Theresa Power-Drutis

Co-Executive, Outreach & Management

Theresa began serving as executive director in 2010. She received her PhD in Leadership Studies from Gonzaga University, MA in Education from Eastern Washington University, and Certificate of Carpentry from the Samuel Gompers Technical School at Seattle Central Community College. She was a founding member of the G Street Community, an intentional community in Tacoma that includes Irma’s Place and Annie’s Cottage.

Current affiliations include the Tacoma Pierce County Coalition to End Homelessness, Planning Team; Pierce County Safe Parking Network, Team Member; League of Women Voters, Board Member; St. Leo Homeless Workgroup, Trainer/Organizer; Hilltop Madrinas (Neighborhood “godmothers” strengthening the commons); Race & Pedagogy Institute, University of Puget Sound, Community Partner.

Theresa has called Tacoma home for most of her life; she currently lives in the G Street Community on the Hilltop.

Jessica Means

Co-Executive, Project Manager

Jessica got her start with New Connections in the fall of 2015 as an intern from Tacoma Community College, Human Services Program. After completing her degree in 2016, she began serving as Program Manager at New Connections, coordinating incoming volunteers and interns and overseeing daily operations at Irma’s Place.

Through peer mentoring and resource coaching, Jessica promotes community engagement and helps guests build skills for a healthy, independent life. In addition to her work at New Connections, Jessica is involved with several advocacy and mentoring groups and is co-facilitator for the Pierce County Community Partnership for Transition Solutions (CPTS).

Jessica earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree with concentration in Sociology at The Evergreen State College – Tacoma Campus. In 2020, she began her work as co-director at New Connections where she continues to promote “Nothing about Us Without Us!”




Lydia Garcia-Dougherty has spent her career working as an advocate for public education and social justice, and is rooted in the Mexican-American traditions and culture of Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. She holds an Associates Degree in Allied Health Care Science from the United States Air Force, a BA in Organizational Administration from Alaska Pacific University and a MA in Organizational Leadership.  Lydia served in the Alaska Air National Guard for 17 years, on a number of active duty tours, and ended her military career as a “First Sergeant,” Master Sergeant to the 144th Airlift Squadron and Veteran. She worked for the National Education Association, and served as the Executive Director for NEA-Alaska for 10 years, retiring after 25 years of service to the organization. She joined the Board of New Connections in 2020.

Blake Kremer


Blake is a longtime member of the Pierce County and state Bar Associations, and serves on the Law Fund for Client Protection at the WSBA. He received his law degree from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma in 1992.

Blake’s legal practice is diverse and includes criminal defense and personal injury work. He also does pro bono work related to victim advocacy, hospice work, and his work for a pediatric HIV/AIDS support organization. Blake’s pro bono work reflects his commitment to social justice, including a death penalty defense case and defense of Father Bill Bichsel, Sister Anne Montgomery and others who engaged in civil resistance against nuclear weapons. Blake joined the New Connections Board in 2017.

Carolyn Stevens


Carolyn is a long-time community and social justice activist.  In addition to her membership on the New Connections board, she currently serves as treasurer of the Faith Action Network, a statewide interfaith social justice advocacy group. She is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and lives at the Zen Buddhist residential practice center Chobo-Ji on Beacon Hill in Seattle.  She is a retired certified public accountant who specialized in working with non-profit organizations.  She is passionate about building equitable relationships, understanding systems of oppression, deep listening and restorative justice. Her favorite hobbies are reading, cooking and spending time with friends. Carolyn joined the New Connections Board in 2018.

Jean O'loughlin


Jean is a retired attorney who served for many years as Assigned Counsel (Public Defender) at Pierce County Juvenile Court (Remann Hall). She joined the New Connections Board in 2021.

Chanel rhymes


Chanel Rhymes is co-owner of Monarch Consulting LLC and the Director of Advocacy for the Northwest Community Bail Fund. Prior to joining the Northwest Community Bail fund, Chanel served as the Court Program Analyst for the Washington Supreme Court Minority and Justice Commission, executing the mission of ensuring that all courts in the state of Washington remain free of bias so that justice might be adjudicated in a neutral and fair manner. Previously, she was a Program Manager for the Freedom Education Project of Puget Sound where she developed and coordinated college courses for women seeking to attain their AA degrees while incarcerated at the Washington Correction Center for Women. She was raised in Tacoma, Washington, and received her BA from Evergreen State College with a focus in Law and Government Policy.  Chanel joined the New Connections Board in 2021.



Rosemary joined the board in 2017.  She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California at Davis (1998) and taught at Eastern Oregon University for 18 years. Rosemary was appointed by Governor Kulongoski to the Oregon State Board of Higher Education (responsible for oversight of the state’s seven public universities) and served from 2008-2011. In 2016 she retired from university teaching with emeritus status and now lives in Tacoma. In addition to board service, Rosemary contributes to New Connections through research, resource materials development, jail in-reach, training & mentorship for interns, and general project support.



Kim is a community resource program manager/GRE transition specialist. She joined the Board of New Connections in 2020.