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2022 Graduation is Joyous Celebration

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A surfeit of purple and gold will be on display at the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup for the 32nd annual UW Tacoma Commencement on June 13, 2022.

The campus is awarding more than 1,900 undergraduate and graduate degrees this year. As of June 1, the exact number was 1,565 bachelors and 362 masters or doctoral degrees, for a total of 1,927. The final total will be more than that as some students fulfill requirements at the last minute.

This year marks a return to an in-person Commencement ceremony. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 and 2021 were all-virtual events.

As a result, hundreds of graduates from 2020 and 2021 will be joining their Class of 2022 peers in walking across the stage this year – a welcome if belated capstone to their unprecedented college experience.

The ceremony is being held this year in the Washington State Fairgrounds grandstand – an acknowledgement that the COVID pandemic is still with us. Prior to 2020, for many years, the ceremony was held indoors at the Tacoma Dome, but the move was made to the outdoor setting of the fairgrounds as a preventative measure. Health protocols of the State of Washington and Pierce County are being followed during the ceremony.

Land Acknowledgement

Continuing a UW Tacoma tradition, representatives of the leadership of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians will provide a welcome to those assembled for the event.

Additionally, this year for the first time the faculty marshal will read a land acknowledgement, a formal statement recognizing that the UW Tacoma campus and the State Fairgrounds exist on land that has been stewarded by the Puyallup people since time immemorial.

Puyallup Assembly Center

Commencement attendees will also be asked to reflect on another aspect of the Fairgrounds history.

In 1942, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued executive order 9066, which authorized the internment of hundreds of thousands of Japanese and Japanese Americans along the west coast of America. The Fairgrounds were turned into the Puyallup Assembly Center, a camp that housed thousands of these community members temporarily as they were being transferred to longer-term incarceration.

Recently, for Paw’d Defiance, the UW Tacoma podcast, we talked to Cho Shimizu and Eileen Yamada about this incarceration. Shimizu was a small child when he and his family were forced to leave their family farm, moving first to the Puyallup Assembly Center and then the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho.

Lamphere’s mother was also held in Puyallup – her parents later met in Minidoka.

Over two episodes of Paw’d Defiance, Shimizu and Lamphere discuss what life was like in the South Sound prior to the start of World War II. They also talk about conditions at places like the Puyallup Assembly Center and the impact the internment experience made on themselves and their families.

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UW Tacoma is awarding more than 1,900 degrees this year, and many recipients of the Classes of 2022, 2021 and 2020 will be at the 32nd annual Commencement ceremony.

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Seal of University of Washington with years 2022, 2021 and 2020 in background
Written by John Burkhardt
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The Living Poetry of Rena Priest

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Rena Priest keeps a postcard in her office. On the postcard is a castle. The castle is in Scotland and Priest got to stay there for a month. “It was for a residency program,” she said. “They [the staff] fed you the best food, and you got dessert after dinner every night and I was there with amazing writers.”

Priest, who is in the midst of her term as Washington's Poet Laureate, bought the postcard at the castle gift shop. “I wrote myself a little note and mailed it home to myself,” she said. “On the back it says, ‘When things are hard, just remember that you lived like a princess for a month and got dessert every night.”

Priest’s message to herself is a reminder that the life of a professional writer isn’t predictable. Some writers thrive and others struggle, while many go through prolonged periods of success and setback. “If you don’t love it, do something else for sure, because the work has to be the reward,” she said. “Otherwise, it can be thankless for many years.”

Priest talked about her life and her work during an event on campus June 3. UW Tacoma Associate Professor Danica Miller invited Priest to come to campus, “I wanted to honor Rena’s work, her achievements as Poet Laureate, and give our students the opportunity to hear poetry reflecting their own lived experiences.”

The Bellingham-based Priest is Washington’s sixth Poet Laureate and the first Indigenous person to hold the honor. Priest is a member of the Lummi Nation whose ancestral homeland stretches from the San Juan Islands to the foothills of the Nooksack River watershed in present day Whatcom County.

Priest developed an interest in poetry — and writing in general — at an early age. “I’ve always loved poetry and the sound of language,” she said. “I also write nonfiction but poetry is what I go to most commonly. It’s a lens through which I understand the world.”

