Women Business Owners congratulates
2008 Nellie Cashman Woman Business Owner of the Year
Lee Rhodes, glassybaby
and all our distinguished finalists
Kristen Betty of KBA, Inc.
Karen Say of Saybr Contractors, Inc.
Jean Thompson of Seattle Chocolates
Tamara Wilson of Wilson PR
2008 WBO Excellence Award Winner
Dr. Julie Miller, Business Writing That Counts!
and all our distinguished finalists
Jean Hamilton of Speaking Results
Stacey Romberg, Attorney at Law
Kristen A. Betty, PE is the President and Founder of KBA, Inc., a local engineering firm specializing in construction management. Kristen (Kris) is a graduate of the University of Washington and is a licensed Professional Engineer with 27 years of experience managing complex, multi-million dollar construction projects.
After working as a Contractor’s Engineer for large bridge and highway projects, Kris established her own business in 1994 to deliver construction management and owner’s representative services to local clients. KBA, Inc. (formerly known as Betty & Associates, Inc.) delivers a range of CM services for highly visible transportation, water and wastewater, port facility, building, and land development projects.
In the last 14 years, Kris had led KBA’s growth from a one-person company to 80 CM professionals in Washington State. KBA’s portfolio of clients includes the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), Sound Transit, King County, King County Housing Authority, City of Seattle, Quadrant Homes, Port Blakely Communities, and numerous other agencies and organizations.
Kris Betty is a long-time supporter and contributor to the engineering and public works community. Kris has chaired numerous committees for the Washington state chapters of American Public Works Association (APWA), the American Consulting Engineers’ Council (ACEC), and the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA); and she has served as the State Chapter President for ACEC (2005) and CMAA (2006). Kris was recognized by the Washington state chapter of APWA with the 2006 June Rosentreter Spence Award for her dedication to the advancement of public works in the region.
Through her participation on consultant relations committees for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and King County, Kris has worked diligently to increase public agencies’ confidence level in construction management consultants by proving that public agencies can trust KBA to manage their public projects. She continues to strive to enhance trust, communication, and productivity between public agencies and private firms.
Lee Rhodes is the founder of glassybaby, which came to life during her seven-year battle with a rare form of lung cancer. She had endured surgery, countless rounds of chemotherapy and was searching for a few moments of serenity. As a special Christmas gift to her husband at the time, Rhodes presented him glass blowing lessons. One of the first pieces he created was a small, brightly colored cup – almost like a baby cup. As he made more, Rhodes placed tea lights in them and spread them around her home, feeling the chaos become calm and glassybaby was born.
Over the next five years, Rhodes encouraged her husband to make more glassybaby, so she could give them away as gifts to her friends. Eventually she learned to blow glass and create glassybaby, and then searched out local glass blowers to assist her with the production. In 2003, glassybaby opened its first retail store and now resides in its permanent home in the Madrona neighborhood of Seattle, where Rhodes employs 25 people, including a team of dedicated glassblowers.
glassybaby remains an emotionally charged endeavor for Rhodes. Each day she is moved by the stories of those shopping in her studio, sometimes bringing tears, sometimes laughter – many cancer stories, and many stories of hope and healing. Each glassybaby is created to be individual and each one is personal to her. As they leave the door, she is reminded of her journey and she hopes that the serenity and calm will remain with its new owner.
To honor those who have walked down her same path, Rhodes established glassybaby goodwill. Every year, glassybaby goodwill designates a select group of colors to benefit local and national organizations contributing to cancer patient care and cancer research.
Karen Say is the owner of Saybr Contractors, Inc., a general construction contracting company specializing in commercial and industrial fueling projects.
As a young girl, Karen Say would accompany her father to “the office,” a construction yard where he was a fleet mechanic, to assist in cleaning up the yard. Not only did this instill in Karen a strong work ethic, but it also caused her to be interested in the inner workings of the construction industry.
At 19, Karen went to work at a construction company as a receptionist, where she quickly moved on to an administrative position and then into the accounting field. At 24, Karen approached her supervisor for a promotion to become an estimator. Despite her youth and the fact that she would be one of the only female estimators in the male-dominated petroleum construction industry, her supervisor encouraged her to take on the position.
