Paul Dillon grew up in Indianola, WA, a small fishing community on the Puget Sound and graduated from Eastern Washington University in 2006. Before working as the Public Affairs Manager for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, Paul was the legislative assistant for Senator Andy Billig of the 3rd Legislative District of Spokane. He is especially proud of his work on human rights issues, environmental legislation such as helping get PCB’s out of the Spokane River and advocating for increased oil train transparency as well as campaign finance reform. In addition to his life in the Legislature, Paul co-founded an environmental news site published by the Spokesman-Review called Down To Earth. Through this project, he first encountered the Center For Justice in 2007 and immediately fell in love with the work they do for the betterment of our region. He is committed to giving back to his community. He served as an assistant debate coach at Ferris High School and helped organize the Spokane River Cleanup. He was also the board president for Pedals2People, which uses the bicycle as a tool to empower people and build healthier communities. By combining his non-profit, communication, and legislative skills with his strong commitment to values like equality and integrity, Paul is excited about joining the Center For Justice board.
Elsa Distelhorst is retired, devoting her time to traveling, family, friends, and volunteer work. Elsa chairs both the Center for Justice Board and Rockwood Foundation. She retired following 25 years of service at Whitworth University, the last 15 years as Director of Development. Elsa has served many Spokane organizations including The Mayor’s Race Relations Task Force, Nishinomiya Sister City (President 95-97), Japan Week Spokane (Founding Chair – 8 years), Unity in Action (steering committee 95-98), Intercollegiate Racial Concerns Committee (member 97-99), and Churches Against Racism. A 1988 graduate of Leadership Spokane and Board Chair (97-98), she brings a strong personal commitment to economic and social justice, intercultural understanding, and community service, and extensive experience in fundraising and non-profit board development.
Dom is a Social Work Student with a Bachelors degree from Eastern Washington University. He struggled with addiction for 25 years and has a 25 year criminal history to match. After realizing how difficult it is to reenter society after prison Dom has worked to help others achieve this goal, mentoring at The Fulcrum Institute and volunteering with I Did the Time. He did his practicum at Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane and worked for police accountability, death penalty abolition, and with the Young Activist Leaders Program. The Center for Justice works for many of the same things Dom is passionate about. Their re-licensing program is of special interest to him because he knows first hand what it means to live without a license for years at a time.
Patty’s enthusiasm for social and environmental justice began with her childhood in the Skagit Valley and her college years at WSU. After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and taking time to travel, she settled in Spokane and obtained her teaching credential from Whitworth University. Patty recalls her 19 years as a teacher and staff developer for the Spokane Public Schools as some of her most rewarding. In 1997 Patty joined the non-profit community as a foundation director where she developed her passion for bringing people together to strengthen the web of connections that build community. Newly retired, she has joined the boards of the Center for Justice, Community Building Foundation, and is an Advisory Committee member for the Spokane Riverkeeper.
Sara Kern, PhD, CPA, CFE
Sara is a Professor of Accounting at Gonzaga University’s School of Business Administration. She is also President of the Western Region of the American Accounting Association and serves as the western regional coordinator of the Forensic Accounting section of the American Accounting Association. Sara’s teaching areas include financial accounting, managerial accounting, auditing, fraud examination, and professional ethics, and she developed a unique forensic accounting laboratory called the Justice for Fraud Victims Project for which she has been awarded the 2010 Mark Chain/FSA Innovation in Graduate Teaching Award, the American Accounting Association Forensic and Investigative Accounting section’s 2011 Innovation in Teaching award, and the American Accounting Association’s 2012 Ernst & Young Innovation in Teaching award. Sara’s research interests include corporate governance, corporate disclosure policy, and fraud prevention. Her work has been published in Accounting Horizons, Issues in Accounting Education, Accounting Perspectives, and Fraud Magazine. Sara earned her PhD at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She is also a CPA in New York and Washington and a Certified Fraud Examiner.
Dennis D. Magner
Dennis is a seasoned marketing strategist with three decades of experience in marketing, communication and branding. In the early 90’s, while at WhiteRunkle Associates, he directed the brand transition of McCaw Communications to AT&T Wireless; and later oversaw design and development of retail stores and consumer marketing materials for the company. He later founded Magner Sanborn, a Spokane-based brand marketing agency which eventually opened offices in Seattle and SoCal. The firm worked with a broad range of regional, national and global clients including Amp’d Mobile, Amtrak, Boost Mobile, Netflix, Qualcomm and Yahoo; and was distinguished as Advertising Age’s “Best Small West-coast Agency” in 2010. In 2015, Dennis become Chief Marketing Officer for 360fly—a global action-camera start-up. But most recently, his focus has been devoted to being dad to two amazing boys, serving on a number of area non-profit boards and pursuing his various creative interests—including authoring a screenplay.
