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’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’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.