2019 SPEAKERS BIOS
ABE FOX | Co-Owner & Operator, Wooden City
Abe Fox is the founder and co-owner of Wooden City, a restaurant in downtown Tacoma focused on building culture and community within the hospitality industry. Abe was raised in the restaurant world, working alongside his mother. At an early age, he saw the strength of community that can build when employees and customers alike feel they are a part of a larger family. He believes that entrepreneurs and small business owners should take an active role in the community that surrounds them. Abe lives in Tacoma with his wife Jamie and two young daughters, Matheson and Josephine.
DR. ALI MODARRES, PhD | Assistant Chancellor for Community Engagement, UW Tacoma
Ali Modarres is the Director of Urban Studies and the Assistant Chancellor for Community Engagement at the 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.
Dr. Modarres serves on a number of governing and advisory boards of academic associations, nonprofits, and policy centers including Economic Roundtable (Los Angeles), Urban Affairs Association, South Sound Regional Leadership Council of Forterra, and the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation. He has also served on city task forces and committees, including the Affordable Housing Technical Advisory Group for the City of Tacoma. Throughout his academic career, he has built bridges between the university and the community, promoting and supporting the mission of urban serving universities.
As a part of his academic service, he serves on the advisory board for Palgrave’s book series on Demography and Political and Social Change in the MENA region (the Middle East and North Africa) and Springer’s Urban Book series. He also serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Urban Affairs, Cities, and Sociologica Urbana e Rurale (Italy).
ALLYSON THOMAS | Lead HR Services Partner, Alera ConnectHR
As Lead HR Services Partner for the Tacoma office, Allyson’s primary focus is ACHR client work, and assisting with the day-to-day coordination of that work. She brings a seasoned background of HR management experience, primarily in the technology and healthcare industries, touching on all facets of HR throughout her career. She possesses a Bachelor’s degree in HR Management, SHRM-SCP and Six Sigma White Belt Certifications.
Allyson is a Pacific NW native, but has lived in various parts of the U.S., including CA, TX and NY. She possesses experience working in global, national, and shared service environments, and has partnered with several small companies assisting them as a consultant with various HR needs.
In her spare time, Allyson enjoys running and hiking, spending time at her family cabin on Hood Canal, time with family and friends, volunteering with Girls on the Run, and supporting her husband’s music ventures.
AMY BELL | Manager, WFD Program Development & Employer Engagement, Goodwill Olympics & Rainier
Amy Bell is a proven expert in program development, sales, marketing and business outreach. After successfully hiring, managing and training employees in increasingly more challenging businesses during the economic downturn, she focused her efforts in workforce development. She currently serves as the Manager of Program Development & Employer Engagement at Goodwill of the Olympics & Rainier Region supporting the needs of the Greater South Puget Sound area. In that role, she works closely with strategic business and community partners.
A calculated risk-taker with knowledge of the local business climate, Amy has championed Workforce Development initiatives to countless employers and business organizations. Her efforts have motivated partners to increase employment of Goodwill clients and support broad-based, regional efforts to train the unemployed and underemployed.
As the spouse of a Retired Army officer, Amy has lived in numerous locations in the United States and Europe. At each military assignment, she has provided support to civilian and military communities, including work with the Association of the United States Army, the Air Force Association, multiple Family Readiness Groups and social service organizations. Among many causes, she is passionate about education and civil rights.
Amy graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Radio-Television Management from Eastern Washington University.
She and her husband Doug have two grown children.
BILL ROBERTSON | President & CEO, MultiCare Health System
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.
BOBBIE BAILEY | President, M Agency
Bobbie Bailey began her professional endeavors in web design and SEO website optimization before stepping out on her own eight years ago to fully embrace a then-budding generation of online business marketing. Her mission to help businesses identify the driving force behind their brand has blossomed into M Agency, her full-service marketing firm. When not in the office or collaborating with the community, she is a wife and mother of two. It’s the growth and gusto of her business prowess that has allowed her to pour financial resources, time and energy into community endeavors like her annual small business grant, which went to Hilltop Artists this year, and the co-founding of South Sound 100 Women, quarterly-annual fundraisers supporting various non-profits. The benevolent movement has now sprouted similar efforts across the country and continues to grow in participation and value with each event, the last of which awarded over $11,000 to the Tacoma Humane Society.
