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july 2023 News Brief


Grants Spotlight 

Wood River Early Learning Collaborative Launches Strategic Action Plan, New Website, Childcare Directory—and more!

This summer has been busy for the Wood River Early Learning Collaborative (WRELC), which created a new website, Facebook page and local childcare services directory in June, and more recently unveiled a Strategic Action Plan to guide decision-making over the next three years.

The Collaborative (seeded by the WRWF’s $200,000 two-year Focus Grant and administered by the Idaho Association for Education of Young Children) comprises 14 of the valley’s leading nonprofits, including The Hunger Coalition, St. Luke’s Center for Community Health, Blaine County Recreation District, The Advocates, and many others.

This spring, members from the Collaborative’s Advisory Committee took a day off to gather at the Hunger Coalition and kick off strategic planning. Over multiple Zoom meetings, they formulated and tweaked a Strategic Action Plan as a response to last fall’s Needs Assessment, which documented the many struggles faced by working parents and childcare providers in Blaine County.

On June 6, Kathryn Ivers (WRELC Project Director) and Martin Balben (Idaho AEYC Early Learning Collaborative Project Director) shared the group’s Strategic Action Plan with WRWF Focus Grant Committee members in a virtual presentation.

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The four overarching pillars of the Strategic Plan can be found on the WRELC website here. They include the following:
  1. Community-wide commitment to healthy child development
  2. Access to quality services for all children and families
  3. Neighborhoods where families can thrive
  4. Policies that support and are responsive to families
Each pillar contains a list of stepwise goals, or “strategies” to ensure the WRELC is moving in its intended direction. For example, one goal listed under the second pillar is increasing overall childcare seat capacity by five percent each year over the next three years. (As there are currently approximately 500 seats in Blaine County for children ages birth to five, that would equate to about 25 additional seats per year, Ivers said.) Other strategies identified in the Strategic Action Plan include holding informal parent “listening sessions” and bilingual training sessions on child development at public schools and libraries; helping early-learning centers become licensed and procure funding to retain valuable staff members and reduce waitlist time; implementing screening programs to identify children with learning differences at younger ages; and promoting employment policies that benefit working caregivers. “The plan is to under-promise and overdeliver, but also ensure that we’re working through this slowly to create high-quality, affordable care,” Ivers remarked. Ivers also shared the exciting news that the Wood River Valley’s first-ever provider directory is now live on the WRELC website and available in both English and Spanish. This “deliverable,” which was identified as a top priority last fall, lists licensed childcare providers by city, town, and ages they accept, as well as how to contact them. (Note: The WRELC Needs Assessment has also been translated into Spanish and is now available in a handy virtual flip-book.) To follow along with the WRELC’s progress, make sure to “like” its Facebook page! For more information on the group’s Strategic Action Plan, you can read a press release on the WRWF website here.

Grantees in the News


Blaine County’s First Responder Support Team (BCFiRST) is launching this year in an attempt to meet the mental health needs of the county’s emergency workers. This is largely thanks to a fighterfighter and widow of suicide, Kelly White, who repurposed donations for the cause. When Kelly lost her husband, Tom, she said that she “[doesn’t] want anyone to feel the way Tom did.” She received almost $11,000 in donations after Tom’s death, and BCFiRST is where she began putting those funds to work.

The BCFiRST board is made up of five members: Kelly White, Wood River Fire and Rescue Chief Ron Bateman, Retired Blaine County Sheriff’s Deputy Curtis Miller, Blaine County H.R. Generalist Justin Highhouse, and Sun Valley Ski Patrol Medic Stacie Ivie. Donations to BCFiRST can be made online at bcfirst.org. An anonymous donor has offered to match up to $10,000 in donations.


In a press release from D.L. Evans Bank, it was announced that ARCH Community Housing Trust was chosen as the recipient of a $45,000 donation from the company’s larger philanthropic campaign. Dedicated to improving the quality of life for hardworking families, ARCH’s mission is to ensure that the people who serve the community can afford to live there.

ARCH is a member of the National Community Land Trust Network and has helped resort workers, first responders, construction workers, teachers, and many other low-to-moderate-income residents in the area.

Committee corner

Communication Committee Chair Karissa Price-Rico

Happy Summer WRWF members! Hope your days are filled with hikes, tennis, bike rides, golf and BBQs now that the good weather has finally arrived.

