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.

Around The Table: Seattle Foundation, BP Cherry Point

In ‘Around The Table,’ we highlight member news and share information on industry trends. In this edition, we shine the spotlight on Seattle Foundation and BP Cherry Point.


Seattle Foundation CEO Tony Mestres Featured in Puget Sound Business Journal

Tony Mestres, President & CEO of Seattle Foundation, was featured on the front page of last week’s Puget Sound Business Journal. Mestres discussed the lagging pace of philanthropy in greater Seattle, and his organization’s work to tackle complex issues like education, transportation, housing, and income inequality. When asked about the most critical issue to focus on, Mestres said, “It’s impossible to not want to wave a magic wand on education. We know investing in a person early in their life has the greatest positive impact … A good education is the fastest route to leveling the playing field.” Read the full article here.


Economic Impact Report on Cherry Point Industries Highlights Contributions of Manufacturing Industry

A March 2019 report by The Center for Economic and Business Research at Western Washington University documented the economic impacts of Cherry Point on Whatcom County. According to the report, the Cherry Point Industrial Zone supports at least 3,320 jobs, which have an average wage of $110,690. Wages paid in Cherry Point accounted for 9 percent of all wages paid in the county. Opportunity Washington covered the report on a blog post, noting “it sheds light on the significance of the manufacturing industry in anchoring regional economies, an issue of statewide importance.” Read more here.

Around The Table: Boeing, Microsoft, PACCAR, PNNL

In ‘Around The Table,’ we highlight member news and share information on industry trends. In this edition, we shine the spotlight on Boeing, Microsoft, PACCAR, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


Boeing Sponsors Second Annual Washington STEM Signing Day

Last month, 49 seniors from across the state were celebrated as they made commitments to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) at our state’s and country’s top technical schools, colleges, and universities. The event, co-sponsored by Boeing and Washington STEM, was held in the state capitol building in Olympia. The day started with students being commended for their hard work on the Senate floor. Ted Colbert, Boeing Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President, congratulated the students and urged them to find mentors who will support them throughout their educational and career journeys. “The theme today is STEM signing,” said Colbert. “We watch these future athletes sign, today you guys are the future athletes. You are the future technology, science and math athletes of our world.” Read more and watch a video of the event by clicking here.


Microsoft Invites Students to Global Innovation Event

Every year, professionals from around the globe join Microsoft at Build, the company’s premier developer conference, to learn about new technologies, gain hands-on experience, and level-up their development skills. This year, Microsoft is inviting students to come with their parents and participate for free! From the Microsoft Blog: “The newly created Student Zone at Build is designed to provide an immersive educational experience for the students and attendees, with access to a Surface-equipped lab, on-site experts, a career center, workshops, tech talks and live co-coding opportunities.” Learn more about the event – which will take place May 6-8 at the Washington State Convention Center – here.


PACCAR’s Kenworth Trucks Unit Launches $140M Expansion

Bellevue-based PACCAR, Inc. has launched construction of a $140 million, 120,000 square-foot facility in Chillicothe, Ohio. According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, the facility is expected to open in 2021 and will be adjacent to the company’s 502,000 square-foot plant in Columbus. The project will create a state-of-the-art paint facility at its Chillicothe assembly plant, which has more than 2,000 employees who produce three of Kenworth’s model trucks, the T680, T880, and W990. Paccar said the painting facility will use robotics to increase painting capacity by 50 percent and include modern emission control systems. Learn more here.


PNNL’s Commitment to Transform the World

In a letter published in the Tri-City Herald, Dr. Steven Ashby, Director of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) wrote about PNNL’s “commitment to transform the world” through science and technology. “Our researchers are advancing scientific discovery in disciplines ranging from chemistry and materials science to biology and climate change. They are creating new catalysts and identifying the biomarkers of disease. They are exploring the biogeochemical processes that occur in fragile coastal ecosystems and revealing the mysteries of the universe by studying the physics of dark matter.” Dr. Ashby went onto write about the lab’s investments in the future generations, donating $273,000 last year toward STEM education. Read the full letter here.