Out of the 150 nominations for the Spokesman-Review’s annual recognition of outstanding female leadership in business, politics, arts, philanthropy and social services, our Haystack Heights community garnered more than our fair share in 2019: Susan Virnig, Nikki Lockwood, and Mariah McKay. It’s no surprise that all three are also founders of our cohousing project—we tend to attract people that want to improve our Spokane community overall, not just Haystack Heights.
One of our nominees, Susan Virnig, was highlighted as one of five in the “Legacy Recognition” for a lifetime of work that has had an impact on our region. Her long history of doing good in the region is chronicled in the Spokesman, but even they had to cut short the lengthy list of accomplishments and summarize years of hard work in a small paragraph tucked into the full-page spread:
“While still leading the facilitators group, Virnig kept busy and worked to develop organization vision, resolve staff conflicts and create strategic plans for the YWCA, KPBX, Garfield Elementary School, Shaw Middle School and the Unitarian Universalist Church, as well as the state Commission for the Humanities and the governor’s Task Force on Hunger.”
Haystack Heights nominee Nikki Lockwood is a Spokane Public Schools’ Board of Directors candidate. Her passion for restorative justice and accommodating all students’ needs is central to who she is and her vision of District 1’s future. As the Spokesman says, “She has been a leader behind the scenes in the schools, tirelessly working to better educate and include our children and provide them the skills they need to thrive in the world. She has taken not only an educational but political lead and has a long history of advocacy for education, human rights and fairness.” We are very excited about Nikki’s candidacy—she has a large and supportive community standing with her in Haystack Heights.
Nominee Mariah McKay is Executive Director of Spokane Independent Metro Business Alliance. SIMBA is the independent business alliance of the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene metro region, promoting a prosperous, equitable, and local economy by organizing and educating regional businesses, consumers, and partners. Until her recent full-time dedication to SIMBA, Mariah has worked tirelessly as a lead in Haystack Heights marketing efforts. Quoting the Spokesman Review, “Mariah has been dedicating her enthusiasm, energy and creativity to the Spokane Community for several years. She is the executive director at Spokane Independent Metro Business Alliance, a board member at Spokane’s University District, and also a former Public Health Educator at Spokane Regional Health District.” The Spokesman can only claim that Mariah has dedicated her energy over “several years” because she is one of the youngest nominees. Those of us who know Mariah are witness to the fact that she seems able to pack into a day or two what would take many of us a month to accomplish. We look forward to the unfolding her vision and capabilities in the years to come.
We are more than lucky and proud to have these three women amongst us in community. Their efforts offer a heartening view of the kind of remarkable work to improve society that concerned citizens can initiate. Who knows how the synergy of so many caring activists amongst us can help shape Spokane’s future?