STAFF & BOARD

Staff

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!”

Board

SAM TOWER

Chair

Born in Boston in 1942, Sam spent war years in diapers & short pants. At 78, he is returning to that early fashion statement. Years have past; scattering piled leaves, playing in DDT fog coming down the street, being a puppeteer, adventure educator (some where along the lingo a degree in outdoor recreation) and world-traveler playing  non-competitive games with children through Play for Peace.  At present he is a youth mentor for Tacoma Community Boat Builders and is still a wood carver. Sam joined the New Connections Board in 2014

Carolyn Stevens

Treasurer

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.

Blake Kremer

Secretary

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.

KIM BECKHAM

Trustee

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

Thrett Brown

Trustee

Thrett is the Executive Director of the Young Business Men of Washington (YBMW) nonprofit and a business coach for youth and adults. He has served as a community advocate and inspirational speaker for local and international groups. Thrett is board president of the Freedom Project and joined the Board of New Connections in 2019.

LYDIA GARCIA-DOUGHERTY

Trustee

Lydia joined the Board of New Connections in 2020.

ROSEMARY POWERS

Trustee

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.