ZONE Nominee Wins 2024 Chase Youth Award

Northeast Spokane did well at the Chase Youth Awards last night (April 23, 2024). Three awards went to leaders making an impact here in our community:

  • Yasuhara Middle School student, Ester Mutano, won the Personal Achievement Award
  • Stevens Elementary School Counselor, Fondra Magee, won the James E. Chase Adult Award
  • The ZONE Youth Resident Steering Committee member, Gydance Brown, won the Judges' Choice Award!

Take a minute to read her nomination. It will fill your cup.

Ester 2
Frondra 2

Gydance Brown is going to change our world. She is a humble visionary who leads by listening, curious to connect with the humanity in her peers, and see how she can help amplify barriers and solutions to community decision makers. Winning Judge’s Choice for the 2024 Chase Youth Awards means Gydance’s work stood out from all nine award categories and nominations from throughout our county.

Gydance Brown (center), with her mother, Allonda (left) and ZONE Director, Jene Ray (right)

The ZONE nominated Gydance because she has volunteered at the Northeast Community Center for 5 years, participating in family and neighborhood engagement in Northeast Spokane and working community events passing out food and information on resources and programs for students and families.

Two years ago, we asked Gydance to serve on our Resident Steering Committee providing voice to the needs and goals of students and households in the neighborhoods of District 1 in Spokane. Gydance, now a sophomore, has been the Youth Representative since then. Her role is out in community gathering feedback from youth to bring back to the Steering Committee as we prioritize our funding and work to align with the needs of students and families in Northeast Spokane.

Gydance has taken the initiative to organize listening sessions at local schools, bringing back the information to present to the Steering Committee. Gydance invites other students to our meetings to expand on their experiences and needs, and identify barriers to their success we can collectively problem solve and co-design solutions for. Her work has already been presented to the State Board of Education as a part of a ZONE presentation June 2023.

Gydance takes every opportunity she can find to build her leadership skills. She was selected for Youth Leadership Spokane, spending a year learning about issues and partners in our community and building a network of youth leaders to problem solve with and engage in The ZONE (graduating 6/2024). She also participated in the Hobi Program (for leadership at Whitworth University), The Catalyst Program (Gonzaga University), and is Ambassador and ASB Secretary at her school Spokane International Academy as well.

Gydance was asked to attend a legislative advocacy day in Olympia earlier this session to talk about what equitable education funding looks like for her and her peers. She spoke in front of many Senators and appreciated the opportunity to practice her public speaking skills, represent youth in her community, and learn about the process of policy and funding at the state level. Gydance just returned again from Olympia, where she was a Page at the Washington State Legislature for Representative Volz.

Gydance’s role as ZONE Youth Steering Committee Representative is self-directed. We do not tell her what to do or how to engage youth. She takes initiative to be inclusive and meet with a wide variety of school types and age ranges. Gydance acts personally on what she hears from students. Food insecurity is a big issue for our youth. She volunteers at 2nd Harvest regularly to make sure she is not just collecting voice, but acting on it. In addition to her job outside of school, she volunteer mentors students in grades below her at school, so that they feel supported and are successful too.

We are amazed at the amount of effort and hours Gydance has poured into representing and leading youth voice and activities these past two years while keeping up with all coursework. We are grateful to have her in The ZONE. As we lean into becoming a Youth Wellness Zone ’24-‘25, Gydance’s strategies and relationships will assure we meaningfully improve mental health in our community.

We are celebrating the county-wide recognition this young servant leader received as the 2024 Chase Youth Awards Judges’ Choice Award, and couldn’t agree more.


  1. Charles Hansen on April 25, 2024 at 1:23 am

    Wow she is great.

  2. Kathryn Alexander MA on April 27, 2024 at 2:13 pm

    What an amazing woman! It is peoplelike her that make Spokane the great city that it is! I will look forward to seeing her in the neighborhood, perhaps she will be instrumental in revitalizing the Bemiss neighborhood council? It is people like her that make me proud to be human! Congratulations!!

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