The Foundation for Tacoma Students is the backbone nonprofit and staff dedicated to ensuring the continuity, stability and growth of the Graduate Tacoma community-wide movement.

Serving as the only cradle-to-career intermediary in Tacoma, the Foundation plays the unique role of helping align organizations, institutions and individuals — community partners — around positive outcomes for students


Connecting & Convening

We facilitate a sense of belonging and create shared ownership by engaging Tacoma parents, youth and community (indirectly and directly), policy makers and elected officials from across multiple sectors to address equity gaps facing youth cradle to career.

Data Transparency & Analytics

We provide a trusted source of aggregated, disaggregated, and student-level data for Graduate Tacoma Networks and community partners to best impact and influence improved outcomes for youth and families – cradle to career

Public Policy & Advocacy

We inform, activate, and elevate the Graduate Tacoma community movement in local, regional, and state policy to affect equitable outcomes and dismantle systems of oppression – cradle to career.

Professional Development

We are a resource for community partners to expand and sustain community’s capacity and capability to improve measurable outcomes for youth by supporting and facilitating continuous skills sharing cradle to career.

Aligned Resources & Funding

We serve as a key intermediary, to help align funding and community resources around strategies that positively impact youth achieving success from cradle to career.

Operationalizing Equity

Equity is an approach. Equity recognizes that we do not all start from the same place because advantages and barriers exist. Equity is a process. By acknowledging these varied starting places, FFTS seeks to correct the imbalance for the most marginalized and minoritized populations.

Our Equity Commitments


Dr. Tafona Ervin

Executive Director

Elvin Bucu

Deputy Director

Cecilia Garza

Director of Communications

Devin Kelly

Director of Data

April Renee Shine

Director of Advocacy & Policy

William Towey

Director of Development

Ben Mitchell

Project Manager

Sarah Detweiler

Data Analyst

Leandra Shelton

Expanded Learning & Community Engagement Manager

Rosie Ayala

Tacoma College Support Network Manager

Chanel Hall

STEAM Network Manager

Jenai S. Fields

Early Learning & Reading Network Manager

Emmeline Call

Executive Assistant

Leigh Butler

Operations & Finance Manager

Wendy Holcomb

Postsecondary Access Coordinator

Shaima Shamdeen

Digital Communications Manager


Holly Bamford Hunt | Chair

Bamford Family Foundation

Stuart Young | Vice Chair

Managing Principal, BCRA

Cassandra Mitchell | Treasurer

VP Corp.Responsibility Officer, KeyBank

Grant Hosford | Secretary

Retired Principal

Ivan Harrell III | At-Large

President, Tacoma Community College

Josh Knudson | At-Large

Vice Chancellor for Advancement, University of WA Tacoma

Lois Bernstein

Chief Community Executive, MultiCare Health System

Shon Sylvia

Executive Director, Metro Parks Tacoma

Sara Irish

Pierce County Engagement Specialist, Molina Healthcare

Lyle Quasim

Co-Chair, Tacoma – Pierce County Black Collective

Richard Remmert

Production Engineering Manager, The Boeing Company

Carla Santorno

Superintendent, Tacoma Public Schools

Tanisha Jumper

Media & Communications Director, City of Tacoma

Patty Rose

Secretary Treasurer, Pierce County Central Labor Council

Brooke Johnson

Managing Member, North x Northwest Law Group

Arielle Flesher

Accounts Receivable Agent, Expeditors

Carrie Prudente Holden

President & CEO, Boys & Girls Club of South Puget Sound

Andrea Cobb

Senior Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Victoria Woodards

Mayor, City of Tacoma

Melannie Denise Cunningham

Director of Multicultural Outreach & Engagement, Pacific Lutheran University

Matt Martinez

Director of Content, KNKX