2021 SPEAKER BIOS

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Rachel Askew, Founder and Head Coach, NEXT Organizational Culture & Equity Consulting

I come alongside teams of all kinds to establish equitable, inclusive, and transformative leaders for world-changing communities. I empower leaders by discovering their strengths & stories so that together we can produce thoughtful plans for systemic change & transformation in institutions and in the lives of all people. I provide outstanding training and equipping for adults as well as our next generation of leaders.

Drea Baines, CEO, IMpossible Consutling, LLC

When the cup is either half full or half empty, I’m the opportunist. It moves me most to connect dots and find meaning in everything. As the equity gap continues to widen throughout the US, two things captivate me most. First: the inherent challenges that being a black woman in business presents, and second: the road forward. 
My part in this shared journey is to provide direct support to black owned enterprises seeking resources and capital. For ten years this focus has enabled dozens of clients in a multitude of industries and sectors to start/grow through strategic alignment of goals and purpose. 


I currently serve on the Pleneurethics Society Board to empower students seeking higher education and am an American Leadership Forum Fellow. Previously I served on the Board of Directors for the Pierce County Y.W.C.A., Network of Women, Tabor 100, and Good Shepherd Youth Outreach. In 2018 South Sound Magazine named me one of Puget Sound’s Top 40 Under 40 business leaders. 
I consider myself a right brainer with too much logic; artistic and practical. Outside of work I’m usually reading, painting or planting things, playing adventurously with my son, or talking about changing the world with my husband.

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Monica Blackwood, President & CEO, West Sound Workforce

Monica brings West Sound Workforce into its next generation of leadership, becoming President, CEO and owner in 2018.

Monica finds incredible fulfillment in seeing people use their skills and talents to become successful in their professional lives. Ultimately, it’s a community’s workforce that allows all to thrive! If you don’t find Monica in the office, it’s because she is volunteering, serving and lending her own talents to Boards and organizations aligning with economic development, education, workforce training/HR, diversity and many other things.

 

Graduating from the University of Washington as a third-generation Husky, Monica went on to earn an MBA in Strategic Leadership from Amberton University. She loves to have meaningful conversations, build sandcastles, and always finds a good reason to travel the world with her family.

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Katie Condit, CEO, Workforce Central

Katie was named CEO for Workforce Central this past June. Prior to this position, Condit served as Executive Director for Better Together Central Oregon, and has served as a member of several Boards including Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, Central Oregon Latino Partnership Program, and Central Oregon STEM Hub.

While much of her work has been focused out of state, Condit has a passion for and deep connection to Pierce County. As a graduate of University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, she is looking forward to investing her experience and leadership into the community to lead Pierce County toward a common vision.

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Bill Crawford, VP of Commercial, TOTE Maritime Alaska

As Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Bill is responsible for creating and implementing strategic plans for the sales and marketing teams and ensuring financial performance objectives for the organization are achieved.

Bill brings over 19 years of experience in the shipping and LTL industries to TOTE . Bill started his career at TOTE in Anchorage, Alaska in 2003 as an Account Executive covering vehicles, LTL, reefers and construction segments. He then was promoted to Special Projects & Logistics Manager, Lower 48 Sales Manager, National Sales Executive, Director of Sales and most recently Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Prior to joining TOTE he held various sales and management positions at Roadway Express.

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Bruce Dammeier, County Executive, Pierce County

A Pierce County native, Executive Dammeier attended Curtis High School before going on to graduate with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy. He served eight years as a Civil Engineer Corps Officer. While on active duty, he was deployed on humanitarian relief missions in the United States and across the world. At the conclusion of his military service, he returned to Washington state, went to work in his family printing business, and became a dedicated community volunteer. Bruce and Lauren, his wife of more than 35 years, live in Puyallup. They have three grown sons and three grandchildren.

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Curtis Dubay, Senior Economist, U.S Chamber of Commerce

Curtis Dubay, senior economist in the Economic Policy Division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, tracks the condition of the economy, analyzes the impact of public policy on economic growth, and runs the Chamber’s Chief Economists Committee. The committee consists of chief economists from member businesses. It helps the Chamber formulate economic policies and provides analysis to policymakers in Washington, D.C.

Previously, Dubay was senior economist at the American Bankers Association where he worked on tax issues and followed the economic trends affecting the banking industry. Prior to ABA, he was a research fellow in tax and economic policy at The Heritage Foundation. There he researched and published on tax and economic policy issues. 

Earlier in his career, Dubay worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in the firm’s transfer pricing division structuring international transactions, and before that at the Tax Foundation where he authored three widely recognized and cited reports: Tax Freedom Day, State-Local Tax Burdens, and The State Business Tax Climate Index. 

