Our History 

Originally founded in 1980 as the International Association of Machinists Center for Administrating Rehabilitation and Employment Services, Cares of Washington provides effective, high quality services to individuals with disabilities in our region. By 2000, the organization had become a multi-state employment service agency, headquartered in Washington, D.C. In 2002, the Seattle office merged with Independent Employment Services, expanding operations to Tacoma and Bremerton. National programming ceased in 2003 and the Seattle operation became an independent agency, Cares of Washington, expanding services to include low-income individuals. In addition to our main office in Seattle, we now have offices in Tacoma, Port Orchard, and Monroe to better serve our clients and their employers. Cares is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.

Mission Statement & Purpose

Cares of Washington’s mission is to provide tailored opportunities for people with disabilities and low incomes to become self-sufficient, creating individualized paths to economic self-sufficiency. 

Cares combines career coaching, financial skills education, vocational and educational training, support services, and job placement into a cohesive plan for each client, mitigating barriers to employment and maximizing each person’s potential for independence. Cares firmly believes that it is simply not enough to just help someone find a job, any job. We emphasize jobs with career pathways and the potential for advancement, benefits, and living wages for every client that walks through our doors. 

We recognize that solely getting someone a job also is not enough. Some individuals need additional coaching, others need help obtaining clothing suitable for work, some need help with transportation, and still, others need help making and living on a budget. To address these and other needs, we work closely with community partners to coordinate services and resources, building a network of support for each client.


From the CEO

Cares’ ongoing focus on learning and being able to adjust to change are the two main reasons that we as an organization continue to move forward and provide effective and lasting outcomes. Our goal is to be a community leader in creating jobs for people with and without disabilities that lead to self- sufficiency. We are a community minded, people-centered organization, and we set high expectations for our employees. Each employee takes the responsibility to follow and use efficient and creative yet flexible and agile strategies and procedures to reach the planned goals for each person. Our commitment to continuing employee education and engagement drive the success of everything we do, leading to positive results and services that are valuable to our clients. During this last years many changes, be it political, economically, internal staff changes, State policy or personal challenges and growth Cares employees have maintained their focus on continuous high quality work, leading to improvement in our reporting systems, a higher rate of job placements and other achievements you will read about in this report. We are proud of the impact we make year after year in all of the communities we operate. With a strong focus on quality, responsibility and reliability we will continue to create more jobs for people who face significant barriers to employment. With each and every person we prepare, place and support on their unique journey to self- sufficiency, we hope to set an example for how one can effect positive change by promoting responsibility, resiliency and hope through education, skill building and a career. By focusing on trust and people’s abilities—what each of us can do—we support an inclusive community that embraces life and all the changes that come with living.

- Lars Nowack, CEO

Cares’ People

Cares of Washington is governed by a 7-member board of directors. 

Board of Directors

Jason Norlin | Chair, Microsoft 

Gena Bomotti Vice Chair, Fox Rothschild Law Firm


Donavan Lam | Treasurer

Karl Tobey | Everything Paralegal

Jason Kelly | BCG Digital Ventures

Nitant Singh | Microsoft

Loraine Greening | Seattle Police Department

Who We Are

Lars Nowack | CEO

Lars Nowack has extensive and varied experience in the non-profit sector and over the last 17 years has lead 2 different organizations through multiple transitions, mergers and growth. He specializes in collaborative solutions, and community outreach. Over the past ten years, Nowack has developed and coordinated over $18 million in foundation, local, state, federal grants and social venture funding.

Nowack holds a B.A. in Counseling from Depaul University and a Marine engineering degree from Esbjerg Marine engineering college in Denmark. He is active in community service, serving on various boards and is a passionate believer in the equal opportunity for all citizens to be self-sufficient.

An avid biker, hiker, ultimate Frisbee and soccer player, Lars lives in Seattle, WA and enjoys sharing the benefits of a vibrant city culture and the natural beauty that Washington State has to offer with his two children, friends and family.

North Team

Susan Whitelock, Team Lead

Kimberlee Danielson, Employment Support Specialist

Marissa Murphy, Employment Support Specialist

Nathan Baniqued, Employment Placement Specialist

Kendrah Gosney-Chard, Employment Placement Specialist

Melanie Pilkenton, Employment Support Specialist

Wendy Ehr, Program Manager - North Team

Caitlin Wigre, Team Lead

Mararti Genene, Employment Support Specialist

Jared Sand, Employment Support Specialist

Kate Pitz, Community Inclusion Specialist

Brooke Wylie, Employment Placement Specialist

Art Quinones, Administrative Assistant

South Team

Sara Andersen, Employment Support Specialist

Sonya Denchel, Employment Placement Specialist

Janet O’Connell, Team Lead

Sandy Gunther,  Employment Support Specialist

Linda Mendiola, Program Manager - South Team

Sean Woods, Employment Placement Specialist

Rosie Hawkins, Employment Placement Specialist

Maggie Roach, Employment Support Specialist


Sue Koeller, King County

Ticket to Work (TTW)