This passion for writing lead Priest to complete a bachelor’s degree in English at Western Washington University followed by a Master of Fine Arts in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. “My thinking about education is rooted in that traditional value of feeling the opportunity to receive an education is a gift,” she said. “The fact that I have been able to get it, I just feel so lucky, because it’s a hard thing for a person who has a background of limited means and access. It hasn’t been easy. I really fought for it.”

Priest has published three collections of poetry. Her first book, “Patriarchy Blues” received an American Book Award. She is currently serving a two-year appointment (2021-2023) as Poet Laureate. The University of Washington Libraries recently named Priest a Maxine Cushing Gray Distinguished Writing Fellow.

Priest’s success is the result of hard work and persistence. At various points she’s served as an adjunct instructor as well as a grant writer for the Lummi Nation. “As a grant writer I spent a lot of time immersed in federal documents,” she said. “I was stuck in a really negative mind cycle and you can’t really do anything good when you’re in that head space. I feel like things shifted when I got a really wonderful position with my tribe where I worked as a job skills instructor and got to work with our community in a very personal way.”

A Found Poem on Deadman's Point

There’s this haunting piece of “found poetry” that Priest wrote. The original text is from a 1919 Bellingham Herald newspaper article. The article describes work by the Great Northern Railway company, work that destroyed an ancient Native American burial ground. Priest kept the original language but put the words into stanzas and inserted breaks at varying intervals. The result is a piece that packs an emotional punch and shows the power of poetry. “Poetry is a living thing, it’s flexible,” she said. “Poetry is also profoundly useful for tackling difficult subjects like history and identity.”

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Washington Poet Laureate Rena Priest recently talked with students about writing and the rewards of poetry.

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Rena Priest, Washington State Poet Laureate
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Eschenbaum named dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences

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The University of Washington Tacoma is excited to announce the appointment of Dr. Natalie Eschenbaum as dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (SIAS) beginning Aug. 1, 2022. Dr. Eschenbaum is currently division chair of arts and humanities in the School of Humanities, Arts & Sciences at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Dr. Natalie Eschenbaum
Dr. Natalie Eschenbaum

“I am honored and excited to join the UW Tacoma community," said Dr. Eschenbaum. "SIAS is forward-thinking in its design and will be the model of liberal arts learning in the next few decades. We will keep access and inclusion central to all of our work."

She earned her B.A. in English (with a minor in philosophy) from Tulane University, and her Ph.D. in English from Emory University. Her research focuses on sensation studies and affect theory in early modern English literature. She publishes on Shakespeare and seventeenth-century poets, including Robert Herrick. She was professor of English, chair of English, and chair of the faculty senate at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, through 2020.

She began at St. Catherine University as a professor of English and became division chair of Arts & Humanities in 2020. She has served on the Modern Language Association’s Association of Departments of English (ADE) Executive Committee and was president of that group in 2021.

She believes the great needs of our time can best be addressed by working collaboratively across disciplinary lines, and together with the community’s organizations, non-profits and business.

Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences is UW Tacoma's largest school enrolling almost 2,600 undergraduate students. It is also the campus's oldest academic program, founded when the campus opened in 1990. Original founded as Liberal Studies, it changed its name in 1998 and became a school in 2014.

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Dr. Eschenbaum is currently division chair of arts and humanities in the School of Humanities, Arts and Sciences at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Gold Star spouse McClintock keynotes remembrance ceremony

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Mourners gathered around casket at graveside service at Arlington National Cemetery for SFC Matthew McClintock.
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Xavier Brunson, deputy commander of U.S. Army Special Forces Command, presents an American flag to Declan, son of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Q. McClintock, during the graveside service for McClintock in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, March 7, 2016, in Arlington, Va. McClintock was killed in action Jan. 5, 2016, in Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Rachel Larue/Arlington National Cemetery/released. The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.)

Alumna Alexandra McClintock, ’22, is the keynote speaker for this year’s Memorial Day Remembrance ceremony at UW Tacoma. McClintock is a Gold Star Spouse. Her husband, Sergeant First Class Matthew McClintock, was killed in 2016 while serving in Afghanistan. The couple celebrated the birth of their son just a few months before Matthew McClintock was killed. Since her husband’s death Alexandra McClintock has been active in the veteran and military community.