Dubay has researched and published frequently on a wide range of tax and economic issues. He is regularly quoted by the press and has appeared often in the media, including on CNBC, Fox Business, Fox News, and C-SPAN. He has testified before Congress several times and been cited in newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and Politico.   

Dubay received his master’s degree in economics from the University of Connecticut and his bachelor’s degree in economics and leadership studies from the University of Richmond. He resides in Washington, D.C., with his wife and three sons.

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Derek Kilmer, US Representative, WA 6th District

Derek Kilmer serves as the United States Representative of Washington’s 6th Congressional District.

With over a decade of experience working in economic development in the Puget Sound region, Derek Kilmer is focused on getting our economy and our Congress back to work. Derek has a strong record as a problem solver for Washington families and he's been recognized by veterans organizations for his support of our troops, their families, and those who have served. As the dad of two, he is working to make sure all our children receive a quality education. He is committed to honoring our promises to seniors by protecting Social Security and Medicare. Derek grew up on the Olympic Peninsula and has worked to promote local economic development and to be responsible stewards of our natural resources. 

Born and raised in Port Angeles, Derek saw firsthand how the region's economy has struggled, and the impact that has had on families and communities. The son of two school teachers, Derek was taught to appreciate the value of education. Derek wanted to make a difference in his community, so he chose to study public policy, looking for ways to help economically struggling communities. He received a BA from Princeton University's School of Public and International Affairs and earned a doctorate from the University of Oxford in England.

Derek put his education into practice right here in Washington, first as a business consultant for McKinsey & Company, where he helped businesses, non-profits, and government agencies run more efficiently. He moved closer to the community he was raised in so he could put his experience in economic development to use helping to retain jobs and attract new employers during the decade he worked for the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.

After seeing how the decisions that government made affected employers in our region, Derek decided to put his experience to work in Olympia. He served in the Washington state House from 2005 to 2007 and the state Senate from 2007 until he was elected to the US House in 2012. While in Olympia, Derek was the principal writer of the state's capital budget, and helped author a bipartisan infrastructure package that has been credited with creating 18,000 jobs. He also led a successful bipartisan effort in the Washington state Senate to balance the budget and reduce state debt.

Derek was reelected to a fifth term in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2020 and serves on the House Appropriations Committee, one of only four ‘exclusive’ committees in the House. Derek serves on the Interior and Environment Subcommittee, Defense Subcommittee, and Energy and Water Development Subcommittee. He was also appointed to serve as the Chair of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, a bipartisan Committee formed to investigate, study, make findings, hold public hearings, and develop recommendations to make Congress more effective, efficient, and transparent on behalf of the American people.

Derek is a strong supporter of Naval Base Kitsap and Joint Base Lewis-McChord and has secured key investments to ensure that these installations will continue to play an essential role in our national defense and our local economy. He also believes we must provide servicemembers and their families, veterans, military retirees, and the civilian workforce with the support they deserve.

Along with fighting for the region’s military community Derek has championed bipartisan efforts to better leverage federal research dollars to spur private sector innovation and job growth and bolster a 21st century workforce. As a native of the Olympic Peninsula, Derek knows the important role that natural resources play in our region, and is committed to protecting our waters and improving the health of our forests. It’s also why he helped found the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus to bring increased focus and attention to the cleanup work that needs to be done to restore our region's waters.

Derek has learned that addressing the challenges facing our nation will require an end to political brinkmanship and a focus on finding common sense, practical solutions. He's a member of organizations like the Bipartisan Working Group which works to bring Democrats and Republicans together to forge greater consensus on a wide variety of issues.

In his time in Congress, Derek has been recognized by a wide variety of groups for his effectiveness and advocacy. For his work on behalf of military families and civilian defense workers, he was awarded the U.S. Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest honor a civilian not employed by the Navy can receive from the Secretary of the Navy. For his leadership on behalf of military veterans and their families, Derek received the Silver Helmet award from AMVETS.  Based on his championship of funding for our national parks, he received the Friend of the National Parks award from the National Parks Conservation Association.  For his leadership in ensuring the federal government meets its trust responsibilities and treaty obligations, he received the Governmental Leadership Award from the National Congress of American Indians. In addition, he has received Issue One's Teddy Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to bipartisan political reform and the Bipartisan Policy Center's Legislative Advocacy Award for his commitment to building bridges and making Congress work better for the American people. Derek has also been named a Hero of Main Street by the National Retail Federation, an Outstanding New Member by the Voices for National Service, a Conservation Champion by the Nature Conservancy, a Congressional Champion of Youth by the Boys & Girls Club of America, a Medicare Advantage Champion by the Coalition for Medicare Choices, and a Humane Champion by the Humane Society, among others.

