Rick was named the Center’s Executive Director in February 2012. He joined CJF as a staff attorney in 2004, specializing in environmental and land use litigation. He became the first Spokane Riverkeeper in May 2009 and served in that position for over a year. As part of his growing role at the Center for Justice, he continues to administer the Spokane Riverkeeper program and serve as our Spokane River attorney. Rick represents organizations working to protect and restore the Spokane River watershed, which includes the Spokane-Rathdrum Aquifer and Lake Coeur d’Alene. Prior to joining the Center, Rick had the honor of representing the Nez Perce Tribe in Idaho for seven years on a variety of environmental, natural resource, cultural resource, and treaty-rights protection cases. Rick received a B.A. in Political Science and Anthropology from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. And he received his J.D. and a certificate in environmental and natural resources law from the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Originally from Minnesota, Rick has always loved lakes and rivers, so it’s no surprise that he serves on the board of Idaho Rivers United, as well as the board of the Environmental and Natural Resource Section of the Idaho State Bar. Rick is a graduate of Leadership Spokane class of 2013. When he’s away from work, Rick is an avid whitewater rafter, hiker, and backpacker — though lately, his attention has been focused on his son Noah and his daughter Violet.
Kendel joined the Center for Justice team as Development Director in January 2013. A Spokane native, Kendel attended Whitworth University where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Political Studies. After graduating she began to pursue a career in nonprofit development at the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, where she realized she has a knack for the relationship building and event planning that development requires. She is also the lead on most of the community outreach and marketing that happens at the Center, including website updates and social media. Previous to working at the Center, Kendel had the opportunity to accrue experience working in the restaurant industry, where she got a working education in two things she loves: food and wine. Kendel is passionate about giving back locally and globally - she volunteers as a Crisis Response Advocate and serves on the SAFeT Advisory Board at Lutheran Community Services, and is involved with Piti Piti, an organization that works on land renewal in Haiti. Kendel is currently in Leadership Spokane and will graduate in June 2014. In her spare time she enjoys hot yoga, running, baking, reading (especially classic literature and women’s studies), and traveling.
Danette joined the Center as a paralegal in December 2010. A Spokane native, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in History and Masters of Business Administration from Gonzaga University. Danette considers herself fortunate to have spent time living in other cities (Seattle, Milwaukee, Washington D.C. and New York City), but is happy to call Spokane home, close to most of her family and friends. She has worked in the legal field since 1996. Before coming to work at the Center, Danette took a two year hiatus from work to spend time with her son, Logan, and enjoyed every minute of it! In her free time, she enjoys family time with Logan and her husband, Joe, traveling, watching Gonzaga University basketball and New England Patriots football, cooking, sewing and shopping.
Bart became the Spokane Riverkeeper in August of 2010. Before joining the Riverkeeper program, Bart worked at Mountain Gear as a traffic manager and copy writer and took full advantage of the recreational inspiration provided. In addition, for over three years he contributed to and advised on Down To Earth, an environmental news and perspectives blog and website he helped create with partner Paul Dillon. Though his time contributing daily to the blog has finished, he still works on special projects and consulting for DTE. The two continue their partnership with a weekly radio show on KYRS, also called Down To Earth. Bart received a B.A in journalism from Eastern Washington University and has supplemented his education with freelance writing, communication and organizing work. In September 2011, Bart was recognized for his outstanding public service contributions with a Peirone Award, given by the Pacific Northwest Inlander. Originally from Butte, Montana, Bart grew up with a deep appreciation for rivers fueled by his family’s recreational habits and conservation ethics. Though he loves to visit Montana, he and his wife Sara have made their home in Spokane and find that they fall more in love with the Inland Northwest everyday. Bart serves on the planning committees for a few of Spokane’s prize events including Earth Day Spokane and the Spokane River Clean Up. In his free time he likes to play outdoors, tend to his garden, ride his bike whenever and wherever he can, and travel with his wife.
Barry joined the Center’s legal staff in August of 2012. Raised in Bellingham, Washington, Barry brings a wide range of skills and an unusually rich life experience to his work on behalf of our clients. A fifth-generation commercial fisherman, Barry joined the United States Navy and served for six years as an electrician in the Navy Nuclear Power Program. After his honorable discharge from the military, Barry earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from The Evergreen State College. While attending Evergreen he successfully applied for a work-study position in the office of U.S. Congressman Brian Baird, working on issues affecting military veterans. After graduation, he began working full time for the Congressman and eventually went on to work with State Senator Georgia Gardner and Governors Gary Locke and Chris Gregoire. His concern for the environment led him to take a position with Climate Solutions, a regional organization dedicated to combating global warming, where he worked to modernize and increase the efficiency of the electrical power grid. Barry was accepted to the Gonzaga University School of Law in 2006 and served as an intern at the Center for Justice until graduation. He then went to work as a staff attorney for the Northwest Justice Project where his practice areas included housing, public benefits, and consumer protection. He is accredited by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and admitted to practice in Washington, the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Washington, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Barry loves spending time with his wife and young daughter. He likes to hike, bike, watch Seattle Sounders and GU Basketball games, play disk golf, and work in the garden (he has worked for two plant nurseries in the past). Although he has no intention or desire to leave Spokane, he admits to missing the sea and feeling a little landlocked at times.
