Laura Smith is the Executive Director for the Empower Youth Network (EYN). Laura has more than 20 years of experience in the non-profit sector and has been with the Empower Youth Network (formerly Snoqualmie Valley Community Network) since 2005.
Laura has been an active community leader on the eastside for many years, which includes board and volunteer roles with Rotary Club of Duvall, Executive Constantine's Healthcare Leadership Circle, King County's Mental Health and Drug Dependence Advisory Council, the Snoqualmie Valley Healthy Community Coalition, and the King County Human Services Alliance. Laura holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in English and Secondary Teaching from Colorado State University and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Colorado. Laura is a graduate of Leadership Eastside and gets her energy from community collaboration and working with youth. Laura resides in Duvall with her husband and two children.
Jami Au joins EYN as our administrative assistant and office manager. Originally from Montana, Jami moved to Washington to attend college at Pacific Lutheran University. Her background is in corporate sales support, event planning and administration. Jami has a passion for the Valley and especially youth success! She served 4 years on the Cascade View Elementary PTSA board, spent many hours volunteering in the local schools and food banks, and fundraising. She feels that no child, especially in our community, should have to tackle all of the trials that come with growing up, while hungry.
In her free time Jami loves to travel, hike, golf and spend time laughing with friends. Jami, her husband and their 3 sons have lived in the valley for 12 years. Her sons attend the University of Washington, Mount Si High School, and Snoqualmie Middle School.
Jerry Blackburn serves as the Program Director for the Empower Youth Network. In addition to joining the EYN team, Jerry as an adjunct faculty member in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at Seattle University. Jerry is a graduate of the University of Washington with a Master of Education and has been a certified Substance Use Disorder Professional since 1999. Most recently, Jerry served as the Executive Director for the Influence the Choice community prevention coalition as well as a faculty member in the recently sunsetted Substance Use Disorder Counseling Education Program at Bellevue College.
In the community, Jerry currently serves as a board member for The Garage- The Issaquah Teen Café, ParentWiser- the PTSA Council Education Committee, the Greater Issaquah Equity & Inclusion Group, as well as serving as a longtime steering committee member for the Counselor Camp- Adolescent/Young Adult Behavioral Health Conference.
In 2005 he was honored by the Washington State Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse with the Richard Rivera Passionate Youth Professional Award, the Issaquah Schools Foundation presented him with the Golden Apple Award in appreciation for his dedication to the health of young people in 2017, and in 2021 he received the Influence the Choice Vicki Hoffman Legacy Award for his work as an advocate for preventing substance use and promoting the mental, physical, and social wellness of our youth.
Jerry lives in Issaquah with his wife Val, a long-time middle school teacher in the LWSD and son Isaak a student at IHS. Jerry is an avid runner, loves to cook and enjoys keeping their 100 plus year old house happy.
Tara Bergman is a Prevention Coordinator focusing on substance use prevention campaigns with Empower Youth Network.
Tara brings a background in customer service, operations, and program management in both corporate and nonprofit settings. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with an emphasis in Women’s Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and has enjoyed serving the Snoqualmie Valley as a volunteer for over a decade supporting in classrooms, at community events, for booster clubs, and on PTSA boards.
Tara’s biggest volunteer passion is coaching with the Cedarcrest Mountain Bike Club, a program for middle and high school students with the mission of empowering youth on their bikes to learn skills, support one another, and become good stewards of the environment.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Tara has lived with her husband and two sons in Carnation since 2010. Whether on a bike, paddle board, or on foot, Tara loves exploring nature and looking for birds with her dog.
Maya Olson is the Youth Engagement Coordinator for Empower Youth Network. She is excited to work with the youth to create fun, safe, and engaging events. Maya has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Community Psychology.
Maya has volunteer experience with the youth in the lower valley and worked in childcare previous to this position. She is passionate about helping others, especially the youth. A goal of hers is to further her education surrounding mental health in the near future. Maya has lived in the lower valley all her life, and is thrilled to be able to work directly with her community as well as surrounding communities.
In her free time Maya enjoys spending time with her family and her Australian Shepherd, working out, and dancing to music in the kitchen while cooking. She is an advocate for both mental health and physical health. Maya encourages the youth to reach out about ideas for events, or anything they’d like to discuss!