Derek and his wife Jennifer live in Gig Harbor with their two children and their Australian Shepherds Truman & Penny.

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Marilyn Strickland, US Representative, WA 10th District

Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland proudly represents Washington’s 10th Congressional District, which covers Pierce County, Thurston County and parts of Mason County. Born in Seoul, South Korea, Strickland is the first African-American to represent Washington State at the federal level, and one of the first Korean-American women elected to Congress in its 230-year history.

Raised in the South Sound, Strickland graduated from Tacoma Public Schools and earned her B.A. in Sociology from the University of Washington. She went on to earn an MBA from Clark-Atlanta University, a Historically Black College and University.

Strickland’s father, who fought in World War II and Korea, met her mother while he was stationed in Korea after the war. Strickland’s parents endured discrimination and hardships that she could never imagine. They wanted her to have opportunities they were denied and taught her to work hard, fight for what’s right, serve the community, and to stand up for the underdog. Those values continue to inspire Congresswoman Strickland every day as she advocates for Washington’s 10th Congressional District in Congress.

Prior to Strickland’s election to Congress, she served as Mayor of Tacoma, where she helped transform a city and economy crippled by a deep recession into a destination for families, workers, artists, tourists and entrepreneurs. In addition to attracting over $1 billion in investment for housing and businesses, she was instrumental in investing over $500 million in infrastructure for roads, bridges, transportation, and the Port, creating over 40,000 new jobs in the Tacoma region. 

A firm believer that there is dignity in all work, Strickland led successful efforts to raise the minimum wage and pass paid sick leave, paving the way for statewide action. Her city-wide Environmental Action Plan set goals to improve our air, water, and health. She launched an award-winning summer jobs program for high school students that led to the Tacoma Tideflats Certification Program, creating a pipeline for students to fill high-demand jobs in the maritime and construction trades. She and her team raised the high school graduation rate in Tacoma from 55% to 89% by making education a civic priority. Strickland was proud to stand with the LGBTQ community in support of Marriage Equality and transgender rights, and pass background checks for gun sales in Tacoma before statewide action.

As a Freshman Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congresswoman Strickland carries with her the experience of rebuilding an economy after an economic recession. She will always be a strong voice for change so that our most vulnerable community members are served as we re-build an economy that works for all of us. 

Strickland serves as a Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in addition to the House Armed Services Committee. She is also a Member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), the Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Caucus, Democratic Women's Caucus, and the New Democrat Coalition.

Congresswoman Strickland resides in Tacoma, Washington with her husband. 

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Eli Taylor, Vice President for Private Wealth Management, Key Private Bank

I work with a team of highly credentialed wealth management professionals serving high net-worth individuals and families. Together we create and implement comprehensive wealth management solutions designed to meet each individual client's long-term goals. Our local Tacoma based team is passionate about serving our clients, and our community. Key Private Bank has been around for over 150 years. Our holistic wealth management services include Investment Advisory, Trust, Financial Planning, and Banking Solutions. 

I am very passionate about the work that I do, the clients that I serve, and the community where I live and work. I look forward to connecting with individuals from various professions to find commonalities and new ways to help one another and our communities thrive.

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Grant Twyman, Director of Equity & Community Engagement, Clover Park School District

I am an established leader, organizational manager, and community stakeholder. As a United States Army Officer I am honored to serve among the nations top 1% at multiple echelons and across varied disciplines. As an Executive Director of a non-profit I serve my local community with an asset-based philosophy of community development. As the Director of Equity and Community Engagement in a K-12 school district, I work collaboratively to elevate diverse voices, audit systems and facilitate organizational change so that students and staff flourish.

I serve on the board of the Tacoma Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, the Community Engagement Leadership Team and the Lakewood Multicultural Coalition. 

I specialize in leader development, organizational leadership, equity literacy, racial equity, policy development, community engagement and youth outreach.

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Victoria Woodards, Mayor, City of Tacoma

Victoria Woodards has called the “City of Destiny” her home for nearly her entire life. She is a proud graduate of Tacoma’s Lincoln High School and served as a soldier in the United States Army. Before becoming Mayor in 2018, she served for seven years as an at-large member of the City Council. During that time, she launched the City’s Equity and Empowerment initiative which led to the establishment of its Office of Equity and Human Rights. She also brought partner organizations together for then President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, and spearheaded the City’s Project PEACE initiative which bridged community members with the Tacoma Police Department. 

Demonstrating a lifelong track record of public service, Mayor Woodards has served as president of the Tacoma Urban League and as director of community development for the Tacoma Rainiers. Her past civic engagement work has also included leadership positions with the Tacoma Metropolitan Parks Board, the Washington State History Museum, and the Washington State Commission of African American Affairs.