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People - Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Ryan Fritsch
2022 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Ryan Fritsch graduated from the University of Washington in 2012 with a major in political science. He spent several years at technology startups including Uber and Convoy before shifting his efforts full time toward sustainability. Ryan started Cloud Paper in 2019 with fellow UW alumnusAustin Watkins, with the goal of ending global deforestation caused by single-use paper products. Cloud Paper is redefining the paper and pulp industry by producing a line of tree-free products and has been recognized by the Natural Resources Defense Council for their industry leading sustainability. The company is an active supporter of local nonprofits including Seattle-based Food Lifeline where they have donated over 150,000 rolls of paper products to Washington families during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Tim Burgess -- Distingiushed Alumni
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Tim Burgess served 10 years at Seattle City Hall as a member of the City Council and as the city’s 55th Mayor. He was first elected city-wide in 2007 and won re-election in 2011 and 2015. Tim focused his work on issues related to improving the lives of Seattle’s children. Under his leadership, Seattle became the fourth major U.S. city to fully fund the Nurse Family Partnership, a home visitation program for low-income families that The New York Times calls America's best anti-poverty program. He was the lead architect of the Seattle Preschool Program that will eventually offer high-quality preschool to all of the city's three-and four-year old children. Tim also developed the Seattle Retirement Savings Plan for workers without an employer-offered plan, making Seattle the first city in the nation to create such a plan. In his time at City Hall, he was a consistent and staunch advocate for criminal justice and police reform, economic growth policies, and tourism promotion

Gary Duck - Distinguished Alumni
2018 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Gary received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Washington in 1973. His early work was with the U.S. Department of Education, where he served as an associate research analyst to assess the effectiveness of K-12 public education programs throughout the U.S. Gary then worked as an executive responsible for information technology services for a satellite company and subsequently for an energy company. Then, he, along with his son Stephen, established an investment management company, with offices in Los Angeles and Santa Fe; he includes this endeavor as the most fulfilling period of his diverse professional career. Gary retired in December 2016.

Bob Ferguson
2017 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Bob Ferguson is the Attorney General of Washington State.  He graduated from UW in 1989 with a major in political science and attended law school at New York University.  After working as a law clerk for Chief Judge W. Fremming Nielsen of the Federal District Court for Eastern Washington and Judge Myron Bright of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Midwest, Ferguson worked as a litigator at Preston, Gates, and Ellis (now K&L Gates) representing individuals, nonprofits, local governments, and Washington corporations.  Ferguson won a seat on the King County Council in 2003 and quickly became known for his work on health services for veterans and military personnel, open space preservation, mental illness and chemical dependency, and the management and oversight of county budgets and departments.  Ferguson then won election to the post of Attorney General in 2012 and reelection in 2016.  As Attorney General, he has prioritized consumer protection from fraud, advocacy for veterans and service members, supporting law enforcement, and promoting environmental protection.  His office provides legal services to the legislature, governor, and state agencies throughout Washington.

2016 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Carver C. Gayton has had a distinguished career as a teacher, a university administrator, a corporate and government executive, and a public historian. He completed his BA and MA at UW before earning his PhD in Political Science in 1974. In his early career Dr. Gayton taught at Garfield High, became the first African American FBI agent from Washington State, was UW’s first director of diversity programs, and was a professor at Florida State University. During 18 years as a Boeing executive, Dr. Gayton devel-oped innovative education programs and managed university rela-tions. He then led the WA State Employment Security Dept. for four years before returning to work at UW’s Evans School. He is an author and editor of books on history and was the founding Executive Director of the Northwest African American History Museum. A “Husky Football Legend,” Dr. Gayton has been recognized locally and nationally as a pioneering educator and community leader.

2015 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Christine Charbonneau is the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, an organization that includes Alaska, Idaho, Hawaii and western Washington. Beginning as a volunteer at the Seattle Health Center in 1982, she expanded her volunteer commitment to include community education and public policy activism. Her work includes expansion of telemedicine to serve people in remote areas and creating Planned Parenthood Online, serving over 50 million users. Ms. Charbonneau earned her B.A. in Political Science and History in 1982. She was selected for the Distinguished Alumna Award to recognize her career in advocacy.  

