Our Story

       In the Fall of 2016, University of Washington faculty members joined together on an Urban@UW retreat to brainstorm innovative ways that the University of Washington could step up in addressing the homelessness crisis at in Seattle. They created a proposed plan that would focus on addressing youth homelessness in the University District, a neighborhood well-known for being youth-oriented. In July 2017, the Washington State Legislature passed a bill (Substitute Senate Bill 5883) that directed funds toward University of Washington to “support youth and young adults experiencing homelessness in the university district of Seattle”, including working with a lead community partner (now YouthCare) to support the project through community outreach and support.

       Since then, the Doorway Project has grown to include community members, undergraduate and graduate students as well as leaders in faith communities, local businesses, and homelessness service providers. Today, as we head into the third year of the project, we are further developing our plan to create an informed, designed community project that can support services that help youth on their path out of homelessness.

Our Team


Josephine Ensign

Josephine Ensign is a professor of nursing at the University of Washington in Seattle where she teaches health policy, community health, and health humanities.

Ensign has worked as a family nurse practitioner, community advocate, and health services researcher for the past three decades, focusing on access to primary health care for homeless adolescents and adults in the U.S., as well as in Thailand, Venezuela, and New Zealand. She is the author of numerous academic research and narrative medicine journal articles, as well as the narrative policy book Catching Homelessness: A Nurse’s Story of Falling Through the Safety Net. Her research experience and expertise includes community-based participatory research, program planning and evaluation, and mixed methods health services research. She can be contacted at bjensign@uw.edu.


Seema Clifasefi

Seema L. Clifasefi, PhD, MSW is an associate professor and co-director of the Harm Reduction Research and Treatment (HaRRT) Center in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington-Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, WA. She is also affiliate faculty at the Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors and teaches in the School of Social Work. Her research lies at the intersection of substance use, mental health, criminal justice and housing policy, with an emphasis on populations with lived experience of marginalization.

Her work is guided by a community-based participatory research framework, with a focus on creating more equitable systems and a commitment to racial and social justice. Over the past decade, she has worked collaboratively with diverse communities to co-develop, evaluate and disseminate programs and interventions that aim to reduce substance related harm, improve quality of life, and create positive social change. Dr. Clifasefi will be serving as the PI for Phase II of the Doorway Project (July 1, 2019-June 30, 2021).


Charlotte Sanders

Charlotte Sanders is the field lead for the School of Social Work’s Northwest Leaders in Behavioral Health Program. Sanders has been involved in social services for more than 22 years, primarily serving Seattle youth and young adults in different homeless service settings and capacities, ranging from direct service, program management and advocacy. She worked with Neighborcare Health's Homeless Youth Clinic as the youth clinic manager and onsite social worker. During her time there she also served on the advisory committee for the GroupHealth funded MedRest demonstration project described above.

Sanders continues to work as an on-call intake social worker for Washington state’s Children's Administration Central Intake Unit. Prior to moving to the Seattle area, she provided therapy and case management services to children through the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic located in the same town in which she was raised.


wendy barrington

"The focus of my research is to evaluate to what degree social position, structures, and systems perpetuate cancer health disparities via stress, obesity, and related behaviors. My research falls within two main schema: promoting healthy communities and racial disparities in clinical outcomes. 

In linking my research with teaching, I am passionate about naming and describing mechanisms of social inequity and discussing with students how these mechanisms manifest in the healthcare system and contribute to health disparities. I am also active within the School of Nursing and the broader UW Health Sciences to facilitate an institutional culture that fosters equity, diversity, and inclusion among students, staff, and faculty."

Wendy Barrington, PhD. is an epidemiologist and an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington School of Nursing, where her teaching focuses on health equity and the intersections of social justice and healthcare. 


Nancy Amidei

Nancy Amidei has been called "a relentless advocate for changing public policy to better serve the most vulnerable populations." Prior to joining the UW faculty, she served in various governmental positions affecting health and welfare. She translated this policy expertise into a range of activities to meet the needs of vulnerable populations in Washington State, including the U District-University Partnership for Youth, an initiative for homeless youth.

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Noah Weatherton

Noah Weatherton is a Doctor of Nursing Practice student at University of Washington, focusing on Psychiatric-Mental Health. He is the Research Assistant for the Doorway Project.

Noah began his health career in 2010 volunteering as a 'street medic', helping provide first-response care during political protests and encampments. He is passionate about creating policy and systems of psychiatric emergency response that focus on proper de-escalation and treatment. He is a 2019 UW Medicine LEAH Fellow, focusing on understanding the negative mental health effects of unhealthy masculinity on adolescent cisgender boys.

Noah is originally from Chicagoland, IL. He can be contacted at weather2@uw.edu.