Lewiston, ID – Kristin Kemak, who has led local chambers of commerce for the past 15 years, has been named President/CEO of Twin County United Way and will begin her new position on April 26.
Kemak was chosen after a nation-wide search began in December and drew more than 40 applications.
“I am approaching this new opportunity with excitement and hope. I look forward to making a greater impact in our community with the tools, resources, and relationship I have developed throughout my professional career in the LC Valley.” Kemak said.
“We’re very excited to have someone with the talents and expertise of Kristin come in and lead us to new heights,” TCUW Board President Bert Sahlberg said. “Kristin has a proven track record of success and we’re very excited to have her on board.”
“After more than 15 years with the Chamber, in a career I have loved, my heart was being pulled to do work at a deeper level.” Kemak said. “The Chamber’s Leadership LC Valley program ignited my passion for education, mental health, and created a better understanding of the needs of struggling families in our community. I am honored to have worked for an organization that developed a program to inspire others to grow and find their purpose and in turn, it inspired me to find mine and serve with passion and compassion.”
Kemak grew up in New York and attended Washington State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree of fine arts in photography. She worked for a photography studio in Pullman and a couple of jobs at WSU before moving to the LC Valley in 2003 when she landed a job at Beamers Hells Canyon Tours doing sales and community relations.
In 2007, she was named executive director at the Clarkston Chamber of Commerce, a position she held for four years. In 2011, the Lewiston and Clarkston chambers combined to form the Lewis Clark Valley Chamber of Commerce and she was named President/CEO of the organization. She has served in that capacity since. During her time at the chamber, she took over the lead role of the North Idaho Legislative Tour and created the Eastern Washington Legislative Tour. Both tours bring state legislators to the area to learn about business, industry, and the issues important to the local chamber membership.
Kemak now takes over the helm at TCUW, a nonprofit agency that has the goal of identifying needs, uniting people, sharing resources, and impacting lives in Nez Perce and Asotin counties. TCUW focuses on three areas of impact: education, financial stability and health. The organization works with other nonprofit agencies to build partnerships that improve outcomes for children, families and individuals in need.
TCUW raises funds year-round to fund its programs as well as other programs in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley that meet the main three pillars in its strategic plan.
With education, TCUW focuses on having students read by grade level by third grade. To achieve this, TCUW partners with the Lewiston, Clarkston, Asotin and Lapwai school districts and offers a five-week summer Kindergarten Readiness program for children entering kindergarten that fall. The morning classes held at local elementary schools are taught by certified teachers with aides and is designed to help students so they are both academically and socially ready to enter kindergarten in the fall. Students are taught letters, numbers, colors, sounds, math, and art, and also skills to show how to behave in class, listen, and when to talk. The goal is to help these students be ready for the first day of kindergarten and not be behind their peers.
This past year, TCUW made the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library available free of charge to all children under the age of 5 in both counties. After a parent/guardian registers a child, that child will receive a new book mailed to them directly every month until the child turns 5. A child will receive the first book approximately 6-9 weeks after they are registered. The goal is to get children reading early because a child’s brain is 90 percent developed by the age of 5.
With health, TCUW is focused on reducing death by suicide rates in both counties as well as increase access to mental health/primary health-care for the underinsured. TCUW recently partnered with Suicide Prevention of the Inland Northwest and Idaho Public Health District 2 on teen suicide awareness meetings. The Lewis-Clark Valley has higher suicide rates than the national average, and teen suicide rates are nearly twice the national average.
With financial stability, TCUW goals align with programs to reduce homelessness and also programs that improve the financial stability of struggling households.
TCUW raises funds throughout the year and in the spring, opens applications to area nonprofits for grant funding. TCUW then awards grants with a priority placed on its Kindergarten Readiness program as well as programs that align with the TCUW priorities in education, health and financial stability.
“We’re excited to have a leader who knows fundraising and how the world of fundraising continues to evolve,” Sahlberg said. “We have a passionate board that is fully invested in our community. This is a very generous and giving community, and we all want to see it prosper.”