20th Anniversary


People. Jobs. Impact. Hope.

Seattle Jobs Initiative
Celebrating 20 Years 1997-2017

20th Anniversary Founders’ Dinner
Thursday, April 27, 2017     |     5:30 PM – 8:30 PM     |     Pacific Tower 8th Floor
Guest of Honor – Mayor Norm Rice
Honorary Co-Chairs – Jill Wakefield and Martha Choe
Event Co-Chairs – Karin Zaugg Black and Sally Clark



 Event Details  |  Register  |  SJI’s History  |  Honorees  |  Event Sponsors  |  Photos


Workforce development is needed now more than ever. Seattle Jobs Initiative (SJI) remains an innovative and adaptive leader in the field…and has been for 20 years!

SJI is positioned to move nimbly forward – locally, regionally, and nationally. It’s time to celebrate SJI’s 20th Anniversary and people like Omar, who says in his story “now I got a career, something to look forward to.”

Seattle Jobs Initiative (SJI) believes that self-sufficiency, through a living-wage, engenders individual dignity, a sense of belonging, and wellness, and is fundamental to a thriving community. If you believe, as we do, that we need to keep working to transform lives and translate experience and learning to change systems, join us in support on April 27.




 Event Details

Join SJI on Thursday, April 27, 2017 at the Pacific Tower for SJI’s 20th Anniversary Founders’ Dinner. Light entertainment, dinner, dessert, beverages, and lots of memories will be provided. Beginning at 5:30 pm, enjoy a cocktail reception with entertainment from Liam Hardison, silent auction, and dinner, followed by a formal program emceed by Seattle’s very own ConsumerMan, Herb Weisbaum.

Emceed by Herb Weisbaum. 

Herb is an Emmy award-winning reporter and one of America’s top consumer experts. He anchors the Midday News (1-3pm) on KOMO Radio. On a national level, Herb covers the consumer beat for the NBCNews.com. During his distinguished career, Herb  has reported for NBC’s TODAY Show, CBS News, and Woman’s Day magazine. Herb’s dedication to helping consumers has been honored by the Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumers League, United Press International, the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Herb’s website, ConsumerMan.com, is loaded with helpful consumer information.

Special welcome by Phyllis Campbell

Phyllis Campbell is the Chairman, Pacific Northwest for JPMorgan Chase & Co. She is the firm’s senior executive in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho across businesses, representing JPMorgan Chase & Co. at the most senior level to clients.  Previously, Phyllis served as the President/CEO of The Seattle Foundation, the largest community foundation in Washington. During her tenure, the Foundation doubled in charitable assets, to $600 million. Prior to that, Phyllis was the President/CEO of U.S. Bank of Washington for over six years.  Under her leadership, the Bank doubled in size, through customer-focused growth initiatives and acquisitions. Phyllis has a proven track record of board service, both in the for profit and not-for-profit sectors. She is an independent director for Alaska Air Group, a NYSE listed company. She served on the Nordstrom board of directors from 2005-2016 and chaired the Audit Committee for seven years. She currently serves on the Diversity Advisory Board (DAB) of Toyota. Phyllis is on the nonprofit boards of PATH, the US-Japan Council, and the global advisory board of Women Corporate Directors (WCD),
among others.

Entertainment provided by Liam Hardison. 

Born in Berkeley, California, Liam Hardison began his career as a guitar player 11 years ago. His first endeavor was learning rock music on an electric guitar, but as his playing progressed, and his intentions became more serious, he initiated his learning of classical guitar under the same guitar teacher, Daniel Sheridan. In 2011 he auditioned and was accepted into the Oakland School for the Arts, founded by California Governor Jerry Brown, where he studied classical guitar during all four years of his high schooling. In 2015, after graduating, he enrolled in Cornish College of the Arts with a major in Classical Guitar Performance, where he studies currently.

Special remarks by Sherman Wilkins. 

Sherman was involved with Seattle Jobs Initiative (SJI) for nearly all of the agency’s 20 years, 1997 – 2015! He served in a variety roles including: Senior Program Manager, Training Supervisor, Soft Skills
Instructor, Interim Director of Operations, and Support Group Facilitator. He was instrumental in the design and implementation of SJI’ s soft skills curriculum.  Sherman has over twenty-five years of experience in human services as a juvenile parole counselor and supervisor, a gang intervention – prevention specialist, and as a life skills facilitator.  He is also an accomplished speaker and trainer, having conducted seminars for government, schools and nonprofit staff in a variety of areas including cultural competence and violence intervention/prevention, job readiness training and retention, parenting and addictive behaviors.  Sherman has worked with hard to serve clients in New York City, New York; Anchorage, Alaska; and Seattle, Washington.  He is currently Business Director for Quality Consulting and shares his many gifts by providing education and training in workforce development and program quality control.

