News Release: Trio of community idols will lead tributes to “Father Steve” at banquet honoring him as the 81st First Citizen Award recipient

BELLEVUE, Washington (April 30, 2019) — Three distinguished business/community leaders will honor Seattle University President Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J., at a civic banquet to celebrate his selection as the 2019 Seattle-King County First Citizen. The dinner event saluting this widely respected “community builder” is scheduled for Thursday, May 23 at Seattle’s Fairmont Olympic Hotel.

Dorothy Bullitt, Mark Pigott, and Jim Sinegal will speak about their affiliations with “Father Steve” and his many contributions as a university and community leader, and as a noteworthy volunteer with various organizations.

Bob Ratliffe, past chair of Seattle University’s Board of Trustees and president of Silver Creek Capital Management, is the master of ceremonies. Rich Bergdahl, president of Seattle King County REALTORS®, will present Fr. Sundborg with a commemorative medallion on behalf of the presenting partners for the First Citizen Award.

Reservations for the May 23 civic celebration, which begins with a reception at 5:30 pm followed by dinner and the program at 6:30 pm, may be made online at or by calling 425-974-1011.

Civic leader Dorothy Bullitt, who has had careers in business, government, and the not-for-profit sectors, has worked with this year’s First Citizen on some of the region’s most critical needs, including various causes related to human rights and homelessness. Their paths also cross as members of Seattle Rotary and as supporters of Habitat for Humanity. Bullitt has published two best-selling books and is a senior lecturer at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance.

Tributor and philanthropist Mark Pigott, executive chairman of PACCAR Inc., also has a long affiliation with Fr. Sundborg. He is the fourth generation of his family to actively support Seattle University, reflected in part by the establishment of the Pigott Family Endowment for the Arts and the creation and funding of the James Pigott Pavilion for Leadership in honor of his uncle.  Additionally, he has taught Executive MBA students for several years in Pigott Hall.

Both Bullitt and Pigott are from families that have been recognized as Seattle-King County First Citizens: the Bullitt Family in 2000, and the Pigott Family in 2018.

Also speaking at this year’s banquet is Jim Sinegal, co-founder and former CEO of Costco Wholesale, who shares Sundborg’s belief that education is essential to a successful and fulfilled life.

Sinegal is a past member of the university’s board of trustees whose connections also include serving as the first Senior Executive in Residence at its Albers School of Business and Economics. He and wife Jan have a long history of supporting educational opportunities and access to health care via transformative scholarships, endowments, the Jim and Janet Sinegal Initiative for Nursing Education at Seattle U, as well as the nationally-recognized Seattle University Youth Initiative.

Other program participants include Fr. Thomas Lucas, S.J., who will deliver the invocation, a color guard from Seattle University ROTC, and event chair Trish Englund, a broker at Windermere Real Estate.

Fr. Steve, now in his 22nd year as president of mission-driven Seattle University, plans to retire at the conclusion of his current five-year term.  Since he has been at the helm, Seattle U has been widely recognized as a leader in Jesuit education, having earned several top rankings for its programs, including having an 18-year streak on the U.S. News & World Report’s “Top 10” list of the West’s best regional universities.  Enrollment has surged, an ambitious building program is ongoing, and he is credited with engineering Seattle U’s return to NCAA Division I athletics.

Like many of the 80 First Citizens before him, Fr. Sundborg has been involved with many professional, charitable, cause-related, and civic organizations. Among past honorees are two former Seattle University presidents: Rev. Albert A. Lemieux, S.J., in 1956, and Rev. William J. Sullivan, S.J., in 1990.

Fr. Steve’s admirers describe him as an inspiring and visionary leader, and as a tireless advocate for marginalized residents. He is widely praised for creating energizing partnerships and for his reflective style of leadership, particularly in supporting neighborhood youth and families through the youth initiative, addressing the homeless crisis and a focus on social justice, diversity and inclusion.

Since 1939, the First Citizen event has recognized individuals and organizations that enhance the area’s quality of life through visionary leadership, civic engagement, and dedication to building healthy communities through volunteerism and philanthropy. Inductees have represented humanitarian organizations, charitable, health and educational institutions, arts groups, environmental causes and various civic endeavors. (See list below)

Several past First Citizens also expected to attend the May 23 banquet, along with many of this year’s recipients of a Seattle First Citizen Scholarship whose applicants are high school and college students who demonstrate a commitment to community service.

