2020 SPEAKERS BIOS

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Aaron Artman

President, Tacoma Rainiers

General Manager Tacoma Rainiers Aaron Artman took over as President of the Rainiers in 2007. He led the $30 million renovation of Cheney Stadium, in addition to securing a long term lease that keeps professional baseball in Tacoma, and was named the Pacific Coast League Executive of the Year in 2017. In the fall of 2017, under Artman’s leadership, the Rainiers launched a partnership with Seattle Sounders FC to own and operate the team’s USL Franchise, now known as the Tacoma Defiance, at Cheney Stadium. In late 2018, Artman also secured the relocation of Reign FC, now known as OL Reign, to Tacoma, and led the franchise to record attendance in 2019. Prior to arriving in Tacoma, Artman was instrumental in growing Mandalay Baseball Properties into one of the premier sports ownership entities in the country, before departing professional sports for two years while working at Microsoft.

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Ali Modarres

PhD, Dean of Urban Studies, Assistant Chancellor for Community Engagement, UW Tacoma

Ali Modarres is the Director of Urban Studies and the Assistant Chancellor for Community Engagement at University of Washington Tacoma. From 1999 to 2017, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of Cities: The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning. Dr. Modarres earned his Ph.D. in geography from the University of Arizona and holds masters and bachelors degrees in landscape architecture from the same institution. He has published in the areas of social geography, immigration, urban development, planning, and policy. Dr. Modarres has focused a significant portion of his public scholarship on economic development through an equity lens that includes global labor migration within the larger political and economic discourses.

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Andy McDonald

EVP, Chief Credit Officer, Columbia Bank

Mr. Andrew L. McDonald joined Columbia Bank on June 1, 2004 as Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer.  As leader of the Bank’s credit operation, Andy is responsible for the attainment of lending objectives and the overall direction and operations of the Credit Department, including individual loan and portfolio quality. Prior to joining Columbia Bank, Mr. McDonald was Senior Vice President and Team Leader at US Bank. In 18 years of banking, he has served as a Team Leader for a Media and Telecommunications Banking Group, as well as a Senior Credit Officer and Relationship Manager.

Mr. McDonald is currently a Board member of the Pierce-Thurston County Junior Achievement Association, the Economic Development Board of Tacoma-Pierce County, the University of Washington Tacoma Advisory Board, and the Pierce County Soccer Referee Association.   His former memberships and Board activities include: Tacoma Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, American Heart Association, Emergency Food Network, and the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of King, Pierce and Kitsap Counties.

Mr. McDonald has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Washington, and an MBA from the University of Notre Dame, where he was accepted into the accelerated MBA Program and graduated with Honors.

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Anthony Anton

President & CEO, Washington Hospitality Association

Proud executive at Washington Hospitality, a member-based organization that works at the state and local level to find proactive solutions to the challenging issues facing the hospitality industry and its workforce. We provides our members with programs, services and the information they need to deliver great local experiences, to ensure the success of their employees, and to help their communities thrive. Washington Hospitality became the state’s second largest trade association in 2016 when the Washington Restaurant Association and Washington Lodging Association joined forces in a combined association.

 

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Bill Robertson

President and Chief Executive Officer, MultiCare

Bill Robertson joined MultiCare in 2014. He came from Adventist HealthCare Inc. based in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Prior to Adventist, Robertson served as CEO of Shawnee Mission Medical Center near Kansas City, Kansas. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Southern Adventist University, and a Master of Business Administration from Texas Christian University. He was also a Certified Public Accountant.

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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 and serve 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 and became a dedicated community volunteer. Bruce and Lauren, his wife of more than 35 years, live in Puyallup. They have three grown sons.

Elected as the Executive of Pierce County in November of 2016. 

  • State Senate: January 2013 – December 2016

  • House of Representatives: January 2009 - January 2013 

  • Member of the Puyallup School Board - 2001 - 2009

 

EDUCATION: University of Washington – M.S., engineering; U.S. Naval Academy – B.S. in Ocean Engineering.

 

OCCUPATION: Small business owner and director of printing business in Pierce County.

