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60 reasons to be optimistic about the Northwest’s future

The 2014 Courage awards were designed by Ann Gardner

Measuring and comparing courage is a difficult task. We’re reminded of this each time you — our readers — send us nominations for the Crosscut Courage Awards. Which is why we in turn hand the job of selecting the honorees over to a council of civic, business, and cultural leaders in our community.

Last night as that council convened, they were searching for individuals who innovate despite criticism, show selfless leadership, inspire others, follow data and best practices even when custom and tradition say otherwise, and take risk to successfully break gridlock. What they found were 60 reasons to be optimistic for our future.

Here’s what you’ve told us about this year’s nominees:

They’re giving up. Giving up their privilege in order to advocate for those without. Giving up their spotlight to elevate untold stories. Giving up their roles to let others take the lead.

They refuse to accept the status quo, and face a climate of intolerance and polarization with an approach of civility and openness.

They’re forcing us to have uncomfortable conversations, banning discrimination in our rental housing, and rewriting history.

After experiencing loss — of their home country or a family member — they’re laying the groundwork so that others won’t suffer as they do.

They’re fighting the battles that others walk away from, and holding themselves, police and those in power accountable.

They’re taking the long view and making unpopular decisions.

They’re applying love and scientific innovation to address the abuse and neglect of our children, and to give hope to the countless youth struggling with addiction or mental illness on the street.

And they’re building a safer, more equitable Northwest.

Don’t believe me? See for yourself below, where we’ve included snippets from this year’s nominations.

Only four of these nominees will be honored at the Crosscut Courage Awards Breakfast on October 14th, an event which brings together civic, business, and cultural leaders each year to honor those that make Washington an exceptional place to call home. Individual tickets as well as tables are available now for reservations.

As you can see, though, narrowing down the list will be very hard in each of the categories & Public Service, Culture, Business and Lifetime Achievement.

These five dozen nominations are all inspiring.

For each person, we have included quotes submitted by the person or group nominating them.

Nominees for the Courage in Public Service Award

Andre Taylor

“Andre’s brother Che, was shot by Seattle police in February (the shooting itself was an incident with differing opinions on what occurred). After Andre found out about his brother’s death he moved from LA to Seattle. Amazingly, he has started a campaign (Not This Time) and an initiative, I-873, with the intent to hold police more accountable by making it easier to prosecute police by changing the law having to do with use of force needing to have ‘malice’ behind it in order to prosecute. This is important racial justice work to improve our state and is a concrete step toward dismantling systemic racism. Andre should be awarded based on his success so far and his drive to tackle one of our most difficult issues.”

Judge Anne Levinson (Ret.)

Also nominated for the Lifetime Achievement Award. “The retired judge has served as the auditor of the Seattle Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability, the department’s in-house oversight branch, for the last three years. She’s gone beyond her duties of just reviewing OPA investigations and helped the Community Police Commission craft complex and innovative recommendations for reforming use of force and accountability processes. … Her knowledge of police practices and structures — not to mention every other corner of the city — is unparalleled. This is just one sliver of the magnitude of Levinson’s work over her career.”

Bethany Larsen

“Bethany Larsen, Childhaven’s Chief Program Officer, has selflessly dedicated herself to healing children and families to stop the cycle of child abuse and neglect. In her 26 years with the organization, she has ensured an approach to care that embraces families with love and the latest innovations in health and science, early childhood education, and family support services. Larsen is a fierce advocate for all children, and an expert source on childhood trauma and effective intervention.”

Bill Moyer

“By leading the Backbone campaign in its efforts to stop environmental destruction and curb global warming, Bill has helped train and lead Kayaktivists locally. He was instrumental in campaigns against the Iraq War. He has traveled with his cadre of activists from the Northwest to Washington, DC to argue for positive solutions to the fossil fuel extractions that inevitably contribute to global warming. He was instrumental in protests here (Vashon/Maury Islands) that ultimately led to the closure of a foreign-owned gravel pit and its conversion to a County Park. He’s a human dynamo!”

Brian Cladoosby

“Chairman Cladoosby challenged state and federal governments by hiring mid-level dental providers.” He has served as chair of the Swinomish Indian Senate since 1997. He is currently president of the National Congress of American Indians.

Claire Garoutte

“I would like to nominate Claire Garoutte, director of photography at Seattle University and a program coordinator for the Yesler Terrace Youth Media Program, a seven-week summer program that teaches high school age kids to use photography and videography to document their experiences with gentrification and the changing landscape of Yesler Terrace and the central district.”

Colleen Echohawk

“Colleen, as the relatively new Executive Director of the Chief Seattle Club, has worked diligently and passionately in a short time to move the organization toward a more effective care model.  She challenged us as a Board to better understand the trauma factors affecting our people and steered us toward fundamental organizational changes to address these factors in a more holistic and effective manner.  She also worked tirelessly over the past 18 months with the City of Seattle to address critical public safety issues outside of and near our building.  Colleen remained steadfast in her advocacy for the safety of our members, indeed some of our City’s most vulnerable citizens, and built relationships with key players to bring about positive and effective change.  Native people in Seattle are in a better place because of Colleen’s dedication, courage, and refusal to accept the status quo.”