She was the subject of a profile in The News Tribune when a national Gold Star Family advocacy organization, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, paid off her mortgage on her Tacoma home.

The remembrance ceremony is one of several events put together by UW Tacoma’s Veteran & Military Resource Center (VMRC), the Veterans Incubator for Better Entrepreneurship and the Student Veteran Organization. Members of the UW Tacoma community participated in a flag-laying along the Prairie Line Trail on Monday, May 23.

Besides the flag-laying and the remembrance ceremony, there are other events at UW Tacoma, UW Bothell and UW in Seattle this week to mark Memorial Day which falls this year on Monday, May 30. The Memorial Day Mile is Wednesday May 25 at the University Y followed by a mental health workshop the next day.

The veteran and military-affiliated community at UW Tacoma is large and diverse. More than 17% of the campus’s student body has a military affiliation whether that is active duty, veteran status, or close family connection. And quite a number of campus faculty and staff carry a military affiliation.

Because of the strength of the campus community, and because of its proximity to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, UW Tacoma serves as UW’s official liaison to JBLM. The VMRC helps connect students who are veterans with benefits related to the G.I. Bill and acts as sponsor of the Student Veteran Organization, which has been named a finalist for Chapter of the Year (in competition against 1,500 other chapters) for three years running by Student Veterans of America.

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Alexandra McClintock, '22, will speak at UW Tacoma's 2022 Memorial Day Remembrance ceremony. Her husband, SFC Matthew McClintock, was killed in 2016 while serving in Afghanistan.

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Labor Solidarity Project Hosts Seminar on 'Revolutionary Nonviolence'

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Flyer for event: 'Revolutionary Nonviolence'
The online seminar is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

Labor unions and nonviolent organizing are the subjects of an event sponsored by the UW Tacoma Labor Solidarity Project along with the UW Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies; the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association; the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO; and the Labor Education and Research Center at South Seattle College.

“Revolutionary Nonviolence, An Online Seminar on Organizing for Freedom,” led by Dr. Kent Wong, the director of the Center for Labor Research and Education at UCLA, takes place on Friday, May 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event coincides with the recent publication of “Revolutionary Nonviolence: Organizing for Freedom” by James Lawson, UW Tacoma Professor Mike Honey and Dr. Wong.

Lawson was the spiritual advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr. The two worked together on the “Poor People’s Campaign.” “He [Lawson] carried on the fight for economic justice after King’s assassination” said UW Tacoma Assistant Teaching Professor Alex Miller. Lawson came to UW Tacoma in the early 2000s. His visit formed the basis of a documentary Honey helped created called “Love and Solidarity: James Lawson and Nonviolence in the Search for Workers’ Rights.”

The film will be screened at the event, followed by a discussion. Afterwards, Wong will discuss nonviolent organizing and labor education. The event concludes with a conversation about the state of labor and labor unions in the Pacific Northwest which will include commentary by local labor leaders.

Organized labor has enjoyed a resurgence in the last few years. A report from the National Labor Relations Board showed that union election petitions increased 57% in the first half of fiscal year 2022. “The economic crash in 2008 and then the pandemic really started to change how people thought about work,” said Miller. “It shifted away from seeing the economy as a vehicle that allowed Americans to experience success toward an antagonistic relationship that is at odds with our well-being and our liberty.”

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

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The event will feature a screening of a documentary on Rev. James Lawson, spiritual advisor to MLK, plus a discussion of nonviolent organizing and labor education by Dr. Kent Wong of UCLA, and local labor leaders commenting on the state of organizing in the northwest.

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Honoring 2022 Business Leadership Award Winners

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For the 20th year, the Milgard School of Business is recognizing six Puget Sound business leaders who are making a difference in the South Sound.

Our media partner, South Sound Business, has graciously allowed us to reprint the in-depth profiles they have published in their May magazine issue.

Read more below, or read them on the South Sound Business website.