BRYAN REYNOLDS | Owner, Anthem Coffee & Tea
Bryan Reynolds is a highly relational and energetic guy who loves to help unlock the full potential in other people. He's a team builder, visionary leader and has a great ability for brand design and culture creation. He was honored as one of the "40 Under 40" in business by South Sound Business Magazine for 2018.
Over the last 12 years, Bryan and his family have built 3 different companies including Anthem Coffee & Tea with 8 locations in the South Puget Sound area, built and sold elements frozen yogurt, and caramels inc. They continue to reach new customers daily by providing experiences that change lives and showing heroic hospitality to all.
Bryan is a business success coach, mentor, and an activator who loves to “make things happen” by conventional or unconventional means. He's an out of the box thinker and he loves exercising creativity in problem-solving in order to turn problems into possibilities.
He's blissfully married to his junior high sweetheart for 15 years and has 3 "incredibly active" boys, 13, 9, & 7. He serves on the church council at Motion Church.
BRUCE DAMMEIER | Pierce County Executive
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.
BRUCE KENDALL | President & CEO, Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County
Bruce Kendall is the President & CEO of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County (EDB); a position he has held since 1999. The EDB is a private, non-profit corporation focused on the retention and recruitment of primary businesses in Tacoma and Pierce County, Washington. Mr. Kendall received his undergraduate degree from Whitman College and earned a Master's degree in Business Administration from the University of Washington.
Over the past 10 years, the EDB has worked with companies that have invested more than one billion dollars in Pierce County and created more than 14,000 jobs.
In addition to its retention and recruitment work, the EDB manages four cluster acceleration teams in the areas of aerospace, cybersecurity, health services, and international trade/logistics.
Bruce serves on the following boards: Institute of Technology at the University of Washington Tacoma (Chair), Central Puget Sound Economic Development District, Tacoma-Pierce County Workforce Development Council, and Pierce County Habitat for Humanity.
DAN ABSHER | President, Absher Construction
DAVID FISCHER | President, Tacoma Arts Live
David Fischer’s professional background in the arts began as a professional theater artist in 1977. His degrees in theater and film (BA, MFA) as well as his Leadership Certificate from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, along with his work experience have allowed him to become deeply invested in the arts through theatre production, performing arts presenting, arts management, fundraising, advocacy, teaching, and urban design. He has worked as
Producing Artistic Director for Tacoma Little Theatre, Executive Director of the Pierce County Arts Commission, Deputy Executive Director of Tacoma Arts Live, and prior to returning to Tacoma, as Executive Director of the Luther Burbank Center in Santa Rosa, California. Fischer reorganized that non-profit, including its staff, fundraising, capital investment, endowment growth, governance, and programmatic impact resulting in an improvement to the balance sheet of $14 million in 5-1/2 years.
Since 2006, Mr. Fischer has served as Executive Director of Tacoma’s non-profit performing arts center, Tacoma Arts Live, Fischer has worked to transform the organization to focus on strengthening its service to the community as a whole.
DEREK KILMER | U.S. Congressman, 6th Congressional District
Kilmer earned his certificate in American studies from Princeton University. He went on to earn his B.A. in public affairs from Princeton. He then received his M.A. in economic development policy followed by his Ph.D. in comparative social policy from the University of Oxford. Kilmer is a former business consultant for McKinsey and Company. He has also worked as a business retention manager for the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.
Prior to his election to the United States House of Representatives, Kilmer served as a member of both the Washington State Senate and the Washington House of Representatives.
DR. DIVYA MCMILLIN, PhD | Executive Director, Institute for Global Engagement, UW Tacoma
Divya McMillin is Professor of Global Media Studies in the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Program, and founding Executive Director of the Institute for Global Engagement and the Global Innovation and Design Lab at the University of Washington Tacoma.
She is Associate Faculty of the South Asia Center and Affiliate Faculty of the Center for Global Studies in the UW Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies. McMillin is the author of three books, International Media Studies (Blackwell 2007), Mediated Identities: Youth, Agency, and Globalization (Peter Lang 2009); and Place, Power, Media (Peter Lang 2018), as well as numerous journal articles on transnational television and the innovation economy. She serves on the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
McMillin is one of only three faculty at UW Tacoma to receive highest honors in both research and teaching, with a Distinguished Research Award in 2012 and a Distinguished Teaching Award in 2017.
GABRIEL BROWN | Marketing & Artscape Coordinator, Spaceworks Tacoma
Gabriel Brown joined the Spaceworks team in 2013, and currently coordinates the Artscapes program. Brown is an Artist/Garbologist, Arts Administrator, and Shoe Cobbler from the Pacific Northwest. He earned a Master’s degree in Fine Art at WSU, and served two years in Americorps before moving to Tacoma in 2011.