Members of Congress Dan Newhouse & Dave Reichert

“Congressmen Dan Newhouse and Dave Reichert bucked conservative ideologues in the U.S. House of Representatives last October to stand up for the jobs tied to international trade in their Districts by joining the minority party in Congress to bring up legislation to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, a key resource for Washington State firms to sell exports oversees. Using a rare tool known as the discharge petition, something successfully used only two other times in the past 30 years, 62 Republicans including Newhouse and Reichert joined 184 Democrats to force a vote on the reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank, bypassing the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee who was hell-bent on not allowing a vote on the legislation, even while a majority of Congress requested one. Congressman Reichert has been a champion for trade issues and serves as the Chairman of the House Ways & Means Trade Subcommittee. Congressman Newhouse, representing the heavily agricultural-based 4th District reliant on trade, earlier in the year organized a Special Order (an hour of debate) demonstrating bipartisan support for the Bank. Forty percent of jobs in Washington State are tied to international trade—both of these Congressmen understand this well, and they showed great courage to circumvent their party leadership to stand and save jobs for their constituents.”

City Councilmember Lisa Herbold

Received two nominations, including: “Although we consider Councilmember Herbold a tireless and courageous public servant throughout her 20+ year career, we would like to specifically recognize her for her recent leadership and sponsorship of a new comprehensive tenants’ rights bill. The Seattle City Council unanimously voted on August 8th to enact legislation that bans discrimination in rental housing based on a prospective renter’s source of income or place of employment. This legislation expands legal protection, already given to people with Section 8 vouchers, to include renters who receive so-called alternate sources of income … In an era when our government is often defined by gridlock and lack of collaboration, Herbold is challenging the status quo and moving forward progressive legislation. Both pieces of legislation had strong pushback from the most active lobbyist in city hall: developers and landlords. The fact that she was able to move this legislation forward even when powerful interests are pushing against her, is a demonstration of her courage, grit, and overall effectiveness.”

Danni Askini

“Danni ran for a seat in the 43rd Legislative District as an openly transgender women in a climate of intolerance. During this period she was stalked and a victim of domestic abuse — this led to her tragically stepping out of the race. Danni is the Executive Director of the Gender Justice League and has dedicated her life to advocating for the defense of LGBTQ individuals — these attacks and her subsequent dropout from the election make these event even more tragic. Courageously, Danni publicly admitted to being a victim of abuse and has continued her work at the Gender Justice League.”

Delbert Richardson

Received six nominations, including: “Delbert presents a comprehensive view of American history and reveals how historical trauma currently impacts youth of color.  His work with participants begins by taking them through The American History Traveling Museum: The Unspoken Truths. It includes a unique ‘hands on’ pedagogical approach for studying race, racism, and its impact on African Americans and all student learning. Storytelling, storyboards, and discussion of authentic artifacts stimulate awareness for grasping how relationships between teachers’ perceptions, expectations, teacher behaviors, and student achievement intersect.” “Since 2006, he has passionately collected and amassed an admirable assortment of artifacts at his own expense that symbolizes the African experience in the Americas and Europe.  He has shown innovation despite resistance and criticism from those who do not wish to know the truth of the experience of Africans in American history.  He shows uncommon, selfless leadership by educating children and young adults about the rich culture and history of African Americans to assist young people in embracing a higher level of self-esteem and positive identity.  Returning to college as a mature adult and graduating this spring, he continues to inspire and instruct others in cultural leadership.  He collects data and artifacts that tell the truth when custom and traditional American education say others.” “Mr. Richardson demonstrates a creatively interactive approach to a more inclusive history education that serves to strengthen the entire community.”

Devin Silvernail

Received three nominations, including: “Devin started a nonprofit called Be:Seattle… He has been approaching business owners and asking them to contribute in small ways to make someone’s day better — things like advertising that anyone can use their bathrooms, or ask for a glass of water, or charge their phones. He’s had tremendous success in the neighborhood where I live (Columbia City). Our community is better because of people like Devin.”

Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange

“Dr. Lange is a great example of character, leadership and selfless compassion.  While directing an incredibly diverse campus as president at Seattle Central Community Colleges, Dr. Lange never loses sight of the students’ needs.  Students always come first.  She recognizes that Seattle Central is an economic driver for our city and a pathway out of poverty for many.”

Farhiya Mohamed

“Farhiya fled war-torn Somalia as a young woman in 1994 and came to America determined to get an education. Overcoming the first of many challenges, she began her educational journey by first tackling her limited English skills by taking ESL classes at Seattle Central Community College, moving on to eventually earn her AA degree there.  She then transferred to Evergreen State College where she graduated with a liberal arts degree.  After graduating, she went right to work giving back to the Somali community at Southwest Youth and Family Services, but felt she could do more good with a Masters in Social Work. Working during the day and taking classes at night, Farhiya struggled, but eventually succeeded in earning her MSW from the University of Washington in 2014.  She continues to give back to her community, not only through her job at SWYFS but also in a new organization that she has spearheaded called the Somali Family Safety Task Force. Spending countless volunteer hours writing grants, organizing fundraisers and building this program while caring for her family and holding down a full time job, Farhiya demonstrates the kind of commitment, caring and courage that makes America a vibrant and compassionate country.”

