Social in Seattle

Seattle’s Society Spotlight

Who’s who in the social circuit

By Linda Lowry May 30, 2024

A collage of people in various group settings at formal events, some celebrating, posing in front of banners, or smiling for group photos, all under the vibrant spotlight of Seattle’s diverse society.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

Seattle’s cultural calendar is packed with significant events that highlight the city’s dynamic arts and philanthropic spirit. The Alliance for Education Gala brought together influential figures dedicated to advancing educational opportunities. Billy Baldwin hosted the Seattle viewing of Americans with No Address, shedding light on homelessness in America. The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) celebrated its 50th anniversary with the Seattle premiere of Thelma on opening night. 

The Seattle Opera marked its 60th anniversary with a grand event showcasing its rich history. The American Lung Association Outstanding Mother Awards honored exceptional mothers making a difference in their communities. Meanwhile, the newly remodeled downtown Bellevue Nordstrom unveiled its fresh look, setting a new standard in luxury retail and reflecting the area’s thriving commercial landscape.


Alliance for Education Gala

The prestigious Alliance for Education Gala, hosted by the delightful Rosslyn Shea from Wing Luke Elementary School, took place at the historic Fairmont Olympic Hotel. The event, a cornerstone of our community, commenced with inspiring remarks from Lisa Chick, president of the Alliance for Education, and opening words from the esteemed Brent Jones, Ph.D., superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. The audience was then enthralled by the keynote address delivered by the distinguished William Jackson, Ed.D., principal of Nathan Hale High School.

The evening’s highlight was the presentation of the 2024 Public Education Advocacy Award to Nathaniel Nate Miles for his exceptional leadership and commitment to advancing crucial issues within Seattle Public Schools. With a 12-year tenure on the Alliance for Education’s Board of Directors, Miles has promoted educational equity and excellence, advocated for economic opportunities for Black families, and created the Seattle Public Schools Office of African American Male Achievement. Miles, a University of Washington graduate, is recognized for his professional achievements and celebrated for his roles as a family man, leader, philanthropist, and mentor. He has left an indelible impact on the community and continues to inspire future generations.

The event was attended by community leaders such as the Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell; Jon and Bobbe Bridge; Sherry Williams, vice president of community engagement at Health PointConstance Rice; Amelia Ransom, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at Smartsheet; Mari Horita, Seattle Kraken senior vice president of social impact; and King County Executive Dow Constantine, among others. The evening concluded with a record-breaking fundraising effort as the Alliance for Education raised an impressive $300,000, surpassing its goal. This demonstrates the community’s steadfast support for its mission of advancing educational justice and racial equity for students in Seattle Public Schools. The success of this event underscores the importance of prioritizing education for the betterment of our community and society as a whole. You can learn more about the mission of Alliance for Education at



Debut Screening: Americans with No Address

The Discovery Institute, Robert Craig Films, and We Heart Seattle were pleased to invite a select group of supporters and friends to the national debut screening of an important new documentary, Americans with No Address. The film, based on the feature film No Address, sheds light on the eye-opening reality of homelessness in our country and offered a new path forward. The event featured Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Robert Marbut, who served as the film’s executive producer, and the narrator, actor Billy Baldwin. The producers aimed to create an accurate perception and understanding of what homelessness truly looks like across the United States. On their three-week bus tour, they visited more than 500 people in 20 major cities facing high rates of homelessness. 

The team interviewed policy leaders, mission directors, clinical specialists, CEOs of national nonprofits, executive directors of local and regional nonprofits, influencers, those who had experienced homelessness, and those who were still struggling. Trauma, mental health, substance abuse, lack of affordable housing, and economics are all factors contributing to the drastic increase in homelessness in our country. Nine scenes from the feature film appear in the documentary, providing a narrative version of these various topics. 

The red-carpet event took place at Bellevue Lincoln Square Cinemas. Notable guests included Krist Novoselic, the renowned Nirvana bass player, accompanied by his wife, Darbury Novoselic. Also in attendance were former Seattle Councilmember Deborah Juarez; Councilmember Tanya Woo; Dr. Pela Terry, executive director of Atlantic Street Center; and Seattle Police Department Community Liaison Victoria Beach, among others. A panel discussion featuring Robert Marbut, Baldwin, and Andrea Suarez, the founder and executive director of We Heart Seattle followed the screening. The panelists provided insightful commentary on the documentary, offering the audience a unique opportunity to delve deeper into the issues raised by the film. For more information visit 