Heather Downing is the Youth Success! Mentoring Program Manager, a program of the Empower Youth Network. She has worked in non-profit management over 4 years, volunteer management over 8 years and with schools over 11 years. Heather brings with her a wealth of people skills, organization and compassion.
She successfully led two district levy campaigns for Riverview School District. Heather is a supporter and active leader working with community youth groups that include 4H and United States Pony Club. Heather held a board position during Duvall Co-Op preschool’s first year.
Heather earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Washington State University and lives in Duvall with her husband and 3 kids.
Kathy Hyland is the Youth Success! Mentoring Coordinator. Kathy has her BA from the University of Washington in Early Childhood and Family Services. She brings 21 years of experience working with children, their school employee families, the community and DCYF officials through her home daycare and preschool. Over the years, Kathy has volunteered for youth sports organizations coordinating volunteers and creating new programs. Kathy, and her family of four, have lived in the Upper Valley for 26 years. Her husband is a teacher and her two sons are grown and exploring life as adults. When not busy with work and her family, Kathy loves to create art out of old wood and enjoys working in her garden.
Michelle is a Grant Writer with Empower Youth Network.
She grew up and attended local schools in Snoqualmie and North Bend. While pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work at Pacific Lutheran University, Michelle engaged with several youth-centered agencies in the Tacoma area, including the Department of Children, Youth and Families Office of Youth Engagement, and local non-profits Degrees of Change and Downtown on the Go. Moving back home to the valley, she completed a year of AmeriCorps service with the United Way of King County and subsequently found her way to Empower Youth Network as a Community Resource Coordinator on the TRACE Care Team.
It has been a longtime dream to serve Snoqualmie Valley youth and families, and Michelle is ecstatic to now support Empower Youth Network as a Grant Writer.
When free, she enjoys making art, playing trumpet, board games with friends, and getting outside to hike, climb, or find other nonsense to be had wherever there are trees.
Christine Miles has recently accepted the position of Community Outreach and Language Access Coordinator. For the last year Christine has worked at EYN as a Bilingual Youth Resilience and Resource Coordinator. She’s excited to apply her experience of working with families and passion for equitable representation of ALL Snoqualmie Valley community members in developing culturally responsive programming.
Originally from New York City, Christine was raised in Puerto Rico, immersed in its language and rich culture. As a young adult, she returned to the U.S. by way of California. She moved to Washington in the early 90’s and has resided in the Snoqualmie Valley since 2005. Christine’s early life experiences with acclimating to diverse cultures has fostered compassion for others who encounter similar situations.
Christine has formerly worked as a translator in the Riverview school district and frequently served as a volunteer supporting non-profit organizations including, Acres of Diamonds, The Sophia Way, and Timmy Global Health, providing support to diverse communities. With a passion to serve others, she recently expanded her education earning a bachelor’s degree in Community Psychology from the University of Washington. Now Christine is excited to combine her language skills, her life experiences and formal education to serve the Snoqualmie valley with a compassionate spirit.
Christine resides in Duvall with her husband and two sons. In her free time Christine enjoys reading, baking, cooking, and traveling.
M’Liss Moon is excited to join the EYN team as the Youth Resilience and Community Resources Coordinator. Originally from Colorado, M’Liss found her way to Washington and the Snoqualmie Valley area in the mid 90’s and has loved it ever since. Her background in psychology and massage therapy lead her to open Main St. Massage, a health and wellness center in Duvall in 2001. After her daughters entered the world, M’Liss continued to volunteer in the community serving 12 years on the City of Carnation Planning Board, initiating the PTSA at the Riverview Learning Center, and most recently serves at the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Chair on the PTSA Council at the Riverview School District.
M’Liss is passionate about promoting a healthy, thriving Snoqualmie Valley community. Currently residing in Carnation, the Moon family, when not learning and working are often found out walking, hiking and enjoying nature.
I am very excited to join the Empower Youth Network team as a Family Connection Coordinator for Snoqualmie Valley School District and Riverview School District.
I am originally from Mexico City and moved to the United States at age 12. My immigrant background has motivated me to help limited resources and language barrier families throughout the community. I have been involved in Youth programs for 15 years from Spanish teaching, tutoring and after school programs. I hold a very extensive knowledge on Child Development and educational background. With my abilities, willingness and personal experiences my goal is to reach and connect with English learner families and youth to provide support and information of resources around our community. I am passionate on youth success, I believe that everyone deserves to be treated equally and with respect. I enjoy my free time hiking, biking with my family and friends. I also love listening to music, dancing and gardening.
