Innovia Foundation announces the Sandy Williams Fund for the Carl Maxey Center

SPOKANE, Wash. — On Sunday, September 4, 2022, the tragic loss of Sandy Williams, a distinguished civil rights activist, journalist and community leader, left a tremendous void in our community. Her visionary leadership and tenacious pursuit of equity and justice impacted countless lives. With reverence to her indelible legacy, Innovia, in partnership with Washington Trust Bank, Avista Foundation, Empire Health Foundation, STCU and the Cowles Company, is honored to announce that it has established and seeded a new $60,000 endowment, the Sandy Williams Fund for the Carl Maxey Center.

Sandy was the executive director of the Carl Maxey Center and founder of The Black Lens, a Spokane-based independent newspaper. She also served as the interim executive director of the Odyssey Youth Center. A cherished and respected partner of Innovia, Sandy generously offered her voice and insight as a member of Innovia’s Spokane County Leadership Council and partner of LaunchNW.

“Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of Sandy Williams, a courageous journalist, activist and beloved member of our community. Her voice was a powerful force for change, and she will be deeply missed and long remembered,” said Shelly O’Quinn, CEO of Innovia. “We look to her extraordinary legacy and unwavering vision for racial equity and justice to find our way forward.”

Additionally, Sandy collaborated with Rob Curley at The Spokesman-Review, The Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, and the Michael Conley Charitable Fund at Innovia to fund and hire the Carl Maxey Race Relations and Racial Equity Reporter, who has worked in partnership with The Black Lens and The Spokesman-Review to raise awareness on the important issues around upholding racial equity and eliminating systemic racism in our community.

“We are devastated at the loss of Sandy Williams who so tirelessly served our community with wisdom and clarity of vision,” said Ben Small, Executive Director of LaunchNW. “Her dedicated life of service leaves us with a profound sense of both loss and gratitude. She was an integral member of LaunchNW, serving on the marketing subcommittee and the Spokane planning committee and most recently, partnering with her board to host a Community Town Hall at the Carl Maxey Center.”

Innovia invites the community to join us in honoring Sandy’s impact and carrying on her vision. Learn more about this important new fund at Innovia, the Sandy Williams Fund for the Carl Maxey Center, at

Read The Spokesman-Review’s touching tribute to Sandy Williams:  “Sandy Williams remembered after plane crash as passionate journalist, community advocate.”

Share This Post:

Scroll to Top