Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award
Leadership Spokane created the Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award to honor the many contributions of the more than 1,500 graduates of the program since its inception in 1982. This award recognizes alumni who are the embodiment of Leadership Spokane’s mission of being a catalyst - educating and uniting diverse, collaborative leaders to ensure a vibrant Spokane.
- Leadership Spokane Graduate
- Significance of contributions to the community
- Service and commitment to Leadership Spokane
- Demonstration of mentorship and service to others
- Other factors for consideration
2023 Recipient - Amber Waldref
Amber Waldref, Leadership Spokane Class of 2008, is dedicated to lifting all residents in our community. For more than 20 years
Amber has engaged local community members and state/national leaders. She brought people together to design community
solutions, helping organizations invest in people and places, to create measurable, positive change. During her eight years on Spokane City Council, Amber led efforts to clean up the Spokane River, to improve streets and utilities, to support small business growth and public safety through targeted investment in the East Sprague District, the Hamilton Street Corridor, and Downtown Spokane. Amber championed a property crime supervision program for vehicle thefts and state funding toward a Regional Mental Health Stabilization Center. In 2016, Amber led the ballot campaign increasing Spokane Transit service and was instrumental in creating the new, all-electric rapid transit, CityLine, opening in 2023.
As a small business consultant, she supported Urbanova, a smart city partnership based in Spokane. As Director of The ZoNE at the Northeast Community Center, she partnered with organizations, residents, and schools to expand access to education, employment, food, and housing, generating over $7.6M in new investment in historically marginalized neighborhoods. Amber has been a leader in responding to COVID-19, developing regional food delivery systems, coordinating the investment of millions of education and housing dollars in neighborhoods most impacted, helping students and families recover sooner. Amber was a founder of Priority Spokane; a local collaboration using data to drive community investments which increased Spokane County high school graduation rates and decreased family homelessness. She served on the Governor’s 2020 Census Counts Committee and was responsible for activating Spokane County’s successful Census Count. She currently serves on the Spokane Housing Authority Board, the Washington State University Spokane Advisory Council, the Holy Names Music Center Board of Trustees, and the Spokane County Human Rights Task Force.
Amber is a recently elected Spokane County Commissioner, where she will bring what she has learned in this place-based work to the County level so systems and supports can reach our greater community with equity, respect, and impact.
2022 Recipient - Dirk Vastrick
Dirk Vastrick creates an indelible mark of service and commitment on Leadership Spokane. Dirk graduated from Leadership Spokane in 2016 and immediately became a Lifetime Legacy (now, a 1983 Society Ambassador) member and began serving on the Alumni Board. His efforts were immediately noticed and he was asked to serve on the Leadership Spokane Board of Directors.
Dirk embodies leadership and Leadership Spokane in an unparalleled way. His generosity to Leadership Spokane is unmatched by any individual. In 2018, Dirk established a scholarship program, not a single scholarship, but a program called the WEV Education Scholarship; founded in memory of his parents, Walter and Eleanor Vastrick, who were deeply committed to education. Dirk believes these scholarships embody Woodrow Wilson’s quote, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world; you impoverish yourself if you forget this errand.” Dirk’s initiative provides funding which ensures multiple tuition Scholarships awarded each year. These scholarships help Leadership Spokane have voices in the room which might otherwise be marginalized by the cost of tuition.
Each year, at the Class Retreat, Dirk demonstrates and encourages generosity by asking the new class to participate in a $10 dollar challenge. He provides each class participant with $10 and tells a story about appreciation he received from someone he gave a granola bar and a bottled water.
He challenges the class is to find a way to give $10 to someone in need so they can experience how “Something so small can have big power in the world.” The Class of 2022 accepted the challenge and multiplied it, raising $10,000 to sponsor two rooms at the Ronald McDonald House in Spokane. What started with a granola bar and a bottle of water, turned into a vision making the world better for those in need. Dirk is a humble friend, mentor, leader, and advocate. An exceptional Alumni of our program, to say the least.
2021 Recipient - Tracie Meidl
Captain Tracie Meid, class of 2017, has served the citizens of Spokane, Washington, well for more than 28 years. Captain Meidl began her law enforcement career as a Spokane Police Explorer in 1989, a program that gives young adults the opportunity to explore a career in law enforcement by working with local agencies. She became a full-time law enforcement officer in 1993. Since then, she has held almost every position within the department and currently serves as a captain in Spokane’s South Precinct.
Throughout her career, Captain Meidl was a K-9 officer, a member of the Peer Assistance Team that helps fellow officers who have been involved in critical incidents, and spent time as a Public Information Officer on the department's PIO Team. During her time in the Community, Youth and Intervention Services division, she expanded the Spokane Police Activities League, engaging more than 300 youths each summer. Captain Meidl designed a restorative justice program for Spokane Public Schools called ‘Restore Our Kids,’ providing an afterschool program for students to attend who would otherwise be suspended from school.
Captain Meidl was also instrumental in the formation of the Spokane Faith Alliance, building a relationship with community leaders. While Captain Meidl has accumulated many law enforcement awards and certificates, her commitment to her community stands out through her volunteer work. She was a member of her Church Hospitality Team from 2004 to 2013 and currently serves on the Spokane Housing Ventures Board. She is also a YWCA board member.