Fiona Blundell

“Fiona’s unwavering heart and empathy amongst the growing fear, anger & hatred in our populations has touched the heart of many to offer their hand with compassion to their fellows. Fiona’s quote says it all, ‘with great love… This is simply trying not to become dissolved by fury and outrage but rather to evolve by maintaining a stance of dignity and warmth of spirit.”

Glenn Nelson

“Glenn Nelson, whose Trail Posse has become a must-read for outdoors enthusiasts and those concerned with diversity in the outdoors, holding National Park Service feet to the fire. Encouraging the embrace of nature by broad population, doing this with words, but also spectacular photography and an incredible passion on this topic. He has raised visibility and in a very short period of time put himself at center of debate on these issues.”

Joseph Seia

“As a case manager for New Horizon’s, Joseph stands alongside homeless youth every day who are struggling with addiction, mental illness and lack of resources/support. Joseph is also active in anti-racism instruction, LGBTQ training, and uses his own voice and profession to give voice to those who are underserved in our community. He works hard to ensure that every youth he comes in contact with is felt heard, loved, and encourage.”

King County Prosecuting Attorney, Dan Satterberg

“Dan Satterberg, King County Prosecuting Attorney since 2007, is an exemplary elected official pushing through gridlock and making progress on critical and urgent issues facing our community. There are numerous examples of Mr. Satterberg’s courageous leadership, from how his team handles cases involving domestic violence to mental health issues to other marginalized victims, but I would like to lift up his work on the 180 Program specifically for this award. His office first launched the 180 Program in 2011 after Mr. Satterberg asked community leaders to help him and his team in reaching youth through new, innovative approaches.  According to the county, the 180 Program now diverts approximately 400 youth each year from the criminal justice system. Even as the King County Prosecuting Attorney, he recognizes that the criminal justice system is not always the right approach for handling complex issues facing youth in our community, and he embarked on a meaningful journey to explore why many juveniles end up in the system.  We need more leaders, especially in the criminal justice system, to take a similar approach to tackling other critical challenges in our community.”

Kristopher Christensen

“Kris provides inspiring leadership working with Wounded Warriors.  He teaches them how to ride road and mountain bikes and snow ski, helping them overcome physical, emotional and mental disabilities.  He is passionate and often comes up against criticism especially teaching Warriors with head injuries how to snow ski and ride mountain bikes.”

Kurt Beardslee

“Kurt Beardslee, founder (1989) and executive director of Wild Fish Conservancy, continues to show unwavering courage in advocating for responsible changes to resource management policies that impact our region’s wild fish populations and their ecosystems.  Despite Endangered Species Act listings and projections of extinction, our state and federal agencies continue to make poor management decisions, putting several PNW species at risk of extinction.  In the face of vocal opposition from short-sighted recreational fishers who favor the status quo, and state fishery managers whose budgets come from selling fishing licenses, Beardslee relentlessly advocates for meaningful hatchery and harvest reform policies that align with the science of wild fish recovery.  Despite his tireless efforts to make Washington a better place to live, he has been maligned and personally attached by selfish individuals, organizations, and agencies that are unwilling to make responsible changes now for the benefit of future generations.”

Laurie Jinkins

“As chair of the WA House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jinkins maintained discrimination protections for transgendered Washingtonians by keeping the “bathroom bill” off the floor. That’s good for ALL of us. (Just ask NC folks.)”

Linda Gromko, MD

“Dr. Gromko has dedicated much of her medical practice to serving the LGBTQ community. Eighteen years ago, Dr. Gromko became one of the first practitioners in the nation to serve the community opening herself up to much criticism. She recently self-published a book Where’s My Book: A Guide to Transgender and Non-Gender Conforming Youth. In it, she explains the basics of gender identity, sexual orientation, puberty, puberty blockers, hormone treatments and gender affirming surgeries. She has garnered many book awards and been asked to speak at several conventions.”

Lisa Daugaard

“Lisa Daugaard is Director of the Public Defender Association. Lisa served as Deputy Director of the King County Department of Public Defense through August 2015, and previously supervised misdemeanor practice (2002-2006) and then was Deputy Director (2007-2013) at the Defender Association, a non-profit public defender office. She has taken on the LEAD program and spearheaded community police reform in Seattle.”

