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About Us

Welcome to Trillium

Trillium Employment Services is a nonprofit organization committed to integrating people with intellectual disabilities into the workforce. Our staff of skilled professionals work closely with businesses and applicants to ensure a quality match and long term success.

Our History

Trillium has been serving people with disabilities and Washington State employers since 1983. We connect people with disabilities to employment opportunities. We were one of the pioneer supported employment agencies in the United States. We originated as a demonstration project by the University of Oregon to assist a local manufacturer of defibrillators, Physio-Control, in the employment of assemblers with developmental disabilities. This successful project demonstrated to the nation that people with significant disabilities could participate fully in businesses producing quality products of a critical nature. This demonstration helped to influence national legislation on supported employment and pave the way for other people with developmental disabilities to obtain jobs in the community, influence government to move toward community employment and away from sheltered employment, and inspire other businesses to employ people with significant disabilities.


The mission of Trillium Employment Services is to promote inclusive community and employment opportunities.


We, the staff of Trillium, are committed to realizing a community that celebrates inclusion and diversity through innovative leadership and partnerships.


Bryan Ruff, President

Bryan is an Assistant Vice President for Timberland Bank and is a graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa where he received his bachelor’s degree in Economics. He is also active in the Puyallup Rotary and serves on the board as the Public Relations Director. As a former Trillium employment consultant on the Pierce team, Bryan has a close and thorough understanding of the work and mission of Trillium. Bryan brings with him great connections within the South Sound business community as well as sales experience that he hopes to use in helping Trillium grow and continue to provide quality services to the community.

William Cowart, Secretary

Bill is a co-owner and Managing partner of Leavitt Group Northwest an Insurance Agency with offices in Auburn, Everett, University Place and Oak Harbor. A longtime resident of Auburn, Bill has been a business leader in Auburn for over 30 years. He is a past president and current member of the Kiwanis club of Auburn and Past Board member of Valley Bank. Bill also has a lot of experience with non-profit directorship having served for several years as board president of Auburn Youth Resources now Nexus Youth and Family Services. He currently serves on the Auburn Symphony Board as Development committee chairman. Currently serving at the request of the Mayor and Auburn City Council on the Business Improvement Rate payers board as Vice-Chairman.  Bill brings a perspective of business ownership a well as non-profit leadership to the board of Trillium. Bill also hired an employee through Trillium.

Auburn, WA
David Murahashi, Member

David Murahashi is an Independent Special Education Trainer and Consultant who has been working in the disability community for over 10 years, but his connection started much earlier, as he has an older sister with Down syndrome.  His career began as a work study student doing job coaching through WISE. As a job coach, he supported many transition and high school students in the classroom and at job sites in the community.  In 2013, he graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a degree in Special Education.

In 2012 David suffered the first of two strokes which left him with several disabilities. Despite these setbacks, he has helped develop several programs designed to help people with disabilities and their families to start thinking about and prepare for future work in the community. These programs have been implemented in several counties in both Washington and Oregon,

David currently serves on the board of Washington APSE and is a trained Person Centered Planning facilitator. He is committed to seeing people with disabilities being prepared and flourishing as they live and work in the community.

Bellevue, WA
Karen Satterberg, Member

Karen Satterberg has been the Community Relations Director for Wesley Homes Lea Hill in Auburn for 6 years. She comes to us with a background of being in the Financial markets for 26 years prior to that. Karen graduated from WSU in Hospitality Management and worked for Hyatt Hotels right out of school. Active in Auburn Rotary and being on their board, working on the Committee for Partners for Work program, is how she came to know about the wonderful work that Trillium is doing. She also brings personal insight as she is a mother to a 20 year old Autistic young man.

Burien, WA
Laurie Ford, Member

Laurie earned an M.S. in Counseling from the University of Oregon and moved to Seattle in 1977 intending to be a marriage counselor. Along the way she took a part-time job at the University of  Washington teaching adults with developmental disabilities how to work in the food service industry as part of one of the first supported employment programs in the US – and never did get back into counseling!

She left the UW in 1989 to join the Center for Continuing Education in Rehabilitation (CCER) which was then at Seattle University and is now part of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the UW. At CCER, Laurie was involved in continuing education and technical assistance for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies and community rehabilitation programs for over thirty years. She also had opportunities to serve on national advisory committees including the Adequacy of Incentives Committee for the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act and state bodies such as the Statewide Independent Living Council, and to write a book on employment services for people with psychiatric disabilities among other things. Most recently Laurie has been providing technical assistance to VR agencies nationally on topics such as supported employment and business engagement. She retired from CCER on January 1, 2021.

Pierce County
Katie Hilen, Member

Katie Hilen is an Attorney practicing healthcare law at Bennett Bigelow & Leedom, LLC.  Katie’s practice focuses on regulatory consulting and defense of complex claims for individual practitioners, private practice clinics and multi-facility health systems. Katie hopes to lend her experience interpreting regulations and reviewing policies to Trillium.

Bonney Lake, WA
Teddy Walston, Member

Teddy Walston has served as a vocational rehabilitation counselor in the state of Oregon for the past eight years. As a black man with cerebral palsy, living in Southern Oregon, Teddy is on a mission to change the way we discuss matters of DEI. Self-love is the first domino in the chain reaction that is systems change AND it begins now.

Teddy lives in Salem, OR with his family.

Medford, OR