2020 Recipient - Dr. Darryl Potyk
Dr. Darryl Potyk, Class of 2010, has been a servant leader in the Spokane community for the last 25 years. He has risen to positions of leadership at both Deaconess and Sacred Heart hospitals. Darryl has built community bridges by establishing a collaborative research study between the University of Washington and Washington State University. Outside his medical profession, Dr. Potyk has been engaged in the community by being part of numerous boards including 2nd Harvest, Planned Parenthood, Spokane Nordic Ski Association, Spokane County Medical Society, SHMC Med Executive Committee, and the Spokane Society of Internal Medicine. The trust and mentorship provided to his colleagues and students has led to his selection as the state Internist of the Year, Teacher of the Year, and county Physician of the Year.
Dr. Potyk has helped in taking medical education to new heights for the regional Spokane community.
Leadership Spokane is proud to present Dr. Darryl Potyk as the sixth annual Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for his dedicated service to the Spokane community.
2019 Recipient - Maggie Crabtree
Maggie Crabtree, a 1997 graduate, embodies Leadership Spokane’s dedication to service. Maggie is an unsung hero of our community, constantly giving her time, talent, treasure and wisdom to charities large and small, local universities, civic organizations, students, young professionals and anyone who may be down on their luck. From her support of the arts, KPBX radio, Shriners Hospital, Meals on Wheels and Campfire to her "can do" attitude helping organizations and people in need, she is the epitome of a servant leader. Her career was built on the idea of servant leadership and paying it forward. Maggie is always looking to make a difference and leave this world, and specifically the Spokane community, better than she got it.
2018 Recipient - Yvonne Smith
Yvonne embodies Leadership Spokane’s dedication to service. Currently serving on the board of Numerica, College Success Foundation, and several other organizations in Spokane, Yvonne is deeply invested in her community. As the board president for Project beauty share, Yvonne uses her expertise to provide personal hygiene, cosmetics and beauty products to women in need in Spokane, boosting their confidence levels and helping them feel positive about their self-image. Project Beauty Share specifically reaches out to women in transition who have been victims of domestic violence or who have limited financial resources – distributing products to over 10 local nonprofit organizations. Yvonne’s leadership has been instrumental in equipping Project Beauty Share to initiate evolution within the beauty industry. Yvonne also is a dedicated advocate for Leadership Spokane through her three years of past service on the Leadership Spokane Board of directors, and her continued promotion of the program through bringing connections to the community.
2017 Recipient - Ira Amstadter
Ira Amstadter, a 2000 Leadership Spokane graduate, is emblematic of how our amazing alumni serve others passionately. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science/Animal Behavior from the University of Illinois and a Masters degree in Adult Education from the University of Arizona, Tucson. He has owned Express Employment Professionals in Spokane with his wife, Susan, since 1994. He was a senior program officer for the World Wildlife Fund in Madagascar, worked for the Brookfield Zoo as an elephant trainer and spent four years with the Peace Corps in Africa.
Ira and his wife created and administer the DaZelda Scholarship which is awarded every year to an incoming member of the Leadership Spokane program. Bearing his grandmother’s name, the scholarship honors her memory and her spirit of zest, vigor and a bold sense of community. Ira and his wife give back to this community by helping deliver leaders who will follow in their footsteps.
Leadership Spokane is proud to present Ira the third annual lifetime achievement award for his inspiring commitment to service above self. He volunteers at Sacred Heart, and not only encourages those he knows, but randomly acknowledges people on the street, passing out $2 bills to those he witnesses conducting good deeds. He is a true light for our community, even spotted in a gorilla suit on occasion, cheering children and giving a smile to all.
2016 Recipient – Gloria Ochoa-Bruck
Gloria Ochoa-Bruck, a 2012 Leadership Spokane graduate, was appointed by Mayor David Condon as the Local Government and Multi-Cultural Affairs Director for the City of Spokane in 2013. She is an adjunct professor at Gonzaga University School of Law. Ochoa-Bruck sees beyond education, social, economic, ethnic and political boundaries to create programs, processes and solutions that benefit individuals and the community as a whole. She is a member of the Hispanic Business Professionals Association, the Latina/o Bar Association, the Spokane County Bar Association’s Diversity Committee and Washington Women Lawyers. She also is the staff liaison for the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Multi-Cultural Affairs. Ochoa-Bruck is the first of her family to graduate from college and law school. Coeur d’Alene Living Magazine named Ochoa-Bruck as one of the top lawyers in Spokane in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Catalyst Magazine named her one of their Twenty Under 40 in 2012.
A graduate of both Spokane’s and Tri-Cities’ leadership program, Ochoa-Bruck is the embodiment of serving others, most recently immeasurably strengthening the Latino Hope Foundation, which provides scholarships to Latinos to attend higher education in the local area. Her distinguished record across the state is far reaching. Mayor Condon writes: “Gloria has done outstanding work on criminal justice reform, intercultural communications, and much more during her time here.”
2015 Recipient – Stacey Cowles
Stacey Cowles was selected this year for his incredible support of both Leadership Spokane and for his extraordinary leadership within the region moving the Inland Northwest forward. He currently serves as the president of Cowles Company and is the publisher of The Spokesman-Review. His accomplishments are many and he has served on numerous boards and positions within the community, seeking to better the quality of life throughout our region. He is the founding chairman of the Downtown Spokane Partnership and past chairman of the Washington (State) Business Roundtable.
He serves on the executive board of Inland Northwest Council and Boy Scouts of America. He is also a trustee of the Harriet Cheney Cowles Foundation. Executive Director Brian Newberry complimented his many accomplishments: “Beyond his commitment to building the region economically and also supporting a multitude of philanthropic causes, he remains an ardent supporter of Leadership Spokane and believes that investing in leaders will reap rich dividends for Spokane’s bright future.”