As the Communications Committee Chair I want to share the value we bring to the foundation as the main resource for internal and external audiences to learn and stay up-to-date on how we support the community. Our committee goals are to promote our grantees, acknowledge our volunteers and highlight the fun we have as a women’s giving collective.

Through the generous support of member Jill Grossman and the Graybird Foundation, we’ve been able to accomplish so much over the past few years. We cannot thank Jill, Renee, Carol, and Rebecca enough for their contributions to WRWF in general and the Communications Committee in particular. Their legacy will live on for a long time.

And all good things come to an end so in August we will be transitioning back to an all-volunteer committee. The team has been working to prepare for this transition and we’ve created new ways to volunteer that allow folks to be drop-in contributors of pieces that go into our News Brief, or posts for social media, all while maintaining the high levels of editorial professionalism that we’ve established.

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There are so many ways to volunteer with the Communications Committee including recurring activities such as:

  • Producing the monthly News Brief
  • Managing our social media accounts
  • Media and influencer relations
  • Grantee co-marketing
  • Supporting events
  • Liaising with the Board
  • Collaborate with Committee Chairs
  • Event reporting-at-large & Photography
  • Photo compiling and organization

And our special projects:

  • Producing the yearly Community Report
  • Working with the Annual Meeting Committee
  • Redesigning of our website
  • Implementing a new client relationship management (CRM) system
  • Fielding an All Member Survey

Does making an impact through communications appeal to you? If so, we’d love to have you join our committee and contribute what you can, when you can and for as long as it works in your life! Take photos at events, interview grantees or new members, it’s all valuable and contributes to the News Brief our members love to read! We meet 1x a month and you are welcome to come in person or Zoom in! For more information, please send me an email at KPriceRico@gmail.com

new leadership

Welcome to three members who are stepping up to help our organization thrive: The WRWF Board is pleased to share that the following accomplished women are taking on leadership roles with our organization.

Tracy Kanowsky will be serving as non-Board member Grants Co-Chair with Sarah Lurie. Tracy has been a member since 2021 and has volunteered on both the Membership and Grants Committees previous to taking on this role. Tracy moved to the Valley from Santa Barbara where she served as a prosecutor in the Santa Barbara DA’s office and founded the Domestic Violence Unit as well as the Elder Abuse Unit. Tracy brings deep experience in non-profit work having served as a Board member for the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History & Sea Center as well as volunteer work for Storyteller Children’s Center and the Crane Country Day School.

Joy Prudek has agreed to become our new Membership Committee Co-Chair. Joy has over 25 years in the Wood River Valley, is a new WRWF member and has been the Public Relations Manager for St. Luke’s since 2015. Joy also has extensive non-profit experience including with the Ice Dance International board, the US Bank Advisory Board and the Sun Valley Economic Development Board. Joy has previously served on the Swiftsure, The Advocates and Company of Fools boards and has a deep knowledge of not only our community but also its non-profits. We are excited that Joy is willing to share her commitment to the community with WRWF’s Membership Committee.

And last but certainly not least, Karen de Saint Phalle is joining the board as an At-Large Board Member. Karen has been a member of WRWF since 2018. She moved to the Valley in 2012 from NYC. Karen has served on the Finance Committee for 5 years and was instrumental in creating our new financial dashboard. Karen has an MBA and has worked in Finance and strategic consulting. She currently serves on the Boards of Wood River Land Trust, Wood River YMCA, Our Lady of the Snows Foundation and Finance Committee, plus Karen volunteers at the Hunger Coalition. Members will have the opportunity to approve Karen’s appointment to the Board in the Annual Meeting package that will be emailed soon.

WRWF continues to enjoy the support and engagement of highly qualified and talented volunteers to help advance our mission. The Board is grateful to Tracy, Joy and Karen for their willingness to share their time and expertise as we work together to support our non-profit partners throughout Blaine County. Welcome!


2023 annual meeting

Photo Credit – Leslie Silva

2023 Annual Meeting

Please join us for the WRWF signature celebratory event
The Annual Meeting & Grantee Celebration
Wednesday, August 2nd from 4:00-6:00 pm

4:00 Mingling, Drinks, Bites & Photo Scavenger Hunting
4:30 Welcome, Voting Results & Guest Speaker Sarah Sentilles, Award-Winning Author
5:00 Grantee Recognition
5:15+ After-Party Mingling and Revelry with DJ Alex

Attendees will be chauffeured to the venue from the Sun Valley Event Parking Lot (unpaved lot across from Pavilion) by bus at 3:50 and 4:00. Please be ready to catch the bus by 3:45. Buses will return to the parking lot as requested throughout the afternoon, and the last bus will depart the venue just after 6:00.

