The Palmer Scholars Foundation was founded in 1983 by R. Merle Palmer, a man with an extraordinary vision for the youth of Pierce County. Merle Palmer was committed to seeing that all students were able to attend and graduate from college regardless of their race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. He started the Palmer Scholars Foundation with this goal in mind. Palmer Scholars has provided scholarship and caring mentors to over 400 students and we are proud to welcome our 33rd cohort of Scholars.
Sally Jo has been able to bring Palmer Scholars to new heights as the Executive Director. Sally Jo has vast experience with fundraising, community outreach, volunteer recruitment, and event planning, which she gained from organizations such as the American Cancer Society, Rotary International, and St. Joseph Hospital. She and her husband, Ken, are both Rotarians and enjoy volunteering with several local organizations. Sally Jo enjoys relaxing with her husband, cooking, meeting with her book club and spending time with family and friends when she is not promoting Palmer Scholars. Sally was born and raised in Tacoma.
Janece Levien graduated from the University of Puget Sound with her BA in Comparative Sociology and a minor in Spanish, she also received her Master’s in Educational Leadership from Concordia University - Portland. Originally from Beaverton, Oregon, Janece has been in the Tacoma area since 2005 and is excited to serve the Tacoma community and its youth. She is passionate about working with youth and providing resources and support to help them navigate their future. Janece currently serves as the assistant coach of the women's soccer team at the University of Puget Sound and loves to play and watch sports. She also enjoys to cook, go camping and spent time abroad as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and loves to explore the Northwest with her dog, Nala (from Guatemala!).
Mary graduated from the University of Puget Sound double majoring in Business and History. She earned her Master’s in Higher Education from Stony Brook University. Mary is originally from southern California but has lived in Tacoma since 2006. As a first-generation college student, she has become very passionate with aiding underrepresented youth navigate through higher learning beyond high school. Mary is an avid sports and outdoors fan and also enjoying days spent inside reading and quilting.
Marlaina is a graduate of Oregon State University with a degree in Computer Science and a minor in Business Administration. After several years in the corporate world, primarily in Information Technology, Marlaina felt it was time to do something more meaningful; something that helped make the world a better place. She began volunteering with the YMCA as a grant writer and found she really enjoyed it, so when the opportunity arose to work for Palmer Scholars she enthusiastically jumped on board. On her off-time, Marlaina enjoys cooking, working out, hiking, kayaking and spending time with her husband, friends and family.
Mindy Nash is a graduate of Seattle Pacific University with a degree in Educational Ministries and a minor in Business Administration. She moved to Tacoma in 1999 and has found a deep love for the Tacoma community. The Nash family has been involved with Trinity Presbyterian Church and its Outreach Programs in the Hilltop neighborhood, along with Young Life and the Bryant Montessori Parent Teacher Organization. In her free time, Mindy enjoys reading, getting together with friends, and spending time with her husband and three children. Mindy is very excited to be able to support the ongoing work of Palmer Scholars.