Suellen Pritchard’s first connection with the Center for Justice was as a client seeking assistance in securing custody of her children. During that successful effort, a CFJ attorney urged her to enroll at a local community college to receive training as a paralegal. With this encouragement, she went to school for a year and a half and also worked during this period as an intern at the Center. In 2001, the Center offered her a full-time job organizing and supervising our driver re-licensing program. Since then, she’s emerged not just as a lead developer of our Community Advocacy program but as a community leader on issues of poverty, connecting people and families with vital services, and advancing policy changes to empower people rising from poverty or in need of a second chance. For the past several years Suellen has run the program with the help of student interns from area colleges as well as volunteers seeking to aid our community through service work. Her latest assignment is to work with staff attorney Barry Pfundt to develop and implement our Health & Justice Initiative. The initiative is a medical-legal partnership whose purpose is to help physicians and patients overcome obstacles to the delivery of quality medical care. Suellen is a mother of four. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening and canning. Her favorite thing to do is to spend time with her husband, Dennis, her children, and grandchildren.
Lisa joined the Center as an Accountant in summer 2011. She is a graduate of the University of Glasgow, and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland. She trained with the international accounting firm Price Waterhouse (Coopers). A year after qualifying as a chartered accountant she was keen to do some grassroots work so she moved to a government enterprise company assisting small start ups, applying for grants and managing European Funding Grants. Looking to expand her experience she joined Scottish and Newcastle Breweries. There, she had various roles over a nine year period from internal auditor, Finance Manager of the International Export company, and Marketing Accountant. Originally from Scotland, Lisa moved to Spokane in 2004 with her family on an overseas assignment for two years, and has remained here ever since. She took the opportunity to spend six years at home with her young sons and to run a bed and breakfast for all her visitors from overseas. In her spare time she loves to ski, run, walk, bike and generally be active outside with her family. She also likes to read and cook family meals.
Julie joined the Center’s legal staff in October 2010. She works to end cycles of poverty and incarceration by helping our clients obtain valid driver’s licenses, clear criminal convictions and resolve legal financial obligations. In addition to direct client advocacy, Julie collaborates with a diverse coalition of community partners to implement independent civilian oversight of Spokane’s police department and to create a local criminal justice system that utilizes evidence-based alternatives to incarceration that actually reduce recidivism by addressing the root causes of each individual’s criminal behavior.
Julie graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Journalism. She went on to attend UW law school and spent much of her out-of-class time on the San Juan islands, advocating for shoreline and marine protections. She landed her first legal position with the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office, in its environmental and land use division. After taking a six month hiatus from law to pursue outdoor adventures in Alaska, she returned to her hometown of Spokane where she now lives with her husband Kyle and their trusty trail dog Eddy. In 2013 Julie was selected as a member of the Washington Leadership Institute, which trains and develops attorneys for leadership positions. When Julie’s not at work, she’s likely gardening, backpacking, backcountry skiing, floating a river, or biking the trails near her home.
Virla has been the Center’s Outreach Coordinator since December 2011. Born in North Little Rock, Arkansas, Virla came to Spokane as a teen in the midst of a family crisis. By her own admission, she has lived a difficult life, one that includes a felony conviction, in 2001, for malicious mischief. But few people have harvested their hardships better than Virla Spencer. Though Virla first came to the Center as a client in 2005–to restore her driver’s license–she returned in 2009 as volunteer, and then filled a key Americorps Vista position as Outreach Director, succeeding Holly Fauerso in that role in 2010. Since then she has distinguished herself not only with her outreach skills but as a knowledgeable, savvy, and forcefully articulate advocate for the needs and rights of the underprivileged in our community. In early 2012 she was invited to join the Board of Directors of Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners (SNAP) the region’s oldest and most prestigious service and advocacy organization for the needs of low income people. Virla is the single mother of four girls, two boys, and also cares for a live-in nephew. She is active in the Church of Berachah and regularly volunteers at Truth Ministries in Spokane to help feed homeless and disadvantaged men. “I believe I was created to serve others,” Virla says, “Everything that has revolved around my life has made me better prepared and better able to serve other people.” Spokane’s weekly newspaper, The Inlander, recognized Virla’s heart and her talents for making a positive difference in other people’s lives with a 2013 Peirone Prize.
Jeffry Finer (of counsel)
In his quarter century as a lawyer, Jeff has become well known for litigating high-profile civil rights cases including the nationally known Spokane Gypsy case and a Spokane clinic picketing case in which he successfully advocated for the privacy rights of women seeking abortions. His cases have taken him to every level of the American justice system, including a 1996 case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. Among the active cases Jeff brings to the Center for Justice are those involving the deaths of Otto Zehm and Trent Yohe, both of whom died while being taken into custody by Spokane area law enforcement officers. Jeff has been named Spokane’s top civil rights lawyer for three years running by Spokane Living Magazine, sharing the most recent award with CFJ chief catalyst Breean Beggs. Before moving to Spokane in 1984, Jeff earned his undergraduate degree at Yale (Fine Arts) and his law degree from the New Mexico School of Law. For the past eight years he has taught as an adjunct professor at Gonzaga Law School, focusing on courses in trial practice and criminal law. Jeff is married to Spokane physician Stacie Bering who is well known and admired in Spokane for her work as an obstetrician and, more recently, a palliative care provider and beloved teacher. They have two children: Zack is a college student in British Columbia and Cassie manages an REI store in California. Jeff loves telemark skiing and spending time in his backyard studio where he paints in oils and beeswax. If you catch him with any free time, he’s probably playing the ancient board game, Go, on the computer.