Dear Friends, 

Colleen Echohawk Headshot

As most of you know, Melinda Giovengo ended her 15-year tenure as YouthCare’s CEO on August 31. We are grateful to Melinda, and especially to YouthCare’s outstanding Executive Team for working together to ensure a smooth transition of leadership.

This has been both a challenging time and an inspiring time, as we have witnessed staff at all levels rallying around the young people YouthCare serves and keeping us all focused on them and the agency’s mission. Over the past few months, the Board of Directors has engaged in an intensive search for the right Interim CEO to lead the agency through its leadership transition. I am writing today to share exciting news about YouthCare’s leadership.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am pleased to share YouthCare has engaged Colleen Echohawk to serve as YouthCare’s Interim CEO.

Many of you may be familiar with Colleen from her recent Mayoral campaign and her work in the community. As an Indigenous woman, executive leader, and small business owner, Colleen holds the lived experience and vision needed to lead YouthCare at this critical junction in its history. For over two decades, she has served the most vulnerable people living in the Greater Seattle community, including in her work as Executive Director at the Chief Seattle Club and as the founder of the Coalition to End Urban Indigenous Homelessness. She is known for igniting and building successful coalitions to champion change in housing, homelessness, and racial justice, sustainability, and public safety, and is eager to bring that experience to bear on YouthCare’s work with community partners. You can learn more about Colleen, here.

Colleen is an open and inclusive leader, with a people-first reputation and a strong record of advocacy around racial justice, including her work on the Seattle Community Policy Commission to address systemic racism in our criminal justice system. YouthCare will benefit from her leadership as the Board and the agency work every day to live our values of diversity, inclusivity, and anti-racism as we serve our youth. 

Colleen will serve  in this leadership role while YouthCare conducts a national search for its next leader, which is expected to take six to nine months. We look forward to inviting you to hear from Colleen and others on the Executive Team in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we thank each of you for your continued support during this time of transition.

In these dynamic times, we are grateful for the things we can count on:  the commitment of YouthCare’s staff and Board to carrying on our important work, the determination and resilience of the young people we serve, and the support of donors and community partners like you.

Should you wish to connect with Colleen directly, she can be reached at For additional information, please reach Chief Advancement Officer Suzanne Sullivan at

Best regards,

Karen Jones Signature

Karen Jones
YouthCare Board of Directors Chair