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News Release: Realtors Name 86th First Citizen Award Recipient Tod Leiweke

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February 16, 2024

BELLEVUE, Washington (Feb. 15, 2024) – Sports innovator.  An inspirational visionary. A champion for inclusion. Acclaimed humanitarian. Compassionate. Appreciative.

Those are just a few of the words that colleagues use to describe Tod Leiweke, who has been named 2024 Seattle King County First Citizen. Not only is he known for being one of the top sports business leaders in the country, but he is also admired for his passion for inclusivity and for his “deep understanding of the positive impact that sports can have on communities.”

“Our community needs heroes and extraordinary individuals like Tod Leiweke. We can rally around them, highlight them to young people, and be inspired by them,” said Michael Orbino, 2024 president of Seattle King County REALTORS® (SKCR).

Leiweke, the CEO of the Seattle Kraken (the National Hockey League’s newest franchise), will be honored at a civic banquet on Thursday, May 16, at The Westin Bellevue.

The Realtors® established the First Citizen award—believed to be the region’s oldest such recognition—in 1939, during the Great Depression. It was created to focus attention on positive community and civic work being done to enhance the region’s well-being.

As the 86th “First Citizen,” Leiweke joins a list of distinguished honorees from the public and private sectors. Past recipients include individuals, couples, families, and organizations involved in humanitarian, health, education, the arts, environmental, and other causes.

SKCR’s First Citizen Selection Committee singled him out for his altruism, philanthropy, and accomplishments as a leader in business, sports, and civic concerns.

“Tod’s humility combined with decades of commitment to the business of the sports industry while never forgetting what sports represents to our community is awe-inspiring and makes him the perfect recipient,” commented Orbino, the managing broker at Team Foster at Compass. “We are grateful and incredibly honored he has accepted.”

In a 2021 interview published by 425 Magazine, Leiweke reflected on adversity and how he’s drawn inspiration from it. “Real adversity is seeing your mother die of cancer,” he stated. He lost his mother when he was just eight years old.

Acknowledging that “everyone goes through adversity; everyone goes through challenges,” Tod has tried to make the most of every day knowing that giving back and having a positive impact on other’s lives has been a consistent highlight throughout his career.

This year’s First Citizen has held top executive positions with the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS, and PGA Tour’s First Tee organizations. He helped lead the Seattle Seahawks to the team’s first ever NFL Super Bowl appearance in 2006 and the Tampa Bay Lighting to the NHL Stanley Cup Finals in 2014. He is widely acclaimed for his devotion to fans and for developing deep community ties.

Born in St. Louis, Tod has spent much of his professional life in the Pacific Northwest and is a big champion of Seattle. “Seattle is a place where big ideas have been launched,” he commented. “Our best days as a community are ahead of us.”

“Tod is an incredible leader, and we would not be where we are today with the Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena without him. Undoubtedly, his greatest passion is giving back and creating long-lasting community impact through sports and entertainment, and he truly leads by example,” said Sam Holloway, Kraken owner.

Among many charitable endeavors, Leiweke chaired the 2008-2009 United Way of King County annual campaign, raising more than $100 million during the Great Recession.  He helped form the Seahawks Spirit of 12 program that helps raise money for organizations supporting and empowering local youth. He is also credited with being instrumental in launching the annual PGA TOUR’s Boeing Classic golf tournament in 2005. Since then, that event has raised more than $8.5 million for Benaroya Research Institute (BRI) at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health.

“Much like esteemed First Citizen predecessors, Mr. Leiweke has elevated the quality of life in our community and beyond in numerous ways,” commented Michele Liang, chair of the First Citizen Committee. “He exemplifies being an inspiring mentor, devoted volunteer, and accomplished business executive. We are genuinely thrilled to honor and thank this exceptionally deserving and generous philanthropist and community leader,” added Liang, a real estate principal broker at Compass Kirkland.

In discussing how the Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena give back, Leiweke points to One Roof Foundation, their joint philanthropic arm. The Foundation’s work focuses on three pillars: youth homelessness, access to play and environmental justice. “We believe all kids growing up should have a roof over their heads, clean air to breathe and water to drink and access to play and be kids,” added Leiweke, a father of two adult children.

Leiweke alongside his brother, Tim, the CEO of Oak View Group (OVG) worked to make sure Climate Pledge Arena was the most sustainable arena in the world and the first net zero carbon certified arena in the world.

“All of the work we’ve done most recently in Seattle; Climate Pledge Arena, the Kraken, the Community Iceplex and our community efforts would not be possible without our incredible ownership group,” added Tod. “Led by Samantha Holloway and David Bonderman, we share a commitment to this city and these fans and we’re not done yet.”

Leiweke, 64, and his wife Tara, currently reside in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. They are part-owners of the Kraken and Seattle Sounders FC.

This year’s event is presented by Seattle King County Realtors (SKCR) in partnership with Windermere Real Estate, Zillow and media sponsor Cascade PBS. More information about the event and tickets can be found at

Sponsorship information is available by contacting Darla White at the SKCR offices in Bellevue, 425-974-1015.

About the First Citizen Award

The Seattle King County First Citizen Award salutes “giving back” whether by “time, treasure or talent” and civic engagement that enhances the region’s quality of life. Past recipients hail from both the public and private sectors, ranging from humanitarian groups, corporations, charitable, health and educational institutions, to various arts, environmental, and civic organizations.

Since its inception in 1939, the First Citizen Award, believed to be this region’s oldest such recognition, continues to celebrate community leadership, volunteerism, and public service.

The civic banquet to honor the annual recipients is a not-for-profit celebration of civic engagement presented by Seattle King County Realtors® and partners from the real estate community.

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