 

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Member, Young Life; member, Mel Korum YMCA Advisory Council; member, Tacoma #8 Rotary Club; member, Tacoma Goodwill Board of Directors; member, Lighthouse Christian Church; member, Good Samaritan Hospital Board of Directors; member, University of Washington – Tacoma Advisory Board.

 

AWARDS (include):

  • Jobs for Washington Graduates Award (2012)

  • Friend of Children Award, Washington State PTA (2011)

  • Legislative Hero, Washington State HVAC/R Association, Inc. (2011)

  • “In the Bag” Award – Washington Food Industry Association (2010-11)

  • Cornerstone Award, Association of Washington Business (2009-11)

  • Guardian of Small Business Award, National Federation of Independent Business (2009-12)

  • Pioneer Educator Award, Washington Families for Online Learning (2010)

  • Outstanding Advocate Award, Puyallup PTA Council (2009)

  • Local Hero Award, Bank of America Neighborhood Excellence Initiative (2007)

 

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Chelene Potvin-Bird

Vice President of Sales + Servicing/EMBA Student, Travel Tacoma Mt Rainer Tourism & Sports

Chelene Potvin-Bird is a 21-year veteran of the hospitality and tourism industry, she will graduate in July 2021 with an Executive Master of Business Administration from the University of North Alabama and earned her undergraduate from Central Washington University. She has been with Travel Tacoma – Mt. Rainier Tourism and Sports for 7 years leading the Tacoma and Pierce County meetings and conventions sales efforts for the Greater Tacoma Convention Center and regionally for the destination as the Vice President of Sales and Servicing.  Her tourism and event experience ranges from destination and event development, meetings and conventions recruitment, special event planning, business travel management and tour & travel packaging. 

 

She has served as a presenter at industry conferences and meetings, including the annual conference of Destination Marketing Association of the West (DMA West), a regional membership organization of more than 145 destination marketing organizations (DMO), Society of Government Meeting Professionals and Washington Society of Association Executives.

 

Chelene is a business-minded economic generator and an outstanding ambassador of Washington state as well as the South Sound Region.

 

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Clemencia Castro-Woolery

Attorney at Law, Ledger Square Law, P.S.

Clemencia is a business attorney with substantial experience in employment law, business transactions and banking law.  Clemencia's employment law practice includes preventative counseling and training and drafting employment handbooks, policies and executive employment agreements.  She also represents employers in disputes with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Human Rights Commission, Employment Security Department, Department of Labor & Industries and other state and federal agencies. Clemencia’s business and banking practice includes drafting and negotiating the purchase and sale of businesses and real property, and assisting credit unions, national and community banks and other lenders with all aspects of banking finance and loan documentation.  Prior to co-founding Ledger Square Law, Clemencia was a partner with Eisenhower & Carlson, PLLC.

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Denny Heck

U.S. Representative, WA 10th Congressional District

On November 6th, 2012, the residents of Washington’s new 10th Congressional District elected Denny Heck to be the district’s first member of the United States House of Representatives.

Since taking office, Congressman Heck's top priorities have been creating jobs, growing our economy and keeping the American Dream alive for the middle class and those working to get into it. He has been a vocal advocate for military families and veterans as well as for the health and natural beauty of the Puget Sound’s environment.

Congressman Heck serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the committee in charge of oversight of the seventeen elements of the U.S. Government's Intelligence Community and the Military Intelligence Program.

Congressman Heck is also the only Member of Congress from the Pacific Northwest that serves on the House Financial Services Committee. He is a member of the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee, and the Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee.

In the decade prior to his election to Congress, Congressman Heck successfully grew several small businesses in Washington State. One of those small businesses, which specializes in workplace education, was started in Olympia with only two employees. Today it employs more than 300 people throughout the United States and has continued to grow in recent years. Congressman Heck was also an original investor in Real Networks, the digital entertainment company that pioneered streaming media on the Internet.

A strong advocate of open government, in 1993 Congressman Heck co-founded TVW to provide the people of Washington State greater accessibility to their state government. TVW has grown into the nation’s preeminent statewide public affairs network. While at TVW, the Congressman hosted the renowned public affairs program Inside Olympia and won an Emmy for a documentary he wrote and produced.

