Home-Grown Leadership in Pierce County

Filed Under: Strengthening Pierce County - Posted @ 3:15pm

PHOTO : Families Unlimited Network

In 2017, Greater Tacoma Community Foundation awarded $500,000 in single and multi-year grants to 39 nonprofit organizations through its Strengthening Pierce County program, which provides general operating support funds. These flexible funds are designed to bolster smaller nonprofits who are addressing critical issues to sustain and build a stronger Pierce County.

GTCF’s goal is to support organizations with clear mission and programmatic alignment, who learn from their constituents, participate in field building activities, and assess their impact.

Nonprofits organizations depend on skilled leaders to sustain operations while fulfilling their missions.

Through conversations with this year’s Strengthening Pierce County grantees, we discovered themes among local nonprofits. In this, the first of three posts about themes from Strengthening Pierce County grantees, we explore how three local nonprofits have grown leadership from within.


Families Unlimited Network

The Spot Program kids volunteering at The Food Bank PHOTO: Families Unlimited Network Facebook Page

Families Unlimited Network is led by Douglas Stoeckicht, who was Program Director for 10 years before becoming ED in 2015. Working to end need in our community, Families Unlimited Network helps more than 25,000 people each year through programs that include: after school tutoring, food, budgeting, energy assistance, homeless prevention, and adult education.

Doug has deep relationships in University Place because of his background with the organization, and is leveraging his deep knowledge of programs as he builds relationships with in-kind and financial donors. He’s working closely with the Families Unlimited Network board to expand their capacity as fundraisers for the organization. This year, he led program expansion to include a summer meal program, and is looking at how to deliver meal programs in a van as well as on site.


Alchemy is dedicated to providing opportunities and resources for youth to learn and grow through skateboarding. Robert Boyle started as a board member for Alchemy, and became the executive director in 2017.

Founded in 2014, Robert is leading Alchemy beyond its startup phase. He’s using a variety of ways to get community and youth input into programmatic decisions, which is a qualitative process. At the same time, he’s committed to quantitative metrics, implementing a new data platform for the organization. In addition, Robert is ensuring that he and his new staff are trained in Youth Program Quality,

“As a Board Member of Alchemy, I learned the importance of deliberative, thoughtful communication that worked to strengthen and underscore the mission and services of the organization. As Alchemy’s current Executive Director I have brought this approach to my communication with the staff as well as with the board. This will be an excellent resource for us during our upcoming strategic planning process which will build further passion for the organization by aligning staff, board, and community around a worthy and audacious mission-centric goal.”
-Robert Boyle

Harbor Wild Watch

Lindsey Stover started as a volunteer with Harbor Wild Watch in 2009. She then joined the board, and became executive director in 2012. Harbor Wild Watch inspires stewardship of Puget Sound by providing learning opportunities about the environment, like programs that get adults and kids excited about the plants and animals that inhabit Puget Sound and how they can play a role in protecting the local marine environment.

“Starting off as a volunteer with Harbor WildWatch has afforded me with a great deal of insight that not all leaders have in their positions. I literally walked in the shoes of our volunteers as a beach naturalist. I sat around the table with other Board Members making strategic plans and tough decisions. These shared experiences have helped me be a more thoughtful, engaged and credible leader. I am here as a staff member for the same reason they are here as volunteers or donors — because of my passion for Puget Sound. And that resonates well with our supporters.”
-Lindsey Stover

Under Lindsey’s leadership, the organization has gone from providing a small set of volunteer-led programs to providing over 600 environmental education programs for 33,000 adults and children in Pierce County. Lindsey is leading the important work of aligning their school programs with Next Gen science standards and linking strategic goals with systems that measure teacher and student experience with their programs.

Evolutionary Leadership

Although these three organizations have very different missions, each leader has leveraged established relationships with staff, board, donors, and partner organizations to grow the organization’s services and increase impact in strategic ways.

…evolutionary growth – rather than revolutionary change – supported long-term organizational sustainability

What we see from these leaders is evolutionary growth – rather than revolutionary change – supported long-term organizational sustainability. Each of these nonprofits are embracing technology and new program delivery models without departing from organization’s core mission. They are investing in strategy and governance—working with their board of directors to address key mission-driven decisions and engage in new ways to bring resources to their organizations.


The Final Round of Strengthening Pierce County Grants is Now Open for Applications –
Deadline Friday, January 19, 2018 4:00 PM 

Greater Tacoma Community Foundation is dedicated to capacity-building, fostering peer learning among nonprofit organizations, and sharing best practices for a stronger Pierce County.

Share how you’ve made your organization stronger through leadership on our Facebook page.