On Wednesday, February 6, 2019, RRCF will honor the fifth round of inductees into the League of Extraordinary Givers, a group of recognized individuals in the greater Renton region whose passion for making our community a better place to live is accomplished through generous donations of their time, talent and/or treasure to a variety of nonprofit organizations and charitable projects.


The RRCF Board of Directors will award individuals in the following categories:


Lifetime of Giving Award (Someone who has given of themselves to more than one nonprofit for over a decade or more)

Patron of the Year Award (Someone whose accomplishments stood out in 2017-18)

Rising Star Award (A younger or emerging individual who is making an impact in the philanthropic community.)

Public Spirit Award (Organizations and/or individuals who have successfully brought multiple resources together to meet a philanthropic need.)


Nominees should have a proven track record of exceptional generosity through their financial donations, willingness to help raise funds, volunteerism, and/or community leadership roles, and by whose example they encourage others to participate.


Nominees will be selected based on their qualifications, which appear below in order of priority.


1. Significance of their direct financial support and/or fundraising efforts with more than one nonprofit organization in the Puget Sound area.

2. Significance of the donor’s volunteer leadership with more than one nonprofit in the community.

3. Level to which the donor actively, or by example, encourages or inspires others to engage in philanthropy.

4. Commitment to the future, such as through a planned gift and/or taking a leadership role in helping an organization plan for the future.

5. Degree of innovation, creativity this individual has provided to solve problems or make positive things happen.




 All nominations and supporting materials must be received by 5:00 p.m. Monday, December 3, 2018.  Questions? Please email LeAnne Moss at lmoss@rentonfoundation.org.


The 2018 winners were:


Lifetime of Giving Award winners:

  • Barb Nilson - Barb has donated her creative talents, time and financial resources to this community for decades. Born in Seattle, she and her late husband traveled the globe, including every continent and the South Pole. Barb is an award-winning writer. She owned and operated the "Quincy Valley Post-Register" between 1949-59 and then taught English and Journalism at Franklin High from 1962-82. Today, Barb lives in a log cabin on five acres in Renton, and although she turned ninety in August, she hasn't slowed down. She continues to volunteer, donate her financial resources, and write.
  • Dr. Gary Kohlwes - Gary is a visionary - someone who can gaze into the future and determine now what may be needed then. He has done that on more than one occasion; making a lasting difference in our community today and creating a strong foundation for years to come. Through his visionary leadership, millions of dollars have been brought together for good through both the Renton Community Foundation and the First Financial Northwest Foundation.  With an Ed.D in Psychology and 40 years in education, Dr. Kohlwes has been a leader in the Renton area in healthcare, education and community service. He and his wife, Betty, now live on Whidbey Island, and yet both still find ways to reach out and stay active in Renton.
  • Norm and Carol Abrahamson - Norm and Carol don't give for any reason but the joy of doing it. They define the phrase, 'giants of the philanthropic world'. Their commitment to making life better for the disadvantaged and the under-served is in their DNA, and they have been truly tireless in their community service. Norm and Carol came to Washington in 1958 so that Norm could work for Boeing. Their love of volunteering grew as their three kids moved through the Renton Highlands schools, and has continued through to today.


Public Spirit Award winners:

  • Pam Teal - Pam may not hold down a full-time paid job, but she works full-time nonetheless. She is a tireless advocate on behalf of education and has made an enormous difference in the quality of education in our community, while helping to give all students the opportunity at a bright future. Not only has she been a member of the Renton School Board since 2009, she continues to work her magic to bring new resources to the table to support teachers and students in the classroom. A friend once described her earlier work with the PTA as their "Energizer bunny" - she just never quit.
  • Trina Westerlund - Trina has not only faced the challenge of caring for a special needs child of her own, she decided that available resources were insufficient for children like her son, forcing many to fall through the cracks or fall behind. So, she took action. In 1977, she created a courageous new solution in response to the number of young children being suspended from or failing in our schools due to their special needs and the huge disconnect between the fields of special education and mental health. Convinced that a new model was needed, Trina had the courage to start CHILD (Children's Institute for Learning Differences) with just four students in a church basement. But she didn't stop there. Her personal philanthropy and volunteer work expands across over a dozen organizations.