Martha Choe

“In a time and city where few women and even fewer women of color rise into leadership positions, Choe has done so across industries in a way that builds partnership, hears differing perspectives, speaks truth to power, and brings progress to our city.  Through the course of her diverse career, from serving on the Seattle City Council, chairing the Transportation Committee and Finance Committee, serving as the CAO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, time in the banking sector, as Director of the Washington State Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development in Governor Gary Locke’s cabinet, Choe has been a strong, integral, courageous leader. When asked about her leadership principles, she said that “leadership involves people, not just org charts and boxes… Learn, listen and understand different perspectives. You will need vision and reality for the hard and lonely work of leadership.” She used this approach to get Asian at-risk youth off the streets by investing in community centers, to save Seattle’s downtown by re-opening Pine Street to cars and bringing more than 1 million square feet of retail space to downtown Seattle between 1996 and 1998, and helped grow the staff and impact of the Gates Foundation throughout her ten years there.  Martha Choe’s leadership style embraces the courage to make unpopular decisions and to compromise – traits that we sorely need today in politics and business.”

Marty Kooisra

Received two nominations, including: “Marty Kooistra is the current Executive Director of the Housing Development Consortium of Seattle-King County, the nonprofit member association for the affordable housing operating and development sector here in the region. A champion of social justice, community revitalization, and affordable housing for over 26 years, Marty’s leadership has deepened civic engagement and equity locally, domestically, and globally … Marty’s most recent accomplishment has been to broker the “Grand Bargain” for the City of Seattle’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA). The Grand Bargain was a groundbreaking deal worked out through countless late-night bargaining sessions and a meeting and communications onslaught that dominated calendars and lives for months. Marty’s skill at negotiating the nuances and pitfalls of this intense, antagonistic, and litigious domain has become the stuff of legend. He quickly earned credibility, respect, and trust among players of both sides, creating a space in which everyone felt it was safe to cooperate, to trust, and to let the greater civic good take precedence over individual agendas and the diverse positions of constituent groups.  And the process itself has had a profound civic impact.”

Mischa Toland

In 2014, Toland founded and “wrote a curriculum, galvanized a team, and met with principals to recruit girls for the Mischa Tolland Entrepreneurial Academy for Girls,” which has now served over 50 young female entrepreneurs.

Rex Hohlbein

“Rex Hohlbein used to be a successful architect. He designed million dollar homes for the wealthy, earned honors for his architectural designs and made a good living. Five years ago, he gave it up to become an advocate for the homeless. After getting to know a number of the homeless near his Fremont office, he opened his doors allowing them to come by to have a cup of coffee, use the bathroom and to talk. An avid photographer, he started taking their pictures in black and white, placing them on the wall of his office. He eventually started a Facebook page called Homeless in Seattle, where he posted their photos and wrote brief vignettes about their lives. Hohlbein sought to remove the negative stereotype of the homeless and bring understanding as to why some people end up on the street. People responded by offering help from food to clothing to friendship. A community was born through social media. Today the site has more than 37 thousand followers in 45 countries. Hohlbein also created a campaign called Just Say Hello to encourage people to acknowledge and not fear the homeless when they see them on the street. After deciding to put aside his architectural career, Hohlbein created the non-profit Facing Homelessness, based in the University District. His advocacy for the homeless continues one day at a time.”

Ron Sims

Also nominated in Lifetime Achievement. “As an elected official, he maintained his vision of the public good no matter what the criticisms. Throughout his career, he demonstrated interest in big, new ideas while taking time to listen other people’s ideas. While winning important public offices, he dared to dream —  and fail — in seeking a U.S. Senate position and the governorship. And, as his recent comments on racial profiling in traffic stops illustrate, he has long been willing to speak difficult truths that will bring him emotionally painful criticisms.”

Sara Patton

“Sara Patton, as President of the Friends of the (Pike Place) Market, has demonstrated courage through her leadership of this preservation organization. She has previously served on the Pike Place Market Historical Commission. Her commitment to our community and to thoughtful preservation of vibrant urban spaces is unparalleled.”

State Sen. Mike Hewitt

“I nominate Sen. Mike Hewitt for the Courage in Public Service award for creating a bipartisan coalition called the Majority Coalition Caucus. The caucus was an innovative concept as it included not only the senators who made up the new Majority, but also because it included Democrats and put aside philosophical, controversial or divisive social issues and focused the caucus on unifying issues related to job creation, education and the budget — running against custom and tradition among a Senate Majority. Sen. Hewitt, recognizing that it was for the good of the order, stepped aside as Leader, allowing Senator Rodney Tom — a Democrat — to run for Majority Leader. This was an uncommon selfless act for a politician and inspired others into leadership positions. Sen. Hewitt did this at great risk to his political career to promote bipartisanship and reduce gridlock in a divided state government.”

Shana Greene

“Shana Greene has started and operates a non-profit [organization that works in partnership with] villages in Africa, Nepal and India to be self-sustaining and viable places to live, enabling villagers to have clean water, educational opportunities, healthy lives that preserve family culture and health. Her vision is for the villagers to become independent; lead profitable and happy lives according to their own abilities. She has supported and invented programs in which villagers can support themselves in businesses that provide healthy crops, clean water, and educational opportunities in an environmentally sustainable way. Her latest project has been to invent a process that is environmentally sustainable for the village to make sanitary pads for girls so that they can attend school full time.”

Stephanie McCleary

“Stephanie and her family have been successful litigants’ against the State of Washington [in the school funding case, McCleary v. Washington, in which the Washington Supreme Court required equal funding for all schools].  She avoids the limelight.  Her courage to disrupt status quo politics inspires me.  She defines endurance.  She is blazing the trail for thousands of public school students.”

Stephen Tan

“Stephen led the Friends of KPLU’s herculean effort to raise the support and funds needed to purchase public radio station 88.5 from the UW. His dedication to independent reporting is noteworthy; his gumption to raise $8 million in less than six months was indeed courageous!”

Toby Thaler

“Toby has been active in neighborhood and civic affairs since the 1980s. If there issues related to affordability, public access or having city hall hear the voice of neighbors, Toby has been involved in it. As an attorney he has helped explained land use law to neighborhood residents and many owe him a debt of thanks. He has been steadfast and courageous in trying to make Seattle a better place.”


Yoram Bauman

Received two nominations, including: “Yoram Bauman founded and leads Carbon Washington and the Yes on Initiative 732 campaign, the nation’s first carbon tax ballot measure. If enacted, Initiative 732 would establish the strongest carbon dioxide emission price in the United States.”

Nominees for the Courage in Culture Award

Arsalan Bukhari

“Arsalan Bukhari is the head of CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is a great organization that consistently sends out PR updates, lets news outlets around the region know what fair language/coverage looks like in a time of crisis during claims of terrorism as it associates with religion, and goes over case management for those who need help in filing civil rights claims as well as getting training in the workplace as a solution.”

Davida Ingram

“C. Davida Ingram is a remarkable poet and writer and activist. She thinks big and feels deep and is changing Seattle with every word she utters. She also is deeply involved with community engagement with Seattle Public Library.”

Claire Garoutte

“I would like to nominate Claire Garoutte, director of photography at Seattle University and a program coordinator for the Yesler Terrace Youth Media Program, a seven-week summer program that teaches high school age kids to use photography and videography to document their experiences with gentrification and the changing landscape of Yesler Terrace and the Central District.”

Courtney Weaver

“Local blues singer and domestic violence prevention advocate who volunteers for WSCADV [the Washington State Council Against Domestic Violence] doing research around domestic violence shootings and has started a survivors’ voices collective for local musicians to share their art and tell their stories of surviving domestic violence and other trauma. She survived being shot in the face in 2010 by her boyfriend.”

Delbert Richardson

Received six nominations, including: “Delbert presents a comprehensive view of American history and reveals how historical trauma currently impacts youth of color.  His work with participants begins by taking them through The American History Traveling Museum: The Unspoken Truths. It includes a unique ‘hands on’ pedagogical approach for studying race, racism, and its impact on African Americans and all student learning. Storytelling, storyboards, and discussion of authentic artifacts stimulate awareness for grasping how relationships between teachers’ perceptions, expectations, teacher behaviors, and student achievement intersect.” “Since 2006, he has passionately collected and amassed an admirable assortment of artifacts at his own expense that symbolizes the African experience in the Americas and Europe.  He has shown innovation despite resistance and criticism from those who do not wish to know the truth of the experience of Africans in American history.  He shows uncommon, selfless leadership by educating children and young adults about the rich culture and history of African Americans to assist young people in embracing a higher level of self-esteem and positive identity.  Returning to college as a mature adult and graduating this spring, he continues to inspire and instruct others in cultural leadership.  He collects data and artifacts that tell the truth when custom and traditional American education say others.” “Mr. Richardson demonstrates a creatively interactive approach to a more inclusive history education that serves to strengthen the entire community.”

Donald Byrd

“In addition to being a TONY nominated (The Color Purple) and Bessie Award winning (The Minstrel Show) choreographer, Donald Byrd has been the Artistic Director of Spectrum Dance Theater since 2002. Seattle is fortunate to have such a cultural icon in our community and I believe Donald is very deserving of a Crosscut Courage Award in the culture category.  His lifelong commitment to dance, art and theater across the country is reason enough to lift him up as a leader, but it is the way he brings choreography together with civic engagement that connects most with this award. He is often referred to as a ‘citizen artist,’ which perfectly ties in with the critical mission of Spectrum Dance Theater:  ‘dance as an art form and as a social/civic instrument.’ Donald has been recognized locally, nationally and internationally for his ability to raise awareness about issues of race, equity, cultural equality and ethnicity to a broad audience — most recently exemplified through the powerful performance of A Rap on Race in association with The Seattle Repertory Theatre. These are critical issues we must look at as a society in order to address the incredible disparities in our region, given all the assets.”

Gabriel S. Galanda

“Gabe has represented indigent Native Americans voluntarily in legal proceedings throughout Washington State for a decade and a half mostly at his own personal expense. His most recent litigation on behalf of the Nooksack 306 exemplifies why he deserves recognition as a ‘warrior’ who is not only uniquely qualified but whose heart is with those who most need representation against oppression.  Gabe is undeterred by the well-heeled mega-law firms he opposes and is unmatched in the legal community for his tenacity.”

Glenn Nelson

“Glenn Nelson, whose Trail Posse has become a must read for outdoors enthusiasts and those concerned with diversity in the outdoors, holding National Park Service feet to the fire. Encouraging the embrace of nature by broad population, doing this with words, but also spectacular photography and an incredible passion on this topic. He has raised visibility and in a very short period of time put himself at center of debate on these issues.”

Joey Cohn

“Joey Cohn is the General Manager of 88.5 (KPLU).  Between November, 2015 and August 2016 Mr. Cohn organized and lead the effort to save KPLU as an independent voice in the Pacific Northwest, and saved approximately 50 media jobs in Seattle and Tacoma.”

Joseph Seia

“As a case manager for New Horizon’s, Joseph stands alongside homeless youth every day who are struggling with addiction, mental illness, and lack of resources/support. Joseph is also active in anti-racism instruction, LGBTQ training, and uses his own voice and profession to give voice to those who are underserved in our community. He works hard to ensure that every youth he comes in contact with is felt heard, loved, and encourage.”

Marissa Johnson

“Although Marissa Johnson describes herself as a “full-time agitator” and civic activist, the poem she shared [at the #EnoughSeattle story slam] entitled “‪#‎KorrynGainesTaughtMe” was the most powerful cultural force for political change on gender and racial justice we have seen this year.”

Martha Choe

“In a time and city where few women and even fewer women of color rise into leadership positions, Choe has done so across industries in a way that builds partnership, hears differing perspectives, speaks truth to power and brings progress to our city.  Through the course of her diverse career, from serving on the Seattle City Council, chairing the Transportation Committee and Finance Committee, serving as the CAO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, time in the banking sector, as Director of the Washington State Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development in Gov. Gary Locke’s cabinet, Choe has been a strong, integral, courageous leader. When asked about her leadership principles, she said that ‘leadership involves people, not just org charts and boxes … Learn, listen and understand different perspectives. You will need vision and reality for the hard and lonely work of leadership.’ She used this approach to get Asian at-risk youth off the streets by investing in community centers, to save Seattle’s downtown by re-opening Pine Street to cars and bringing more than 1 million square feet of retail space to downtown Seattle between 1996 and 1998, and helped grow the staff and impact of the Gates Foundation throughout her ten years there.  Martha Choe’s leadership style embraces the courage to make unpopular decisions and to compromise — traits that we sorely need today in politics and business.”

Rex Hohlbein

“Rex Hohlbein used to be a successful architect. He designed million dollar homes for the wealthy, earned honors for his architectural designs and made a good living. Five years ago, he gave it up to become an advocate for the homeless. After getting to know a number of the homeless near his Fremont office, he opened his doors allowing them to come by to have a cup of coffee, use the bathroom and to talk. An avid photographer, he started taking their picture in black and white, placing them on the wall of his office. He eventually started a Facebook page called Homeless in Seattle, where he posted their photos and wrote brief vignettes about their lives. Hohlbein sought to remove the negative stereotype of the homeless and bring understanding as to why some people end up on the street. People responded by offering help from food to clothing to friendship. A community was born through social media. Today the site has more than 37 thousand followers in 45 countries. Hohlbein also created a campaign called Just Say Hello to encourage people to acknowledge and not fear the homeless when they see them on the street. After deciding to put aside his architectural career, Hohlbein created the non-profit Facing Homelessness, based in the University District. His advocacy for the homeless continues one day at a time.”

Richard Sherman

“Richard Sherman, outspoken Seattle Seahawks cornerback who is unafraid to speak out, have complex views (see Black Lives Matter vs All Lives Matter) and who for the last few years has been ready to speak up, call bullshit, and perform outstandingly on the field.”

Shalisa Hayes

“She is involved with Mothers of Magnitude and other advocacy, and is an all-around awesome woman.”

Shana Green

“Shana Greene has started and operates a non-profit [organization that works in partnership with] villages in Africa, Nepal and India to be self-sustaining and viable places to live, enabling villagers to have clean water, educational opportunities, healthy lives that preserve family culture and health. Her vision is for the villagers to become independent; lead profitable and happy lives according to their own abilities. She has supported and invented programs in which villagers can support themselves in businesses that provide healthy crops, clean water, and educational opportunities in an environmentally sustainable way. Her latest project has been to invent a process that is environmentally sustainable for the village to make sanitary pads for girls so that they can attend school full time.”

Sharon Williams

“Sharon is the Exec Director at CD Forum [the Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas] as well as a teacher, mentor, and remarkable writer and spoken word performer. In a Q&A with the Seattle Times, Williams said that the best part of her work is ‘helping artists bring their visions to life. Watching my interns grow and develop right in front of my eyes. Collaborating with various community stakeholders in the name of changing the narrative about black culture. The very best part is when it means as much to a person to hear my stories as it does for me to tell them.’”

