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Women in the South Sound are making a difference. They’re changing the rules and blazing new trails in business, social service, health care, government, and in the military.

Steve Maxwell

KeyBank President South Puget Sound District

KeyBank supports their drive to achieve … by contributing money and muscle to causes they believe in … by helping women in business gain access to capital they need to grow their businesses. And by presenting inspirational and educational programs like Wisdom Wednesdays – presentations by national business experts for anyone who has an hour to dial in to a live conference call. You can learn more and sign up at business/key4women/wisdomwednesdays.jsp




Opportunities to learn from experts and network with each other are essential to women in business. We’re proud to feed your need for information and delighted to get behind the networking and recognition that the Women of Influence event delivers. Please join me in congratulating this year’s honorees.

Photos by Dane Gregory Meyer - DG Studio Stories by Business Examiner Media Group Business Examiner Media Group delivers information dedicated to business success in multiple platforms, including the only newspaper in its coverage area dedicated solely to informing and supporting the South Sound business community. Reach us at, by calling 253-404-0891 or by mail at PO Box 1575 Tacoma, WA 98401-1575.

JANbrazzell “My greatest joy,” said Advancement Consulting CEO Jan Brazzell, “comes from helping friends, family members and clients reach their greatest potential as a result of our learning and solving problems together.” It’s a fitting statement from a woman who has spent much of her life aspiring to be an educator. As a child, Brazzell said, she thought she’d someday become a teacher. In fact, before she came to Washington state, she was a tenure track professor at Louisiana State University. And while her career has changed, Brazzell said that, in many ways, she very much remains an educator — and a businesswoman, and a consultant, facilitator, and coach. “My mission is to help leaders move their organizations and businesses forward by planning, governing, managing and fundraising more effectively.” she said. “Others describe me as a friend, mentor, advisor, confidant, teacher, and community leader [and] volunteer.” Along those same lines, she lists among her greatest accomplishments the satisfaction of seeing people she has mentored realize their dreams, as well as earning her doctorate and maintaining a successful consulting business in general. Her advice for others who would try to achieve the same? It’s a piece of advice she’s received herself. “The best advice I received before launching my business came from others who had done the same thing,” she said. “Develop relationships with people who are doing whatever you aspire to become and listen carefully to what they have to say. Also, treat everything you do or say to or about other people as if it’s destined to become public knowledge — because it is.”


Wednesday, October 2, 2013 5:30-6:15 p.m.

Registration, networking, passed appetizers and no host bar

6:15-6:30 p.m.

Doors open for seating Dinner begins | Provided by Adriatic Grill

6:30-7:30 p.m. Award presentation

7:30-8:30 p.m.

Networking and desserts Congratulate 2013 Women of Influence Honorees


Skewered Grapefruit Picks


Herb Chicken Skewers Mini Cheese Tortellini Antipasti Tower


Italian Grilled Salmon Salad

Mixed greens w/ grilled salmon, roasted red peppers, mushrooms & parmesan crisps.

Bread rolls and butter. Balsamic Vinaigrette & Italian Herb Ranch available on tables.


Cupcakes provided by Celebrity Cake Studio Coffee Service provided by Black Tie Espresso



Olympia-based Phillips Wesch Burgess is rapidly growing, and key to that success has been founding partner Heather Burgess, an attorney since 1998. Ask Burgess to describe herself, though, and her professional accomplishments will be secondary. “I always describe myself first in terms of my family,” said Burgess, a mother of three who has been married for 20 years. “The biggest challenge I face on an ongoing basis is balancing accomplishing what I can and want professionally in my career and business and personally as a wife and mother. I have come to believe that there is no such thing as having it all, nor is there truly work-life balance.” Still, if she’s right, she certainly comes close to finding that balance, having already achieved much thus far. Entering active duty after graduation, she served in different capacities with the U.S. Army from 1991 to 2004, and still serves as a judge advocate in the Army National Guard. She has served on the YWCA Pierce County board of directors since 2009. She’s also an entrepreneur, as she co-owns Lakewood’s CrossFit 253 with her husband. And at Phillips Wesch Burgess, she’s best known in the community for her expertise as a land use attorney. “When I was studying to become a lawyer, I thought I would always be a prosecutor,’ said Burgess. “Now I work in real estate and spend some portion of every week considering the intricacies of septic and sewer systems. It is an occupational hazard. I never thought I would do that.” Nonetheless, of course, Burgess said that she loves her job and the challenge of helping her firm continue its trajectory of success. “I am most motivated by the next challenge,” she said. “There is always a reason to be better, faster, or stronger. There is always something new to learn or to try.”


