TCH Executive Director Liz Dunbar Announces Retirement

Executive Director Liz Dunbar is announcing her upcoming retirement from Tacoma Community House (TCH) effective December 31, 2018, in order to spend time with family and enjoy a second retirement.

“I feel it is the right time for me to move on,” Dunbar says. “TCH is a wonderful organization that is in a very good place — a new building coming, valuable programs and services, a solid financial foundation, and most of all, talented and caring staff! It is time for a new leader to come in and take TCH to even greater heights, with their own vision, talents, and energy.”

Colette Smith, TCH Board President, thanks and praises Dunbar for her service as Executive Director, a position she took on in April 2009. “Liz’s leadership, contribution, and service to social justice has helped make TCH a stronger and more vibrant organization — one that is better equipped to meet today’s unique and ever-changing demands. It has been a privilege to work with Liz. The Board and staff will miss her guidance,”  Smith says.

During Dunbar’s 9.5-year tenure, TCH has:

  • expanded its budget from $4.7 to $5.2 million
  • partnered to serve as the fiscal agent for The REACH Center
  • adopted Read2Me, a youth literacy program for over 300 1st-3rd grade readers in four Title I Tacoma Public elementary schools
  • added a Client Advocacy department, which annually serves 250 victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, and other crimes
  • developed several career pathway programs, including a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program and Childhood Early Education Resource (CHEER) program

Each year, TCH serves approximately 3,500 clients through its four core programs of employment, education, immigration, and advocacy. During the last three and a half years — with an eye on expanding services to meet increasing demand — Liz has championed and led the Embracing the American Promise: Uniting Communities Campaign, a $13.6 million initiative to construct a new two-story, 27,000 sq. ft. facility on TCH’s existing land. The building had its groundbreaking on Friday, October 12th and is slated to open Fall 2019.

TCH’s Executive Committee, chaired by Smith, has formed a steering committee to oversee the process of finding a new Executive Director and interim director as needed. The committee will engage an executive search firm to assist, and expects the process of identifying qualified candidates to be well underway before the end of the year. The committee anticipates having a new permanent Executive Director in place within the next six months.

Prior to leading TCH, Dunbar retired in 2006 from the Department of Social and Health Services after 25 years of service. At DSHS, she served in a number of capacities, including State Refugee Coordinator, Diversity Director, Assistant Secretary for Economic Services, and lastly, as the Deputy Secretary of the department for six years.

Liz is active in community affairs as well, serving on the board of trustees for Tacoma Community College, and on the boards of the LASCO Foundation, Pioneer Human Services, and the Japanese American Citizens League. Dunbar is the daughter of a Japanese immigrant and a U.S. Air Force officer.

Liz lives in Tacoma with her husband Mike, a financial planner. They have two grown children and a new grandson.

For questions, please contact Tim Close, Director of Development and Communications, at (253) 383-3951 or