J.D. ELQUIST | Retail Advocate, Downtown Tacoma Partnership
JD is a creative entrepreneur with 8 years’ experience owning and operating businesses in Downtown Tacoma. He has a history as an event producer, marketer, and promoter with a portfolio that includes fashion shows, pop-up markets, and networking events. He first was connected to Spaceworks as a client in 2011 through his men’s clothing store, Feather & Oar. He later went on to open vintage stores, salons, and barbershops. JD is passionate about cultivating relationships and building community through out-of-the-box ideas and collaboration. He is currently the Retail Advocate for the Downtown Tacoma Partnership.
JENINE BOGRAND | Senior Manager, HCM - HR Transformations, Deloitte Human Capital
Jenine Bogrand is a Leader within the Deloitte’s Payroll and Workforce Management practice with 20 years of cross-industry expertise directing global HR and payroll systems, HR policies, business transformation, and process optimization. Bogrand’s recent engagements focused on global enterprise assessment and implementations that not only required futuristic design thinking, but also a holistic approach including change management, training, and business process re-engineering. She holds a B.A. in Business and Economics from the University of Puget Sound and an M.A. in Human Resources and Leadership Development from the University of Texas.
JENNIFER ENGLISH | Co-Owner, SPUN Clay Arts Studio and Gallery
Jennifer English is an artist and a co-owner of SPUN Clay Arts Studio and Gallery, which began as a Spaceworks Tacoma incubator in 2014. As a life-long South Sounder and an active member of Tacoma’s arts and business communities, Jennifer collaborates with artists and business owners in the region to create opportunities for creative expression like the Hilltop Art Walk. She believes that Tacoma’s artistic community reflects our rich history and diverse community that is vital for creating a vision for an inclusive and creative future.
DR. JILL NEALEY-MOORE, PhD | Cheif Operations Officer, Humming Inc.
With a background in psychology, I strive to reduce stress and promote optimal functioning in individuals, communities, and organizations. In my work at Humming, I focus on creating environments and processes that allow people to be creative and authentic, valued for their unique contributions, work collaboratively, and to actualize their best selves. When individuals thrive, the companies they work for thrive. My background gives me a data-driven approach to helping people work together and fostering environments where team members can co-create and innovate toward products that change our world.
Finding ways to reduce work-related stress and give people more control over their businesses is an important part of keeping people healthy. Humming's mission to make advertising simple is especially important for small businesses, who often lack control and know-how over this essential part of their business. We take the stress out of advertising, giving individuals the tools to promote their businesses on their terms.
Since 2003, I’ve been a professor of psychology at the University of Puget Sound, teaching courses in health & medicine, research methods & statistics, neuroscience, and clinically-relevant topics. I helped start Humming in 2018, specifically to support our people, shape our culture, and foster development, and to use my skills in data science to help with product development.
JOSH DUNN | President, 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.
KIM LEIFSEN | LEAP Program Director & Coach, Hiring Strategies LLC
Kim formed her company, Hiring Strategies LLC, and her management and leadership philosophy around an idea shared with her by a former employer and local leadership legend, George Russell of the Frank Russell Company. George said, “If I hire people who are smarter than me and I take care of those employees and make them my priority, then they will take care of my customers and my company.”
This philosophy, a passion for impeccable customer service and a belief in Simon Sinek’s theory; “If you hire someone to do a job they will work for your money, but if you hire someone who believes what you believe they will work for you with blood, sweat and tears,” is how Kim helps companies hire the right people the first time…and keep them.
Kim has 20 years of combined experience in benefits, corporate recruiting, executive search, employee assessments, and leadership development in companies varying in size (2 employees to 1000 employees), and industry (retail, financial services, distribution, warehousing, construction, manufacturing and consulting.) This breadth of experience in varying cultures across the United States provides valuable insight as to what works and what doesn’t when recruiting top performers, creating effective hiring processes and systems, and developing a strong leadership bench.
