Purposeful, generous trailblazer with passion for building community named 2016 Seattle-King County First Citizen
One act of generosity inspired a lifetime of benevolence and a distinguished professional career for Phyllis Campbell, the 2016 recipient of the Seattle-King County First Citizen Award.
Campbell, the chairman, Pacific Northwest for JPMorgan Chase & Co. and former president/CEO of The Seattle Foundation, is only the fifth woman to be singled out for the prestigious award, which has been presented annually by Seattle King County REALTORS® since 1939. She will be honored at a civic banquet in Seattle on May 25, 2016.
“She is a one-of-a-kind leader who leaves strength and success in her wake,” said businessman Bill Lewis, who chaired the board of The Seattle Foundation when Campbell announced plans to end her six-year tenure there and return to banking. Under her leadership the state’s largest community foundation doubled its charitable assets, to $600 million.
As the 78th recipient of the First Citizen Award, Campbell—the first woman to lead a Washington bank — joins an elite group of recipients whose vision, leadership, volunteerism and generosity have enhanced the region’s quality of life.
Campbell credits her grandfather and the donor of a scholarship that enabled her to attend college as being pivotal to her multi-decade roles as a mentor, volunteer, philanthropist, and civic leader. Paraphrasing her grandfather, she says, “Life is not about you. It’s about being an instrument for greater things.”
Although her contributions are multi-faceted, Campbell has a particular fondness for education and human services issues, attributable in part to personal experiences from when she was a high school student in Spokane. While trying to raise money to attend Washington State University, a check for $2,500 arrived from a WSU scholarship fund aimed at low-income students. “The thing that left the impression was this person who gave back, who paid it forward,” she recalls.
“I know the power of a check, the power of somebody’s message, somebody paying attention,” she once told a reporter.
Campbell has a proven track record of board service, both in the for profit and not-for-profit sectors. Her nonprofit boards include PATH, the US-Japan Council, and the global advisory board of Women Corporate Directors (WCD).
In the for-profit sector she serves as lead independent director for Alaska Air Group, and also serves on the Nordstrom, Inc. board of directors and on Toyota’s Diversity Advisory Board (DAB). She has also been a member of the boards at Joshua Green Corporation, Puget Sound Energy, and Safeco.
Previously the banking executive chaired the boards of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Washington Business. Her commitment to education is reflected in part by her service as a WSU Regent from 1991-2003, as chair of the Seattle University Board of Trustees, and as a board member (and now an emeritus board member) for the Alliance for Education.
Campbell began her banking career in 1973 upon graduation from WSU when Old National Bank in Spokane hired her as a management trainee. Two decades later she became the first woman to lead one of Washington’s larger banks when she was named president and CEO of US Bank of Washington.
While serving on various nonprofit boards she earned praise for helping shift the paradigm for philanthropy from just check-writing to a model that focuses more on strategy and results. She is also credited with being an advocate of collaboration, an investment mentality and more innovative approaches to philanthropy.
One past president of United Way extolled Campbell for her role in chairing that nonprofit organization’s 1998-1999 campaign, which raised a record-breaking $68.6 million. “Phyllis’ dedication and true desire to work in every facet of the campaign has been nothing short of remarkable,” remarked Joanne Harrell.
In naming Campbell to head its Pacific Northwest division, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon stated “Phyllis’ hard work, integrity and success in banking and philanthropy define true leadership in the community.”
The First Citizen Award is the latest in a number of community and professional honors Campbell has earned. Earlier this year she received the Lifetime Achievement Award by Seattle Business Magazine, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Vision from the Mountaintop Award, and an Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business Award. This month she is among 13 recipients of the Puget Sound Business Journal Women of Influence Award. She was the inaugural winner of the Director of the Year Award from the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors. In 2006, Washington State University presented her with the Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award, the university’s highest honor granted to its alumni.
Campbell holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from WSU, and an MBA from the University of Washington’s Executive MBA Program. She is a graduate of the Pacific Coast Banking School at U.W., as well as Stanford University’s Executive Management Program. The Issaquah resident also holds honorary doctorates from Whitworth University and Gonzaga University.
About the First Citizen Award and Banquet
Since its inception in 1939, the First Citizen Award continues to celebrate community leadership, volunteerism and public service. Past recipients include individuals, couples, families and organizations, hail from humanitarian groups, charitable, health and educational institutions, arts groups, environmental causes and various civic endeavors.
Starting this year, a partnership of real estate companies is joining SKCR to present the award. Organized as the Seattle First Citizen Foundation, the founding partners include John L. Scott Real Estate, RE/MAX and Windermere Real Estate.
The Seattle-King County First Citizen Award and civic banquet, believed to be this region’s oldest such recognition, has no fund-raising expectation, but instead is designed solely as a not-for-profit celebration of community involvement.
Recent past recipients include last year’s honoree Theodor “Ted” Baseler, CEO and president of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Lenny Wilkens (2013), former NBA player and coach and the founder of the Lenny Wilkens Foundation; Norman B. Rice (2012), former Seattle mayor and former CEO of The Seattle Foundation; Rotary International District 5030 (in 2012); former Seattle Mariner Jamie Moyer and his wife Karen (2011); U.S. Senator Slade Gorton (2010); and Microsoft co-founder and innovator-investor Paul G. Allen (2008).