Staff

Alexis McLaughlin, Business Services & Communications Associate (she/her)

Compassionate, Genuine, Balanced

Alexis is deeply rooted in the Spokane community, having been born and raised here. Alexis graduated from Eastern Washington University with a Bachelors in Communications Studies and minors in Women’s Studies and Sociology. With a decade of working for small, local businesses, Alexis has gained a passion for Spokane’s unique community and its growth. She is deeply committed to supporting local businesses and communities that contribute to what makes Spokane a special place to live. Alexis is honored to join SIMBA and looks forward to collaborating with local businesses and building a brighter future for Spokane!

Alexis enjoys attending local events around Spokane, from art exhibitions to local concerts. Alexis is an avid movie watcher and loves to watch newly released movies at Magic Lantern. She also enjoys trying new restaurants, but you can find her at her regular spots, like Neato Burrito, Queen of Sheba, Boots, and The Scoop! Tell her your favorite movie by emailing her directly at alexis@spokaneindependent.org.

Bri Fields, Events Coordinator (she/her)

Bri was Spokane born and raised, attending K-12 in the Medical Lake School District. She went to Spokane Community College for 2 years, then transferred over to Montana State University where she received her bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education: Communications, a minor in English Writing, and a Leadership Certificate. While at MSU, Bri was a member of the Black Student Union and an intern with The Montana Racial Equity Project. When she is not busy with work, you can find Bri traveling, going to concerts, trying new restaurants, or reading a good book!

Bri loves to see how much Spokane has grown, and can’t wait to see how supporting independent and local businesses will contribute to the region’s growth. Bri’s favorite local businesses are Vintage Prints Spokane, Wright Way Beauty, and Uoni Bubble Tea! Tell her your favorite concert by emailing her directly at bri@spokaneindependent.org.

Christopher Strand, Technology & Operations Intern (he/they)

Inquisitive, Resilient, Humorous

Christopher is a dedicated full-time student pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree at Whitworth University, Majoring in Computer Science and Minoring in Mathematics and Psychology, with an emphasis on the study of how tech affects people and how people affect tech. While born in Spokane, he grew up and has lived all across the United States, spending four years collaborating with a Dallas based theater and street performing troupe and dedicating many years with activist groups in Dallas, Denver, and Richmond, championing civil rights for marginalized communities. Currently, he devotes time to Our Place Community Outreach, an organization that provides food, clothing, and hygiene necessities for Spokane’s community in need.

Christopher frequently explores the shelves of Auntie’s Books downtown and grabs brunch at The Shop, a café in the Perry district built in a former mechanic shop. His partner is obsessed with their gluten-free danishes and cinnamon rolls. When the weather permits and his homework is done, Christopher can be found immersing himself in the beauty of Spokane’s parks. These green spaces hold a special place in his heart, serving as his absolute favorite aspect of life in Spokane. Tell Christopher about your favorite Spokane-area green space by emailing him at christopher@spokaneindependent.org.

Grace Rowe, Business Services Associate (she/her)

Grace Rowe grew up in Olympia Washington and moved to Spokane in 2012. Grace holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Eastern Washington University and has been an active member of the local arts community since moving to Spokane. Her deep love for the local arts helped guide her to join the SIMBA team in Spring 2024. She looks forward to helping others thrive as local entrepreneurs and learn more about building sustainable communities.

Outside of her work at SIMBA, Grace enjoys teaching music, performing with her local choirs (including the Spokane Symphony Chorale at the Fox Theater), creating, spending time with family and friends, and attending a variety of local art markets such as 33 Artist Market, MAC Art Fest, and Manito Art Fest. Tell Grace your favorite art market by emailing her at grace@spokaneindependent.org.

Meghan Lindell

Meghan Lindell, Data Quality Analyst (she/her)

Caring, Reliable, Curious

After spending 21 years in Iowa, Meghan now proudly calls Washington state her home. She graduated from the University of Iowa with degrees in global health and political science. Beginning fall 2024, Meghan will continue her studies at the University of Washington, this time seeking a Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology. She is passionate about creating safe spaces for people to work, live, and thrive. Meghan firmly believes that a person’s zip code should not determine their quality of life, and she is eager to help make Spokane and Eastern Washington an even better place to live. She’ll be working with SIMBA part time until she leaves for grad school this fall.

Meghan loves exploring the various hiking trails around the Palouse, sipping on a latte, and thrift shopping. Outside of the office, you can find Meghan swing dancing or mid-air at an aerial arts class. Her favorite local businesses are Boots, Lunarium, Kizuri, and Indaba. Tell Meghan your favorite spot for thrifted treasures by email her at: meghan@spokaneindependent.org.

Robin Haynes, SIMBA's Outreach and Operations Director

Robin Haynes, Executive Director (she/her)

Generous, Welcoming, Adventurous

Robin brings to SIMBA almost two-decades of small business assistance experience with an emphasis on startups and entrepreneurs. She is passionate about making the “business” of business ownership simpler – allowing owners to focus on the things they do best. Robin joined SIMBA in April as the canvassing Field Manager for the 2023 SBIF grant project, helping over 800 independent, locally-owned businesses join SIMBA’s flagship, no-cost Live Local INW directory and marketplace. She has helped streamline, organize, and strengthen SIMBA’s foundation as we head into our 6th year. Robin is particularly passionate about helping those often forced into being entrepreneurs, including immigrants, people without advanced educations, recovering addicts, and justice-involved persons. She believes strongly in second chances, career shifts, and new beginnings and knows that the prosperous, equitable, and local economy SIMBA strives to build can only exist if everyone in the community can participate.

Robin loves a cortado, a second-hand shop, and a Washington State wine. When she’s not helping local business owners navigate our challenging economy, she’s usually upside down, suspended in the air on an aerial arts apparatus or cross country skiing at Mt. Spokane.

Her favorite local business is Durkin’s, as it was where she and her partner had their first date, and where she enjoys steak tartare and the best brussels sprouts in town. Tell her your favorite local business, by reaching out to her directly: robin@spokaneindependent.org.

Team

Jasmin Group

Jasmin Group, Contract Accountant

Your Success is Our Business

Our mission is to empower businesses of all sizes to achieve sustainable success by delivering high-quality, data-driven, and innovative products and services that are tailored to the unique needs of our customers.

We at Jasmin Group believe in helping our clients achieve their business dreams while at the same time making our communities stronger. We do this by recruiting talented people who also are passionate about providing quality services for our clients and communities.

Please contact us at accounting@spokaneindependent.org

Cell: 509-981-5596.

Founder & Former Staff

Mariah McKay, SIMBA's Director of Dynamism

Mariah McKay, Founder (she/her)

Persistent, Creative, Connector

Mariah was the Founder and Director of Dynamism for SIMBA from March 2018 to February 2024. She has over 15 years of cumulative experience in program development, fundraising, communication, marketing, government relations, and leadership development. After serving as a statewide community organizer advocating for racial and economic justice initiatives, she also worked in public health for several years, promoting active transportation education campaigns.

She is passionate about everything local, and has co-created Haystack Heights, Spokane’s first cohousing community in the Perry District, and is the Community Manager for her housing company Our Natural Homes, LLC. She served on the board of the University District organization, is a proud member of the Inland Northwest Unitarian Universalist Community and loves rare winter-ripening fruits such as quince and medlar.