KORBETT MOSESLY, MPA | Senior Policy Analyst, City of Tacoma
Korbett Mosesly has more than a decade of experience working in both the non-profit and government sectors on a broad range of issues including education, housing, and workforce development. He served on the City of Tacoma’s Vision 2025 Steering and Advisory Committee for the city's strategic plan. He currently served on the first board of directors of the Puyallup Watershed Initiative and currently the board of governors for the Evergreen State College Foundation. As the first Director of Family Stability Initiatives for United Way of Pierce County, he was responsible for launching the Center for Strong Families (CSF) that created a network of providers to respond to the problem of persistent poverty, financial instability, and low-wage stagnation among families. He recently joined the City of Tacoma’s Office of Equity and Human Rights as a senior policy analyst working to address disparities with historically underrepresented communities and identifying gaps and barriers in policies, programs, and community involvement.
Korbett has provided consulting services for the City of Tacoma’s Neighborhood Council Program and Neighborhood Business District Program. He launched the Hilltop Action Journal newspaper, a volunteer organized publication focused on community priorities of Tacoma’s Hilltop residents. He is a long-time member of the Pierce County Black Collective and a Senior Fellow (class 18) of the American Leadership Forum. Korbett has a master's degree in public administration from Evergreen State College.
LARS KOERBER | Vice President of Operations and Innovation, Kizuki International
Lars Koerber is presently VP of Operations and Innovation for Kizuki International. He is leading company strategy, agile, lean, restaurant and supply chain operations, and innovation. Prior to Kizuki, Lars served as the Global Director of Workforce Management at Starbucks Coffee Company where he was responsible for the development and implementation of all operating systems, labor and efficiency, quality control, field faced strategy and change management. Lars also founded LK consulting to share knowledge and support lean thinkers throughout several industries to give back. Developing leaders, coaching, training and building culture are his passion. He is a certified Lean and Agile coach and a six sigma black belt.
Above all, Lars is a family man with six children and his purpose is to bring joy to humanity.
LAYLA ISSAC | Owner, Ice Cream Social
Layla Isaac created Ice Cream Social in the summer of 2012 after experimenting with a second-hand ice cream maker. She found a need for quality handmade, local ice cream in Tacoma and decided to take on the challenge. A self-taught chef and baker, Layla had spent years baking wedding cakes and catering private events. Family and friends tested her ice cream recipes, which used natural, local ingredients, and soon she could barely keep up with their orders. Layla and her family worked hard to continue building the business. With long hours making ice cream, scooping at Tacoma farmer’s markets, filling requests, catering parties, and eventually selling wholesale to Tacoma restaurants, Ice Cream Social steadily gained a loyal following.
Layla's dream of opening a scoop shop became a reality on June 24, 2014, when Ice Cream Social opened on 6th Avenue. It was an instant hit with the surrounding community, as the delicious smell of freshly rolled waffle cones can be detected up to three blocks away! Providing both traditional and specialty flavors in a fun atmosphere, the shop was a huge success. On July 19, 2017, a second location opened in the newly rebuilt Point Ruston waterfront area. Today, Ice Cream Social can be found in a number of local grocery stores and is featured on the menu of some of Tacoma’s favorite restaurants.
LEAH MORGAN | Founder, Tacoma Night Market
Leah Morgan was born in Victoria, BC and grew up in Tacoma, WA. She studied art with a focus in glassblowing, which she has worked with for the past 20 years. Leah has worked for the Museum of Glass, the Hilltop Artists in Residence, Pilchuck Glass School, Pratt Fine Arts Center, Rubino Glass, as well as many other studios throughout the Pacific Northwest. Her work has taken her around the world to studios such as Kitengala Glass in Kenya. Leah started a small sewing business 4 years ago where she began attending arts and craft fairs. It was during this time that she began to dream up her own celebration of creativity and community that would become the Tacoma Night Market, in May of 2018. She kicked off the Gig Harbor Night Market later that year in December. In November of 2019, her third monthly event will begin at the Museum of Glass. With other exciting collaborative projects in the works.
MARK WALES | Global Industry Advisor, Workforce Management
Mr. Mark Wales is an executive with a proven track record of achievement with leading US and UK companies. He brings leadership and energy so that organizations can innovate, implement and operate. He works at the strategic, tactical, and operational levels to build sustainable capabilities.
Wales has led global workforce management initiatives at Starbucks and Ralph Lauren. He developed at Ralph Lauren a globally recognized and respected innovative center of excellence delivering workforce management optimization. He coaches a holistic approach to Workforce Management that can deliver sustainable performance improvements across all divisions and geographies. He has worked with other leading US and European companies including IBM, Nike, Levi Strauss, The Gap, Safeway, Columbia Sportswear, Williams-Sonoma, David’s Bridal, and Tesco. He also advises innovators, analysts, and investors on trends and direction in workforce management.
