This evening, at our ninth Spring Fundrais­ing Gala on Mer­cer Island, we debuted a new event tra­di­tion: the Lynn Allen Awards. Named for our late sis­ter Lynn Allen, a found­ing board­mem­ber of NPI, these awards rec­og­nize peo­ple who have made indis­pens­able con­tri­bu­tions to pro­gres­sive caus­es for a decade or more.

We lost Lynn to ovar­i­an can­cer in 2011, but her spir­it has remained with us. (And so have her pub­lished works, which are pre­served by NPI at Rebuild­ing Democ­ra­cy.)

Lynn believed in the impor­tant work of orga­niz­ing rur­al com­mu­ni­ties and act­ing on issues of con­cern to peo­ple liv­ing far away from our big cities and urban areas. She believed in the pol­i­tics of inclu­sion. As com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor of the Insti­tute for Wash­ing­ton’s Future, she trav­eled reg­u­lar­ly to Wash­ing­ton’s rur­al coun­ties and small towns, cham­pi­oning sus­tain­able busi­ness and agri­cul­tur­al practices.

A skilled facil­i­ta­tor and gift­ed lis­ten­er, Lynn under­stood the impor­tance of and need for effec­tive activism. Not a day goes by when we don’t miss her.

By estab­lish­ing the Lynn Allen Awards, we’re tak­ing anoth­er step to ensure that Lyn­n’s good works will be remem­bered and her lega­cy appreciated.

Tonight, we pre­sent­ed the very first Lynn Allen Awards to two extreme­ly deserv­ing hon­orees: Joni Earl and Paul Lawrence.

Joni Earl

Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl
Sound Tran­sit CEO Joni Earl speaks at NPI’s 2013 Spring Fundrais­ing Gala. (Pho­to: Lin­coln Potter/Samaya LLC for NPI)

Joni’s award com­men­da­tion is as follows:

Tapped in 2001 to take the helm of a pub­lic agency in cri­sis, Joni Earl turned Sound Tran­sit around, instill­ing a cul­ture of excel­lence. Joni deft­ly nav­i­gat­ed around treach­er­ous legal and polit­i­cal obsta­cles to restart plan­ning of the high capac­i­ty rail spine vot­ers approved in 1996 to con­nect cities in Wash­ing­ton’s urban core. Under her lead­er­ship, Sound Tran­sit secured the fed­er­al funds need­ed to begin build­ing Link light rail and won vot­er approval for a cru­cial sec­ond phase of expan­sion. Con­struc­tion of the sys­tem began in the autumn of 2003 and has been under­way ever since. Six­teen sta­tions are now open and dozens more are on the way.

Joni’s oth­er hon­ors include:

  • APTA’s Extra­or­di­nary Lead­er­ship Award (2016)
  • One of Seat­tle Magazine’s 25 Most Influ­en­tial Peo­ple (2005)
  • One of Puget Sound Busi­ness Journal’s 20 Women of Influ­ence (2005)

Paul Lawrence

Paul Lawrence arguing Lee v. State
Paul Lawrence presents oral argu­ments in Lee v. State in March of 2016 (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Paul’s award com­men­da­tion is as follows:

A for­mi­da­ble attor­ney spe­cial­iz­ing in com­plex appel­late and civ­il lit­i­ga­tion, Paul Lawrence has ably rep­re­sent­ed pub­lic ser­vants and work­ing fam­i­lies in our courts for more than thir­ty years. Dur­ing a five year stretch rang­ing from 2011 to 2016, Paul skill­ful­ly secured a series of land­mark ver­dicts against a crop of right wing ini­tia­tives that grave­ly threat­ened Wash­ing­ton’s future. Pri­or to those cas­es, Paul defend­ed Sound Tran­sit against mul­ti­ple law­suits intend­ed to weak­en or destroy it. His mas­tery of con­sti­tu­tion­al law and sound tri­al strat­e­gy have repeat­ed­ly led to cru­cial vic­to­ries for pro­gres­sive causes.

Paul’s oth­er hon­ors include:

  • Select­ed for Wash­ing­ton Super Lawyers, 2001–2016, and for Wash­ing­ton Super Lawyers Top 100, 2012–2016
  • Recip­i­ent of Pre­ston Gates & Ellis’ Jim Ellis Award for ser­vice as an ACLU Coop­er­at­ing Attorney
  • Recip­i­ent of Greater Seat­tle Busi­ness Association’s Spe­cial Recog­ni­tion Award Col­lab­o­ra­tion for Social Change

Con­grat­u­la­tions, Joni and Paul, and thank you for your tremen­dous ser­vice to our move­ment. Your con­tri­bu­tions tru­ly have been indispensable.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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