Jim Diers has a passion for getting people engaged with their communities and in the decisions that affect their lives. Since moving to Seattle in 1976, he put that passion to work for a direct-action neighborhood association, a community development corporation, a community foundation, and the nation’s largest health care cooperative. He was appointed the first director of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods in 1988 where he served under three mayors over the next 14 years.
Currently, Jim teaches courses in community organizing and development at the University of Washington and serves on the faculty of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute. He travels internationally to deliver speeches, present workshops, and provide technical assistance to community associations, non-profit organizations, and government.
Jim received a BA and an honorary doctorate from Grinnell College. His work in the Department of Neighborhoods was recognized with an Innovations Award from the Kennedy School of Government, a Full Inclusion Award from the American Association on Developmental Disabilities, and the Public Employee of the Year Award from the Municipal League of King County. Jim’s book, Neighbor Power: Building Community the Seattle Way, is available in both English and Chinese editions.
Valerie Segrest is an enrolled member of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and works as the Community Nutritionist and Native Foods Educator for the Northwest Indian College's Cooperative Extension Department. As an independent, creative and outspoken American Indian woman, she has developed a new perspective in addressing issues of health and social justice for indigenous peoples.
Her goal is to restore health and well being to her tribe and other Native communities by combining traditional Native food and plant knowledge with modern scientific findings. Valerie is committed to creating culturally appropriate health systems in tribal communities and exemplifies dedication to tribal wellness through community-based research that impacts health disparities.
She also creates and designs community gardens as well as researches and writes a monthly column for her blog, Feeding the Spirit, and community newspaper on local and wild foods of the Pacific Northwest. In years to come, Valerie will work as the coordinator of the Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project to collectively develop innovative and effective ways to build community food security through exploring tribal food assets and access to local and healthy foods.