He is an author, global speaker, member of the Workforce Institute, Retail Analytics Council, Evidence Based Management Group, and involved in the design of the next generation of workforce management solutions. He is on the executive boards of the University of Washington Milgard School of Business, University of Washington Tacoma Global Innovation and Design Lab and the Washington State Historical Society.
MAYA MENDOZA-EXSTROM | General Counsel, Seattle Sounders FC
Maya Mendoza-Exstrom is entering her fourth season as Sounders FC General Counsel in 2017, overseeing and advising on the legal aspects of all club operations and strategic planning. In addition, she serves as the Government Affairs Director for the organization.
Prior to joining the club, Mendoza-Exstrom was in private practice for seven years at Mendoza Law Center, dealing in all manner of business transactions, serving as outside general counsel and providing assistance with corporate formation and governance, real estate transactions, intellectual property licensing, employment matters, contract negotiation, and commercial litigation.
A born and raised Seattle Sounders fan, Maya grew up watching Sounders FC in all previous iterations in the NASL, A-League, and USL. Mendoza-Exstrom received her Juris Doctor from the University of Washington. She serves as a board member for the RAVE Foundation, the official charitable arm of Sounders FC, working to build small and innovative soccer fields dedicated to free play in communities in Seattle.
Maya also serves on the Board for the Seattle Parks Foundation and regularly works with the Seattle Sports Commission. She is also a long-tenured member of the Highline Schools Foundation Board of Trustees and serves as a youth mentor and advocates for equity in education and access to sports and the arts. She is a former All-American soccer player at the University of Puget Sound and holds a USSF “B” Coaching License. She currently lives in Burien with her husband, Travis, and their daughter.
MEREDITH NEAL | Director, Manufacturing Industrial Council for the South Sound
Meredith Neal leads the Manufacturing Industrial Council for the South Sound, a program of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, which is a strong voice for industry, advocating for and telling the stories of our manufacturing, industrial and maritime businesses. Industry has been facing increasing pressures from the lack of skilled workforce, infrastructure and congestion concerns, to pressures to rezone industrial lands into housing and green spaces.
Meredith grew up in the Washington DC area, has a Bachelors in Urban Planning and a Masters in Organizational Leadership. Previously she worked as a project manager for a general contractor specializing in residential remodeling, and as an environmental planner focused on transportation and transit projects. She is committed to investing in the Pierce County community where she and her family reside, and serves on many non-profit boards.
SARA KEY | Co-Founder, Grit City Magazine
Sara grew up in Kitsap but visited Tacoma often enough as a kid to remember Pizza & Pipes. She and her high school soccer team also regularly got tromped on by Stadium High School. Sara became a Tacoma resident in 2012 and has no plans to leave anytime soon. She and her husband are parents to two teenage boys.
SIERRA HARTMAN | Co-Founder, Grit City Magazine
Sierra is one of those California transplants we all love to hate. But, in his defense, since moving to South Tacoma in 2015 he’s put his talents as a photographer and writer into celebrating the City of Destiny. If Sierra gets his way no mystery or tunnel in Tactown will go unexplored. He’s still good at keeping the secrets that need to be kept, though. He and his wife are parents to a toddler.
STEVE BUCHANAN | Owner, GoodDesign
Steve Buchanan is a Creative Entrepreneur who partners with Tacoma businesses to connect their brand to their physical space using signage, interior installations, and unique customer experiences. Having almost 25 yrs. experience doing design in the branding, signage, and tradeshow industry, he has honed a skillset and vision that fits well in Tacoma’s culture.
Steve is as passionate about Grit City as he about design and the most fulfilling part of this process is to see how his work is directly enriching the communities and businesses of Tacoma. Having participated in the Spaceworks Entrepreneurship Training programs, he has applied those skills to go from an employee to freelancer, to the recently launched design studio and sign shop in downtown Tacoma.
TANYA DURAND | Executive Director, Children's Museum of Tacoma
Tanya Durand has dedicated her life to children. The same year she graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a bachelor’s degree in art history, she took a job at the Tacoma Art Museum. A few years later, she was offered the position of executive director at the Children’s Museum of Tacoma. She’s been there ever since — 21 years, during which she has led the museum to impressive accolades: the Tacoma Chamber of Commerce New Tacoma Award and the Association of Children’s Museum Promising Practice Award. In 2016, she was named the University of Washington Tacoma Nonprofit Leader of the Year.
