Posted by Pete DeLaunay on Feb 23, 2022
The day’s long program showcased the work of the Seattle Rotary Business Mentors Committee, and its work with the UW Consulting and Business Development Center, Foster School of Business, which aims to enhance student education and careers.  According to the center director, Wil Tutol, Seattle Rotary’s two-decade partnership with UW has helped generate $250M in revenue for area businesses and created 150K jobs across Washington State.  “More than 300 Rotarians have served as business mentors over the years”, he said, “by pairing business professionals with students to enhance their education and open their eyes by teaming up to help businesses in underserved communities.”  
He led a three-person panel made up of a UW Foster school alumna, a small business owner, and a Rotary Business Mentor.  Seattle 4 business mentors committee co-chairs, Bill Marshall and Terry Van Nostrand have led the program for nearly a decade, helping pair students with Rotary mentors who provide guidance to students and coaching small business owners.  

Wil Tutol, director of UW business development center – moderated the panel and began by asking each panelist to describe their experience with the UW Rotary partnership.
Minority business representative, Mari Borrero, CEO, American Abatement & Demolition, founded the Latino-owned company in 2017 with little business experience.  “My husband and I started working out of our garage,” she said, “and thanks to UW students we were able to build our business infrastructure and network to obtain a certification for federal and state projects.”  UW consultants helped American Abatement & Demolition penetrate the lucrative government market by filtering out what was needed, and the opportunity to expand.  They benefited from a series of educational programs to help put their ideas into action.  “A big barrier for us was access to capital and financing,” she said. “Thanks to the UW work our revenue went from $500K to $2.7M, and we helped people provide for their families.”  The company recently won a homeless encampment cleanup program contract for Washington state.    
Seattle Rotary scholarship recipient and UW Foster School Alumna, Nicole Bryant, landed as a Moss Adams consultant after graduation.  “Rotary Business mentors were incredibly valuable for experience and being able to look at recommendations with a new perspective,” she said, “based on their own business experience and knowledge as a client”. 
“Common with student teams is providing an overarching strategy that helps students focus on projects,” she said. “The program is entirely unique and a great experience to build upon”.  Learning how to think on her feet, to have the confidence in research and analysis, and recommendations based on that work, and to defend a position in collaboration with others was a key takeaway for her. 
Rotarian and business owner Doug Seto has volunteered as a UW student mentor for three years. “As a Rotary mentor I am crossing technology, manufacturing, personnel, and other areas to incentivize students,” he said. “The key thing is that the students are really motivated and passionate about what they are doing, and they challenge me to be smarter and better”.
 “Owners have a dream that they want to accomplish, and are there to grow, whether a new location new line of business or expand what they have from marketing to strategic planning,” the center director concluded.  “The expertise that students and mentors bring to these minority-owned businesses are a real value”. 
President Jimmy called the meeting to order promptly at 12:30pm followed by Bill Center, Todd Summerfelt, and Trish Bostrom (on the banjo) with the day’s song, ‘If I Had a Hammer". Tom Maseros delivered the day’s inspiration about how his business acumen was shaped by his many mentors.   A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability than you see in yourself and brings it out of you.  He hoped we are all good mentors.  
The day’s short program offered an inside look at the Seattle #4 Rotary Education Committee under the leadership of Rotarians Lori Walker and Mary Wagner.   The committee’s focus is on two main grants: increasing proficiency at the third grade level with diverse reading materials., and the second grant for scholarships for high school students to continue their education in a college or vocational program.  The committee has partnered with the United Negro College Fund., producing a video on the power of scholarships to make a difference for at-risk teens of color to break the cycle of poverty.  The committee aims to build awareness to be better consumers of media; explore vocational focus, expand the UNCF program with more Rotary clubs.
Newly minted Rotarian, Ashley Burman, introduced next week’s program with Dr. Karen Johnson, Director, Washington State Department of Equity, who has made a career creating racial equity in government, with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for equal opportunity programs and as an adjunct faculty at Evergreen State College.
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