understanding the role of a community foundation, grantmaking, learning about local charities, getting involved in the community, giving back, and teaching them about philanthropy overall. The program includes regular meetings to strengthen nonprofit, leadership, and equity awareness.

Elizabeth Solorzano

Council Member

Ylc headshot elizabeth

Elizabeth is in the 12th grade and is currently attending Eisenhower High School. During her time with the Youth Leadership Council, she learned about all the non-profit organizations that are helping our community along with the wonderful mentors and the skills acquired which include: teamwork, self-awareness, communication skills, and how to score grants. On her free time, Elizabeth enjoys going to the coffeeshop with the girls, design, upcycle, and sew new clothes, reading romance & philosophy books, and cheering for her high school.

Whitman Peters

Council Member

Ylc headshot whit

Whitman is currently in the 11th grade at Selah High School. Whitman has been extremely impressed with his experience with the Youth Leadership Council because of all the compassion the organizations have in the Yakima Valley saying, "their dedication is inspiring." On Whitman's free time, he likes to go mountain biking, skiing, and hiking.

Noah Lara

Council Member

Ylc headshot noah

Noah is in the 12th grade and is currently attending Granger High School. During his time with the Youth Leadership Council, Noah has gained experience problem solving and debating on grant related topics. On Noah's down time, he likes making music and YouTube videos.

Oscar Jimenez

Council Member

Ylc headshot oscar

Oscar is currently in the 12th grade and is attending Selah High School. Oscar has learned about the large amounts of non-profits that are doing great things here in the Yakima Valley. Oscar's free time is spent getting involved at his school any way he can from helping the clubs he has joined to joining sports like tennis.

Aly Perez

Council Member

Ylc headshot aly

Aly is a current 12th-grade student enrolled at Davis High School. Through her involvement with the Youth Leadership Council, Aly has developed a passion for grant making. In her leisure time, Aly enjoys study dates at coffee shops and late-night drives with the girls.

Evan Fresco

Council Member

Ylc headshot evan fresco

Evan is in the 12th grade and is attending school at Selah High School. During his duration with the Youth Leadership Council, Evan learned more about teamwork and the inner workings of non-profits. Evan's favorite activity has been giving the good news to the applicants the Youth Leadership Council have donated to.

Indiana Hilmes

Council Member

YLC Indiana

Indiana is currently in the 11th grade and is attending Selah High School. Indiana is looking forward to making a positive impact in our community while highlighting a youth perspective. Some of her favorite activities include writing, reading, listening to music, tennis, cross-country, band, and dancing.

Yesenia Luna

Council Member

YLC Yesenias headshot

Yesenia is currently attending Eisenhower High School and is in the 12th grade. Yesenia enjoys late night drives and listening to music.

Desiree Hohner

Council Member

Ylc headshot desiree

Desiree is currently attending Davis High School.

Gaby Rios

Council Member

Gaby Headshot

Gaby is currently attending Davis High School.

Staff Liaisons

Amber Ortiz-Diaz

Amber Ortiz-Diaz
Program Officer

Phone: (509) 457-7616

Lindsey Boswell

Lindsay Boswell
Director of Grants and Programs

Phone: (509) 457-7616

Get Involved

Youth Voices Matter!

Want to make an impact in your community? Join the Youth Leadership Council and make a difference today!

Member Benefits

  • Stipend Based
  • Volunteer & Community Engagement Hours
  • Develop leadership and communication skills
  • Make an impact in your community


  • Currently enrolled in a Yakima County High School
  • Attend meetings regularly
  • Desire to give back to your community