Recent First Citizen honorees include Bill and Jill Ruckelshaus (2017), Phyllis Campbell (2016), Ted Baseler (2015), Norman B. Rice (2014), Lenny Wilkens (2013), Rotary International District 5030 (2012), Jamie and Karen Moyer (2011), and Hon. Slade Gorton (2010).

About the First Citizen Award and Banquet

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.  Joining SKCR as presenting partners for the event are John L. Scott Real Estate and Windermere Real Estate.

King County Realtors created the award in 1939 as a way to lift spirits during the Great Depression by drawing attention to the positive community work taking place.

Realtors commissioned Seattle sculptor Dudley Pratt to create an expression of this “greater good,” a sentiment that endures on the medallion.

About Seattle King County REALTORS®

Seattle King County REALTORS® is a trade association of approximately 7,400 real estate brokers who serve clients throughout the Puget Sound area. Its goals include promoting ethical business practices and supporting policies that preserve and expand real property rights and housing affordability. Based in Bellevue, SKCR is a founding member of the National Association of REALTORS®, the largest professional trade association in the country, comprised of 1.2 million members.

The term REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.



1939   Richard Eugene Fuller
1940   Dr. Wendell Fifield
1941   William O. McKay
1942   Kenneth Colman
1943   Phil Johnson
1944   Children’s Orthopedic Hospital
1945   W. Walter Williams
1946   Royal Brougham
1947   John H. Reid
1948   Ernest Skeel
1949   Dr. Raymond Allen
1950   Thomas M. Pelly
1951   George Gunn, Jr.
1952   Henry Broderick
1953   Frank E. Holman
1954   William M. Allen
1955   Deitrich Schmitz
1956   Rev. A.A. Lemieux, S.J.
1957   Gordon N. Scott
1958   Nat S. Rogers
1959   Mrs. A. Scott Bullitt
1960   Michael Dederer
1961   Ben E. Ehrlichman
1962   Joseph E. Gandy
1963   George F. Kachlein, Jr.
1964   H.W. McCurdy
1965   Edward E. Carlson
1966   Milton Katims
1967   Mrs. Henry B. Owen
1968   James R. Ellis
1969   William B. Woods
1970   Norton Clapp
1971   Glynn Ross
1972   John D. Ehrlichman
1973   Dr. Dixy Lee Ray
1974   Ned and Kayla Skinner
1975   Dr. Wm. B. Hutchinson
1976   Rabbi Raphael Levine
1977   W.J. “Jerry” Pennington
1978   John M. Fluke
1979   Gordon H. Sweaney
1980   James M. Ryan
1981    C.M. “Mike” Berry
1982   Dr. Dale E. Turner
1983   T.A. Wilson
1984   Victor Rosellini
1985   Fredric A. Danz
1986   Robert W. Graham
1987   John W. Ellis
1988   Samuel Stroum
1989   R.C. “Torchy” Torrance
1990   Rev. Wm. J. Sullivan, S.J.
1991   Buster and Nancy Alvord
1992   Lester R. Sauvage, M.D.
1993   Constance W. Rice, Ph.D.
1994   Phil M. Smart, Sr.
1995   Mary Gates & Family
1996   Stanley O. McNaughton
1997   Walter B. Williams
1998   Jack A. Benaroya
1999   Paul Brainerd
2000   The Bullitt Family
2001   Herb M. Bridge
2002   Scott and Laurie Oki
2003   Dan and Nancy Evans
2004   The McCaw Family
2005   Jeffrey and Susan Brotman
2006   Dale Chihuly
2007   James and Sherry Raisbeck
2008   Paul G. Allen
2009   Gerard Schwarz
2010   Hon. Slade Gorton
2011   Jamie and Karen Moyer
2012    Rotary International Dist. 5030
2013   Lenny Wilkens
2014   Hon. Norman B. Rice
2015   Theodor “Ted” Baseler
2016   Phyllis Campbell
2017   Bill & Jill Ruckelshaus
2018   The Pigott Family