South Sound Business

Each year, the Milgard School of Business at the University of Washington Tacoma presents its Business Leadership Awards in six categories to recognize outstanding leaders in the South Sound. As this yearʼs media sponsor, we are excited to share the winners — and their stories — with our readers. This is the awardsʼ 20th year, and the recipients will be honored May 5 at the campus.


Douglas Reed

President, Green Diamond Resource Co.

Sustainable Business Leader

Douglas Reed, President, Green Diamond Resource Co.
Douglas Reed, President, Green Diamond Resource Co., Sustainable Business Leader, 2022 Business Leadership Awards

For Douglas Reed, serving as president of Green Diamond Resource Co. — a fifth-generation, family-owned forest products company — is about much more than sustainability. It is about stewardship and continuing to raise the bar for a thriving future.

“Within our company, we actually prefer the word ‘stewardship’ to ‘sustainability.’ Sustainability has this notion of sustenance or maintenance, and I think, at least in my role, I’m not just a caretaker of the assets and organization. I should be trying to make it better,” Reed said.

Recalling the words of his grandfather, Reed added, “My grandfather used to famously ask the senior managers what they were doing for his grandchildren. If you have that type of culture in an organization, it really permeates.”

As president of the company, Reed carries on the legacy his great-grandfather started with the company’s founding in 1890, and brings to the table a diverse professional background.

Reed joined Green Diamond in February 2012 as senior vice president of the company’s California operations. In January 2014, he assumed the role of president. Prior to joining the company, he served as vice president and general manager of Simpson Lumber Co. from 2008 to 2012, and served as strategic planning manager for Simpson Door Co. from 2006 to 2008. Before that, he was an associate at McKinsey & Co. after his graduation from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

“I spent the first part of my career working in other businesses, and I think that was really valuable,” Reed said. “I was an investment banker out of college. I worked for a tech startup, and then after business school, I worked in consulting.”

It’s these valuable professional experiences, coupled with the deep-rooted culture of Green Diamond, that Reed draws from in his role as company president.

Today, Green Diamond’s long-term commitment to the land remains at the heart of every decision it makes. The company owns and manages working forestland in 10 states. Its Washington, Oregon, and Southern timberlands are independently certified to be in compliance with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Standard. In California, its lands have achieved Forest Management certification under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards.

Furthermore, it harvests less than 2 percent of its lands annually. All harvested areas are quickly replanted with native species to start the forest cycle anew.

“This is an exciting time in forestry. … I think the world is changing a bit to recognize the important role that forests and, to use the buzzword ‘ecosystem services,’ play for society, whether that’s clean water, or clean air, or sustainable building materials, or jobs in some areas that are really hard hit,” Reed said. “And I think there’s opportunity for public-private partnership in how we think about forests to deliver not just the traditional values and traditional goods that the forestry sector has provided, but other things that are positive for society as well.”


Victoria Woodards

Mayor, City of Tacoma

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Community Leadership

Victoria Woodards, Mayor, City of Tacoma, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Community Leadership, 2022 Business Leadership Awards
Victoria Woodards, Mayor, City of Tacoma, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Community Leadership, 2022 Business Leadership Awards

“A rising tide lifts all boats.”

That phrase is commonly attributed to John F. Kennedy — and it’s one City of Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards believes in wholeheartedly.

“We’re all given gifts in life, and it really is our obligation to fulfill gifts to uplift others. So, my gift is being able to be in rooms where there aren’t a lot of people who look like me. To be able to have some of the influence I have and some of the opportunities that I have and using it to uplift everyone,” Woodards said.

Tacoma is one of the most racially diverse cities in Washington state. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 40 percent of people living in Tacoma are Latino, African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, multiracial, or Native American.

Unfortunately, communities of color in the city can experience stark inequities, such as significantly higher rates of unemployment and poverty and poorer health outcomes. Woodards, however, is on a mission to drive change.

Woodards, who has called Tacoma home for most of her life, is a graduate of Tacoma’s Lincoln High School and served as a soldier in the Army. In 2018, she became mayor after serving 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.

As mayor, she continues to champion these causes while expanding her involvement in regional and national conversations on affordable housing, transportation, strengthening youth and families, public safety, growing local business, and creating family-wage jobs.