From estimating, Karen quickly moved on to becoming a project manager, then operations manager, then Seattle branch manager for the company. Eventually, Karen started Saybr Contractors, Inc. along with the three employees, who became fellow stakeholders in the company. They ran the company from the front room of Karen’s 400 square foot house. Despite this challenge and others, Saybr had revenues $2.3 million its first year.
Four years later, Karen saw the need to diversify the business from being solely focused on the petroleum industry to branching into the general contracting construction industry. Attempting to break into the industry was difficult, however, and Karen turned to the Small Business Administration for assistance, becoming 8(a) certified in 2001. With their 8(a) certification, Saybr was able to negotiate contracts with the Army, the FAA, the Navy, and the General Services Administration.
Now, seven years after the company’s inception, Saybr has become a $10 million, 25-staff general construction contracting company with a long list of devoted clients and a growing list of new clients. Its astounding growth, Karen asserts, is due largely to those who have supported her throughout her life.
Jean Thompson is the owner and CEO of Seattle Chocolate Company, where she oversees daily operations and focuses on the strategic direction, profitability and growth.
Since taking the helm in late 2002, sales for Seattle Chocolates products have more than tripled, requiring the company to relocate to its new 65,000 square foot production and warehousing facility south of downtown Seattle. It is here that 75 employees work collaboratively to create high quality, delicious chocolates for consumers across the nation.
Previously, Thompson served as a corporate communications manager at Microsoft Corporation from 1987 through 1991. She was responsible for the planning and execution of communications programs including the advertising, collateral, direct marketing and packaging for a variety of Microsoft Office products. Before working at Microsoft, Thompson served as the marketing manager for Gupta Technologies in Menlo Park, California.
A Connecticut native, Thompson earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Bates College. Prior to becoming CEO of Seattle Chocolates, Thompson spent time raising her two children and volunteering in the educational, non-profit and civic communities in the greater Seattle area, including: Board of Bellevue Boys & Girls Club, Planning Commission, Yarrow Point, Task force on gifted program, Bellevue School District.
Tamara Wilson is the principal of Wilson Public Relations and has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 25 years. She began with her own food and beverage establishment, using relationship marketing as her main promotional tool.
In 1989, Wilson joined Consolidated Restaurants as its director of public relations and marketing and, eventually, formed Wilson Public Relations in 1996 with a focus on hospitality-industry clients. The firm has steadily grown to include specialty food products, agriculture, fashion, and luxury lifestyle concerns.
As confidant and counsel to the Northwest’s notable executive leaders and entrepreneurs, Wilson’s solid reputation is reflected by such notable clients as Canlis and Il Fornaio, as well as non-restaurant clients such as Mario’s, Gene Juarez Salons & Spas, Remy Cointreau, Metropolitan Market, Blue Horizon Organic Seafood Co., and TalkingRain Beverage Co.
Her candor and keen eye on trends keeps Wilson a relied-upon source for local, regional and national media. She has penned articles on public relations and often speaks to business organizations on how to effectively utilize PR.
As a cause-driven individual, Wilson has given hundreds of hours in charitable service each year. She holds several social affiliations and stays well connected throughout Seattle and the Eastside.
Jean Hamilton founded Speaking Results in 1998 to enable people to become more confident, and successful with their presentations. She works with both the corporate and non-profit sectors and clients include CEOs, CFOs, physicians, attorneys, architects, engineers, and financial planners.
In addition to traditional speech training, her work is greatly influenced by her background in theater and dance. Through group training and one-on-one coaching, Hamilton enables clients to develop an engaging, authentic and credible presence. Hamilton is also certified in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, which provides a set of tools to overcome fears and promote positive change, as well as a certified coach, working with executives on achieving business and life goals.
Hamilton has written numerous articles, including “The Spoken Word” published in Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air magazines, which recently won recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists. She has also written an e-book manual, “Fearless Speaking: How to Turn Fear Into Fun,” and wrote a chapter in the book “Mission Possible,” which also included chapters by Brian Tracy and Stephen Covey.
Prior to her career as a presentation coach, Hamilton was a professional modern dancer and choreographer and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in dance from Ohio State University.
