Theresa and Joesph Bervell, the parents of Emerging Leaders winner Joel Bervell, accept the award on his behalf at a ceremony on Wednesday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Theresa and Joesph Bervell, the parents of Emerging Leaders winner Joel Bervell, accept the award on his behalf at a ceremony on Wednesday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

TikTok med student @joelbervell named top Emerging Leader

Joel Bervell, who highlights disparities in medicine, took top honors at an event for 12 rising stars in Snohomish County.

EVERETT — Joel Bervell, a medical student and social media educator who is challenging racial stereotypes, was named Snohomish County’s top Emerging Leader at an awards ceremony on Wednesday.

The annual award by The Herald Business Journal seeks to highlight and celebrate people who are doing good work in Snohomish County. The event, held this year at the Port of Everett, celebrated the achievements of 12 Emerging Leaders award nominees and the top four finalists.

Bervell, 26, is best known for highlighting racial disparities in the field of medicine on TikTok and Instagram. He has more than 400,000 followers on those two platforms.

A third-year medical student at Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine in Spokane, Bervell was unable to attend the event because he is in Washington, D.C., at a White House roundtable. But his parents, Joseph and Theresa Bervell, attended the Emerging Leaders event on his behalf.

And Joel Bervell delivered a video message to participants, thanking them for the award and congratulating the other nominees.

“Snohomish County means so much to me,” Bervell said. “I went to Harbour Pointe Middle School and Kamiak High School. Everything I do goes back to the community that I came from.”

“I wouldn’t be the person I am right now,” he said, without that community’s “absolute love and support.”

Bervell and his siblings were Mukilteo middle school students when they founded a nonprofit, Hugs for Ghana, in 2007. Since then, the group has raised more than $500,000 for medical and school supplies for children in Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya and other countries.

Of his work to highlight inequity in medicine, Bervell earlier told The Daily Herald: “I’ve seen first hand how misinformation can spread. I wanted to make a change and educate audiences about the disparities I knew existed.”

Joel Bervell, a medical student and social media educator who is challenging racial stereotypes, was named Snohomish County’s top Emerging Leader at an awards ceremony on Wednesday in Everett. (Contributed photo)

Joel Bervell, a medical student and social media educator who is challenging racial stereotypes, was named Snohomish County’s top Emerging Leader at an awards ceremony on Wednesday in Everett. (Contributed photo)

More than 50 people attended the awards ceremony Wednesday.

Kathy Coffey Solberg, executive director of Leadership Snohomish County, told the nominees, “You were nominated because someone saw you and wants other people to notice. And that’s one of the beautiful things about Snohomish County.”

Rudi Alcott, publisher of The Daily Herald, said the company’s support of the event is a labor of love. “We love that we can have a part in this. We love that the county is generating this kind of talent,” Alcott said.

The first Emerging Leaders event was in 2016. It was paused last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s partners in the award are HeraldMedia, Leadership Snohomish County, Leadership Launch and Economic Alliance Snohomish County. Co-sponsors are Gaffney Construction, Inflection Wealth Management and the Port of Everett. More than 50 people were nominated this year.

Besides Bervell, the finalists honored were Joshua Estes, Laycee Gwyther and Courtney Wooten.

• Joshua Estes, 39, is the managing partner at Pacific Northwest Regional Strategies.

Estes was cited for his community service and his role in helping hundreds of workers find jobs or training after they were laid off.

From 2009 to 2012, Estes was president of the Association of Western Pulp & Paper Workers, Local 183, the union that represented Kimberly-Clark employees in Everett. When the mill closed in 2012, he helped coordinate employment and training for the mill’s 700 workers.

Estes chaired the Snohomish County Citizens Salary Commission from 2020 to 2021. He is a current board member of Leadership Snohomish County. Estes received the United Way Labor Partner of the Year Award in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

• Laycee Gwyther, 32, is the owner and founder of Executive Beauty Suites in Everett, an Everett salon and teaching facility.

Gwyther recently partnered with Dignity for Divas, a Seattle-based group whose mission is helping women without a home find hope and help.

Gwyther and other volunteers provide free beauty services for women in the program. Gwyther has partnered with the U.S. Marines’ Toys for Tots program, which collects new unwrapped toys for children. She organizes an annual food drive that serves the Everett Gospel Mission.

Courtney Wooten, 39, is the founder of Suburbia Rising/Stories of Self & Self Solidarity. The Edmonds consulting firm offers training, workshops and mentoring to promote equity and inclusion.

Wooten has worked with the Edmonds School District, Communities of Color Coalition, YWCA, Leadership Snohomish County and United Way’s Homeward House. She chairs the Snohomish County Human Rights Commission and is vice chair of the Snohomish County Children’s Commission.

Other Emerging Leaders honored were Michael Adams, Chris Dingle, Kona Farry, Lynsey Gagnon, Rilee Louangphakdy, Melissa Siv, Catherine Soper and Alexandria Zitnik-McGinty.

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

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Joel Bervell (Courtesy photo)
TikTok med student @joelbervell named top Emerging Leader

Joel Bervell, who highlights disparities in medicine, took top honors at an event for 12 rising stars in Snohomish County.