She has also consistently reaffirmed her support for immigrant and refugee families, and Tacoma remains a Welcoming City committed to providing immigrant and refugee communities with equitable access to City services. In fact, under her leadership, the City appointed members to its first commission on Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.

The purpose of the Commission is to better engage Tacoma’s immigrant and refugee communities and to work with community partners to identify and advance positive outcomes for issues specifically impacting the immigrant and refugee communities in the City of Tacoma.

“Our City is doing a lot of work on transformation and equity, and I think success, for me, ultimately, and I know it’s not going to be done just under my leadership, is that everyone who lives in Tacoma, who calls this place home, has an opportunity to fulfill their destiny,” Woodards said.


Constance Trufant

Executive Director, Trufant Family Foundation

Nonprofit Leader of the Year

Constance Trufant, Executive Director, Trufant Family Foundation, Nonprofit Leader of the Year, 2022 Business Leadership Awards
Constance Trufant, Executive Director, Trufant Family Foundation, Nonprofit Leader of the Year, 2022 Business Leadership Awards

Constance Trufant admits there was a lot to learn about running a nonprofit when she first stepped in as executive director of the Trufant Family Foundation in 2003.

“(The Trufant Family Foundation) definitely started from the grassroots level, knowing nothing about how to run a foundation and what to do. So, we just began and looked at what we wanted to focus on, and the first thing Marcus wanted to focus on was scholarships because he received a football scholarship,” said Trufant, referring to her oldest son, Marcus Trufant.

Marcus Trufant is a former All-Pro cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, and played college football for Washington State University. He played for his hometown Seattle Seahawks for 10 seasons, beginning in 2003, after the team drafted him in the first round.

With a desire to help empower his community, he created the Lakewood-based Trufant Family Foundation in 2003, providing scholarships and fundamental support programs to help young people achieve their life’s goals. It was at that time that Constance Trufant, who had worked for the Social Security Administration, stepped in with her husband, Lloyd, to run the foundation.

Over the years, in addition to granting scholarships, the foundation has held numerous community events and fundraisers, like a carnival for kids, celebrity bowling events, a Santa breakfast fundraiser, and a Celebrity Beach Volleyball Extravaganza and Barbershop Beach Party.

Today, the foundation partners with the Tacoma School District’s scholarship program. When students apply for their individual school scholarship program, they also can apply for the Trufant Family Foundation scholarship.

“It’s a scholarship for all of the years that they are in college. So, we have a renewal scholarship. The starting scholarship is $1,000 (per year). So, we give about 20 scholarships a year, and then those kids can renew that scholarship every year,” said Trufant. “The renewal is very simple. They just have to continue to be a full-time student, and they have to write us a letter about their college experience.”

In addition to scholarships, the foundation also works to provide programs of fundamental support. Most recently, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it partnered with the Tacoma Urban League, Seattle Education Access (SEA), and the Boys & Girls Club of South Puget Sound to help meet community needs, including transportation resources, housing assistance, providing meals to the children of frontline workers affected by the pandemic, and delivering food to seniors and students.

“Now that the pandemic is filtering off , we’re going to continue on with that, probably through that partnership, as well as starting a program on our own, where the kids would just send the applications to us,” Trufant said.

The foundation has no doubt gone through growth and change over the years. She noted that the foundation currently has an advisory board and is in the process of transitioning to a public foundation.

“We (are going to) start doing newer and different things,” she said. “We’re looking forward to that.”


Miriam Barnett

Former CEO, YWCA Pierce County

Women's Leadership

Miriam Barnett, Former CEO, YWCA Pierce County, Women's Leadership, 2022 Business Leadership Awards
Miriam Barnett, Former CEO, YWCA Pierce County, Women's Leadership, 2022 Business Leadership Awards

Ask Miriam Barnett what has helped fuel her leadership success and her role as the former CEO of YWCA Pierce County, and she’ll likely say art.

“When I got out of the arts, especially when I was at the YWCA, I felt that the arts were more meaningful and that I could use them in a completely different way,” said Barnett, who long has had a passion for the arts and started her art career making clothing and weaving fabrics for women and children.

After embarking on a nonprofit career in 1987, Barnett would come to discover that she was right.