SIFF Opening Night

The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) opening night was a lively affair. Attendees dressed in gold to celebrate the festival’s 50th anniversary and kicked off the event with a VIP rooftop reception. Notable VIP guests included legendary Hollywood maverick Tom Skerritt, along with emerging film producer Jason Hicks, and influential couple Laura and Ian MacNeil, to name a few. This was followed by a grand red-carpet entrance into the Paramount Theatre

The opening ceremonies introduced SIFF’s new Chief Operating Officer Andrea Stuart-Lehalle, who previously served as Seattle Sound Transit’s safety chief of staff, and director of Seattle Black Film. Harrell honored Donna James with the Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film. Harrell said James was among the first in the nation to champion the film industry’s economic impact. The highlight of the opening ceremonies was when SIFF Executive Director Tom Mara in a stunning bespoke gold blazer custom-tailored by local designer MAC Fashion House, introduced SIFF’s Artistic Director Beth Barrett, who appeared on stage in a larger-than-life birthday cake with the word “SIFFTY” across it. 

The opening night film was the Seattle premiere of the action comedy Thelma by Josh Margolin from Magnolia Pictures. The film set the stage for an exciting festival run. Thelma tells the story of 93-year-old Thelma Post, portrayed by June Squibb, as she embarks on a daring journey across the city to reclaim what was taken from her by a phone scammer posing as her grandson. The film explores themes of aging, family, and autonomy, drawing inspiration from a real-life experience of Margolin’s grandmother. Notably, this marked Squibb’s first leading film role at the age of 94, a truly remarkable achievement. She was honored with the prestigious 2024 Golden Space Needle Award for Outstanding Contribution to Cinema. After the screening, a lively block party on Ninth Avenue celebrated the film’s success and the festival’s dedication to celebrating the art of cinema. The party featured live music, delicious food truck options, and an energetic atmosphere, creating a lively and thrilling vibe. 


Seattle Opera: 60th Anniversary

Seattle Opera marked its 60th anniversary with an extraordinary concert and gala, the pinnacle of its 2023/24 season. This exclusive event, graced by a constellation of stars, was a jubilant tribute featuring a repertoire of operatic masterpieces performed by the company’s most esteemed and beloved singers. The one-night-only affair concert offered a blend of solo arias, small ensembles, full opera scenes, and thrilling performances from the Seattle Opera Chorus and Seattle Symphony. Attendees were treated to a unique homage to six decades of opera in Seattle, a rare opportunity to witness the creation of numerous new memories.

The celebration showcased a diverse lineup of singers from three decades of Seattle Opera productions, encompassing both seasoned veterans and emerging talents. Executive Director Christina Scheppelmann underscored the significance of blending artistic experience, underscoring the company’s dedication to nurturing young singers. The program featured a variety of singers presenting a diverse repertoire, including beloved arias such as the “Habanera” from Georges Bizet’s Carmen, performed by Ginger Costa-Jackson, “Wotan’s Farewell” from Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre performed by Greer Grimsley, and “My man’s gone now” from Porgy and Bess, performed by Mary Elizabeth Williams

The audience also reveled in powerful opera choruses like “Va, Pensiero” from Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco, and grand orchestral numbers such as the “Polonaise” from Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. The lineup also included Sarah Coburn; John Moore; Duke Kim; Amitai Pati; Adam Lau; and Resident Artist Michael J. Hawk. They were accompanied by the 52-member Seattle Opera Chorus, directed by Chorus Master Michaella Calzaretta, and members of the Seattle Symphony, led by conductor Kazem Abdullah. 

At the end of the concert, Deborah Horne, a KIRO 7 news reporter and member of the Seattle Opera Board, announced that the Seattle City Council had designated May as Seattle Opera Month, while the King County Council had declared May 11 as Seattle Opera Day. Following this announcement, Horne introduced a special guest: U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal. Jayapal read a proclamation she had entered into the Congressional Record the previous week, honoring the retiring Scheppelmann. The proclamation highlighted Scheppelmann’s numerous accomplishments and innovations at Seattle Opera, such as the creation of online performances and an outdoor production of Die Walküre during the pandemic.

After the concert, a social reception spilled out onto the McCaw Hall terrace. Opera patrons such as former Seattle Chief of Police Carmen Best; Opera board member Leslie Giblett; Cornish College of the Arts President Raymond Tymas-Jones; King County Executive Dow ConstantineFresh Toast Founder JJ McKay; and auctioneer Lydia Fenet enjoyed specialty cocktails in a rare warm May twilight. The evening ended with a lively gala dinner on the McCaw Hall stage, set against the backdrop of The Barber of Seville. The dinner featured a menu with Northwest-inspired dishes curated by renowned Seattle chef Tom Douglas. The event marked the culmination of an evening celebrating Seattle Opera’s rich history and promising future, raising $2.7 million. Bravo! 