Congressman Heck served his community in the State House of Representatives for nearly a decade. He was chosen by his colleagues to serve as Majority Leader before retiring in 1986. While in the State House, Congressman Heck was one of the prime authors of the state’s historic Basic Education Act. After his time in the Legislature, he served as Chief of Staff to Governor Booth Gardner during his second term.

Congressman Heck is a native Washingtonian and graduated from The Evergreen State College in 1973. He has been married for 43 years to Paula Fruci Heck, an educator who began her career as a teacher and retired as principal at Jefferson Middle School in Olympia. He and Paula have lived in Olympia for 34 years. They have two sons, Bob and Trey, and are grandparents of Maleah.

 

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Jahmad Canley

CEO, Potential Unleashed

Jahmad got his start in Higher Education over a decade ago, his endless dedication to empowerment and education for all people has allowed him the privilege to work with schools, districts, colleges, communities and corporations around the world.  Internationally known as a retention specialist, culture transformation consultant, masterful storyteller, and author Jahmad focuses on helping people and organizations accomplish their goals and fulfill their potential.

Jahmad , as the President and CEO of Potential Unleashed currently works with schools, colleges, and universities throughout the United States as well as Mexico, Guatemala, Kenya and The Bahamas. His ability to form strong partnerships with organizations such as UNCF’s Institute for Capacity Building, Kids at Hope, Summer Institutes and The Pacific Institute demonstrate his dedication to improving lives through education.

So whether it’s the U.S. Olympic Swim Team, groups of students in Kenya, or University Deans and Professors, Jahmad’s ability to combine his energy and passion with a sense of humor and innate sincerity enables him to connect with a wide range of audiences and empower them to achieve the growth and change they earnestly desire.

“I have learned that most people all over the world want the same thing…a better world for themselves, families, and community. What keeps us trapped is often the lack of knowledge or the lack of a process. I believe that to truly serve others, we should provide them with both a process and knowledge. The hour is late, the time is short, the task is great and we have a lot of work to do.”

In addition to his work, Jahmad is a dedicated community member and family man; in fact you’ll often find his wife and daughter traveling alongside him and cheering him on at various events and speaking engagements.

 

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Doug Burton

Head Coach, VSG Marketing

Doug Burton is the founder and Head Coach of VSG Marketing. VSG is a full service marketing agency headquartered in Tacoma, WA. VSG was founded in 2003. Prior to that, Doug served as the Executive Manager of a large retail organization. Doug attended Pacific Lutheran University from 1989 – 1992 earning his Bachelor of Arts degree.

While at PLU, Doug had a successful athletic career as a part of a national championship caliber football team. In his junior season, he played on the 1991 National Championship Runner-Up team. As a senior, Doug was a Team Captain and won both the Coach’s Award and the Captain’s Award in recognition of his leadership contributions. He was an All-Conference Tight End in the Northwest Conference in both the 1991 & 1992 seasons and was also selected to the All Northwest Team as a Tight End for the 1992 season. Doug had the opportunity to travel overseas as a player for PLU Football China Tour. He was on the field for the first American Football game ever played on Chinese soil. In 1992, Doug traveled to Germany with the PLU team and scored the opening touchdown in a benefit game for UNICEF.

Doug credits much of his athletic and business success to significant mentors in his life. While playing college football for legendary Coach Frosty Westering, Doug developed many of his business and coaching philosophies. Frosty’s “Make The Big Time Where You Are” philosophy of peak performance allowed him to play at a high level and really “Enjoy the Trip” of college athletics and life in general. Doug still models his business after the Frosty philosophy and even considers himself the Head Coach of his organization. “Hey Frosty, Go Frosty, Attaway!” Doug considers his Father & former football coach, Ed Burton, his hero. Nobody has a bigger heart for kids than Ed Burton, and he has simply given his life away to serve others. Doug learned discipline, work ethic, perseverance and toughness from his father and owes so much to this amazing friend and mentor. “If it’s to be, it’s up to me!” A plaque above his mother Penny Burton’s desk with this quote says so much about who she is and what she passed on to Doug. “My Mom is really the tough one in the family,” credits Doug.

