2023 Champions Luncheon Raises $1.1 Million for Youth in Foster Care

Treehouse CEO Dawn Rains speaking at the 2023 Champions Luncheon. Photography by Tiffany Diamond Photography.

It was a full house at the 2023 From Little Wishes to Big Dreams Champions Luncheon on March 29, with 1,000 community members attending in-person at the Sheraton Grand in Seattle, and hundreds more tuning in via live stream to celebrate Treehouse’s 35th Anniversary. The Treehouse community came together and generously contributed $1.1 million to help us reach every one of the 11,000 youth in foster care across Washington state.

Statewide Expansion

CEO Dawn Rains announced that for the first time in the organization’s history, not only is Graduation Success going statewide, but all Treehouse programs would be available to school-aged youth statewide. Beginning April 3, we are taking referrals from every corner of the state.

“Going forward, when a youth in Federal Way changes foster care placements to Aberdeen or Omak, a Treehouse staffer will finally be there waiting for them,” she said. “We will be able to address the educational needs of each youth, ensuring they get enrolled in their new school and their records transfer quickly; that they meet with their Treehouse Education Specialist weekly to set and make progress toward powerful goals they set for themselves; that they play on the football team or in the school band; and that they have the clothing and school supplies they need to feel good and fit in.”

You can watch the rest of her speech here.

From Little Wishes to Big Dreams

We had the special opportunity to hear from two incredible women, Tash Haynes and Maiya Rivas. They reflected on their experiences in the foster care system and shared their hopes and dreams for the future of youth in foster care.

“Kids in foster care often have few choices, but they need to be empowered to choose the story of their life that they want to write, to take those quiet wishes in the core of their being and turn them into dreams they never thought they could realize.”


“I want younger generations to grow up knowing they are wanted, valued, loved, accepted and so much more. I want them to know they are not alone. I want them to know that they are important, that their wishes, dreams and voices matter too.”



Every year, we recognize individuals and partners who have gone the extra mile to support youth in foster care and Treehouse.

Sen. Reuven Carlyle poses with his award with his wife during a ceremony in December 2022. Photography by Robert Wade Photography.

Legislator of the Year Award: Senator Reuven Carlyle

While Treehouse has a lot of fans in the legislature, Senator Carlyle has been singular in his commitment, passion and insistence that we can and must do better for youth for whom the state has become parent. Among his many contributions, Senator Carlyle ensured the legislature’s intent to make Washington state number one in the nation for high school graduation and college enrollment for youth in foster care is enshrined in state law.

He championed our first state funding request for Graduation Success in 2014 and went on to champion five additional requests over a decade to fuel statewide expansion. We are grateful for his vision, leadership and commitment to youth in foster care across the state.

The team from Symetra poses with their award at the 2023 Champions Luncheon. Photography by Tiffany Diamond Photography.

Corporate Partner Award: Symetra

Symetra’s partnership with Treehouse grew out of incoming Board chair Sharmila Swenson’s 20 years of service to Treehouse. Treehouse was awarded a multi-year investment through the Symetra Empowers program to pilot our Launch Success program. Thanks to Symetra’s support since 2018, we’ve been able to evolve Launch Success from a pilot program to a powerful model that demonstrates what is possible when young people transitioning from foster care have adequate resource support, healthy relationships they can count on and thoughtful interventions that are co-designed by and centered on those with lived experience in foster care.

“Symetra and our employees have a history of supporting Treehouse. Treehouse is leading the way to make systems change in order to create successful, equitable outcomes for youth in foster care in Washington state and across the country. Symetra is humbled and honored to be recognized with the Corporate Champion Award for our multi-year Empowers grant for the Launch Success program.” – Sharmila Swenson, Vice President, Public Affairs and Social Impact.

Community Partner Award: Gesa Credit Union

Gesa Credit Union goes above and beyond to make a positive impact on the communities they serve, offering resources that build financial literacy for youth. Over the past year, Gesa has hosted several financial literacy seminars, sharing their expertise to help Treehouse youth as they launch into adulthood.

“Gesa Credit Union is proud to partner with Treehouse in support of their mission to create a world where every child who has experienced foster care has the opportunities and support they need to pursue their dreams and launch successfully into adulthood,” said Angie Brotherton, AVP of Corporate Communications and Community Relations. “It’s an honor to be recognized for our efforts. This award reflects the hard work and dedication of our members and team members, who make a positive impact in our communities.”

Carla poses with her award at her volunteer station at the Treehouse Store. Photo credit: Lu Rukhadze

Wendy Walters Truitt Volunteer Award: Carla Richards

Carla serves as the lead volunteer for the Infant/Toddler section in the Treehouse Store, where she frequently surpasses expectations to prioritize our clients’ needs and make sure everything runs smoothly. She often takes home almost-like-new items to launder or mend before we add them to the Store shelves, and when shoppers have special requests for baby items, she takes time to go through her stock and make sure they get exactly what they’re looking for. She also mentors new volunteers and staff, makes personal donations to the Store and maintains our resource-sharing relationship with a partner organization. Store staff report that Carla is “awesome,” “frequently acts as the candy fairy” and “is part of the Treehouse family – we couldn’t do it without her!”

Challenge Pool

Thanks to the generosity of our Challenge Pool donors, donations were stretched and any one-time gift of $350+ was doubled and one-time gifts of $1,000+ were tripled. Recurring monthly gifts were included as well — $35+ was doubled and $100+ was tripled.

Challenge Pool Donors:

CJ & Amy Allen
Eve & Chap Alvord
Jill & Warren Ashton
Brettler Family Foundation
Zan Brookshire & Bert Green
Ryan Bumrungkittikul
Amber & Brad Busch
Pat Donahue
Juli Farris
Lynn & Bruce Gibson
John Holt & Susan Trainor Holt
Keisha Jackson
Derek & Kirstin Kalles

Chip & Julie Kelly
Marissa Meyer & Jesse Taylor
Tom & Terri Olson Miller
Valerie Robinson
Andi Smith & Becky Johnson
Linda Spain
Shelby & James Stokoe
Sharmila & Keith Swenson
Affshin & Sarita Valji
Charisse Williams
David & Linda Wilson
Chris & Sangita Woerner
Youel Family

Honorary Host Committee

Thank you to our 35th Anniversary Host Committee! These community leaders have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the success of youth in foster care. We wouldn’t be where we are today without their support.

Luncheon Co-Chairs: Linda Spain & Terri Olson Miller

Dean & Vicki Allen
Connie Ballmer
Brettler Family Foundation
Bobbe & Jon Bridge
Zan Brookshire & Bert Green
Julia Calhoun
Mary Lou Dickerson
Juli Farris

Dana Frank
Carmen Gayton
Trudi Inslee
Dr. Constance Rice
Elizabeth Rudolf
Sheri Schultz
Wendy Truitt
James Williams

Event Sponsors

Watch the recording of 2023 Champions Luncheon:

Subscribe to Our Blog

Leave a Comment