Food & Culture

Seattle’s Hall of Fame: Activism/Social Justice, Civic Discourse and Community Leaders, Civil Rights and Cannabis

By Seattle Magazine Staff October 31, 2016


This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Uber Influential
The Gates Family
, first family of tech: Top attorney Bill Gates Sr. made a mint in tech before advising Bill Jr. on Microsoft and helping him battle worldwide malaria. Under Bill Sr.’s missus, Mimi Gates, who ran the Seattle Art Museum for 15 years, a sculpture garden bloomed along the waterfront. Bill Jr.’s wife, Melinda Gates, cofounded the Gates Foundation and is the fourth most powerful woman on earth (according to Forbes), after Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton and Janet Yellen. And Bill Jr., having cofounded one of the original and most successful software companies extant, established the Gates Foundation with a $28 billion donation and attracted science, health and many luminaries to Seattle.

Activism/Social Justice 

Tim Harris, homeless and social justice advocate: Founder of Real Change, an award-winning “street newspaper” (now also available digitally) that empowers and raises the visibility of its homeless sales force. 

John Fox, coordinator for the Seattle Displacement Coalition: Tireless low-income-housing advocate and watchdog of city development, championing fair growth and neighborhood preservation. 

Cecile Hansen, Duwamish tribal leader: This descendant of Chief Sealth (for whom Seattle was named) and founder of the Duwamish Tribal Services has waged a decades-long, ongoing battle seeking federal recognition for the tribe. 

Pramila Jayapal, immigrant rights advocate: Founder of One America, and now a Washington state legislator seeking to be the first South Asian–American woman elected to Congress. 

The Rev. Michael Ryan, spirited Catholic priest and community builder: From behind the pulpit of St. James, Seattle’s oldest Catholic church, Ryan challenges the status quo by prioritizing the person over the law. Since he is a proponent for social change and same-sex marriage, it’s no surprise his parish has tripled in size.

Uber Influential

Dan Evans. Illustration by Kathryn Rathke

Governor and Senator Dan Evans, The last moderate Republican standing: Among his achievements: He helped design the Alaskan Way Viaduct, found effective ways to soothe civil and racial unrest during the riotous and protest-filled late ’60s and ’70s, inspired Nixon to create the Environmental Protection Agency and founded The Evergreen State College, which spawned Sub Pop and Nirvana, making him the true father of grunge. “He championed a free-thinking university that attracted independent thinkers,” says Sub Pop’s Bruce Pavitt.

Civic Discourse and Community Leaders

Peter Steinbrueck, civic activist: The architect and local politician whose father designed Pike Place Market spent a decade on the Seattle City Council fighting for a more affordable, socially just Seattle. Now an adviser to the city and Port of Seattle, he’s an advocate for human-centered urban planning.

Nick Hanauer, entrepreneur and advancer of civic change: True Patriot Network founder with fingers in many civic pies—from education to gun responsibility to income inequality.

C. David Hughbanks, civic activist: The legendary civic volunteer served on more than 50 Seattle civic organizations, committees and boards, leaving his fingerprints on city-shaping events ranging from the 1962 World’s Fair to the inaugural Bumbershoot, the first Northwest Folklife Festival and the 1976 Bicentennial celebration.

Martha Choe, community leader and corporate nurturer: Choe has displayed gracious leadership in private industry, city and state government, and the nonprofit sector, including as a member of the Seattle City Council and chief administrative officer at the Gates Foundation. From teaching high school English to influencing high-profile individuals, she shows that feedback can be the greatest gift of all.

Phyllis Campbell, community leader and volunteer extraordinaire: The former CEO of The Seattle Foundation doubled the organization’s charitable assets to $600 million. Honored many times for her community engagement and board activities, Campbell is currently chair of the Pacific Northwest banking domain of JPMorgan Chase. 

Civil Rights 

The Reverend Samuel McKinney, civil rights stalwart: Pastor emeritus at Seattle’s historic Mount Zion Baptist Church, and founding member of the Seattle Civil Rights Commission and the Central Area Civil Rights Committee, McKinney also helped bring Martin Luther King Jr. to Seattle. 

Estela Ortega, executive director of El Centro de la Raza: Cofounder of this advocacy organization (with her late husband, Roberto Maestas), which is also a social services hub for the Latino community, offering education and skill-building programs, human and emergency services, affordable housing and more. 

Larry Gossett, King County Council member: A longtime civil rights activist and organizer who cofounded the University of Washington’s Black Student Union and the only surviving member of the “Four Amigos,” influential activists who advocated for minority rights in the 1970s. 

Ed Murray, Seattle mayor: As a state legislator, he successfully led the push for marriage equality in Washington state and is the city’s first openly gay mayor.



Alison Holcombbrainy lawyer, “pot mama” and I-502 architect: This criminal justice revolutionary faces controversial issues head on with a history-making flair. As the national director of the ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice (a position she held until recently), Holcomb led efforts to reform state-level criminal justice policies and problems.

Vivian McPeakgood-vibe generator and Hempfest founder: His annual event has been steadily growing for 25 years, yet the economic reality of legal cannabis has put a roach-clip crimp in the relevancy of the annual “protestival.” 

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