Around The Table: McKinstry, Microsoft, PNNL, Seattle Genetics, Wells Fargo

In ‘Around The Table,’ we highlight member news and share information on industry trends. In this edition, we shine the spotlight on McKinstry, Microsoft, PNNL, Seattle Genetics, and Wells Fargo.


McKinstry, University of Washington and Gonzaga Create a New Regional Health Partnership Center in Spokane

Credit: Spokesman Review

Spokane is getting a new center for medical education, health sciences and innovation, with the announcement of an 80,000-square-foot building that will serve as the new home for the University of Washington School of Medicine-Gonzaga University Regional Health Partnership (RHP). McKinstry will develop, design, build, and manage the four-story facility for use by the University of Washington and Gonzaga University. The universities have each made the commitment to enter into long-term lease agreements for use of space in the facility. Estimated at $60 million, the privately funded project leverages and expands the public-private partnership to reduce risk, expedite completion, and save taxpayers money. Learn more here.


New Book from Microsoft President Brad Smith

Credit: Microsoft

Congratulations to Roundtable member Brad Smith on publication of a new book! As noted in GeekWire, “In ‘Tools & Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age,’ the longtime Microsoft executive and his co-author Carol Ann Browne tell the inside story of some of the biggest developments in tech and the world over the past decade – including Microsoft’s reaction to the Snowden revelations, its battle with Russian hackers in the leadup to the 2016 elections and its role in the ongoing debate over privacy and facial recognition technology.” Check out an excerpt of the book in The Seattle Times.


NASA funds PNNL Microbe and Plant Research in Space

Credit: PNNL

Janet Jansson and Christer Jansson of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have each been awarded a NASA grant to explore how life adapts and changes during spaceflight. These grants, designed to help NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program, represent the convergence of PNNL’s scientific development and NASA’s interest in PNNL’s science. The projects consist of parallel experiments: a control group at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and an identical cohort on the International Space Station. Learn more here.


Seattle Genetics/Astellas Win Priority U.S. Review of Armed Antibody Aimed at Bladder Cancer

Credit: Seattle Business Magazine

Seattle Genetics has secured a speedy review of its second armed antibody, courtesy of the FDA. The company’s ‘breakthrough’ Astellas-partnered drug – enfortumab vedotin – has procured priority review from the US regulator, after data showed it helped patients with a stubborn type of bladder cancer. A marketing application for the drug has already been submitted – and a late-stage trial designed to confirm the drug’s safety and efficacy in this patient population is ongoing. Learn more here.


Manufacturing Academy Students Develop Financial Stability Through New Wells Fargo Partnership

Credit: AJAC

The Wells Fargo Foundation is offering students in the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) access to financial wellness resources as they begin their  professional careers. AJAC provides hands-on advanced manufacturing training and to high school youth in Washington. Thanks to Wells Fargo, AJAC apprentices will be eligible to participate in financial health webinars and conversations with a phone banker on topics like budgeting, saving, or strengthening credit. Apprentices will also have access to Hands on Banking, which provides on-demand courses, checklists, and other tools. Wells Fargo is also providing one-hour training twice a month during the students’ internship on topics ranging from basic finance to managing more advanced financial resources. Learn more here.

Around The Table: Avista, Boeing, Kaiser Permanente

In ‘Around The Table,’ we highlight member news and share information on industry trends. In this edition, we shine the spotlight on Avista, Boeing, and Kaiser Permanente.


Avista: Bringing Career Pathways in Energy to Life

A relatively new program from Avista is bringing career pathways in energy to life for young people. Now in its second year, the Energy Pathways program is designed to expose high school juniors and seniors to careers in the utility industry – and generate a pipeline of potential future employees. During the four-week course, students learn about utility history and electric and natural gas theory. They walk through the energy generation process, visit Avista’s hydroelectric dams and thermal plans, and participate in multiple job shadows. Learn more about the program in this blog post.


Boeing Employees Help “Dreams Take Flight” Through Employees Community Fund


Since 1948, the Employees Community Fund of Boeing (ECF) has funded approximately $1 billion to local communities across the United States. Approximately $630 million of that total has supported organizations in Washington state. To recognize the generosity of these employees, Boeing will soon unveil a special full body decal for its 787 Dreamliner. Check out a sneak preview of the special decal wrap here.


