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With new leader, Project Hope’s prospects growing


The community organization Project Hope has hired Joel Williamson as its first executive director.

Williamson worked as City Councilman Jon Snyder’s legislative assistant for a year and a half, and he’s Project Hope’s first full-time, paid staff member.

“Hiring our first executive director marks a great achievement for Project Hope,” Thom Caraway, Project Hope board president, said in a news release, “and will allow us to work more effectively towards the fulfillment of our mission with added capacity.”

Project Hope was started by longtime West Central residents Connie and Patrick Malone in 2006 to provide more opportunities for West Central youth. Every year, Project Hope gathers more than 30 youths between 11 and 18 years old and teaches them job skills and leadership while they work at a network of Project Hope urban farms known as Riverfront Farm.

Williamson grew up in Spokane and his family started Jacobson’s Greenhouses on Moran Prairie. He is an MBA student at Bainbridge Graduate Institute.

He said his interest in the local food economy attracted him to Project Hope.

“I’ve been more and more interested in creating a local food system, how can we take some action on local food?” Williamson said. “I’m working with council president Ben Stuckart on planning a local food economy conference right now.” Williamson added that it’s fun to build a local food economy from inside a neighborhood and help some young people at the same time.

Williamson said he will also be working on a three-year strategic plan for Project Hope.

“We will be looking at what our goals are and how are we going to get there,” Williamson said. “We also have some new board members so this is a very exciting time for us.”