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KRSS Alum Named Executive Director of Rise Above

The Growing Seattle Nonprofit Serves Native Youth Through Sports Clinics and Mentorship

Rise Above, a Seattle nonprofit dedicated to empowering Native youth, has announced that Natalie Welch has joined the organization as its new executive director.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Natalie on our growing team,” says Rise Above CEO and founder Jaci McCormack. “Her expertise, knowledge and compassion are going to help us inspire even more kids.”

Portrait Photo of Natalie Welch. She has fair skin, long dark brown hair and is wearing a blue shirt. She is standing in front ot trees and is smiling for the photo.

Natalie Welch

“I’m thrilled and honored to join Rise Above in this role,” Welch said. “Jaci and Brad have built an amazing foundation through their relationships and passion to serve Native youth.”

Welch brings over a decade of professional experience in the fields of marketing and education. She obtained her MBA from the University of Central Florida and completed her doctorate degree at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, focusing her dissertation on Native American athletes giving back to their communities.

She is originally from the Qualla Boundary in Cherokee, North Carolina, and is an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Before moving to Seattle, Welch helped build a sport management program at Linfield University in McMinnville, Oregon. She volunteers regularly, including coaching for Girls on the Run, a nonprofit that focuses on the social, emotional, physical and behavioral skills of third- to eighth-grade girls.

Natalie Welch talks to a group of youth in a gym

Welch Speaking to a Group of Youth in Seattle

As executive director, Welch will oversee Rise Above’s community services, organizing events and coordinating with like-minded nonprofits. Welch will continue in her current role as a professor at Seattle University, teaching in the MBA in Sport and Entertainment program in the Albers School of Business.

“Having Natalie on our team is only going to make our work stronger as our organization expands its reach,” says Rise Above co-founder Brad Meyers. “Our mission is to empower Native kids, and she’s going to help us live out that mission.”

Rise Above is projected to grow 25% annually over the next five years, with an aim to double its staff and programming by 2025. To keep pace with expanding services and increased client requirements, Rise Above seeks a range of talented professionals to conceive, develop and implement new and emerging programs; identify and secure additional sources of funding; and recruit, retain and promote top-tier professionals to manage and shape strategy for the organization.

Rise Above has historically been funded by grants and charitable fund programs. Moving forward, it seeks to enlist more support from individuals, foundations, businesses and community partners.

“In the coming years, we have the opportunity to expand our work beyond the Pacific Northwest by maintaining crucial relationships across Indian Country and local governments,” Dr. Welch explained. “This opportunity to serve our Native people is one that I cherish, and I hope to inspire our youth and let them know that their dreams are possible.”

For more information, please or contact Rise Above at