Tim joined the Center’s staff in February 2008 to work on communications, open government, policy research and law enforcement accountability. Tim was named the Outstanding Graduate in Journalism at Washington State University in 1979 and in his career as a journalist has won several national and regional investigative reporting awards. In 2011, he was honored with the Washington State Bar Association’s Excellence in Legal Journalism award in recognition of his distinguished reporting career. As a Center client in 2005, he won a unanimous Washington Supreme Court decision in an important public records case stemming from his investigation of Spokane’s River Park Square scandal. In the 1990s, Tim became one of the nation’s leading public interest advocates attacking government secrecy, environmental contamination, and social injustices related to nuclear weapons production and testing activities. The son of a science teacher, he has testified before both houses of Congress and presented before the National Academies of Science and Institute of Medicine. He has served on three federal advisory committees and was one of the founders of what is now the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability. He presently serves on the Hanford Concerns Council, an independent forum that works to resolve conflicts between Hanford workers and management at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. He lives in west Spokane. Tim grew up playing football on muddy fields in the Panama Canal Zone. He is the father of two children and enjoys photography, bird-watching, biking and long swims in lakes and rivers.
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 an avid whitewater rafter, hiker, and backpacker — though lately, his attention has been focused on his son Noah, born in May 2004.
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. Kendel has also accrued 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 at Lutheran Community Services, is a member of the YWCA Race and Social Justice committee, and is involved with Piti Piti, an organization that works on land renewal in Haiti. In her spare time Kendel enjoys hot yoga, running, baking, reading, 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 initial connection with the Center For Justice was as a client. Later she began working at the Center carrying out the driver re-licensing program. Since then, Suellen’s paralegal degree from Spokane Community College — as well as her life experience — have helped her develop the Center’s Community Advocacy program. She runs the program with the help of student interns from many different colleges as well as volunteers wanting to aid our community through service work. Dedicated to fulfilling the Center’s mission, the program helps low-income individuals facing many unique, and usually overlooked, problems. Suellen, a single mother of four, loves winter and water sports.
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 staff in October 2010. An avid outdoorswoman, she spent much of the summer of 2010 in Alaska before returning to Washington to resume her career as a lawyer. But rather than returning to Snohomish County, where she had served two years advising county officials on land use and environmental issues, she decided to come all the way home, to Spokane, where she’d grown up and graduated from Lewis & Clark High School. Before going to law school, Julie distinguished herself as an undergraduate at the University of Washington where she was a Phi Beta Kappa honors student while majoring in Journalism and Political Science. It was the strong urge to pursue work in the public interest that inspired her to pursue a legal career law, and to do volunteer and intern work with organizations like Earthjustice, American Rivers, the American Civil Liberties Union and Friends of the San Juans. About her decision to leave her government job and pursue work with a civil rights and public advocacy organization like the Center for Justice, she says: “I realized that I really wanted to be out in the community, connecting with people as an advocate.” In her free time, she likes to go skiing in the back country, paint, garden, and just “generally play outside.”
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.”
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.