2014 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Rogelio Riojas is the founder, president, and CEO of Sea Mar Community Health Centers and a recently minted UW Regent. Since 1978, Sea Mar has provided high quality and comprehensive healthcare and housing assistance to underserved communities across Washington State helping more than 240,000 people a year. It also sponsors a Latino/a educational achievement project, a scholarship program for children of migrant farmworkers, an employment training program, and a summer internship program for students to reach their potential and realize their career goals. At UW, Mr. Riojas majored in political science and economics and then obtained a masters in health administration. He was selected for the Distinguished Alumni award to recognize his enduring commitment to improving the lives of others.

2013 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Congressman Norm Dicks served for 36 years representing Washington State's 6th Congressional District.  His remarkable accomplishments include creation of a vast array of environmental, defense, and economic-development projects in the state, long-standing advocacy for protecting the environment, and unwavering commitment to national security.  After graduating from West Bremerton High School, he enrolled at the UW where he completed his political science BA degree in 1963 and his JD degree in 1968.  He then served on the staff of Senator Warren Magnuson until his run for Congress in 1976.  He won re-election 17 more times before retiring in 2013.  His selection for the Distinguished Alumni award recognizes his extraordinary career in public service.

2012 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Meeghan Black is the host of KING TV’s Evening Magazine and the popular Gardening with Ciscoe show.  She is an Emmy award-winning television news journalist with more than 25 years of experience hosting, anchoring and reporting daily television programs.  Those roles include positions as a weekday weather anchor and weekday traffic anchor, as a special correspondent as with her Emmy award-winning work on “Echoes of the Eruption,” and in her current position as the host of Evening Magazine.  She has covered everything from presidential visits and corporate mergers to natural disasters and star-studded affairs.  Her collaboration with Ciscoe Morris on the popular weekly “Gardening with Ciscoe” program has delighted and informed members of the KING 5 audience. 

Meegan Black's selection for the Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes her accomplishments in the broadcast profession and in community service.  She graduated with honors from the University of Washington with a double major in Communications and Political Science.

2011 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Dow Constantine received his B.A. in political science from the University of Washington in 1985. Additional degrees earned at UW include his law degree (1989) and a graduate degree in urban planning (1992).
Constantine was elected King County Executive in 2009 and is currently serving his first term. As County Executive, Dow Constantine oversees the regional government for the 14th largest county in the United States, an organization with 13,000 employees and an annual budget of 5.1 billion dollars.
Constantine's career in politics began in 1996 when he was elected to the Washington State Legislature. He was elected to two terms in the House and one term in the Senate. In the legislature, he served as co-chair of the House Judiciary Committee and vice-chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. He was appointed to the King County Council in January 2002 and subsequently won election to that office four times. He served as County Council Chair in 2009 and also served four years as a member of the Councils budget leadership team. In addition to holding elected office, Constantine has served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations and worked as a lawyer in private practice. During his distinguished career in public service, he has successfully championed causes like government reform, environmental protection, public transportation, historic preservation, education, and empowerment of women.

2010 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Justice Barbara Madsen currently serves as the 55th Chief Justice of the Washington Supreme Court. Chief Justice Madsen received her undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Washington in 1974 and earned her J.D. from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1977.  After completing law school, she worked as a public defender in King and Snohomish counties.  In 1982, she joined the Seattle City Attorney’s Office and was appointed Special Prosecutor in 1984.  Mayor Charles Royer appointed Justice Madsen in 1988 to the Seattle Municipal Court bench.  In 1992, she was elected to the Washington Supreme Court.  In 2004, Justice Madsen co-chaired the Crystal Brame Committee which secured legislation requiring all police agencies to adopt investigation protocol for police perpetrated domestic violence.  Since 2005, she has led efforts to establish the Initiative for Diversity, a program encouraging legal employers to commit to and implement individual organizational plans to increase diversity.  Chief Justice Madsen has chaired the Washington State Gender and Justice Commission since 1998.  Most recently the Commission, partnering with other community groups, succeeded in passing legislation banning the shackling of women prisoners during labor.  As chief justice, she is committed to continuing the Supreme Court’s long-standing support for access to justice.

