EVERETT — He is the voice of Everett, a city he once considered a “pit stop on the way to Seattle.” Julio Cortes, the city of Everett’s senior communications officer, is the recipient of the 2020 Emerging Leader award.
Cortes, 34, was named the winner during a Zoom event Thursday night. More than 90 people attended virtually.
“It’s difficult to become a leader on your own,” said Cortes, in accepting the award. “My family, my co-workers played a really big role. They helped shape the leader I am today.”
It’s more important than ever, “in times like these to go out and inspire good in the world,” Cortes said. “Not only be the change but inspire others to step up,” he added.
Cortes, who grew up in Wapato east of the Cascade mountains, received a bachelor’s degree in public relations and journalism in 2009 from Western Washington University in Bellingham.
After graduating, he moved to Snohomish County.
The move was meant to be a stopover on the way to a big-time career in Seattle, but instead Cortes stuck around. He joined the staff at Cocoon House, first as a case manager and later as public relations manager for the Everett-based nonprofit. There he helped secure a $2.75 million grant to help build the new Colby Avenue Youth Center in Everett at Colby and 36th Street. Cocoon House offers shelter and programs for homeless and at-risk teens and young people.
In 2017, Cortes became the spokesman for the City of Everett. He also is in charge of advertising and marketing to support economic development.
Ask Cortes about Everett, and he’ll say “it’s a Goldilocks city — it has something for everyone.”
“I’m incredibly excited about Snohomish County’s future,” Cortes said Thursday night.
Recently, he and his wife bought a home in Everett.
“We have been working here for 10 to 12 years,” Cortes said. Now my wife and I have chosen to live here.”
Today, Cortes serves on the boards of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, Leadership Snohomish County and Snohomish County Tourism Area. He is a member of the Everett School District’s Fiscal Advisory Committee.
“Julio has contributed his voice to ensure teens and youth are included in long-term strategic planning in our community,” a nominator wrote. “He is an advocate for underfunded, marginalized communities in Snohomish County.”
Wrote another nominator: “Julio brings a passion and fearlessness to uplift our community that is refreshing and long overdue.”
Alicia Crank, chief development officer for AtWork!, a nonprofit that helps workers with disabilities connect with employers, gave the keynote speech Thursday night.
She urged everyone to view the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to invest in the community, volunteer and try something new. “This is the occasion to pivot instead of being stagnant,” said Crank. “Take the current obstacles and create new opportunities.”
Begun in 2016, the award aims to recognize the next generation of leadership for the county. Since 2016, 297 have been nominated and 60 have been recognized as finalists.
The award is usually given in April, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed this year’s event.
This year’s Emerging Leader award is sponsored by The Herald Business Journal and accounting firm Moss Adams.
“It’s never an easy task narrowing down the top 12,” said Carrie Radcliff, who thanked the judges for spending hours reading through more than 70 nominations this year.
Josh O’Connor, president of Sound Publishing and publisher of The Herald congratulated Cortes and his fellow finalists. O’Connor also extended congratulations to all the participants on behalf of Moss Adams and partner-in-charge Rob Grannum who could not attend the event.
Last fall, The Herald Business Journal solicited nominations of people who are accomplished in their field and are working to make the county a better place to live and work. More than 70 were nominated, many of them multiple times.
The nominees were then narrowed to the top four: Cortes; Dustin DeKoekkoek, a civil engineer for Perteet Inc.; Christine Stansfield, a volunteer and community engagement coordinator for Sno-Isle Libraries; and Courtney Wooten, a community organizer with Suburbs Rising/Stories of Self & Self Solidarity.
Other finalists were Nicole Amor, director of individual giving at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County; Randy Bolerjack, director of public affairs, marketing and communications for Washington State University Everett; Chester Curtis, a purchasing manager for McKinstry; Natasha Gobin, a language teacher for the Tulalip Tribes; Alexander Lark, a philanthropy manager for Housing Hope; Ambar Martinez, who is self-employed and advises organizations on equity strategies; Craig Olson, vice president of sales at Washington Energy Services; and Neil Weiss, attorney with ABC Law Group.
Janice Podsada; email@example.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods