The 2014 Crosscut Courage Award Winners

We combed the Northwest for our most courageous citizens in the areas of culture, public service, business and lifetime achievement.
Crosscut archive image.

The 2014 Courage awards were designed by Ann Gardner

We combed the Northwest for our most courageous citizens in the areas of culture, public service, business and lifetime achievement.

Early this morning, in an awards ceremony on Seattle's waterfront, Crosscut unveiled its 2014 Courage Award Winners in the categories of Business, Culture and Public Service and honored the first ever winner of the David Brewster Lifetime Achievement Award.

David Brewster Lifetime Achievement Award: Billy Frank, Jr.

Crosscut archive image.The late Billy Frank Jr., a member of the Nisqually tribe, asserted tribal treaty rights to harvest Northwest salmon long before they were recognized by the Courts. For this brash assertion, Billy was “chased and tear-gassed, tackled, punched, pushed face-first into the mud, handcuffed and dragged soaking wet to the county jail.” He was arrested more than 50 times over the course of his life.

Rather than be embittered by his experience, Billy helped create the Nisqually River Council, and brought the Council’s warring factions together (farmers, loggers, small towns, large corporations, the U.S. Park Service, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and others) to restore the Nisqually River and its precious salmon runs. Read more about Billy Frank, Jr.

Courage Award in Business: Community Sourced Capital

Crosscut archive image.As graduate students, neither of Community Sourced Capital's co-founders had formal finance experience. But they knew enough to see that something was missing: There was no good way for cash-strapped businesses to finance small-scale improvements that would grow their enterprises.

So Rachel Maxwell, 55, and Casey Dilloway, 28, did something slightly revolutionary. They created their own financial system — a platform that helps businesses leverage their own communities to provide zero interest loans, financed in $50 chunks known as Squares.

"Everyone told us we couldn't possibly do that," Maxwell says. So far though, the company has enlisted 3,000 community lenders, or square-holders, to finance about $450,000 in projects — including the opening of Pioneer Square's Pizzeria Gabbiano. Read more about Community Sourced Capital.

Courage Award in Public Service: Eastside Catholic students

Crosscut archive image.When Eastside Catholic High School Vice Principal Mark Zmuda lost his job over his same-sex marriage, many of his students were shocked. Rather than nurse their anger and disappointment quietly, they decided to speak up, quickly organizing protests, media events and petition drives on Zmuda’s behalf. The hard work of student organizers, including Sienna Colburn, 16, and then-senior Julia Burns, 19, culminated in a day of protest on Mr. Zmuda's behalf drew international attention.

Though their actions raised uncomfortable issues for administrators, parents and the archdioceses, students, faculty and administration managed to maintain an exemplary level of civility and mutual respect. Read more about the students of Eastside Catholic High School.

Courage Award in Culture: Valerie Curtis-Newton

Crosscut archive image.As the head of Performance at the University of Washington’s School of Drama, and a founder of African American theater company The Hansberry Project, Valerie Curtis-Newton, 55, has committed herself to diversifying NW theater and occasioning frank conversations about race. She has taken fire from members of all communities over her choices and methods, but she hasn’t eased up or backed down.

“People are afraid to have that conversation [about inclusion],” says Curtis-Newton. “But I want to have the conversation so much. When you’re working for the biggest possible ideal, all your fears get really small. If more of us find the courage to connect to that big ideal, we’ll cross the bridge more easily.” Read more about Valerie Curtis-Newton.

Our thanks to ...

Crosscut archive image.Award Designer Ann Gardner. An award-winning Seattle artist who calls herself “primarily a sculptor,” Gardner donated her time to design Crosscut's Courage Awards. Her portfolio features many, graceful public and private works and commissions, including Lebeg (slight movement in the air), a series of slender glass pods suspended above a terrazzo floor in the lobby of the WA State Convention and Trade.

When we asked Ann to create the 2014 Courage Award statue, she puzzled over the design for weeks. Finally, “I decided to write the word “courage” out in longhand,” she says. “Since that was done by hand, it represented something done by a human (me), an act of humanity, and that, in the end, is what I connect to the word.”

Crosscut archive image.Keynote speaker Jean Enersen. Enersen, an acclaimed local news anchor, recently stepped down from her KING-TV anchor duties after 42 years behind the desk and her trailblazing career is a study in firsts: first female local TV news anchor in the country; first to anchor a news program in the Soviet Union; first to travel to Africa with Bill and Melinda Gates; first local TV reporter in China.

And now, the first female journalist to give a keynote address at Crosscut's Courage Awards.


Please support independent local news for all.

We rely on donations from readers like you to sustain Crosscut's in-depth reporting on issues critical to the PNW.


About the Authors & Contributors