Skip to content
The Russell Family Foundation Search

Jane’s Fellowship Program Where Are They Now: Chris Lopez

In 2004, The Russell Family Foundation (TRFF) launched Jane’s Fellowship Program (JFP) to support the leadership development and capacity-building of grassroots leaders in Pierce County. The JFP Graduate Network consists of 100 fellows from 9 classes that have participated in the program, and class 10 is currently underway. JFP engages leaders who are interested in expanding their skills, broadening their networks and exchanging perspectives with other local leaders. This series sits down with past fellows to learn about where their journey has taken them post-fellowship.

This interview has been edited for clarity.


What JFP class were you in?

Class 5

What city do you live in

Tacoma, WA

What community work are you invested in right now and what are its intended impacts?

Back in 2017, a small group of local grassroots leaders in Tacoma and I had the opportunity to repurpose an online radio station and give it a new use. We came up with the idea of creating a cost-effective channel to communicate important events happening in the community, and highlight social justice, culture and wellbeing topics. This project started with 5 people and is now a 33-person community radio station that is producing 26 weekly live and recorded shows, and programming different kinds of music to please diverse tastes beyond Tacoma, 24/7.

I am also involved with Eastside Tacoma Community Leaders where we are dedicated to fostering a just, inclusive, and thriving community in East Tacoma. Together, we identify, and address issues related to equity and social justice to ensure that all residents can grow, prosper, and contribute to our vibrant neighborhood.

Where/who do you get inspiration from to do the work you do? 

I get inspiration from community leaders like the former director of One America Org and now Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and my community organizer from One America, Elsa Batres. This inspiration also hits closer to home, including my former JFP manager Susan Dobkins, and my Grandma Tomasa, who was a community organizer all her life, but she didn’t even know it. She supported her parish for many years by organizing volunteers who maintained the building. My Grandma Tomasa was also on the organizing committee for the celebration of Lady Rita of Cascia.

How has your community work evolved since you participated in the fellowship?

It has evolved from me being a part-time activist and a full-time employee of a job I didn’t enjoy, to becoming a full-time community organizer, mentor, entrepreneur and business owner.

What would you tell someone who is interested in applying for the fellowship?

To apply as soon as they feel ready to do it, but even if you don’t feel completely ready, his may be a sign to take the next step in your journey as a community leader. That’s how I felt when I applied and I was lucky to be selected, then my new and more exciting journey started.

How would you describe your experience with JFP using 3 words?

Life Enhancing Experience

Favorite Leader: 

  • In history: Monsignor Oscar Romero
  • In the community: Representative Sharlett Mena
  • In JFP:  Susan Dobkins