Leadership awards recognize economic development efforts

Among those honored by Leadership Snohomish County was the founder of an Everett business incubator.

Diane Kamionka, executive director of the Northwest Innovation Resource Center. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Diane Kamionka, executive director of the Northwest Innovation Resource Center. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

EVERETT — The former founder and CEO of an Ohio software firm, who now calls Washington home, has been honored by Leadership Snohomish County for her efforts to help local inventors and entrepreneurs find their footing and flourish.

The Deborah Knutson Women in Leadership award, which recognizes a local woman leader, was presented to Diane Kamionka by Leadership Snohomish County. The nonprofit, which supports and trains community leaders, held its annual Leadership Day event last month at the Tulalip Resort Casino.

Kamionka, the interim executive director of the Northwest Innovation Resource Center, has helped establish TheLab@everett, an innovation center and business incubator that will serve startups, inventors and existing businesses. Kamionka moved to Washington in 2004 and established the Innovation Resource Center in 2010.

TheLab at 1001 N. Broadway in Everett is to open within weeks.

Named for the late leader of the Snohomish County Economic Development Council, Deborah Knutson, the award is presented to a woman in the county who shares “passion for job growth and economic development,” said Kathy Coffey, Leadership Snohomish County’s executive director. The 20-year-old nonprofit fosters and trains community leaders.

The award was presented to Kamionka by Knutson’s daughter, Erin Williams.

“Under the leadership of Diane Kamionka, the Northwest Innovation Resource Center works with entrepreneurs and inventors to identify the strategy, tools and community resources needed to bring their products and business ideas to life,” said retired Boeing executive John Monroe, who nominated Kamionka for the award.

A scholarship fund in Deborah Knutson’s name, honoring a commitment to economic development, was awarded to Stilly Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jen Egger.

“Jen works hard to help startups and small businesses connect with resources that can help them grow and succeed,” Coffey said.

The 2018 scholarship covers the tuition for Leadership Snohomish County’s nine-month leadership development program.

“Our first class graduated in 1998 and includes many community leaders,” Coffey said.

Josh Estes, managing partner at Pacific Northwest Regional Strategies, called the program a “building block for positive change that will carry our community forward for generations to come.”

It “builds a network of allies and friends, so that in our most difficult times, we know that we are never fighting alone,” said Estes, an alumnus of the program.

Adrianne Wagner, vice president for quality improvement at The Everett Clinic, received the Distinguished Alumni Award.

“Adrianne is a former LSC board member, and she takes her clear voice, grounded perspectives and sincere passion for LSC wherever she goes because she is authentic, committed and has a gift for seeing new ways to accomplish things,” Coffey said.

Kamionka, of the Northwest Innovation Resource Center, presented the Mentoring Leadership Award to Heidi Ray, director of capital projects, facilities and security at Funko.

“The best leaders are the most generous,” Kamionka said. “For a leader to share what she or he has learned or experienced with entrepreneurs can be critical to their success. Heidi Ray not only shares her knowledge, but her energy, enthusiasm and creativity are contagious and motivating.”

Premera Blue Cross received LSC’s 2018 Community Partner Award. Its sponsorship of Step Up, the largest racial equity event in the region, was the primary reason Premera was chosen, Coffey said. This year’s Step Up event drew more than 600 participants. “Their charitable work benefits the entire community,” Coffey said.

Past Community Partner Award recipients are Everett Community College and Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation.

Leadership Day 2018 sponsors included the Tulalip Tribes, Kaiser Permanente, Sno-Isle Libraries, Snohomish County, Seahurst Electric, McKinstry, Herald Media, The Everett Clinic, Mountain Pacific Bank, City University of Seattle, Community Transit, BECU, Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation and the City of Everett.

Erin Williams is the daughter of Deborah Knutson, for whom a Leadership Snohomish County award is named. A Nov. 6 story in the Herald Business Journal incorrectly characterized their relationship.

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