Bellevue Chamber announces 2023 Community Spotlight Award nominees

Community, Press Release,

We have sifted through your submissions, and are excited to announce this year’s nominees for the Bellevue Chamber’s Community Spotlight Awards.

There are three different categories with awards up-for-grabs — Civic & Community Leader (particularly awesome individuals), Corporate Leader (companies giving back locally), and Nonprofit Leader (standout nonprofits serving Bellevue). 

At the bottom of this blog, you may submit your vote for each category. We will tabulate the scores leading up to our Annual Gala on June 8, where winners will be announced and applauded during the program. Without further ado, meet the nominees:

Civic & Community Leader
Jared Nieuwenhuis, City of Bellevue

Currently serving as Deputy Mayor for the City of Bellevue, Nieuwenhuis shows up, time and time again, for his community. Between his day job, board appointments, City Council meetings, and more, he somehow still manages to be at nearly every ribbon-cutting, grand opening, and celebration of local businesses around town. (Seriously … we think there might be two of him.)  

Chief Wendell Shirley, Bellevue Police Department

In a place with so much potential for rapid growth, it is important to have leaders who are not only passionate and knowledgeable, but that the community can trust. Chief Shirley is just that. He knows that you can’t arrest a city out of crime, but rather need to listen to the people who live there and adapt accordingly to keep us all safe — and feeling safe. 

Dr. Sandeep Krishnamurthy, previously UW-Bothell

As long as there’s been a School of Business at UW-Bothell, Dr. Krishnamurthy has been its dean. (And if we are being honest, he is the main reason it even exists.) Beyond his intelligence and get-things-done abilities, Dr. Krishnamurthy also is a connector of people, lighting up rooms of all sizes with his presence. He heads to Cal Poly Pomona this summer, but we are so grateful to have learned from him during his 25-year tenure. 

Putter Bert, KidsQuest Children’s Museum

It is really, really hard not to smile around Putter, making her particularly well-suited for her unofficial duty to never stop playing as President & Ceo of KidsQuest Children’s Museum. She works hard too, though, over the years fostering deep roots in the community and ballooning the organization to the institution that it is now. Under her leadership, the museum welcomed its millionth visitor 10 whole years ahead of plan, and she doesn’t show any sign of stopping. 

Jennifer Fischer, Bellevue LifeSpring

Relationships are key to Fischer’s work as Executive Director for Bellevue LifeSpring, and she has built her career assisting Bellevue's families by constantly elevating her peers, fellow community members, and other local nonprofits. Her mentorship skills and deep care for her staff, board, and clients is abundantly clear, and throughout her career, has generated millions in sales for the causes she advocates for.

Corporate Leader
Ascend Hospitality Group

Because food tastes a whole lot better when you feel good about the people making it. Pandemic aftershocks left the restaurant industry in turmoil, but AHG responded by introducing comprehensive benefits to all employees, both full- and part-time, and ramping up their efforts through AHG Cares, the company’s philanthropic arm.

Parker, Smith & Feek

Community involvement is a big deal for many corporations, and this past year alone, PS&F employees volunteered over 2,500 hours with organizations across the PNW. The company’s annual “I Make a Difference Day” connects their team with nonprofits seeking a helping hand, and each fiscal year a new budget is created specifically for charitable giving. 

Wright Runstad & Company

It seems like Wright Runstad constantly has some sort of food drive, run for a cause, or otherwise philanthropic effort going on, as the property management company takes corporate citizenship seriously. Its team has an ongoing partnership with both the United Way and Rebuilding Together Seattle, and their Spring District property hosts all sorts of community-oriented get togethers. 


As a telecommunications company, Verizon has not only supported local 5G infrastructure, but actually engages in dialogue with the community before, during, and after doing so. Their digital equity efforts also haven’t gone unnoticed, both in planning a regional forum and providing free, online resources to help make tech more accessible in schools, rural communities, and for small businesses. 

PNC Bank

Education is a big passion project for PNC Bank, particularly through their “Grow Up Great” efforts. Employees consistently engage with local schools and libraries to celebrate teachers (and the kiddos they teach), in addition to partnering with educators to launch free bilingual learning materials online. 

Nonprofit Leader
The Sophia Way

We all deserve a safe, warm, and stable place to stay, and The Sophia Way has been doing a lot of heavy lifting here in Bellevue to support women and families facing uncertainty. In 2022 alone, they were able to help 128 women move into their own homes, as well as providing shelter for another 406. 

Rainier Athletes

Starting with three youth at Lake Hills Elementary in 2013, Rainier Athletes is now a full-blown registered nonprofit launching into their second decade of impact with 120 students across 15 BSD sites. RA supports students from 4th grade through high school graduation and beyond through one-on-one mentoring, sponsoring costs of extracurriculars, and connecting them with resources for mental health, legal services, and basic needs like food and rent assistance.

King County Sexual Assault Resource Center

Having grown from five employees to over 70 in recent years — thus making it the state’s largest sexual assault resource center — King County’s 24-hour resource line and crisis management is nationally renowned. The group provides legal advocacy to 95 percent of all King County court cases, offering comprehensive and compassionate services to its clients. 

Northwest Kidney Centers

For 60 years, Northwest Kidney Centers has been a leading nonprofit provider of dialysis, accounting for almost a quarter of all treatments in the state. In 2022 they administered 292,167 treatments for nearly 2,000 patients, giving those facing kidney disease a renewed sense of hope and access to equitable healthcare services.

Leadership Eastside

By engaging local leaders through training, workshops, and ongoing development programs, LE hopes to build a more just and equitable Eastside oriented around what matters to those who live here. They teach our leaders how to understand what makes a healthy community, and then equip them with the skills to adapt and problem-solve effectively.

Submit Your Votes Now