Shetha Alaskar

“Shetha is bold and fearless in calling out racism, sexism or heteronormativity in a room. Whether she is among a group of white women talking about reproductive justice and pointing out that there are no brown faces, sitting amongst other progressive activists who are wishy-washy on a progressive candidate with a history of domestic violence, or fighting for a budget to spend on ethnic media outreach in a campaign, she is a fierce advocate for justice and equality for all, and does not back down before the ‘powerful.’”

Stephen Tan

“Stephen led the Friends of KPLU’s herculean effort to raise the support and funds needed to purchase public radio station 88.5 from the UW. His dedication to independent reporting is noteworthy; his gumption to raise $8 million in less than six months was indeed courageous!”

Tony Rago
“[Tony has a] history of turning kids’ lives around through the sport of boxing – volunteered to open a gym in a rough neighborhood (actually an old racquetball court) – teach kids about boxing but more importantly about life, survival, responsibility and learning how to live their dreams.”


Vivian Phillips

“Vivian Phillips is the new Seattle Arts Commission chair, and a remarkable leader. To be specific — she is focusing her work right now on giving and investing her time to the community so that she may take some time for herself in the future. She has done so much and this would be the IDEAL time to honor her considering what she has done.”

Nominees for the Courage in Business Award

Arsalan Bukhari

“Arsalan Bukhari is the head of CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is a great organization that consistently sends out PR updates, lets news outlets around the region know what fair language/coverage looks like in a time of crisis during claims of terrorism as it associates with religion, and goes over case management for those who need help in filing civil rights claims as well as getting training in the workplace as a solution.”

Dan Price

“About 1.5 years ago, Dan Price, owner of Gravity Payments reduced his own salary and made the minimum salary at his company $70,000. In doing so, he substantially changed the quality of life for many employees — allowing them to live closer to work, contribute to 401k plans, take a vacation.”

Delbert Richardson

“Delbert presents a comprehensive view of American history and reveals how historical trauma currently impacts youth of color.  His work with participants begins by taking them through The American History Traveling Museum: The Unspoken Truths. It includes a unique “hands on” pedagogical approach for studying race, racism, and its impact on African Americans and all student learning. Storytelling, storyboards, and discussion of authentic artifacts stimulate awareness for grasping how relationships between teachers’ perceptions, expectations, teacher behaviors, and student achievement intersect.” “Since 2006, he has passionately collected and amassed an admirable assortment of artifacts at his own expense that symbolizes the African experience in the Americas and Europe.  He has shown innovation despite resistance and criticism from those who do not wish to know the truth of the experience of Africans in American history.  He shows uncommon, selfless leadership by educating children and young adults about the rich culture and history of African Americans to assist young people in embracing a higher level of self-esteem and positive identity.  Returning to college as a mature adult and graduating this spring, he continues to inspire and instruct others in cultural leadership.  He collects data and artifacts that tell the truth when custom and traditional American education say others.” “Mr. Richardson demonstrates a creatively interactive approach to a more inclusive history education that serves to strengthen the entire community.”

Diana Adams

“Diana is facing an immense amount of pressure and change on Capitol Hill due to the fast moving issue of gentrification in the neighborhood. Despite the changing demographics, Diana has held community space for artists, the neighborhood, and a diverse clientele to feel safe, acknowledged, and to have access to a meaningful platform to share their artistry and work.”

Jessika Tantisook

“[Jessika is] courageously innovating and creating a new way to compensate cranberry farmers in Washington State. Standing up for organic cranberry farming in the face of impossibility. Developing new financial routes to make that transition possible. Perseverance, Creativity, Innovation, Generosity.”

Gabriel S. Galanda

“Gabe has represented indigent Native Americans voluntarily in legal proceedings throughout Washington State for a decade and a half mostly at his own personal expense. His most recent litigation on behalf of the Nooksack 306 exemplifies why he deserves recognition as a ‘warrior’ who is not only uniquely qualified but who’s heart is with those who most need representation against oppression.  Gabe is undeterred by the well-heeled mega-law firms he opposes and is unmatched in the legal community for his tenacity.”

Martha Choe

“In a time and city where few women and even fewer women of color rise into leadership positions, Choe has done so across industries in a way that builds partnership, hears differing perspectives, speaks truth to power, and brings progress to our city.  Through the course of her diverse career, from serving on the Seattle City Council, chairing the Transportation Committee and Finance Committee, serving as the CAO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, time in the banking sector, as Director of the Washington State Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development in Governor Gary Locke’s cabinet, Choe has been a strong, integral, courageous leader. When asked about her leadership principles, she said that “leadership involves people, not just org charts and boxes… Learn, listen and understand different perspectives. You will need vision and reality for the hard and lonely work of leadership.” She used this approach to get Asian at-risk youth off the streets by investing in community centers, to save Seattle’s downtown by re-opening Pine Street to cars and bringing more than 1 million square feet of retail space to downtown Seattle between 1996 and 1998, and helped grow the staff and impact of the Gates Foundation throughout her ten years there.  Martha Choe’s leadership style embraces the courage to make unpopular decisions and to compromise — traits that we sorely need today in politics and business.”