In 2003, Doug created Vision Service Group (VSG) in order to pursue his passion for marketing & technology. Today, VSG is a leader in providing professional marketing, consultation and technology solutions to companies of all sizes and industries. In his business career, Doug has served on numerous boards including the Northwest Chevrolet Dealers Steering Committee, Goodwill & Youth For Christ. Doug was a Business Examiner 40 under 40 Honoree and his organization, VSG, was awarded the South Sound “Top Places to Work” Winner in the small to medium business category. VSG has also been nominated for the South Sound Fastest Growing Companies Award and the Tacoma Pierce County Chamber’s New Tacoma Award for the revitalization of Downtown Tacoma.

While at PLU, Doug met Kristi, his wife of 25 years. Doug & Kristi live in University Place, WA, with their four children. As Coach Frosty would say and Doug carries on the tradition, “Make it a great day!”

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Eli Taylor

Vice President Relationship Manager, KeyBank, South Puget Sound Marketing

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

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist

I am an established leader, organizational manager, and community stakeholder. As a United States Army Officer I am privileged 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 first Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Specialist with the school district, I work collaboratively to ensure ALL Students are served in a way that they can grow and flourish. 

 

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Jim Heath

President, Institute of Systems Biology

Dr. James R. Heath is President and Professor at Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle. Heath also has the position of Professor of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at UCLA, and he has directed the National Cancer Institute-funded NSB Cancer Center since 2005. Formerly, he was the Elizabeth W. Gilloon Professor of Chemistry at Caltech, and served as co-director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at UCLA until 2017.

Heath received his PhD in 1988 from Rice University, where he was the principal graduate student involved in the discovery of C60 and the fullerenes — work that resulted in three senior members of his group receiving the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996. He was a Miller Fellow at UC Berkeley before joining the research staff at IBM Watson Labs in 1991. He took a faculty position at UCLA in 1994, and moved to Caltech in 2003.

He has received several awards and honors, including the Irving Weinstein Award from the American Association of Cancer Researchers, and the Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences. He was named one of the top seven innovators in the world by Forbes Magazine.

Heath has founded or cofounded several companies, including PACT Pharma, Integrated Diagnostics, Indi Molecular, CTI Molecular Imaging (acquired by Siemens in 2005), Sofie Biosciences, Isoplexis, and NanoSys.

 

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Josh Dunn

CEO, Premier Media Group

Dunn is the creative leader behind 425 Magazine, South Sound Magazine, 425 Business Magazine, and the new South Sound Business magazine-formerly Business Examiner. His 22-year career has focused on building creative media brands for a variety of markets. Three years ago, Josh experienced a tragic fall off a roof. Looking back, he considers the fall a blessing in disguise, because it forced him into a period of isolation. He was able to step away from the day-to-day operation of his business and the retreat helped him develop a new leadership style that radically transformed his life. He’ll share his philosophy on reducing technology use and doing less while maintaining productivity.

 

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Josh Garcia

Deputy Superintendent, Tacoma Public Schools

Joshua Garcia currently serves the students, staff and community as the Deputy Superintendent of the Tacoma Public Schools. In this role Joshua’s teams lead a number of ground breaking reform initiatives.

 

In Tacoma, teams have designed a new innovation policy and practice, a nationally recognized district wide whole child benchmarking system, removed testing fees for AP, IB, PSAT, and SAT and passed a $500 million bond, with a 70%+ approval rating. Additionally they have increased graduation rates over 25% in 5 years, expanded free preschool to over 1800 students and been recognized a district wide zone of innovation by the State of Washington. Garcia’s teams have also redefined school budgeting, school choice and innovation policies, and has developed a nationally recognized Whole Child Education and Multiple Measure Accountability Systems.
 

Joshua’s previous experiences include Adjunct Professor, Assistant Superintendent, Executive Director, High School Principal, Assistant Principal, Athletic Director and Teacher. Joshua received his doctorate degree from Seattle University and his undergraduate degree from Washington State University. Joshua was named a 2015 “Leader to Learn” by EdWeek,a Data Quality Campaign Flashlight recipient , the 2013 ASCD International Outstanding Young Educator Award winner and 2006 Emerging Leader, as well as the 2010 Washington State Stem Entrepreneur Award. He has spoken to audience around the nation and internationally on assessment, student success, and results of the Whole child.

