A conversation with Roundtable Member Mark Mitchke


1. Why did you decide to join the Washington Roundtable?

Washington state has been my home for nearly 30 years, and I value the opportunity to be part of leadership efforts to strengthen our communities and our economy. I believe employers have an important role to play in driving economic prosperity and opportunity for everyone in our state. Washington Roundtable provides a forum to join other business leaders and advocate for strong and equitable education systems, a safe and efficient transportation network, and an economic climate that makes our state a great place to live and do business.

2. Can you comment on the role the business community can and should play in our state through the work done via organizations like the Roundtable?

The business community can be a catalyst for positive change,  and can bring innovative thinking, active listening, and energy to important conversations about policies that improve the well-being of all Washingtonians. Organizations like the Roundtable leverage the collective experience and expertise of employers to help advance critical conversions and move Washington in a shared direction.

3. One of the Roundtable’s biggest areas of focus is working to ensure more young Washingtonians complete the post-high school credentials that our state’s economy demands. Why is it important to you to participate in efforts to ensure students’ success in their education and careers?

The healthcare community – including oral health/dentistry – plays a huge role in the vitality of our state, and our people are our greatest asset. As is broadly true in healthcare, dentistry needs diverse and talented employees across all levels of expertise and experience, from dental assistants and hygienists to doctors. In 2022, 71% of dental practices in Washington reported exceptionally long vacancies for open hygienist positions and 61% reported the same for open dental assistant positions. I am looking forward to working with other business leaders to make sure all Washington students have equitable access to great education and credentialing opportunities that will enable them to experience career success in the future.

4. For possible Roundtable/PFL communications efforts in the future, does your company provide internships and/or other career-connected learning opportunities for Washington students?

Yes, we offer internship opportunities annually for college students that are interested in working with us to define innovative solutions to improve the oral health of all Washingtonians.


70,000+ Fewer Postsecondary Students Enrolled in Washington Compared to Pre-Pandemic

The crisis of stagnant or declining postsecondary enrollment – a concern even before the pandemic – is deepening at WA public two- and four-year colleges and universities. According to data shared with the Washington Roundtable by the state’s public postsecondary institutions:

  • Fall 2022 enrollment of resident undergraduate students at Washington’s public four-year colleges and universities is down by nearly 10,000 students (11.3%) compared to pre-pandemic figures (fall 2019).
  • Preliminary data also indicate that enrollment across the state’s 34 community and technical colleges is down by could be down upwards of 60,000 students (an estimated decline of 26% or more).

The decline in postsecondary enrollment contrasts with the increasing economic need for credentialed workers in Washington state. From Nov. 2021 to Nov. 2022, employers added more than 130,000 jobs in Washington state. That follows a decade of economic growth when a credential—such as a degree, apprenticeship, or certificate—had become essential for jobs that offer a good salary and advancement opportunities.

Read more about the picture of postsecondary enrollment in Washington in fall 2022 in our latest report. Meeting students where they are and improving the postsecondary credential attainment rate is critical to our state’s future.


Around the Table: Bristol Myers Squibb, Bank of America, Microsoft

Supporting inclusion: Congratulations to Bristol Myers Squibb, recently recognized as a top pharmaceutical company for inclusiveness in oncology clinical trials based on Bioethics International’s new index for measuring the fair inclusion of underrepresented patients in clinical research. Learn more.

Building community leaders: Bank of America continues its commitment to youth leadership development by providing a cohort of high school students the opportunity to participate in their hands on eight-week program where they will develop skills they can utilize in civic, social, and business leadership. Learn more.

Innovation in education: Take a look back with Microsoft at the November 2022 Showcase School Summit and discover how educators are using technology to empower students. The company also recently opened registration for its fourth annual Imagine Cup Junior (ICJ) global student competition. ICJ offers an opportunity for students to learn about technology and how it can be used to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.

Around the Table: Wells Fargo, Mckinstry, Microsoft, Boeing

Happy to share some recent announcements from some of our members:

Commitment to sustainability: Wells Fargo continues to direct funds toward sustainable products and services as part of its commitment to deploy $500 billion in sustainable financing by 2030. As part of its commitment to a healthy environment, McKinstry is partnering with the City of Tacoma to process biogas found in wastewater into a renewable fuel source.

Innovate for Inclusion: In their ongoing effort to increase transparency and accountability, Microsoft shared data from their Global Diversity and Inclusion Report highlighting the continuous year-after-year effort to increase representation across the workplace. “While always committed, we’re now unapologetic in the standards we’ve set and the behaviors we expect,” said Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, Chief Diversity Officer at Microsoft.

Supporting student success: Boeing is investing in a new student success center in the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture on WSU’s Pullman campus to provide 4,200 students access to mentoring, tutoring, advising, and career services.