Patrons of the Year Award winner:

  • Charlie Conner and Anne Simpson - Charlie is owner/president of Conner Homes, which believes in supporting the communities where they build and, when possible, using the company's building skills for a charitable benefit. As a result, Charlie acted as Builder Captain for the HomeAid Master Builders Care Foundation project for Vision House, Children's Village Phase II.  Charlie is also past president of the Issaquah Schools Foundation and served nine years on the Renton Community Foundation board.


Rising Star Award winner:

  • Dr. Quinton Morris - Quinton is a concert violinist, educator, entrepreneur, and filmmaker, who now weaves that magic for the benefit of disadvantaged children. A native of Renton, Washington, he earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin.  He joined the faculty of Seattle University in 2007 as Director of Chamber and Instrumental Music and Associate Professor of Violin and Chamber Music. He is the first tenured music professor at Seattle University in 30 years and the second living African-American violinist in United States history to receive such a distinction. In 2015, Quinton founded Key to Change, a nonprofit with the mission of igniting positive change through music and education. Key to Change has two violin studios in South King County, which provide violin lessons below market rate to middle and high school students of color and students of economically disadvantaged backgrounds in Renton, Kent, Auburn, Maple Valley, and Federal Way neighborhoods.


Luminary Award winner:

  • Dr. Dolores Gibbons - Dolores was destined to shape young minds and advocate on behalf of lifelong learning. She was born in Spokane, WA, one of eight children. She went on to earn a Masters' Degree from UW in 1976 and her doctorate in Educational Administration from WSU in 1984. Dr. Gibbons spent her entire professional career in the trenches of education.  She has been a teacher, Elementary Principal, High School Assistant Principal, an Assistant Superintendent, and Superintendent. Dr. Gibbons has served as a guiding light in the Renton community. She was a founding board member and past president of the Renton Community Foundation, long-time donor to the Circle of Giving and Cornerstone, and has a charitable fund with the Foundation, awarding an annual scholarship to a student pursuing a career in teaching.




Lifetime of Giving Award - Given to those who have spent decades leading by example - volunteering on community boards, initiating new ideas, serving on committees, making financial donations, inspiring others to engage and participate, building partnerships, and finding resources to get the job done.


2015 Winners: Alex & Norma Cugini; King Parker; Marcie Maxwell; Pat Auten

2016 Winners: Jim & Char Baker; Don & Pearl Jacobson; Judy Schroeder

2017 Winner: Jim & Joanne Medzegian; Harry & Janet Blencoe; Linda Middlebrooks;


Patron of the Year Award - Honors someone who has made a splash recently, perhaps by chairing a campaign, initiating a creative solution, or publicly championing a cause.


2015 Winner: Dale Walker

2016 Winner: The Reverend Dr. Linda Smith


Rising Star Award - Meant to recognize the next-generation of community leaders.


2015 Winner: Meegan Prince

2016 Winner: Kevin Poole

2017 Winner: Doug Baldwin


Public Spirit Award - Given to recognize organizations and individuals who have successfully brought multiple resources together to meet a variety of needs.


2015 Winners: Karen Bergsvik; Renton Rotary RotaCare: (Valley Medical Center, Renton Rotary, Renton Salvation Army, Bob McBeth, Jim Sullivan and Dr. Bob Thompson).

2016 Winners: Chris Spahn & Shannon Avery

2017 Winners: Elizabeth Stewart; Geri Carlson


Luminary Award - Honors an individual who by their very nature, serves as a light of inspiration for others as they strive to make a positive impact in the community.


2017 Winner: Terry Higashiyama

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