2009 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

From 2001 to 2007, John McKay served as United States Attorney for Western Washington. He then joined the faculty of Seattle University School of Law, where he now teaches Constitutional Law of Terrorism and National Security Law.

Mr. McKay received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Washington in 1978 and his law degree from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska in 1982. He has been a partner at the Seattle firms Lane Powell and Cairncross & Hempelmann. He has also served as a White House Fellow and as President of the Legal Services Corporation in Washington, D.C. In 1995, the Washington State Bar Association named Professor McKay Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year. In 2001, he received the Associations Award of Merit, and following his controversial dismissal as U.S. Attorney in 2007, its Courageous Award. In 2008, the Legal Foundation of Washington awarded Professor McKay, along with his brother Mike, the Charles A. Goldmark Award for Distinguished Service for his contributions to equal access to justice for all.

2008 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Maralyn Chase represents the 32nd Legislative District in the Washington State House of Representatives. In 2007, she was named Legislator of the Year by the Washington Public Employees Association. She also received the 2007 Legislative Excellence Award from the Washington State School Retirees’ Association. She serves as a board member on the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce, Shoreline Solar Project, and the Peace and Justice Alliance. Chase received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Washington in 1972, and an M.A. in Political Science in 1974.

2007 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Since his election in 2007, Bruce Harrell has served as a councilmember on the Seattle City Council. He chairs the Energy and Technology Committee, is vice-chair of the Public Safety, Human Services and Education Committee, and is a member of several council and external committees. Previously, he acted as an attorney and community volunteer. He is a member of the UW Alumni Board of Trustees. He received his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Washington in 1979 and a J.D. from the Law School in 1984.

2006 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

John Carlson is a veteran news commentator, and has hosted “The Commute with Carlson” on 570 KVI radio since the early 1990’s.  He was a co-founder and former President of the Washington Policy Center, one of the northwest’s most respected policy research centers, and has also led three landmark initiative campaigns in Washington, including America’s first “Three Strikes, You’re Out” law in 1993.  He was listed in Columns magazine as one of the UW’s most influential graduates of the 20th century.  He received a B.A. in political science with distinction from the University of Washington in 1981.

2005 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Gary Gayton is an executive with the investment Bank of Siebert, Brandford Shank & Co. Gayton has a long history of fighting for civil rights; he was the first African-American student-body president at Garfield High School in Seattle, Washington, and he was the first African-American captain of a varsity sports team at the University of Washington. After graduating from law school, Gayton served as assistant U.S. attorney under Robert F. Kennedy, and went on to found his own law firm in Seattle that fought for civil rights. Gayton received his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Washington in 1955.

2004 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Robert D. Kaplan is prominent Seattle lawyer that works on cases involving small business, charitable organizations, artists, and authors. He serves on numerous boards of non-profit and community organizations that deal with health care for underserved communities and the arts. In 1996, he was recognized by the American Bar Association, Business Law Section, for his pro-bono work. He and his wife, Margaret Levi, have amassed a substantial collection of Australian aboriginal art, which is on loan to the Seattle Art Museum. Kaplan received his B.A. in political science from the University of Washington in 1966, and a J.D. from the Law School in 1969.

2003 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Michael S. McGavick is the Chief Executive Officer of XL Capital Ltd. Previously, McGavick served as the President of CEO of Safeco Corporation from 2001-2005. In 2003, McGavick was named the Puget Sound Business Journal’s Executive of the Year, and in 2005 he was the 2005 winner of the prestigious Charles E. Odegaard award for his efforts to promote diversity at the University of Washington. McGavick received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Washington in 1983.

2002 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

In 2008, Bobbe Bridge became the first president of the Center for Children and Youth Justice, which was created by a five-year, $10 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Initiative. This Center will fund juvenile justice reform programs in Benton, Clark, Franklin, King, Pierce and Spokane Counties. Bridge served as a Washington Supreme Court Justice from 1999 to 2007. Bridge received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Washington in 1966, and she received a J.D. from the Law School in 1976.