Sara Boyle is one of 12 finalists for the Herald Business Journal’s Emerging Leaders award.

Sara Boyle is one of 12 finalists for the Herald Business Journal’s Emerging Leaders award.

Her effort to help others began with a few words in Spanish

Sara Boyle knows the value of language and is helping others take charge of their community.

This is one of 12 finalists for the Herald Business Journal’s Emerging Leaders award, which seeks to highlight and celebrate people who are doing good work in Snohomish County. The winner will be named at an event on April 11. Meet the other finalists.

Name: Sara Boyle

Age: 28

Profession: Director, Connect Casino Road

Sara Boyle’s effort to string together a few sentences changed her view of the world.

Twelve years ago, Boyle, who was volunteering at a Lynnwood food bank, summoned the courage to use her high school Spanish and asked a visitor whether she preferred carrots or potatoes.

Her questions prompted smiles and a conversation.

“It really brought the value of language to me. Instead of seeing it as another high school credit, it put a face on it,” said Boyle, then a junior at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo.

Boyle is now director of Connect Casino Road, a collaboration of more than 15 community partners. Some are faith-based, some center around schools and nonprofits, and some are grassroots.

She’s in charge of managing a $700,000 grant under the oversight of the Community Foundation of Snohomish County, a nonprofit that promotes charitable giving.

About 20,000 people — many of them young families — live in the area bounded by Casino Road, Airport Road and Evergreen Way.

One-quarter of the population lives in poverty. At 36 percent, the poverty rate for children is more than double the countywide rate.

For decades, there’s been talk about a community center.

Boyle is working toward that goal and others.

Last year, she brought together more than 150 community members to complete a design process for the new center.

It will occupy a four-building complex next to the Everett Fred Meyer store on Evergreen Way.

“Now we’re entering the permitting phase to do the remodel and starting a capital campaign,” she said.

She sits on the Everett police chief’s Community Advisory Board.

She mentors a group of Latina mothers who are developing their own non-profit group, Madres de Casino Road.

“I’m passionate about trying to make this world a better place,” she wrote in her nomination form. “I strive to become a leader that focuses on providing others around me with opportunities to grow and learn both personally and professionally.”

She also understands that leadership sometimes means letting go of the reins.

“Several months ago the collaborative group I was leading — the Casino Road Initiative — merged with another collaborative group also doing the work on Casino Road. The merger meant letting go of the name, governance structure and strategic plan that we had spent a year and a half developing,” Boyle said.

“It meant welcoming in new partners and co-developing a new way of being and doing this work together. This was not the easy choice, but it was the right choice. I knew that this move would increase our ability to impact families living on Casino Road,” she said.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

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