To purchase your seat or table today, click here.

For additional information regarding Dinner Underwriters, Patrons and Friends, click here

For what is certain to be an exceptional dinner as served by FareStart, see the menu here.

Please contact James E. Thompson, Fund Development Manager, for donations/pledges, or sponsorship at jthompson@seattlejobsinit.com or call Jim at 206.679.2547. 



 SJI’s History

SJI is celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2017, having served nearly 17,000 people since its inception in 1997 and placing over 7,000 people in living wage jobs. The Founders’ Dinner will not only celebrate 20 years of work in the community, but will also look toward SJI’s future and the ever changing socio-economic climate impacting workforce development.

Seattle in the 1990s sought to link economic and workforce development to benefit low-income communities and communities of color. The city’s efforts built on the region’s strong, growing economy, which created tight labor markets for much of the decade and, as a result, provided an opportunity to strengthen low-income communities by connecting them to living-wage jobs.

Within this context, during his eight years in office, Mayor Norman Rice provided strong leadership in pursuit of a social equity agenda. Rice was determined that Seattle’s prosperity be broadly shared. With this vision, he created the Office of Economic Development (OED), which became the vehicle for linking economic and workforce development. OED, with additional support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, then put the Mayor’s social equity vision to work through the Seattle Jobs Initiative (SJI), which connects low-income community residents to living-wage jobs and other efforts. As a result of the city’s efforts, thousands of low -income community residents were connected to living-wage jobs during the 1990s.  Though it started in 1997 as part of OED, SJI became its own nonprofit organization in 2003.

 Founders’ Dinner Honorees

Norm Rice

As mayor of Seattle from 1990 to 1997, Norm Rice brought together philanthropic partners and Seattle’s Office of Economic Development to create the Seattle Jobs Initiative. After leaving office, Norm has served as the president and CEO of The Seattle Foundation, one of the nation’s largest community foundations, and president and chief executive officer of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle. He currently serves on Casey Family Programs’ Board of Trustees. His upcoming book on civic engagement, “Soul of a Messenger,” will highlight his own journey as mayor to bring communities together around challenging issues. He holds degrees in communications and public administration from the University of Washington and honorary doctorates from Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle University, University of Puget Sound and Whitman College.


Martha Choe

Martha Choe served as the CAO at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and prior to CAO,  the Director of Global Libraries.

Previously, Martha served in Governor Locke’s cabinet as the Director, Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (CTED), overseeing international trade, community and economic development. She led Washington State’s successful bid for final assembly of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, beating out 47 others state proposals.

Martha served two terms on the Seattle City Council.  Prior to public service, Martha was VP at the Bank of California, and a high school teacher in Eugene, Ore.

She has a BA in Speech and Ethnic Studies from the University of Washington and an MBA from Seattle University.

Martha’s extensive civic engagement includes appointment by President Clinton as chair, the White House Commission on AAPI’s; chair, The Seattle Foundation Board, board member; Seattle Branch, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; Western Washington University; United Way and Craft3.


Bob Giloth

Robert Giloth is Vice President, Center for Community and Economic Opportunity at the Annie E Casey Foundation, a private philanthropy dedicated to helping build better futures for disadvantaged children in the United States.  Bob is responsible for planning and integrating economic opportunity and place-based investments, including the foundation’s workforce development agenda.

Prior to joining the Foundation in December 1993, Bob managed community development corporations in Baltimore and Chicago and was Deputy Commissioner of Economic Development under Mayor Harold Washington.

Bob has a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University.  He has edited Connecting People to Work; Jobs and Economic Development:  Strategies and Practice; Workforce Intermediaries for the Twenty-first Century; Workforce Development Politics: Civic Capacity and Performance; Economic Development in American Cities: The Pursuit of an Equity Agenda; Mistakes to Success: Learning and Adapting When Things Go Wrong; and authored Nonprofit Leadership: Life Lessons from an Enterprising Practitioner.


Malcolm Grothe 

Dr. Malcolm Grothe is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Workforce and Economic Development with the Seattle Colleges. He has been with the Seattle Colleges since 1998 and has worked at North Campus, South Campus, Georgetown Campus, and now at the District Office. His primary focus has been pathways in workforce programs and connecting underserved populations with advanced education and employment. Prior to coming to the Seattle Colleges he worked at Boeing, and was a Boeing Loaned Executive to the Seattle Colleges. In addition, Dr. Grothe teaches Instructional Leadership and Learning Theory graduate level courses as an adjunct faculty at Seattle University’s College of Education. He holds a PhD in Educational Leadership from Oregon State University, a Master of Arts in Educational Administration from Seattle University, a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Education from Southern Illinois University, and is most proud of his Associate of Applied Science in Manufacturing Engineering from Highline College.