“I believe every student should and can graduate from our schools well prepared for higher education and life. Unfortunately, many of the brick walls our children face are human made. Schools and community leaders must relentlessly work to dissolve these barriers and build cohesive systems that promote excellence for all. Then and only then, will we fulfill our pledge to provide every child the opportunity to pursue a successful life.”

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Linda Womack

Director, Minority Business Development Agency

Linda Womack, Director, Minority Business Development Agency

Linda is a bilingual strategic marketing professional brings over ten years of International experience deliveringmeasurable "Go-to-Market" project outcomes under pressure in the Asian insurance marketplace, and U.S. healthcare domains. 

 

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Marilyn Strickland

Former Tacoma Mayor, currently running for Congress

Marilyn Strickland, Former Tacoma Mayor, currently running for Congress

I was born in Seoul, South Korea. My father, who fought in World War II and Korea, met my mother while he was stationed there after the war. If elected to Congress, I will be the first African-American to represent Washington State at the federal level, and the first Korean-American woman elected to Congress in its 230-year history.

My parents endured discrimination and hardships that I cannot imagine. They wanted me to have opportunities they were denied and taught me to work hard, fight for what’s right, serve the community, and to stand up for the underdog. Those values inspire me today.

I am a proud graduate of Tacoma Public Schools and have a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Washington. I went on to earn an MBA from Clark-Atlanta University, a Historically Black College and University.

As Mayor of Tacoma, I helped transform a city and economy crippled by a deep recession into a destination for families, workers, artists, tourists and entrepreneurs. We attracted over $1 billion in investment for housing and businesses, and invested over $500 million in infrastructure for roads, bridges, transportation, and the Port, creating over 40,000 new jobs in the Tacoma region.

I led successful efforts to raise the minimum wage and pass paid sick leave, paving the way for statewide action. Our city-wide Environmental Action Plan set goals to improve our air, water, and health. I 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. We raised the high school graduation rate in Tacoma from 55% to 89% by making education a civic priority. I 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.

In Congress, I will bring the experience of rebuilding an economy after an economic recession, and continue to be a strong voice for change to ensure that we can help the most vulnerable members of our community and ensure we have an economy that works for all of us.

 

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Michael Liang

Program Director, Space Works Tacoma

Michael Liang came to Spaceworks in 2018 after a ten-year career as a designer and creative leader with the National Park Service. He provides vision and support to the Spaceworks staff and clients, helping the organization grow and strengthen as a pillar of Tacoma’s creative community. Liang received a B.F.A. in art and design from the University of Michigan, a certificate in natural science illustration from the University of Washington, and is currently finishing his M.S.Ed. He is passionate about building community and tapping into the transformative power of the arts for social good.

 

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Robin DiAngelo, PhD

Author of White Fragility

Academic: I received my PhD in Multicultural Education from the University of Washington in Seattle in 2004. I earned tenure at Westfield State University in Massachusetts. Currently I am Affiliate Associate Professor of Education at the University of Washington, Seattle. In addition, I hold two Honorary Doctoral Degrees. My area of research is in Whiteness Studies and Critical Discourse Analysis, tracing how whiteness is reproduced in everyday narratives.  I am a two-time winner of the Student’s Choice Award for Educator of the Year at the University of Washington’s School of Social Work. I have numerous publications and books, including Is Everybody Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Critical Social Justice Education, co-written with Özlem Sensoy, and which received both the American Educational Studies Association Critics Choice Book Award (2012) and the Society of Professors of Education Book Award (2018). In 2011 I coined the term White Fragility in an academic article which influenced the international dialogue on race. My book, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism was released in June of 2018 and debuted on the New York Times Bestseller List where it remained for 85 weeks. It is currently being translated into 5 languages.

Professional: I have been a consultant, educator and facilitator for over 20 years on issues of racial and social justice. I have worked with a wide-range of organizations including private, non-profit, and governmental.

Personal: “I grew up poor and white.  While my class oppression has been relatively visible to me, my race privilege has not.  In my efforts to uncover how race has shaped my life, I have gained deeper insight by placing race in the center of my analysis and asking how each of my other group locations have socialized me to collude with racism. In so doing, I have been able to address in greater depth my multiple locations and how they function together to hold racism in place. I now make the distinction that I grew up poor and white, for my experience of poverty would have been different had I not been white” (DiAngelo, 2006).