Nick Hanauer

“Nick Hanauer takes a bold and unique approach to his philanthropy and public service work that I believe makes him deserving of a Crosscut Courage Award. Known by many as a social entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Nick has also dedicated much of his life to raising awareness and being very outspoken around important topics such as income inequality, the widening opportunity gap in the US, public education, the environment, and gun control.  Nick has led numerous bold, game-changing initiatives, including the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, League of Education Voters, and the more recent effort to establish a $15 minimum wage. In addition to helping shape and pass the historic $15 minimum wage first in SeaTac and later Seattle (the first major city to do so), Nick was active and vocal in passing I-594, which expanded gun-purchase background checks beyond the federal requirements to include private sales and transfers, such as those found online or at gun shows. Nick has been involved in disruptive, courageous work for decades and lends his time, capital and voice to these urgent causes when others are not as active in stepping up to these critical challenges.”

Richard Romero

“Richard Romero, [Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union’s] CEO since 2012, has also led innovative and courageous work to serve many of our residents who are not traditionally served by other credit unions or financial institutions. For example, according to a recent story by the Seattle Times, King County has 100,000 legal immigrants who are eligible to become full U.S. citizens, but many cannot afford the expensive fee to apply. SMCU, in partnership with the City of Seattle, is boldly stepping up to this challenge and offering loans to help immigrants with green cards to become naturalized citizens… I believe Richard Romero and SMCU are deserving of a Crosscut Courage Award for this important and urgent work in support of immigrants and their families in our community.”

Rick Steves

“In the time of Trump, terrorism and xenophobia, Steves remains committed to expanding the horizons of middle America, to inspire folks to travel, to engage the world. In addition to a successful business man, he has written eloquently on Cuba, Iran, marijuana legalization and the importance of transforming ourselves through travel. He makes money with good purpose. He’s also deeply thoughtful, funny, as well a very successful.”


Sharon Lee

“As director of the Low Income Housing Institute, Sharon Lee has overseen the construction of Low Income Housing for Seattle’s homeless and alleviated the suffering of thousands of our needy citizens.”

Nominees for the Lifetime Achievement Award

Judge Anne Levinson (Ret.)

“The retired judge has served as the auditor of the Seattle Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability, the department’s in-house oversight branch, for the last three years. She’s gone beyond her duties of just reviewing OPA investigations and helped the Community Police Commission craft complex and innovative recommendations for reforming use of force and accountability processes. … Her knowledge of police practices and structures — not to mention every other corner of the city — is unparalleled. This is just one sliver of the magnitude of Levinson’s work over her career.”

Martha Choe

“In a time and city where few women and even fewer women of color rise into leadership positions, Choe has done so across industries in a way that builds partnership, hears differing perspectives, speaks truth to power, and brings progress to our city.  Through the course of her diverse career, from serving on the Seattle City Council, chairing the Transportation Committee and Finance Committee, serving as the CAO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, time in the banking sector, as Director of the Washington State Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development in Governor Gary Locke’s cabinet, Choe has been a strong, integral, courageous leader. When asked about her leadership principles, she said that “leadership involves people, not just org charts and boxes… Learn, listen and understand different perspectives. You will need vision and reality for the hard and lonely work of leadership.” She used this approach to get Asian at-risk youth off the streets by investing in community centers, to save Seattle’s downtown by re-opening Pine Street to cars and bringing more than 1 million square feet of retail space to downtown Seattle between 1996 and 1998, and helped grow the staff and impact of the Gates Foundation throughout her ten years there.  Martha Choe’s leadership style embraces the courage to make unpopular decisions and to compromise — traits that we sorely need today in politics and business.”

Ron Harris White

“Ron has dedicated his life to social diversity and racial equity. As the directory of diversity at Antioch University and President of E3 he knows the importance of empowering young leaders in aspiring change.”

Ron Sims

“As an elected official, he maintained his vision of the public good no matter what the criticisms. Throughout his career, he demonstrated interest in big, new ideas while taking time to listen other people’s ideas. While winning important public offices, he dared to dream — and fail — in seeking U.S. Senate position and the governorship. And, as his recent comments on racial profiling in traffic stops illustrate, he has long been willing to speak difficult truths that will bring him emotionally painful criticisms.”

Suzanne Poppema, MD

“Suzanne Poppema, MD is the recent past-president of the Zonta Club of Everett, Wa. She has a long career as a courageous health professional, practicing in family and women’s health. This year she organized the production of SEVEN, a documentary play voicing the life experiences of seven courageous women written by international playwrights for our local community.  She also presented her research on human trafficking as a public health concern at the Anti-human-trafficking Conference at the University of Washington.”

Vivian McPeak

“Vivian McPeak confronted unjust marijuana prohibition laws and led a movement, Hempfest, which is in its 25th year. Despite years of very low pay, Vivian persevered to lead his people in selfless acts of kindness and understanding, lobbying and agitating. His peaceful movement confronted and converted hundreds of lawmakers, police officers, journalists and rainmakers. Without his selfless dedication, Washington and other states would never have realized legalization, and scores of ordinary citizens would still be threatened with arrest.”

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