Barnett started that nonprofit career as the executive director of Allied Arts of Whatcom County, a post she held for nearly 12 years. She moved to Tacoma in 2000 to become the development director of Tacoma Arts Live, and then was offered a double position at the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation as the director of the Fund for Women and Girls and the marketing and communications manager for the foundation. In 2005, she was asked to become the CEO of the YWCA Pierce County, a position she held for about 16 years.

It was, perhaps, during her leadership role at YWCA that the influences from her art background really shone through. As Barnett explained, she would come to learn not only about the healing power of art, but also about its ability to help her view life through a lens of “abundance,” not scarcity.

In 2008, the YWCA purchased and remodeled the Wilsonion Apartments in Tacoma for its domestic violence shelter. When the building opened to clients, every family had their own apartment where they could feel safe and begin their healing process. Barnett ensured all of the spaces where clients would seek services were beautiful.

Barnett noted that she also started workshops for women staying in the shelter, teaching them how to make jewelry.

Then came the remodel of the old shelter into an expanded legal and therapeutic children’s program where, once again, beauty had a significant impact in helping clients heal.

Barnett’s final and largest project before retiring from YWCA Pierce County in July 2021 was the $23.2 million Home at Last permanent housing project. There are 54 apartments there and, once again, beauty played an integral role.

“In all of our buildings, there is so much art as part of the building because I really believe beauty and art make a difference in how people heal,” Barnett said. “… The arts have been more powerful for me in this context than when I was full-time working in the arts.”

Today, Barnett is pursuing new opportunities and, regardless of where those new endeavors take her, you can be sure she’ll approach them through a lens of abundance, as well as beauty.

“Even when there were times when I was doing a big campaign or something and there was a big roadblock, I would find myself starting a little bit down the woe-is-me path, and I’d bring myself back and say, ‘Wait a minute; look at this through an abundance lens.’ It just shifts the framework,” Barnett said. “That is something that I’ve learned, and something that I really love to share.”


Randy Rushforth

Former president, Rushforth Construction

Lifetime Achievement

Randy Rushforth, former president, Rushforth Construction, Lifetime Achievement, 2022 Business Leadership Awards
Randy Rushforth, former president, Rushforth Construction, Lifetime Achievement, 2022 Business Leadership Awards

Randy Rushforth believed the best way to become successful was to create a company culture where everyone wins. And that’s exactly what he did.

His father founded Tacoma’s Rushforth Construction in 1951, and when his father semi-retired in 1978, Rushforth left the construction company he was working for in California to return and take over the family business. He officially assumed the role of president in 1980. Having grown up in the business — stacking lumber, digging ditches, and doing other smaller jobs for his father starting at the age of 12 or 13 — it was a welcome opportunity to carry on the legacy.

“I decided that I could probably get a job anytime, but I’d probably only have one chance to take over my dad’s business. So, I decided to move back and work with him for a few years and then take it over,” Rushforth said.

Rushforth, who was 33 years old at the time, embarked on his new journey as company president with a fresh vision. Bidding adieu to the traditional bidding model, the company began negotiating nearly all of its work.

“We called it ‘team build,’ and we would work with the architects, the engineers, and the owner of the project and, with everybody’s input, design and build the building. It was a different model, and it really worked well for us,” Rushforth said.

During his tenure as president, Rushforth Construction has worked all over the Pacific Northwest, well beyond Western Washington, as developers actively sought to team up with the company.

Depending on the workload, the company employed an average of 175 to 180 people. At the height of its busy periods, it would employ more than 200, and had 15 to 20 projects under construction at any given time.

However, Rushforth doesn’t take credit for his company’s success.

“A long time ago, a businessman that I knew told me that if you want to be a success in business, surround yourself with people that are smarter than you, and let them do their job,” he said. “I surrounded myself with people that I thought were excellent at what they did.”

Added Rushforth, “You can’t build a company by yourself, and so I give most of the credit to the success of the company to other people.”