$60 per person – RSVP here by Wednesday, July 26

Legacy Giving Information Session

Our Legacy Giving Information Session will be hosted by the
WRWF President’s Council on
Wednesday, August 23 from 3:30-5:00 pm
in the Lecture Hall at the Community Library in Ketchum.

Kris Kamann, Idaho Community Foundation’s (ICF) Senior Philanthropic Advisor will be our guest presenter to discuss overall Legacy Giving and answer questions.

This session will also be streamed live for those who cannot attend in person.


FieldTrip for YMCA SummerBridge

Date: July 19
Time: 10:15 am
Location: Alturas Elementary


Annual All-Member Meeting & Celebration of Grantees

Date: August 2
Time: 4:00-6:00 pm


event recap

June BoardWalk
Board Members Dianne Tibbs Johnson, LeeAnne Linderman, Martina Bradford, Sandy McCullough, Trinka Dyer and Gail Landis
Another BoardWalk was hosted on Friday 6/23 at Democrat Gulch. Board Members Sandy McCullough, Dianne Tibbs Johnson, LeeAnne Linderman, Trinka Dyer, Martina Bradford and Gail Landis joined. According to Sandy, they had a great mission-focused walk-and-talk! All members are invited to join in on BoardWalks for a chance to casually chat with our leadership – and enjoy our beautiful Wood River Valley together! Watch your inbox for details about the next meet up.
Member ‘Tini Event
WRWF Presidents past and present: Barabara Thrasher, Sandy McCullough, Terri Bullock and Joanne Wetherell
On 6/30 nearly 100 members and guests gathered for the ‘Tini Party, hosted by the WRWF past President’s Council. This event was put on to say “thank you” to members and express appreciation for their continued dedication to our mission. It was truly a full-circle moment for WRWF. Bringing it back to where it all began 18 years ago – at Barbara Thrasher’s Elkhorn home. What started as an idea to be shared at afternoon tea for a group of 30 women, eventually grew to an organization with a membership of 100 women, and now to over 300 women! As WRWF continued to grow year after year, Joanne Wetherell had the brilliant idea of founding a past President’s Council to keep these highly dedicated members involved after their terms had ended. As it turns out, we are the only known women’s collective giving organization to have this supportive structure. Thanks to the wisdom and foresight of the President’s Council, we now have a strong and thriving endowment. The ‘Tini Party was a great reminder of the Foundation’s mission and impact. May our members foster passion to continue on this path for many years to come!

new members

We are delighted to extend a warm WRWF welcome to new members who joined this month!

Kim Gill
Abby Mills

New WRWF members are invited to provide photos and a bit of information about themselves to share in the News Brief. We have so many interesting members and it is fun to read about everyone’s background. Thanks so much and we look forward to meeting you soon. Welcome!
BFF! Membership Initiative

Calling all WRWF members! We’re here to remind you about our new membership initiative program “BFF! – Bring Forth Friends!”

WRWF Members Maija Eerkes, Sally Halstead and Kathleen Eder
If two new members join WRWF under your encouragement, you will be thanked for your recruitment efforts with either a $25 coffee card or a bottle of wine. This is an opportunity to continue growing and strengthening our collective membership through our personal and unique networks. Remember, there is no limit to how many rewards you can receive in a year. Be sure your BFFs give you credit when they join so we can track your success towards a reward! The starting date for BFF! is retroactively set to January 1, 2023. Keep spreading the word about WRWF and our mission! This reward is being underwritten by a generous WRWF member.
In Memoriam
Wendy Pesky

Please note that the Celebration of Life for Wendy Pesky is at 4:00 pm on July 27 at the River Run Lodge in Sun Valley, ID

THANK YOU, Sponsors!

We are grateful for our sponsors and extend a hearty WRWF thank you to Graybird Foundation, Little Caesars and Zions Bank!

THANK YOU TO OUR contributors

Thank you to this month’s News Brief contributors: Christina Bauer, Joy Flores-Perez, Alli Frank, Louisa Moats, Jill Grossman, Gail Landis, Laura Midgley, Sarah Shepard, Renee Spooner, Rebecca Palma, Peggy Walker Thompson