Treat your guests by offering them a complimentary espresso bar.


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Women of Influence recognizes outstanding female leaders in the South Puget Sound. Honorees are selected for their achievement in community, business, government, military and nonprofit sectors. The panel of judges, comprised of previous years’ honorees, also select a Lifetime Achievement award honoree, a woman living or who has passed away, who made significant and noteworthy contributions to the South Sound – a visionary, leader and role model. All nominations are weighed and discussed in great length and detail before the panel makes its decisions.

Members of this year’s judging panel: Carol “Cha” Andersen ‘11 Miriam Barnett ‘11 Rachael Costner ‘12 Liz Dunbar ‘10 Maureen Fife ‘12 Grace Kendall ‘04 ‘Babe’ Lehrer ‘09 Melanie Manista-Rushforth ‘10 Carolyn McDougal ‘11 Helen McGovern-Pilant ‘10 Carol Mitchell ‘05 Kathleen Olson ‘10 Reneé Ries ‘10 Jan Teague ‘09 Lily Warnick ‘10

The skills you need for the life you want.


Sometimes, you just can’t say it better yourself. Ruby Chambers, founder of The Ruby Collection and developer of Opera Alley in Tacoma, was nominated for Women of Influence by a longtime friend who had this to say: “I have known my friend Ruby for the last 20 years. During that time, I’ve seen her grow her custom accessory business from a small storefront into a mega wholesale distributor with showrooms in the biggest markets in the country and sales in the multimillions. “She took her money and reinvested it into the community and bought a couple of properties in downtown Tacoma. It was her vision and hard work that transformed an old alley full of dumpsters and trash into what is now a retail gem of downtown called Opera Alley. When the market tanked in ‘07 and ‘08, so did her high end accessory business and she was forced to downsize and recreate herself yet again. “Today, she has become a champion and a mentor for small businesses. She and her husband George have painstakingly restored their downtown properties into affordable retail spaces for young entrepreneurs and upstarts. “She has used all of the knowledge she gained from creating her own business to help market and coach all of her tenants as they start on their own entrepreneurial journeys. She has created a community of like-minded pioneers in downtown Tacoma and has organized open houses and public events to draw attention and bring business success for everyone under her umbrella. “The handprint of her impeccable design sense and entrepreneur spirit is all over Opera Alley and the Ledger Square Building. She is a true inspiration to me and everyone else she meets.”

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Congratulations to all of the nominees and finalists who represent the finest professionals in our community.

APRILgibson Once a single mother looking for a job that paid more than minimum wage, April Gibson has risen through the ranks of the industry. Now, with a 30-year career in health care to her name, Gibson, administrator at Puget Sound Orthopaedics, is a role model in her field. She started humbly, enrolling in a five-month class at Clover Park Technical College and taking a job as a ward clerk (or, as the position is referred to now, a unit secretary) at the St. Joseph Hospital ICU. By her own admission, though, she quickly found out that the ICU wasn’t the place for her, and she answered a part-time file clerk ad for a medical practice. Along the way, while raising her children, she finished a bachelor’s in accounting and a master’s degree in health administration. She’s not done learning yet, either. “I describe myself to others as a work in progress,” she said. “I am a perpetual learner and seeker of knowledge. My 6-year-old granddaughter, upon hearing I was taking an astronomy class, said. ‘Grammie, you have traveled all over the world, what else do you have to learn?’” “My response? ‘There is always more to learn, baby girl.’ I am on a lifelong quest to reach the attributes of a ‘level 5 leader’ as described by Jim Collins in his book, ‘Good to Great.’ “This is best characterized as an idea that respect towards people, selflessness by the leader, and a strong, powerful commitment to achieve results [and] bring out the best in people.” Gibson also believes in giving back personally and professionally. Currently, she serves with, among other organizations, Rebuilding Hope, The Sexual Assault Center for Pierce County and Hope for NKH.

