New leader announced for Delridge-based Southwest Youth and Family Services

More than a year after Steve Daschle left Southwest Youth and Family Services (as reported here) after more than 30 years as executive director, the Delridge-based nonprofit has announced a new leader who is no stranger to the organization:

Southwest Youth and Family Services (SWYFS) is delighted to announce the appointment of Essence Russ as the new Executive Director. Essence succeeds Steve Daschle, who retired in 2023 after more than three decades of dedicated leadership.

Essence Russ brings over a decade of experience in management positions within the nonprofit sector. She currently serves as a Director for TAF@Saghalie, a school district where 80.1% of the student body is non-white, and 30.4% are multilingual learners. At TAF@Saghalie, Essence has been instrumental in maintaining programs and recruiting and training a dedicated staff team. She firmly believes in the core value that every student is capable of learning and succeeding, and she works to ensure that families are seen, heard, and valued as partners in their student’s education.

Before her tenure at TAF@Saghalie, Essence served as Program Manager of Statewide Initiatives for the College Success Foundation. In this role, she supported the WCAN (Washington College Access Network Team) as well as the Passport to Careers contract through WSAC (Washington Student Achievement Council). She supported alumni of foster care in finding success in their post-secondary endeavors. Her mission was to create a just and equitable society through education.

Essence’s career in the nonprofit sector has included several leadership positions in Seattle. Most notably, she served as Director of the Family Resource Center for SWYFS from 2017 to 2020. During her time at SWYFS, Essence learned about different cultures, supported families, and established lasting community partnerships.

“Essence’s deep commitment to equity, education, and community makes her the perfect fit for leading SWYFS into the future,” said August Rowe, Acting Executive Director. “We are excited to welcome her back to the SWYFS family and look forward to the innovative leadership she will bring to our organization.”

The new executive director starts in two weeks, on July 15. If you’re not familiar with SWYFS, its website explains the services it offers – including behavioral health, education, and family support.

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