Steve Johnson 

Steve Johnson is the CEO of Impact Hub Seattle. He took over as CEO of Impact Hub Seattle in April 2016 and bring a background in organizational development, strategic planning, community engagement, and policy analysis gained from a career in public service at the international, national, and local levels of government. Most recently, he served as the Executive Director of the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development from 2008 to July 2015. During that time, he shaped and guided the city’s economic development agenda through the recession and the subsequent recovery. This work included attracting, retaining, and expanding businesses in Seattle, helping neighborhoods organize and execute strategies to develop strong commercial districts that serve their needs, and investing in the skilling up of adult workers so that all residents have opportunities to share in Seattle’s prosperity and industry has access to a skilled local workforce in a rapidly changing economy.


Anne Keeney

Anne was named Executive Director of Seattle Jobs Initiative in fall of 2006 and served in the position until 2013. One of the first employees to join Seattle Jobs Initiative when it was established in 1996, Anne played a key role in forging community partnerships to develop SJI’s first sector training programs within local community colleges.  During her tenure at SJI, Anne was been involved with SJI’s strategic planning, product development and policy work.  Anne’s prior experience includes working on efforts related to at-risk youth, global grassroots community change, and US domestic policy making. Anne is currently Managing Director of Manage + Connect, a consulting firm helping nonprofits, government agencies and private sector firms with strategic planning, program design, project management, continuous improvement, change management and communications.


Marie Kurose

Marie Kurose was one of the founding staff of the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development established by Mayor Norm Rice in 1992.  She led the application process, and the development of SJI’s first strategic investment plan for the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  After leaving OED, Marie oversaw the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation’s Community Development and Social Change program area.  She has a long history of direct service, policy development and leading strategic planning initiatives in workforce development, human services, and community economic development.  Throughout her career, Marie has worked to bring the voices of diverse community stakeholders to address issues related to race, ethnicity and culture.  Marie currently serves as the Workforce Development Program Manager with the Port of Seattle.


Jill Nishi 

Jill Nishi currently serves as Director, Strategy, Planning and Management and Chief of Staff at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, supporting the overall strategic and operational work of our United States Program.  Jill has served in a number of leadership roles at the Gates Foundation, most recently as Senior Advisor in the Office of the President, and previously overseeing the management and research & evaluation functions for the foundation’s Postsecondary Success strategy which aims to increase the number of low-income young adults who complete a post-secondary credential. She also led the foundation’s U.S. Libraries Program, an initiative dedicated to bringing technology access to underserved communities through the nation’s public libraries.

Prior to joining the Gates Foundation, Jill served in several leadership positions in the public sector. She was appointed by Mayor Greg Nickels as director of the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development; and previously served as deputy director of the Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development.

Jill holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Puget Sound; and a master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the University of Puget Sound; and on the boards of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience and U.S.-Japan Council.

Jill lives in Seattle with her husband and two young children.


Mary Jean Ryan 

Mary Jean Ryan is the founding director of the Community Center for Education Results (CCER). CCER staffs the Road Map Project, a community-wide effort to double the number of students in South Seattle and South King County who are on track to graduate from college or earn a career credential by 2020. The project is also aiming to close achievement gaps for low-income children and students of color.

Previously, Ms. Ryan served as the Director of the City of Seattle’s Office of Policy and Management. Prior to that, she was Seattle’s Economic Development Director, having established that office in 1992 for then Mayor Norman B. Rice. Mary Jean also served in the Clinton Administration in Washington, D.C., as the Associate Deputy Administrator for Economic Development for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

In 2009, Ms. Ryan was awarded the Wales Foundation Passionate Citizenship Honoree Award and was named by Seattle Magazine to its 2009 Most Influential People List. Mary Jean has a long-standing interest in education and workforce development. She chaired the State Board of Education during its reconstitution phase and she continues to serve on the Board and on the Quality Education Council. Mary Jean has a B.A. from Georgetown University and a M.P.A. from the University of Southern California. She is a member of the Georgetown University Athletic Hall of Fame. She has one daughter.






SJI founding supporter Mary Jean Ryan, 2017 Guest of Honor Mayor Norm Rice,
and 2017 Honorary Co-Chair Martha Choe

Kathryn Shields and Sally Clark

Kathryn Shields (RealNetworks Foundation) and 2017 Event Co-Chair Sally Clark


2017 Event Co-Chair Karin Zaugg Black and her husband Dan Black


2017 Honorary Co-Chair Jill Wakefield