Congratulations Ruby

Woman of Influence and my dear friend for the past 20 years. -PJ

Photo: PJ Hummel and Ruby Chambers in New York City at the 1994 International Furniture Fair

for being a

BETTlucas Bett Lucas was working for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in 2006 when she was approached by a local, familyowned startup in the Tacoma tideflats. That company, Targa Sound Terminal — which only had 17 employees at the time — was looking to initiate a sales and marketing division. “A voice inside said, ‘Take this leap, build something from ground up,’” said Lucas. “I am glad I listened and jumped.” Since 2007, Targa has grown from 17 workers to 50 at Targa’s Marine View Drive location, and Lucas has been a big part of guiding that growth. “We have grown our revenues and sales by hundreds of percent. Not only do we employ great people at family wage jobs, we give back substantially to our community and believe in continuing to grow our presence. “With perseverance, commitment and the support of the Tacoma leaders and business community, we have built a successful company right here.” She may not be where she thought she’d be all those years back, but this transplant is definitely happy to be where she is. “I did not foresee I would be in the petroleum industry or living in Tacoma,” Lucas said. “I am so grateful for both opportunities. Tacoma has been an amazing community. ... You can really see the positive outcomes in the time and energy you give to this community. “The petroleum industry is primarily a male dominated industry,” she continued. “However, I think there is great opportunity as a result. I have found that I can thrive in this environment and be an example for other women in the industry and general workforce.”

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Take the First Step to a Heart-Healthy Life. Start! Walking. Start! Something. Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in America. But did you know that just 30 minutes a day of physical activity can improve your health and decrease your risk of heart disease? An easy way to work physical activity into your regular routine is to start walking. For every single hour of regular, vigorous exercise, you can add two hours to your life expectancy. It’s easy to Start! whether you’re by yourself or with friends, family and co-workers. You’ll all feel a difference and live longer, heart-healthier lives. Join the movement.


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Retired Democratic senator Debbie Regala has had a long and storied career as an elected official in the South Sound. Originally named to serve an unexpired term in December of 1994, she was elected to Washington state’s Senate in 2001, serving as assistant Democratic floor leader in 2004 and majority whip from 2005 to 2008. She represented the 27th district, which includes parts of Tacoma, Ruston and Fife, with pride and decorum until her retirement from office in 2012. Her body of work speaks for itself, from helping guide sweeping reforms in prisoner re-entry and sales tax collection to co-authoring the 1999 Fores and Fish law as co-chair of the House Natural Resources Committee to working with the ACLU to oppose capital punishment in 2012. She has been praised throughout her career for her sense of fairness, team-oriented approach and unassuming demeanor despite her myriad accomplishments. Through it all, she’s been a strong, steadfast advocate for women, encouraging more female participation in legislature. “I encourage all sorts of women to please run for Legislature,” Regala said after being awarded the Washington State Bar Association’s Outstanding Elected Official award last year. “Bring your opinions, your good common sense. And remember, your job there is to try to work with everyone.” Truly, Debbie Regala is a fitting recipient of Business Examiner Media Group’s Women of Influence Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Strength leadership vision Congratulations to the 2013 Women of Influence. Your success and commitment to our community inspire us all. Women of Influence Jan Brazzell, PhD Advancement Consulting Heather Burgess Phillips Wesch Burgess, PLLC Ruby Chambers Ruby Collection and Opera Alley April Gibson Puget Sound Orthopaedics Elizabeth “Bett” Lucas Targa Sound Terminals Lifetime Achievement Debbie Regala Washington State Senate (retired)

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2013 Women of Influence  

The 2013 Women of Influence are: Jan Brazzell, PhD, principal of Advancement Consulting - click here for video Heather Burgess, partner at...