05.16.2024

Champions 2024: We Can Thrive

Stories from Youth in Foster Care

Inside the Sheraton Grand Seattle’s grand ballroom at the Champions 2024 event.

Inside the Sheraton Grand Seattle’s grand ballroom at the Champions 2024 event.

On the afternoon of April 23, the lights dimmed in the Sheraton Grand Seattle’s grand ballroom as Treehouse welcomed guests to Champions 2024. There were over 1,000 Treehouse community members attending in person and online, including a watch party in Spokane. 

Building on Treehouse’s statewide expansion announcement, Champions 2024 was designed to include the entire Washington state foster care community. Online attendees hailed from every corner of Washington, like Newman Lake to Sequim and Camas, and beyond, with people tuning in from as far as Maine and Florida.   

Sharmila Swenson and Angela Poe Russell presenting awards.

Sharmila Swenson and Angela Poe Russell presenting awards.

Honoring Our Community Supporters

Award-winning TV journalist Angela Poe Russell emceed the event and Sharmila Swenson, Symetra Life Insurance Company Vice President of Public Affairs and Social Impact and Treehouse Board President, shared some of Treehouse’s accomplishments — like the 6,700 youth and young adults served in 2023 and an extended high school completion rate higher than 60%. 

Longtime Treehouse supporter Governor Inslee, who during his tenure as Governor helped make Washington state and Treehouse a national leader in improving educational outcomes for foster youth, presented Representative Tana Senn with the Legislator of the Year Award. In partnership with our inaugural Legislator of the Year, Reuven Carlyle, and our 2024 honoree Tana Senn, Governor Inslee has supported both groundbreaking legislation and historic state investment in this critical work.  

Angela and Sharmila recognized outstanding partnerships that have furthered Treehouse’s mission this year. Seasoned Treehouse volunteer Stephen Mead received the Wendy Walters Truitt Volunteer of the Year Award. KIRO Newsradio’s 35 years of support earned them the Community Partner Award. And the Corporate Partner Award went to Coordinated Care for their service to youth in foster care throughout the state. 

Speaking to the Foster Care Experience 

Treehouse CEO Dawn Rains also took the stage and reminded us that more work is waiting to be done to ensure all youth in the foster system have the tools and care they need to thrive. 

Two Treehouse alumni shared their personal stories. Nevaeh Brewer, a current Treehouse Launch Success Coach, recounted how her own Launch Success Coach imparted her with the support to choose her path into adulthood. Maya Johnson, a Treehouse Fellow, shared about the “You Are Not Alone” video project. 

You Are Not Alone Video Project

The You Are Not Alone” Video Project brings together personal narratives of experiences in the foster care system and provides insight into what it takes to thrive. Following the video premiere, Maya shares with Angela the central message and goals of this project.

Champions 2024 Honorees

Champions 2024 honoree, Rep. Tana Senn.

Legislator of the Year
Representative Tana Senn  

Rep. Senn has served as a state representative since 2013 and has been a key partner to Treehouse in passing legislation and securing state funding to advance educational outcomes for youth experiencing foster care.

“To be recognized by Treehouse is a truly humbling experience. Together, we are helping foster youth feel heard and supported, as well as giving them tangible tools to improve their lives now and into adulthood. What could be better than that?” – Tana Senn

Champions 2024 awardee, Stephen Mead

Wendy Walters Truitt Volunteer of the Year Award
Stephen Mead  

After retiring at Boeing, Stephen Mead became a volunteer in the Treehouse Store. As an experienced foster parent, Stephen helped rebuild operations during the pandemic. Known for his quirky T-shirts, dad jokes and hilarious pranks, Stephen is a cherished member of the Treehouse team.

Champions 2024 awardee, KIRO Newsradio. Community Partner Award
KIRO Newsradio 

This past December, KIRO Newsradio celebrated 35 years of Holiday Magic and partnership with Treehouse. The campaign has changed over the years, but this year the whole KIRO Newsradio family rallied to create a full day of programming, focused on youth stories and raising over $110,000 for Treehouse!

“We have worked with Treehouse to create the Holiday Magic Campaign longer than any other community initiative and it has become a part of our purpose and mission. We feel a sense of great pride and joy in providing holiday gifts to the youth in Washington’s foster care system.” – Cathy Cangiano, Bonneville Seattle Sr. Vice President and Market Manager 

Champions 2024 awardee, Coordinated Care. Corporate Partner Award
Coordinated Care 

As the Apple Healthcare provider for youth in foster care in Washington state, Coordinated Care is as invested in the health and well-being of foster youth as Treehouse. In addition to providing Treehouse staff case consultation and training, Coordinated Care has made financial investments in our programs and services.

“After many years of working with partners, caregivers, medical experts and youth themselves to create care to meet the complex healthcare needs of children, youth and young adults, we are proud of our Apple Health Core Connections program and the services we provide. To receive this honor from Treehouse, who is a statewide leader in foster care advocacy and programs, is truly an honor.” – Beth Johnson, Coordinated Care President and CEO

Challenge Pool 

Our generous Challenge Pool donors helped us raise funds for our programs. One-time donations of $300+ were doubled and $1,000+ were tripled. Recurring monthly gifts of $30+ were doubled and $100+ were tripled. 

Aldarra Foundation 

Eve & Chap Alvord 

Brettler Family Foundation 

Zan Brookshire & Bert Green 

Lynn & Bruce Gibson 

Michael Hallman 

John & Susan Holt 

Sue & Dave Holt 

Chip & Julie Kelly 

Tom & Terri Olson Miller 

Valerie Robinson 

David & Linda Wilson 

Anonymous Donors 

Treehouse Champions 2024 Sponsors

Thank you to the sponsors who made our Champions 2024 event a reality! 

Treehouse Champions 2024 sponsors

Watch the recording of Treehouse Champions 2024 below to experience the event for yourself!

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