Dr. Julie Miller is a business writing expert, consultant, author, speaker, trainer, and coach. Dr. Miller works with corporations, organizations, educational institutions, and professionals to improve the quality of their writing.
Her book, Business Writing That Counts!, is sold in over 20 countries and details a numbering system that she has taught to more than half a million people. Dr. Miller’s clients range from banks and accounting firms to insurance, engineering and software companies. She and certified master trainers work with executives who want to hone their writing skills and professionals who want to advance their careers.
Dr. Miller gives keynote speeches to organizations and associations nationally. She regularly speaks to MBA and Executive MBA students as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series. She is also a Vistage (formerly TEC) speaker. Dr. Miller was awarded the Helen Thayer, Woman of the Year Award in 2002 and Volunteer of the Year for her work with the YMCA.
She earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership at Seattle University and holds adjunct professorships at Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, and Western Washington University. She is also a visiting professor at the University of Washington.
Dr. Miller is a strong advocate for giving back to the community. She serves on the board of governors of the University of Southern California and is a board member for her local YMCA. She is an advisor for Junior League of Seattle and Women Business Owners, is a volunteer board trainer for the United Way, and belongs to the Seattle Rotary.
Attorney at Law Stacey L. Romberg has practiced law for more than 20 years both in Washington, D.C. and the Seattle area prior to opening her own office in 1999. Romberg currently focuses in the areas of small business law, estate planning and probate. Previously, Romberg has served as a staff attorney for the U.S. Senate, a session attorney for the Washington State Senate and a Pro Tem Magistrate for the Seattle Municipal Court.
Romberg is a member of Washington State Bar Association: Real Property, Probate and Trust Section, Business Law Section, as well as a member of King County Bar Association, Solo and Small Practice Section and Real Property, Probate and Trust Section. She has published articles related to business law in the Idaho Law Review and the New York Law School Journal of International and Comparative Law.
Romberg earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Idaho State University in 1985, graduating with High Honors; a law degree from the University of Idaho College of Law in 1987, graduating cum laude; and a LLM from Georgetown University Law Center in 1991, graduating with distinction. She is a Past President of the King County Bar Association, Solo and Small Practice Section, as well as a current member of AWARE – “Association of Women Attorneys with Real Experience.”
In her spare time, Romberg provides pro bono legal services through King County Bar Association’s Volunteer Attorneys for Persons with AIDS program (VAPWA) and through Washington Attorneys Assisting Community Organizations (WAACO).
All finalist photos ©2008 Kate Baldwin Photography
Nellie Cashman Gala MC Patti Dobrowolski is the chief of strategy and creative design for Alchemy – The Art of Transforming Business. She mixes a masters degree in drama therapy, a career as a nationally acclaimed performer and keynote speaker, and 18 years of business consulting into an alchemy of rapid design and strategy execution that strengthens business performance at all levels.
Dobrowolski spent her early consulting years on the front line helping teams become re-engaged following a reduction in force or merger and acquisition. After she witnessed an artist drawing a real-time picture of the company’s new direction, she added this powerful visual aspect to her work with teams and leaders in Fortune 500 companies around the world.
High performing organizational teams are no different than Olympic athletes in their need to envision before stepping into a perfect future. With key strengths in ideation, activation and strategy, Dobrowolski works closely with leadership, human resources and business systems teams to re-activate organizations following critical events.
Dobrowolski’s graphic depiction accelerates team alignment and strategic ideation to galvanize an organization’s brilliance into a vision that marries memory with feeling. Her diverse background allows her to aid organizations in various domestic and international industries with the creation, development and implementation of new systems that create a successful and sustainable strategic plan for the future.
Dobrowolski’s clients include The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft Corporation, University of Washington, The Women’s College of the University of Denver, Johns Manville, Echostar, FedEx Kinkos, Qwest, Hp, Cisco, Owens Corning, McKesson Pharmaceuticals, Roche, CP Kelco, Coors Brewing Company, Janus Capital Group, United States Department of Agriculture, Intel, The Gap, IRS, and multiple departments of the City of Denver.
A recent recipient of the Make Mine a Million$ Business, Dobrowolski resides in Seattle.