Celebrating success and welcoming a new team member

Published: March 26, 2024

At Building Changes, our work to advance equitable responses to homelessness in Washington State would not be possible without our dedicated colleagues. Whether advocating for more effective state programs, providing support for our partner community-based organizations, or ensuring that Building Changes has the resources to continue working toward our vision, we rely on the diverse lived experience and expertise of the people within our organization. We are thrilled to announce three promotions and introduce a new member of our ever-evolving team.


Aaron Yared has been promoted to Director of Policy and Advocacy. He will lead the organization’s work to advocate for programs and policies that advance our mission to ensure children, youth, and families are equitably housed and supported throughout Washington State. He hopes to break down administrative barriers that prevent programs and policies from reaching their highest potential. He has already worked toward this goal in his previous role as the Senior Housing Policy Specialist. In just over a year at Building Changes, he helped to increase one of our key programs—Washington Youth and Families Fund—to $5 million. “I went to law school because I wanted to make the world a better place. Building Changes is in a position of power to do a lot of good. I want to contribute to making Washington a more equitable place for people,” he said.


Photo of Dimitri GroceDimitri Groce has been promoted to Director of Practice Innovation. He will lead the organization’s programmatic work by continuing to partner closely with providers, stakeholders, and government. Dimitri believes collaboration is a crucial aspect of Building Changes’ work and, therefore, wants to continue to be thoughtful about how we further programs and push our systems to improve support services for children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness. In the more than three years he has been with Building Changes, he has made notable impacts in the organization’s programs, especially with the Washington Youth & Families Fund. Building off previous strategies to develop coaching-centered programs to support youth and young adults, he has implemented grant strategies to expand services for young people transitioning out of systems of care. “As a person who has personally experienced homelessness and housing insecurity, I know how powerless it can feel in those situations. In those times, I wish systems weren’t siloed, and they understood the diverse needs of people’s experiences. We need to constantly attend to interventions and services relevant to people instead of staying within the status quo,” he said.

Mehret Tekle-Awarun has been promoted to Managing Director of Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships. She will oversee programmatic initiatives and partnerships in support of Building Changes’ strategic plan. She leads a team of directors in Practice Innovation, Research & Evaluation, Policy & Advocacy, and Communications. In the more than five years she has been with Building Changes, she has contributed to the growth of our education work and housing programs. As a Senior Manager of Education Strategy, she helped shape Building Changes’ education priorities. She oversaw the Schoolhouse Washington pilot project, which helped inform the Homeless Student Stability Program. She helped develop the Menu of Strategies, which informed the need to create our Assessment & Building Capacity (ABC) Tool. Then, as Director of Practice Innovation, she led the programmatic work in three of the organization’s focus areas: housing crisis, education, and health. “Building Changes is a place where you can turn ideas into action, where we can do systems-level work as practitioners, and where evaluation and advocacy can truly inform our work in a holistic and collaborative way,” she said. She wants to amplify Building Changes’ services from a community-centered approach.

New Hire

Jerome Hunter is our new Director of Development and Partnerships. He aims to bring resources to Building Changes and elevate its programs throughout the state. His ultimate goal is for Building Changes’ initiatives to serve as models that inspire other states to adopt similar strategies for enhancing nationwide homeless and housing support services. Before joining Building Changes, he co-founded an all-boys middle school in Seattle that integrated social and emotional learning with core curricula, while reshaping traditional educational methods. Jerome is an advocate for systems change, is a dedicated community activist, and an experienced educator. Reflecting on his decision to join the team at Building Changes, he expressed, “I am invested in effecting systemic change at a human level and want to grow my career with a coalition of passionate individuals who work to prioritize historically marginalized populations. I truly believe that by working together in community, we can create lasting change.”

We are excited to announce our new cohort of leaders at Building Changes. With their leadership, we can continue building out our values of equity, people, partnerships, and integrity in every aspect of our work.

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