Gonzaga University Wolff Fellows Create Impact in The ZONE

Alexandria Campbell
Ellie Hough

For the past 3 years, The ZONE at Northeast Community Center has hosted Wolff Fellows from Gonzaga University—students who desire to work at local organizations focused on increasing equity and social justice. The ZONE is happy to receive a Wolff Fellow from Gonzaga University who can spend a year not only learning about the collective impact model but who also brings added skills and depth to the The ZONE initiatives and backbone staff. This year, we were extremely fortunate to have had two Wolff Fellows wrapped into our team- doubling our ability to engage residents and improve outcomes in NE Spokane. These Wolff Fellows were vital to supporting ZONE communications, data, and administrative infrastructure while still being able to pivot on an exponential level throughout the 2020-2021 pandemic year.

Alex Campbell and Ellie Hough have shared their skills and their unique take on the world with us and we’d like to share some of their experience with you!

Alex is a Sociology and Public Relations student who was looking for a way to consolidate her time outside of school in a way that mattered and applied to the Wolff Fellowship. And even though her research about The ZONE and her interviews took place in the virtual world, she just knew she wanted to be placed with our initiative over other interviewing organizations. Alex shares that she found Amber Waldref’s, Director of The ZONE, passion refreshing and was inspired throughout the year to see someone from a Jesuit school share their passion. Even in meetings with web designers and branding teams, she notes how Amber was able to share the importance of the resident connection and message that would need to be embraced to and from residents.

Right away, Alex said she noticed the value of relationships and keeping partnerships strong in order to support the diverse cultures and needs throughout Spokane…and how those differences make what she thought was a little city when she arrived at Gonzaga actually make Spokane feel much bigger.

Alex brought so much to our team this year and gained experience that her peers and teachers have noticed. The ZONE asked Alex to help our team and an outside party create a brand and build a website for The ZONE. She got to take her education and implement it while continuing to learn what makes a brand stand out and the impacts of having customers recognize your brand. To list everything that Alex has accomplished with the ZONE this year would be difficult, but here are a few experiences that she feels really impacted her growth and education: Creating messaging and securing resources for residents to meet basic needs during the early months of Covid, working on the ZONE communications committee, working with the contracted marketing firm to build a brand, writing and building The ZONE website, identifying which social media channels to develop, setting up canva and other media kits for The ZONE staff and her presentations to workgroups at Gonzaga.

This work also shaped her career goals and inspired her when her years of college classes had become routine and procedural. She is very committed to her marketing career and even seeking employment opportunities with non-traditional organizations that model the collective-impact framework within communities on the west side of Washington State.

After a year of COVID, Alex still has not met anyone from The ZONE in person, but she is excited to share with her peer group of Gonzaga Fellows about all the projects she is working on even as the school year and her time at college nears to its end.

Ellie Hough transferred to Gonzaga late in her college education. She had already volunteered on healthy foods projects and held other positions with non-profits in Walla Walla, WA. When she learned about the Wolff Fellowship, she was drawn to the idea of becoming a part of a team. She saw The ZONE as robust in the type of work we do and knew this could be a teamwork opportunity she was looking for. Ellie, a Biology student, is going into the field of medicine and sees the importance of holistic care and providers being able to connect the services they provide and how The ZONE values this same connectivity and partnership with residents and organizations in Northeast Spokane.

The first mindset shift that she embraced while working with The ZONE was how useful Microsoft Excel is. She and many of her college peers dislike excel and it is commonly scoffed at, but now she is a believer. Ellie has leveraged her use of Excel to its fullest while at The ZONE and played a critical role in compiling data from several Northeast resident surveys given online and through text messaging, data from polling and focus groups carried out in Spring, compiled and helped interpret data from resident surveys, added wow factors to survey data presentation, has been on the Customer Relationship Management committee, and has cleaned up an enormous amount of data in order for The ZONE to add a contact management system to our infrastructure. We really could not have made this transition without her! She has also helped to support research and bi-monthly meetings of the Resident Task Force, a group working to create The ZONE’s resident-led model of collaboration and governance

She has been most inspired by Krysten Proszek, Expanded Learning and Data Coordinator at the ZONE. Ellie admires Krysten’s level of approachability and professionalism. She recognizes Krysten as a mentor and role model and has felt included and supported by her during her fellowship.

Ellie describes her favorite projects with The ZONE to be the Housing Security project where her data and presentation were used widely in Spokane by both government officials and news outlets to understand the crisis that many residents in Northeast Spokane were facing this year. She also has a fondness for the Resident Leadership committee work that she has been a part of and it has added to her desire to go into Geriatric Medicine and reinforced her appreciation for elders in our community and all that they have to give to younger generations.