About Northstar Advocates

What we stand For

Empowering Lives & Building Futures.

Our Mission

Preventing and ending homelessness by supporting young people, strengthening families and communities, and holding the systems designed to serve them accountable.

Our Vision

All young people facing homelessness or exiting state systems have the support and resources they need to create a life that is healthy, loving, and achieves their NorthStar.

Our philosophy

UNCONDITIONAL CARE: All children and young people deserve a safe, warm, nurturing environment to grow, learn, and thrive. Children and young people do best when they are raised by healthy families and communities. Families and communities do best when they are trusted, supported, and free of bias and discrimination. Society does best when young people, families and communities have the resources, policies, and opportunities they need to be strong, healthy, and lead their own lives. We want young people and families to not just thrive, but to survive!

What’s In a name?

Our Executive Director has been serving children, youth and families in Washington state for over 40 years-through non-profit organizations and his private practice. One of the exciting and meaningful aspects of the name NorthStar Advocates is how it challenges us as a new organization to not just patch system gaps with “Band-Aid” programs, but to be more intentional through an equity and justice lens:

“WHERE DO WE WANT TO BE IN 1 YEAR, 3 YEARS AND 5 YEARS?”

For example, in the child welfare and foster care system, driving toward a more humanistic goal instead of only improving the system for children today: “How do we strengthen and support families so that they do not need to enter the foster care system?” Let us remove the policies, practices and programs that are rooted in racism and white supremacy. The NorthStar Advocates approach insists that those with lived experience are at the table. When Jim founded The Mockingbird Society, one of his guiding principles to elevate the voice and leadership of young people in foster care and/or homeless was: “If we are not at the table, we are on the menu!” NorthStar Advocates is dedicated to changing who is at the table, as well as the very menu being developed and served.

No Wrong Door

NorthStar Advocates is proud to co-lead and support efforts that will expand capacity to house young people facing homelessness and provide a “no wrong door” point of support to those who experience systems of care. Our work focuses on four key areas: Capacity Building, Generation Next, Advocacy, Prevention, and System Intervention. For our purposes, systems of care include child welfare, juvenile justice, inpatient behavioral health, and homelessness services.

Founder & Director

Jim Theofelis began his lifetime commitment to serving young people and families as an outreach worker on the streets of Seattle in 1979. For the next several years he worked on the “front lines” continuing to do street outreach and working in an emergency shelter that served youth surviving on the streets of Seattle that began his commitment to the philosophy of Unconditional Care: “All children and youth deserve a safe, nurturing environment to grow and thrive independent of behavior.” Add Read more for all the rest 

The Northstar team

“As a young person with experience in involuntary detainment and homelessness upon discharge, I am a strong support in NorthStar Advocates mission and values. My work with youth and young adults started with my role as a Youth Lived Expert Peer Outreach Specialist for the ACT Program/REACH Center in Tacoma, WA. Afterwards, I continued with direct support as a Case Support for TeamChild for the Pierce County office. Finally, I arrived at my current role as a Public Policy & Advocacy Coordinator for The Mockingbird Society and as an NorthStar Advocate and member of The Bridge Coalition. As my professional career progressed on the provider side, I made sure that my values remained rooted in the community and vehemently pushed for the welfare and quality of support from a young peoples’ perspective in past participations on the Pierce County Youth Action Board, The Campaign to End Youth and Young Adult Homelessness in Pierce County, and in the Tacoma Chapter of The Mockingbird Society.”

Sarah Spier is a dedicated professional at NorthStar Advocates, with nearly 14 years of recovery from an IV heroin addiction. Sarah used her lived experience as a catalyst to pursue her education and career. As a seasoned expert in the Behavioral Health industry, Sarah has helped start and develop various behavioral health residential and outpatient programs. Her experience equips her with profound insights into both the positive and negative impacts of such programs. In her role at NorthStar Advocates, Sarah strives to address concerns and advocate for policies that ensure individuals leaving inpatient programs have a safe and stable environment awaiting them. She has a profound understanding of the hurdles individuals confront after treatment and is deeply committed to reshaping the recovery support landscape and is dedicated to instigating lasting positive changes in the behavioral health system.

“I’m a strong supporter of NorthStar. I have my Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Washington. I’ve been an advocate for 10 years. I am also a person of lived experience with being homeless. I am an alumni of foster care as well. I have worked with Jim and many others pass legislation and testified on behalf of various laws and policies pertaining to foster care and homelessness. Such legislation includes SB 6560 (preventing youth from leaving systems of car into homelessness), HB 1929 (an extension of SB 6560 to create The Bridge Residential to help young adults establish long-term care after leaving in-patient), SB 5290 (no more detaining youth for status offenses), and many more.”