Portrait of Barb Richardson holding a microphone with a group of teenagers behind her.
Dr. Barb Richardson with participants in the Health Care Teen Challenge in 2016. Photo by Cori Kogan.

More than 600 area teenagers have learned civic responsibility, leadership, communications and team-building in the last 20 years through Youth Leadership Spokane, a program founded by Barbara Richardson, now a faculty member at the WSU College of Nursing.

“There was a critical need to engage youth in our community,” Richardson said Friday of her work in 1996-97 getting Youth Leadership Spokane off the ground. “Hard for me to believe that I started YLS before this year’s participants were even born.”

With a background as a pediatric nurse and nurse educator, Richardson was a 1992 graduate of Leadership Spokane, a civic education and networking organization. Once she launched the youth version, she would go on to serve as director of the program for 13 years, as well as an elected member of the Spokane Public Schools board for six years.

She left Youth Leadership Spokane to pursue a PhD at the WSU College of Nursing, and now directs Riverpoint Interprofessional Education and Research, where she brings together students from different colleges and programs to help foster teamwork in a health care setting. She’s been honored with a YWCA of Spokane Professional Woman of Achievement award in 2006, and the National Community Leadership Association Distinguished Leadership Award in 2002.

“Barb Richardson is an example of the leadership we see across the nursing profession,” said WSU College of Nursing Dean Joyce Griffin-Sobel. “Nurses impact their communities in so many ways.”

Brian Newberry, executive director of Leadership Spokane, said Richardson “exemplifies what we hope for in our great alumni – stepping up.” He added, “Barb is an outstanding alumni whose vision and dream are now a reality that keeps lighting the way.”

Richardson was honored at the Leadership Spokane graduation ceremony Thursday. She said she’s most proud of the fact that the Youth Leadership Spokane program she spearheaded has continued to grow and thrive, “making a positive difference in the lives of 600-plus diverse teens, providing them with opportunities to contribute in countless positive ways to our community, and giving them the knowledge, skills, and experiences to make servant leadership a part of their lives wherever they may go.”