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Celebrating Bevette Irvis this Women’s History Month


Seattle’s early learning champion for
children experiencing homelessness

It’s often said that women are the heart of a community and children are our future. At Wellspring Family Services, we couldn’t agree more. In recognition of Women’s History Month 2022, please join us as we lift up one of Seattle’s hidden gems, our colleague Bevette Irvis, Wellspring’s Chief Program Officer.

Since 1988, Bevette Irvis has formed, fashioned, inspired, and championed the only early learning center in Washington state specializing in serving children and families experiencing homelessness. What started inside a shelter in Central Seattle has grown to be a warm, safe, beautiful, inclusive, diverse, equitable and catalytic resource dedicated to our community’s future: the Wellspring Early Learning Center (ELC).

According to Wellspring’s Chief Strategy Officer Peter Drury, “For the past 33 years, while most people either complained about homelessness, worried about homelessness, argued about homelessness, or were in denial about homelessness, it is the one and only Bevette Irvis who created and crafted a school filled with love, justice, learning, and a cycle-breaking promise for the children this city would otherwise have set aside.”

Bevette’s leadership skills were recognized early on as she moved from lead teacher, to childcare supervisor, and in 1992 to ELC director. In 2018, she joined the Executive Team, and in 2020 she was named Senior Director of Childhood Services and assumed responsibility for the Wellspring Family Store.

Under Bevette’s leadership Wellspring’s ELC developed a strong reputation for its trauma-informed approach, no-expulsion policy, teaching excellence, and diverse staff. When asked to reflect on her work, she points to her team with pride: “The dedication, commitment, and passion of our teachers in the face of challenging behaviors from children who have experienced trauma is inspiring. Every day, they face behaviors others wouldn’t tolerate, because they know they can make a difference. Then, exhausted, they go home, replenish, and come back and do it all over again the next day. It says a lot about who the teachers are – and about the other members of the ELC team, including our Family Support Specialists.”

This January, Bevette was promoted to Chief Program Officer where she now oversees all services to children, youth, and families through Wellspring’s ELC, Family Store, and Housing Services. She is excited about the opportunities her new position presents to do right by families caught in a web of disconnected service providers. “Our goal is to develop a cohesive unit where Wellspring programs collaborate to ensure that all families who come into contact with Wellspring have the best customer-service experience they’ve ever had from a social service agency,” Bevette said.

Beyond Wellspring, Bevette is involved with several early learning groups focused on advocacy for children and families and is a board member and past board chair of the Child Care Directors Association of Greater Seattle. She also served on a state-wide Trauma-Informed Care Advisory Group and is a graduate of Leadership Tomorrow. She advocates successfully in Olympia and King County on behalf of children and parents, and provides consultation to local, national and international organizations around the needs of children experiencing homelessness.

Wellspring and our community wouldn’t be the same without Bevette’s dynamic leadership and devotion to children and families facing homelessness. She sets the bar high and leads those around her to embrace each day with kindness and strength.

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