She has become a true leader in the museum industry worldwide, serving as vice president of initiatives on the National Association of Children’s Museums’ Board of Directors, as a member of the University of Washington Tacoma’s Urban Advisory Board, and chair of the Pierce County Arts and Culture Coalition. When she isn’t changing the lives of Tacoma children, you can find her at her Day Island home with her husband, son, and “Day Island Dylan” their golden retriever.
TIM THOMPSON | Thompson Consulting, Goal Tacoma
Tim Thompson founded the firm in January 2001 after spending approximately nine years at the law firm of Gordon, Thomas, Honeywell, where he established a successful consulting practice. He currently is the President of Thompson Consulting Group. Prior to working at Gordon, Thomas, Honeywell, Tim served as the Legislative Assistant, District Director and eventually Congressman Norm Dicks’ top aide. He worked for Congressman Dicks in Washington D.C. and the State of Washington for close to 10 years.
Over the past twenty-five years, Tim has established himself as one of the Northwest’s top government affairs experts and negotiators on complex public/private natural resources, environmental, transportation and economic development issues. He has successfully negotiated and secured necessary funding for some of the Pacific Northwest’s most complex environmental and economic development agreements, including the successful completion and implementation of the Puyallup Indian Land Claims Settlement, our West Coast Salmon Recovery Fund, the Port of Tacoma’s Evergreen Shipping line expansion which also led to the relocation of the Puyallup Tribe’s Casino to a location on Interstate 5, the cleanup and redevelopment of the Thea Foss Waterway, the Centralia Power Plant clean up, the Washington Forest and Fish Agreement and a host of major transportation projects including the completion of the second Narrows Bridge, leading a successful effort to pass the $12.5 billion State transportation package and completing SR-167 and SR-509.
Tim has built a boutique private and public federal government affairs practice with international, national and local businesses on issues affecting business and government. He has assisted countless public and private entities develop successful legislative and regulatory strategies in securing federal, state and local funding approval and support for their initiatives over the past 25 years in the private sector. Tim’s knowledge of both the public and private sector gives him a unique insight on how to navigate clients through the complexities of the business and government environments. His extensive background in these matters has allowed him to be a trusted confidant of key Members of Congress , countless other elected officials and business leaders who rely on his extensive experience with critical Washington State issues.
Tim is a graduate of Gonzaga University, where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business. He is active in a number of organizations and is heavily involved with local charities.
TOM PIERSON | President & CEO, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber
Tom Pierson has been President & CEO of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber (TPCC) since June 2011. Under Pierson’s leadership, the Chamber has strengthened and built countywide 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).
He is an accredited Chamber Executive; he was honored in 2004 as a “40 Under 40 Business Leader” and received the Kiongozi Award for Educational Leadership in 2008. Pierson is also a member of the City of Tacoma’s Public Assembly Facilities Board and the Economic Development Corporation of Pierce County.
UWI WAGONER | Co-Owner Co-Creative Director, eTc Tacoma
Umi Wagoner is a co-owner and co-creative director at eTc Tacoma, boutique retail in downtown Tacoma and eTceTera the private label company designed in Tacoma. His efforts in the community are often in alignment with supporting youth-based programs and initiatives. He was born and raised in Tacoma and had a strong understanding of what is missing from Tacoma’s local brick and mortar and arts culture.
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 Woodards’ first term as Mayor, she continues to be a champion of these important issues while expanding her involvement in regional and national conversations on affordable housing, transportation, economic development, 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 a Youth Council.
Woodards currently serves as co-chair of the National League of Cities Council on Youth, Education, and Families, and was one of six mayors selected to participate in the National League of Cities Mayors’ Institute on Opioids. Some of her other leadership roles as Tacoma’s mayor include positions on the Puget Sound Regional Council Executive Board, South Sound 911 Policy Board, Tacoma-Pierce County Economic Development Board, Pierce Transit Board, Sound Transit Board, Foundation for Tacoma Students Board, and the Workforce Central Board.
Woodards was one of just 40 mayors chosen from around the globe to participate in the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Institute, whose mission is to inspire and strengthen city leaders and equip them with tools to lead high-performing, innovative cities. She is now leveraging those tools to gather the community’s input on how police services could improve in Tacoma, and plans to use that input to evaluate current performance measures.
During the family separation crisis this summer, Woodards reaffirmed her support for immigrant and refugee families and noted that Tacoma remains a Welcoming City committed to providing immigrant and refugee communities with equitable access to City services. 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.
Woodards has demonstrated a lifelong track record of public service. She 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.