 

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Rusty George

Principal, Rusty George Creative

Rusty applies over 25 years of creative wisdom to supervise a team of highly-skilled artists and thinkers producing compelling brand experiences for a variety of clientele. When not guiding clients through the studio’s brand process, he can be found speaking at any number of regional conferences on the importance of telling a strong story through visual communications.

Secret To The Universe: It’s held together by duct tape.

 

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Stephanie Schramm

Fearless leader, MadCap Marketing

As a principal and partner of MadCap Marketing, you could say that Stephanie Schramm does it all… and that wouldn’t be an exaggeration. Involved in every aspect of the firm, she is a force to be reckoned with as she interfaces with clients, manages budgets, and propels her team to be the best it can be. Oh, and did we mention she actually runs the day-to-day duties for the firm as well?

Stephanie has been a prominent fixture in the South Sound business community for over two decades. This marketing, media buying, and event experience—and her many connections—benefit clients in ways that other firms only dream of. An expert in all facets of marketing, clients turn to her for, well, everything. With Stephanie, it’s about passion, innovation, and results. Period.

Her favorite thing about being a principal of MadCap Marketing? That’s easy—the people. Whether it’s her team, clients, or vendors, she has surrounded herself with fun, genuine individuals that want to propel local businesses… like yours.

When Stephanie isn’t working on MadCap business, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, playing softball, and getting her passport stamped as a world traveler.

Random fact: If she hadn’t started her own marketing firm, you might have found Stephanie in a police car. Driving it, that is! She has always been interested in crime forensics and police work.

 

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T’wina Nobles

Community Advocate

T’wina Nobles is a wife, mother of four, former small business owner, an educator and mentor, and an elected official on the University Place School Board. Currently serving as President and CEO of the Tacoma Urban League, T’wina has nearly 15 years of experience in education as an instructor, PTA leader and School Board member.

 

T’wina’s story begins in Frankfurt, Germany where both of her parents were stationed for four and a half years. Her family later moved to Fort Ord in Monterey, California before eventually creating roots in the Fort Benning/Columbus, Georgia area. It was after this move T’wina’s childhood took a dramatic turn. She suffered many years of abuse and homelessness. T’wina’s family lived in nearly every homeless shelter in the Phenix City, Alabama and Columbus, Georgia area. When T’wina was 13 years old, things were so unstable that she decided to remain in an Alabama shelter alone and was moved into the foster care system at age 15.  She and her brothers remained in foster care until their father was located in California and custody was turned over to him.

 

Statistics show that one in five foster youth become homeless after the age of 18 and less than 3% will earn a college degree. T’wina was determined not to become a statistic. Because of her passion, energy, and hard work she graduated high school and set her sights on becoming an educator.

T’wina met and married her then-husband and the family was relocated at Joint Base Lewis McChord (formerly Fort Lewis) nearly two decades ago. T’wina comes from a military family so she knows the sacrifices military families make each and every day for our country. It’s one of the reasons why it was important for her to help other military families by coaching cheerleading and basketball at Fort Lewis as well as with the City of Lakewood and Lakewood Family YMCA.

 

Education has always been central to T’wina’s life and she believes strongly in giving back to the community that helped her succeed to where she is today. Shortly after relocating to Joint Base Lewis McChord, T’wina attended the University of Puget Sound, where she earned her undergraduate degree in U.S. Politics as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching. She worked as an instructor for Metropolitan Development Council’s College Bound program at Stadium High School and Lincoln High School, which supported student leaders as they prepared for life after high school. She also co-founded Ladies First, an in-school and after-school program dedicated to empowering young women and building positive self-esteem.

 

On the University Place School Board, T’wina works to make sure that every voice is heard and every child succeeds. She’s demonstrated her leadership through a focus on equity, inclusion, and transparency. Because of her background and experience on the PTA, she has worked hard during her term on the School Board to improve engagement with community members and parents. She knows firsthand the struggles of parents in our district because she also has three children in public schools and one who graduated Curtis High School not long ago. T’wina’s focus in Olympia will be to invest more in education and in teachers to ensure that our students graduate with the skills and support they need to succeed in the future.