Karla is the Program Coordinator for the Empower Youth Network’s Pathways to Employment Success program.
She has worked in a variety of corporate industries but feels most connected working in community health and creating meaningful relationships through collaboration and partnerships. Karla holds a bachelor’s degree in Health Promotion and Management and commits her skills, knowledge, and experience to improve overall well-being and quality of life through education and empowerment by helping to build positive and sustaining lifestyle behaviors.
Karla and her family live in North Bend and enjoys being active and exploring all that the Snoqualmie Valley and surrounding areas have to offer.
Sara Tarp is the Prevention Coordinator for Empower Youth Network. Sara is excited to work with the Youth Suicide Prevention program and Youth Engagement.
Sara has her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Human Development from Washington State University and is also a licensed Substance Use Disorder Professional. Sara has worked with adults and adolescents since her graduation. She has worked in many roles including inpatient treatment working in family programs, outpatient counseling, prevention/intervention, and development and outreach. Her passion for prevention work and helping youth and parents started from her own childhood and is growing every day.
In her free time Sara enjoys spending time with her partner and their dog, coaching rugby and getting outside.
Carol Van Noy
Carol Van Noy is the Empower Youth Network's Fund Development Manager. Carol has worked in the nonprofit sector with United Way of King County and other nonprofits for 20 years. She has experience in workplace campaigns, corporate and foundation gifts, major gifts, Million Dollar Round Table and working with key volunteers to help with fundraising goals.
Carol also currently serves as board president of the Riverview Board. She is a long time resident of the Snoqualmie Valley and passionate about success for all youth.
Helene Wentink joins Empower Youth Network (EYN) as the Communication and Development Director. Helene brings 25+ years of nonprofit experience to EYN with a background in administration, fundraising and communication. In her previous leadership roles, she has supported youth education, early learning and early intervention, and community-based housing for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). She holds a B.A. in Communication/Editorial Journalism from the University of Washington and a Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership from Seattle University. She most recently served as Director of Operations and Director of Advancement with Community Homes, Inc., ensuring rich, full lives for adults with I/DD. Helene also serves on the boards of the Alliance of Eastside Agencies (AEA) and the Eastside Human Services Forum (EHSF).
Helene has been a member of the Snoqualmie Valley since 1978 and enjoys living in Fall City with her spouse, Mike Truitt along with her chickens, turtle, and pug. In her spare-time she enjoys horseback riding, gardening, and Jazzercise.
Maddy recently joined EYN as the new Communications Coordinator. She graduated from Simmons University in Boston, MA back in 2021 where she became a lifetime member of the National Communications Association. She is thrilled to be home again in Washington.
The bulk of her marketing and communications (marcom) experience has been in nonprofits and government, on both national and state levels as well as local ones. Maddy is thrilled to apply her skills for social media, marketing, graphic and web design, communications, and writing to accomplish the mission at EYN. In addition to her experience in the marcom world, Maddy has also uniquely worked in the education field, whether she was providing academic advising remotely to students anywhere in the world or teaching in-person at an after-school program with the Washington Alliance for Better Schools (WABS). Her experience working with youth and in the marcom world, as well as her deeply personal connection to EYN’s work, make her grateful and excited to serve in her role.
Leda Echevers joined EYN as a Bilingual Community Resource Coordinator. Originally from Panama, she moved to the US to pursue her graduate studies. Afterwards she lived in Germany, where she immersed herself in the language and culture. After moving back to the US, Leda continued her work in student and family support services in schools, universities, and non-profits.
Leda brings an extensive background in case management, drug use prevention, dropout prevention, and community engagement. She has worked with immigrant students and their families from K through college to help break societal barriers and achieve success in school and life.
Leda holds a Licenciatura in Psicología from Universidad Santa María la Antigua in Panama, and a Masters in Student Affairs in Higher Education from the University of Delaware. She’s excited to bring her formal education, professional background, and life experiences to support students and families in the Snoqualmie Valley.
During her free time, Leda enjoys spending time with her husband and children, her giant dog, traveling and making art.