Derby Viewing Party

As spring unfolded in all its glory, guests gathered for the 5th Annual Talk Derby to Me /Kentucky Derby Viewing Party at W Bellevue in partnership with Woodford Reserve and the Seattle Polo & Equestrian Club. The event featured high fashion, delicious bites, and thrilling horse racing. Gentlemen arrived in stylish seersucker suits, and ladies flaunted extravagant hats, creating a magnificent showcase of Southern grace and sophistication. Live music and Derby-themed cocktails added to the sophisticated atmosphere as guests socialized and enjoyed the pre-race excitement. 

As the 150th Kentucky Derby approached, anticipation built for the live viewing of the race. In a dramatic photo finish, 18-1 favorite Mystik Dan claimed victory, reaffirming the Kentucky Derby’s status as a cherished tradition. Members of the Seattle Polo & Equestrian Club attended, bringing their equestrian style to the event. Also in attendance was Kam Chancellor, a Seattle Seahawks legend and co-owner of Bellevue restaurant Legion Sports Bar. The event proudly supported After School All Stars, the 2024 nonprofit partner, and welcomed longtime partner Alvin Goldfarb Jewelers.  See you at the upcoming Seattle Polo Party on Aug. 10. 



Outstanding Mother Awards

May is a month known for celebrating mothers, including the greatest mother in the Universe Mother Earth. The American Lung Association celebrated the Outstanding Mother Awards Event hosted by the Seattle Mother’s Day Council and emceed by Michelle Millman. This annual event recognizes women who have successfully balanced their families, demanding careers, and community involvement. It also serves as a crucial fundraiser for the American Lung Association, supporting its lifesaving work. 

The honorees at this year’s event were women of remarkable achievements, including Claire Verity, president of Regence BlueShield; Dana Frank, a real estate mogul, author, and philanthropist; Diana Birkett Rakow, Alaska Airlines’ senior vice president of public affairs and sustainability; Kanika Saraiya, director at KPMG, and yours truly. These inspiring women were recognized for their dedication to their families and their significant contributions to their respective fields and communities. Verity expressed her gratitude, stating, “It is an incredible honor to be recognized among such remarkable women. Motherhood is a profound journey, and to be celebrated for both our personal and professional commitments is truly special.” 

Frank emphasized the importance of giving back, saying, “Balancing family, career, and community work is challenging but immensely rewarding. It’s vital to show our children the importance of philanthropy and community involvement.” Birkett Rakow highlighted the broader implications of the awards: “Honoring our mothers also means respecting Mother Earth. Our work in sustainability ensures a healthier planet for our children and future generations.” Yomisma, a sustainable and ethical fashion line, hosted a pop-up shop and donated a portion of its proceeds to the American Lung Association.

The event was attended by notable guests such as Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz; 2023 Outstanding Mother Honoree Carmen Best; federal Judge Richard Jones; Seattle Municipal Court Judge Anita Crawford-Willis; professional women’s tennis player Trish Bostrom; renowned philanthropist Sherry Raisbeck; true crime author and super lawyer Anne Bremner; Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle President and CEO Michelle Merriweather; Intentionalist Founder and CEO Laura Clise; as well as many family and friends. 

May is Asthma Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness and support those affected by lung disease. By honoring these mothers, the event highlighted their dual roles’ profound impact on their personal lives and broader societal contributions. If you would like to donate to the American Lung Association, please visit



Nordstrom Bellevue Remodel

If you need fashion inspiration, the newly remodeled Nordstrom Bellevue is the perfect place to visit. This expansive, 285,000-square-foot store boasts updated design concepts, new brands and designer shops, and enhanced services. Highlights include the addition of Beauty Haven, a relaxing self-care destination offering an array of signature services from Drybar, Londontown, Anastasia Beverly Hills, and Amazing Lash Studio. 

Shoppers can also explore new product offerings from brands such as Monica Vinader Jewelry, Prada Beauty, Alexander McQueen, Akris, and Sacai, as well as new designer shops from Burberry, Moncler, and Givenchy. Whether you’re attending a gala, a film festival, or any exciting events in our lively city, visiting the revamped Nordstrom Bellevue will ensure you’re dressed to impress. Stop by and see all the latest additions for yourself.

About the Social in Seattle Column

Linda Lowry has a pulse on the greater Seattle region’s social landscape and provides insight on the people and personalities that make our city vibrant and unique.

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