Rushforth also ensured he and his employees were actively involved in the community. For instance, each year the company sponsored dinners and breakfasts, and employees served on local boards. It also created an annual fundraising golf tournament that raised between $40,000 and $50,000 each year. That money would then be given to three to four different nonprofits. In 2009, roughly 30 years after taking the helm, Rushforth decided it was time to slow down and enjoy the fruits of his labor. He sold the business and stayed with the company for three more years before retiring in 2012.

“For 30 years, I would wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning and solve problems. That’s the way my brain worked,” Rushforth said. “It’s stressful, it’s rewarding, (and) there’s a lot of risk, especially in a construction company, but you put a lot of time in it. You earn that success.”


Maya Mendoza-Exstrom

COO, Seattle Sounders

Business Leader of the Year

Maya Mendoza-Exstrom, COO, Seattle Sounders, Business Leader of the Year, 2022 Business Leadership Awards
Maya Mendoza-Exstrom, COO, Seattle Sounders, Business Leader of the Year, 2022 Business Leadership Awards

Lifelong soccer player and fan Maya Mendoza-Exstrom believes that sports can and should be part of the cultural fabric, representing the values of a community. It’s a belief that motivates and inspires her each day in her leadership role with the Seattle Sounders.

“I really look at my role as … someday we won’t make the playoffs, and when that happens, why does someone still buy a ticket? Why does someone still buy a jersey? Why does someone still invest in this club? That’s not a new idea. That’s been part of our club since 1974. … I just get the chance to sit in the chair as a steward of the club,” Mendoza-Exstrom said.

In 2014, she joined the club in-house as general counsel and today serves as chief operating officer. Prior to that, Mendoza-Exstrom, who received her law degree from the University of Washington, was in private practice for seven years at Mendoza Law Center.

Today, she oversees and advises on the legal aspects of all club operations and strategic planning. In addition, she leads all external affairs, including government relations, community initiatives, civic and community relations, and philanthropic efforts.

She has been a key stakeholder for all civic matters related to the organization, from organizing with Seattle city leadership and government officials on the recent efforts to bring the 2026 FIFA World Cup to North America (Seattle is a finalist among possible host cities), to managing the citywide logistics around the team’s 2016 and 2019 Major League Soccer Cup championship parades and rallies, to working with the City of Tacoma on the feasibility and development of a soccer-specific stadium to house Sounders FC’s MLS Next Pro league side.

“If you look at the next five years, there is a tremendous opportunity for investment and growth through soccer,” Mendoza-Exstrom said. “And we can do that through all of the lessons learned through COVID. We can do that with a human voice. We can do that recognizing how we grow in a way that grows our values and grows the impact we make in our community, the legacy we can leave.”

Mendoza-Exstrom’s passion, drive, and strong leadership stem not only from her professional background, but also from her lifelong love of the game and the Seattle Sounders.

She started playing soccer at age 4, is a former All-American at the University of Puget Sound, and holds a United States Soccer Federation “B” coaching license. As for the Seattle Sounders, growing up, she watched the club in all its previous iterations, from the North American Soccer League, A-League, and United Soccer League to its current place in Major League Soccer.

“My passion was nurtured from a very early age, and that is something that I’ve never lost,” Mendoza-Exstrom said. “It’s just a huge part of my life.”

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Read about Victoria Woodards, Maya Mendoza-Exstrom, Constance Trufant, Douglas Reed, Miriam Barnett and Randy Rushforth, recipients of the 20th annual Milgard School Business Leadership Awards.

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Milgard School 2022 Business Leadership Awards honorees: Victoria Woodards, Maya Mendoza-Exstrom, Constance Trufant, Douglas Reed, Miriam Barnett, Randy Rushforth
Profiles written by Antoinette Alexander/Premier Media.
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AERA Recognizes Dr. Robin Starr Zape-tah-hol-ah Minthorn

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Dr. Robin Starr Zape-tah-hol-ah Minthorn

Dr. Robin Starr Zape-tah-hol-ah Minthorn, associate professor in the UW Tacoma School of Education and director of the doctorate in educational leadership program, has received the 2022 Exemplary Contributions to Practice-Engaged Research Award from the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

AERA, based in Washington, D.C., is described as the nation’s largest interdisciplinary research association focusing on the scientific study of education and learning.