Rusty came to Spokane in 1981 and resumed a broadcasting career that began in his home state of Georgia after a military tour in Vietnam. In 1988, he joined the staff of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane. With his wife Nancy, he co-directed PJALS for over 20 years. He has been on the boards of KYRS, the Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and the Georgia Association of Newscasters. Founding President of Spokane Veterans for Peace, he’s active in Shalom Church (Mennonite and United Church of Christ) which meets in the Community Building. Rusty and Nancy live in a straw bale house in rural Spokane County. They have two children and five grandchildren.
Cindy Nover is an assistant professor of social work at Eastern Washington University and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, who has worked in medical and psychiatric settings during her career in Northern California and Washington, D.C. She has served two terms as an Americorps Volunteer in the U.S. and has served internationally as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines and as a researcher in Mongolia. She also volunteers with local veterans’ organizations and has been involved with justice efforts benefitting formerly incarcerated individuals, such as I Did The Time and the Revive Center for Returning Citizens. Additionally, she served on the advisory board for the Senior Companion/Respite Aid program to assist older adults with daily activities and companionship through the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C. Her interests include health and economic disparities among historically marginalized and oppressed populations, such as people with mental illness, sexual minorities and older adults.
Nick Pontarolo has followed the Center for Justice since its inception. As a believer in social justice and with a vested interest in the Spokane community it was a natural fit for Nick to join the Board. He practices law in Spokane and is proud of the fact that he did not attend law school, but apprenticed at a local law firm for four years prior to taking the bar exam. Nick enjoys being outside as much possible and he can be found wherever there is snow and a pitch steep enough to ski.
Jim Sheehan graduated from Santa Clara University in 1966 before serving three years as an officer in the army. He then went to Gonzaga Law School and worked for more than twenty years as a public defender in Eastern and Western Washington, until he received a windfall inheritance. He decided that he wanted to put his money to work for the greater good. In 1999, he founded the Center for Justice, a nonprofit law firm dedicated to protecting human rights, alleviating poverty, preserving the Earth, and holding the government accountable to the principles of democracy. He also renovated the old Saranac Hotel, which became the first LEED Platinum certified building in Washington east of the Cascades. Additionally, he restored the Community Building, the Main Market Co-op, and Saranac Commons in order to offer affordable, beautiful homes for area nonprofit offices and small businesses in downtown Spokane. Despite all these accomplishments, Jim feels most lucky to have a beautiful family, including Katy, Jule, Soren and Reed; Joe, Jane and Luisa; and his partner Mary.
Joe has a long standing relationship with the Center for Justice and the Spokane community. He has supported CFJ’s mission and been an active participant through multiple different roles over the years. He began as a volunteer through Lewis and Clark’s Practicum in Community Involvement (PICI) program and as a coach for the soccer camp that CFJ founded in 2000. Joe became an employee at the Center working during his summers off from the University of Montana. He was also a part of the Community Building Staff from 2008-2011 while maintaining a working relationship with CFJ as a tenant. He has been a board member since the beginning of 2014. Joe was raised in Spokane and currently lives here with his wife and daughter. He works at the East Central Community Center as a program instructor and developer.
Lorna St. John, Secretary
Lorna joined the Center for Justice board in early 2013. She has been a community activist as far back as the 1970’s and it was this experience as well as having CFJ represent her community against the County that has led her to join the CFJ board. In her varied working career, Lorna has been a steelworker, a fashion coordinator, a 4-H leader, manager of a thoroughbred horse ranch, a customer service professional, and a veterinary clinic manager. Lorna spent ten years as a fashion coordinator for a major department store, producing fashion shows, special events, working as a stylist on advertising shoots, and accompanying buyers to fashion markets in Los Angeles and New York. Currently, she is executive producer and business manager at Hamilton Studio.
Cam has been an Associate Attorney at Maxey Law Offices, PS. She received her Juris Doctorate from Gonzaga School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts from Western Washington University. Cam grew up in Cheney, Washington and has been married to Joe Labish for 12 years. She has served on the Board of Directors for West Central Community Center since 2016, and the Capital Campaign Committee for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Family Outreach Center since 2015.
Her Interests include art, outdoors, travel, and gardening. She also loves bicycling around downtown and along the Spokane River.
Emeritus Board Members
Denise Attwood, Ganesh Himal Trading Company
Lolly Sheehan O’Neill