In addition to serving several boards and commissions like the Statewide Poverty Action Network and Multicare’s West Region Mary Bridge Board, she’s been recognized locally for her work with a National Urban League 2019 Affiliate Award, a ParentMap Superhero for Washington State Families, a PTA Golden Acorn Award in 2014 and again in 2018, a TPS Gold Star Community Partner Award, a University of Puget Sound Young Logger Service Award and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Keep Living the Dream” Award, and a WASA Community Leadership Award.

T’wina is also a TEDx speaker.

 

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Tamar Jackson

Director, Community Engagement, Workforce Central

Tamar Jackson, Director of Community Engagement for WorkForce Central, was born and raised in Tacoma and has a passion to make Tacoma the best place to live. He strives to spur change that community leaders are seeking and help meet community needs addressing challenges that come with changing demographics, different points of view, and workplace fairness to exceed the needs of clients, service providers, and stakeholders. With a strong sense of collaboration, Tamar instinctively brings teams together utilizing individual’s strengths. His motivational approach to problem solving turns challenges into opportunities

 

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Tom Pierson

President & CEO, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce

Tom Pierson has been President & CEO of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber (TPCC) since June 2011. Under his leadership, the Chamber has strengthened and built county-wide ties with leaders of the community. His commitment is to ensure and increase awareness that the Chamber is the voice for business, helping the South Sound become the best place to do business in Washington State.  

Prior to joining TPCC, Pierson led the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce for eight years, helping them achieve four-star accreditation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, managing their financial controls, cultivating the Chamber’s overall performance, and doubling its membership base. His experience also includes working for the Metropolitan King County Council and the Washington State Senate as legislative staff. 

Pierson serves on various Boards representing the Chamber and local businesses; these include the Franciscan Foundation, Woodstone Credit Union, Western Association of Chamber Executives (WACE), Washington Chamber of Commerce Executives (WCCE), and Association of Washington Businesses (AWB). 

Tom is an accredited Chamber Executive and was honored in 2004 as a “40 Under 40 Business Leader” and received th,e Kiongozi Award for Educational Leadership in 2008. In addition, he is a member of the City of Tacoma’s Public Assembly Facilities Board and the Economic Development Corporation of Pierce County.

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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. 

 

In Mayor Woodards’ first term, she continues to be a champion of these important issues while expanding her involvement in regional and national conversations on affordable housing, transportation, strengthening youth and families, public safety, growing local business, and the creation of family wage jobs. She has also worked to more fully engage the City’s youth in community decisions that impact them every day, by expanding Student Government Day and  establishing the Mayor’s Youth Commission of Tacoma.

 

Mayor Woodards has been selected to serve in a number of national leadership roles that allow her to share information with other cities across the country and bring best practices back to Tacoma. At the National League of Cities, she serves on the board of directors and as co-chair of the National League of Cities Council on Youth, Education, and Families. At the United States Conference of Mayors, she serves on the advisory board; as vice-chair of the Committee on Jobs, Education, and the Workforce; and as co-chair of the Women Mayors Leadership Alliance. Some of her other leadership roles as Tacoma’s mayor include positions on the Puget Sound Regional Council Executive Board, Sound Transit Board, Tacoma-Pierce County Economic Development Board, Pierce Transit Board, Foundation for Tacoma Students Board, and the Workforce Central Board. In partnership with County Executive Bruce Dammeier and County Council Member Connie Ladenburg, she also convened elected leaders from across Pierce County for Mayoral Roundtable events to provide an opportunity for regional collaboration and shared learning about the increasing burden of housing costs and how to address them.

Mayor Woodards has consistently reaffirmed her support for immigrant and refugee families, and Tacoma remains a Welcoming City committed to providing immigrant and refugee communities with equitable access to City services. Alongside her peers on the City Council, she advocates for policies that provide safety and stability for all members of the community, and she uses her national leadership roles to join with mayors across the county in calling for federal reforms. Under her leadership, the City appointed members to its first Commission on Immigrant and Refugee Affairs. This commission was established to better engage with immigrant and refugee communities, and to work with local organizations to identify and advance positive outcomes for community members in need. 

 

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. 

 

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