In a release, AERA said, “This award is presented to an education research scholar or scholars in recognition of collaborative projects between researchers and practitioners that have had sustained and observable effects on contexts of practice.”

“Dr. Minthorn has advanced community-centered partnerships with tribal communities in the Southwestern and Pacific Northwest regions of the U.S.,” said AERA. “Colleagues have lauded Dr. Minthorn’s unwavering commitment to decolonizing educational leadership and centering Indigenous paradigms in ways that embody her notion of ‘heartwork.’”

“Dr. Minthorn is most deserving of the 2022 AERA award,” said Dr. Rachel Endo, dean and professor in the School of Education. “As a highly-regarded national scholar of Indigenous leadership and student experiences in higher education, she centers reciprocal and respectful approaches to collaborative practice-based research.”

Dr. Minthorn is quick to point out that she is not working alone in the field. “I want to acknowledge the tribal communities I have been able to connect and build relationships with and the Indigenous students I have had the honor to know over the years,” she said. “I know I — along with many others — am building on the legacy of many who have come before us in Indigenous education. I also want to acknowledge the Ancestors we uplift in our heart work.”

Dr. Minthorn was recognized at an awards ceremony during the 2022 annual AERA meeting on April 24 in San Diego.

Indigenizing Higher Education

UW Tacoma's School of Education and the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe have signed a memorandum of agreement that is bringing doctoral education to the tribal college.

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Minthorn has received the 2022 Exemplary Contributions to Practice-Engaged Research Award.

Written by John Burkhardt
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Economic and policy experts argue against repealing the capital gains tax

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Nine economic and policy experts, including UW Tacoma's Katie Baird, Anna Lovasz and Tim Scharks, call on voters to reject I-1929, which would repeal the capital gains tax established by the legislature in 2021.

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Mon, 04/18/2022 - 16:26
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Got a FinTech idea? Win $10,000

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The Milgard School of Business Center for Business Analytics and Sound Credit Union are accepting applications for the second annual statewide FinTech Incubator Challenge. The Challenge is open to anyone who lives, works or goes to school in Washington. To apply, applicants submit an idea for a fintech (financial technology) product that will help people make better financial decisions and make everyday life more affordable.

The winner of the Challenge will receive $10,000, a spot in the next UW CoMotion Labs cohort, and access to experts and industry insights at Sound Credit Union.

“This is a terrific opportunity for UW students, faculty and staff to build the next big thing in fintech,” said Michael Helser, assistant director of the Center for Business Analytics. “The $10,000 prize, membership in UW CoMotion Labs and access to industry experts will accelerate your idea from incubation to commercialization.”

“Financial technology is rapidly changing the financial services industry,” said Jennifer Reed, vice president for public relations at Sound Credit Union. “As a financial institution, one of our priorities is providing our members with the latest financial technology tools and resources. Our statewide Challenge gives fintech entrepreneurs a chance to collaborate with industry experts and bring their ideas to life.”

In recent years, fintech has grown far beyond mobile banking apps as once-fringe trends like mobile payments and cryptocurrency exchanges have become mainstream. “The potential of fintech to help and empower everyday people is enormous,” said Helser. “Washington is home to thriving tech hubs, and we are excited to find and nurture the next great fintech idea through the Challenge.”

The Challenge is open to a broad array of fintech ideas, including but not limited to: blockchain, cryptocurrency, cybersecurity, intelligence augmentation/artificial intelligence, personalized advice platforms, lending and crowdfunding platforms, financial wellness, financial education, digital banking/wallets/payments/settlements, smart contracts, asset management, and big data/machine learning.

Applicants can submit their application and pitch deck to the FinTech Incubator Challenge until May 17. A select group of finalists will be invited to present their ideas to a panel of entrepreneurs and industry experts on June 17, and the winner will be announced on June 21.

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Competitors in the second annual statewide FinTech Incubator Challenge can submit their applications and pitch decks until May 17.

Written by John Burkhardt
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'The people are fighting.' Ukrainian students in Tacoma feel weight of war at home

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Illia Meresenko, who transferred to UW Tacoma from Edmonds Community College to study information technology, is from Ukraine. He describes the impact of Russia's war on himself and his family.

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Tue, 04/05/2022 - 15:38
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