Kaiser Permanente Partners with Local Schools to Combat Teacher Stress

Research estimates between 23% and 42% of teachers stop teaching within the first five years. Further, one in four teachers have chronic absenteeism, placing a burden on other teachers in the building. To reduce stress, burnout, and absenteeism, Kaiser Permanente has teamed up with schools in the Central Kitsap School District. Through free workshops, Kaiser Permanente hopes to create a culture of health and well-being in schools. “We often talk about supporting our kids, and the biggest way we can do that is to support staff,” said Meghan Rubman, assistant principal at Klahowya Secondary School. In addition to workshops, Kaiser Permanente is offering these schools access to the RISE (Resiliency in School Environments) Index, a diagnostic tool to evaluate school culture and environment. It addresses both staff well-being and their responses to students’ social-emotional needs. Learn more about the partnership from this Kitsap Sun article.

Our 2019 Chair’s Report

For more than 35 years our state’s senior business leaders have come together as members of the Washington Roundtable to study and advocate for solutions to the state’s most pressing public policy challenges. We focus on ensuring Washington students are prepared to succeed in their home state and Washington’s infrastructure is sufficient to support its economy and quality of life. We are also committed to diversified economic growth that is spread broadly throughout the state.

Today, we are releasing our 2019 Chair’s Report. In the report, Chairman Ron Armstrong, Retired CEO of PACCAR, Inc., recaps the 2019 legislative session and how state policy outcomes aligned with our priorities (click here to read our 2019 Policy Agenda).

For more detail about the Roundtable’s top priorities, including our 70 percent credential attainment goal, check out the 2019 Chair’s Message we released earlier this year:

Thank you to Ron Armstrong for his continued leadership this year!

Meet Our Newest Board Members!

The Washington Roundtable is pleased to welcome two new members to serve on our board: Margaret Meister, President & CEO of Symetra and Alisha Valavanis, CEO & General Manager of Seattle Storm. Thank you for your leadership and commitment to our state. Welcome aboard!


Margaret Meister
President & CEO, Symetra

Margaret Meister is president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Symetra Financial Corporation and president of its insurance subsidiaries. She is also a member of the company’s board of directors.

Meister joined Symetra in 1988 as an actuarial student. She was appointed chief actuary in 2004 and chief financial officer (CFO) in February 2006, assuming responsibility for the company’s financial strategy and operations. She became president and CEO in February 2018.

As a member of the company’s executive leadership team, Meister played a principal role in Symetra’s initial public offering in 2010, as well as its successful acquisition by Sumitomo Life in 2016. She also has had responsibility for Symetra’s brand strategy development through her oversight of the company’s marketing, advertising and communications programs.

Meister is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a member of the American Academy of Actuaries. She graduated from Whitman College with a bachelor’s degree in math. She serves on the global board of directors of LIMRA and is a member of the United Way of King County board of directors.


Alisha Valavanis
CEO & General Manager, Seattle Storm

Hired in June 2014, Alisha Valavanis is CEO and General Manager of the reigning WNBA Champion Seattle Storm and Force 10 Sports Management, LLC; a sports management firm that creates world-class sport and entertainment events in Seattle by providing operations, revenue generation, communications and marketing expertise. Valavanis has expanded the Force 10 Sports Management portfolio that has included the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament, USA Basketball, Seattle ProAm, Seattle Reign FC (NWSL), and the Seattle Seawolves (MLR).

Valavanis came to the Storm with a strong history in women’s basketball. She played four years at California State University, Chico, finishing her career as the program’s all-time leader in three-pointers. Valavanis went on to coach for the Wildcats. In her four years as an assistant coach, the program made four straight NCAA Tournament appearances. In 2006, she moved on to the associate head coach role at the University of the Pacific. She has also worked as a WNBA scout with the New York Liberty before the pivot to the business side of sports wherein Valavanis spent time with the front office of the Golden State Warriors. In her final stop prior to the Storm, she served as an associate athletics director for Cal Athletics at UC Berkeley.

Valavanis completed her B.A. in journalism in 2000, and received her masters in physical education in 2004, both from Chico. She is a member of the Seattle Sports Commission Board of Directors, the Seattle Chamber of Commerce Board of Trustees, and is part of the American Cancer Society’s CEO’s Against Cancer. Formerly, she served as a board member of the Greater Seattle Business Association and the 2016 Puget Sound Heart and Stroke Walk Executive Leadership Team hosted by the American Heart Association.