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2021 Inductees

Jeannette Brennan

Jeannette recently retired as WFEA Director. She produced a full package of events, the largest being the Ski to Sea, where she was Race Director for 16 years.

During her tenure as Race Director of the event, the multi-sport relay race doubled in size and received national and international recognition - Good Morning America, Wall Street Journal and Sports Illustrated to name a few. In addition Outdoor life Channel showcased the race to millions, Fox Sports Northwest did a special feature, and Northwest Cable News aired its first 30 minute race special.

She was recognized as the Tourism Person of the year by the Bellingham / Whatcom Convention and Visitors Bureau with the “Piscilla Saben” award for her contribution to tourism and community development.

Don Kardong

Don competed for Stanford and finished a close 4th place in the 1976 Summer Olympic in Montreal in the Marathon, just three second behind the bronze medal winner. His biggest win was the 1978 Honolulu Marathon.

In 1977 he founded the Lilac Bloomsday Run. He became a writer and author, serving as a writer and editor for both Runner’s World and The Runner. He became president of the Road Runners Club of America from 1996-2000.

The Bloomsday Run, is held on the first Sunday of May and is a 12K course. In 1996 with 61,298 participants and in some years it has been the largest timed race in the world.

Robin Kelley

Robin has been on the WFEA board for over 25 years. As director of Festivals and Community Engagement of Issaquah Chamber of Commerce she successfully engaged diverse groups of artists, community partners, multiple municipalities, and over 500 volunteers in the iconic annual celebration lssaquah's Salmon Days Festival.

In addition she has consulted with various organizations on projects including Swedish Hospital Grand Opening; One Reel Bumbershoot; and the Seattle Tunnel Opening event.

Currently she is the Executive Director of the Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery where she has developed, produced, and collaborated on numerous art projects.

Terry MOrgan

Terry has the most successful minority owned Production Company in Washington State since 1979, Modern Enterprise.

With over 40 years of experience in special event design, venue management, artist book and promotion, public relations and fundraising, Modern Enterprises is one of the most creative and innovative event planning teams. Its client list includes Microsoft, Cirque Du Soleil, Children's Hospital, Chateau St. Michelle, and the Museum of Flight to just name a few. He recently produced the highly acclaimed Seattle Center/Space Needle New Year's Eve Show.

Modern Enterprises has also produced over 1,000 national and international groups from R.E.M. to Nancy Sinatra.

In addition he has also performed for many national acts, including Van Morrison, Sheryl Crow, Steve Miller, Train, and many more.

2020 Inductees

Rick Betts and Jerry Schmidt

In the late ’80s and early ’90s, 3on3 basketball tournaments hardly existed outside of the Midwest United States. The idea of Spokane Hoopfest was born from two separate groups: one group with members from the Midwest who wanted to see the continuance of the 3on3 ball they had back home and the other with members trying to raise money for Special Olympics. Eventually the two groups merged under co-founders Rick Betts and Jerry Schmidt and Spokane Hoopfest Association was created. Finding support for the first tournament proved a challenge as Hoopfest wanted to do something no one else had: shut down the streets of downtown Spokane for two full days of basketball. By going door to door and winning a majority of downtown business owners over with the idea, the permit was granted and 36 courts were taped off on the asphalt.

On June 30 and July 1, 1990, a group of dedicated volunteers including founding board members Betts, Schmidt, Dave Jackson, Terry M. Kelly, Dennis Magner and Rick Steltenpohl coordinated the first Hoopfest. The tournament hosted 2,009 players on 512 teams. The event was such a success in its first year, the City was happy to have it back again the next summer. Thus began the tradition of Spokane shutting down its downtown core during the last weekend in June to let people play on the streets.

In the many years since inception, Hoopfest has developed into much more than a basketball tournament. Activities have been added to enhance the event experience such as a youth and adult center, courts, games and contests for every age, music playing throughout downtown, merchandise tents, and more.

Hoopfest has grown to become the largest 3on3 street basketball tournament and family festival of its kind in the world. Annual participation in Hoopfest exceeds 6,000 teams and about 25,000 players. With players coming in from 42 states including Hawaii, Georgia and Kansas, it now takes 450 courts to house the 14,000 games. It is believed that the second largest 3on3 basketball tournament in the country has no more than 1,500 participating teams. And the event generated $39 million in economic impact for the State of Washington.

2019 Inductees

Seattle Center

Seattle Center is a significant center for events of all types, and remains a vital center more than half a century after the 1962 World’s Fair created the campus. Major events include Bumbershoot, PrideFest, Bite of Seattle, and Seattle Center Festal, a year-long series of 24 world cultural events, the largest of which is Northwest Folklife. Other events include arts and entertainment events at several facilities in the Center.

Over 1.8 million people attend these events annually.

It also has several permanent attractions, including the Space Needle, Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), Chihuly Garden and Glass, Pacific Science Center and Mercer Arena.

“Seattle Center remains a vital center for events,” said Skinner. “It attracts a large cohort of visitors from outside the local area, contributing to the economic base of the regional economy, which generates jobs and income for thousands of people in King County. It is a major tourism destination.”

Alan Silverman

Silverman is the founder of Festivals Inc., a special events production company and Lifestyle Events Inc., producer of Coffee Fest – the largest and first Coffee and Tea Trade show in the U.S. A native of New York City, his background includes over 50 years in the restaurant and hospitality industry, which provided the foundation for the growth and success that both companies have experienced.

Festivals Inc. was formed when Silverman created and produce the first Bite of Seattle in 1982. The Bite has grown into one of Seattle’s largest community festivals, attracting over 350,000 people annually and remains a flagship event for the company. He was a visionary and pioneer in establishing procedures and guidelines for special events in Seattle.

An accomplished restauranteur, Silverman saw clearly the business opportunities within the fast-growing coffee and tea industry. In 1992 Coffee Seattle was born and although the event is no longer owned by him, it was his vision, drive and passion for the industry that built the foundation for what is still today the leading trade show for coffee and tea.

Silverman was also instrumental in forming ASSET (A Seattle/King County Special Events Team). “His leadership went way beyond the events he produced,” said Bruce Skinner WFEA Executive Director. “He worked tirelessly to promote ASSET’s primary goal of communicating the value of sports and special events to the City of Seattle, the media and broader community.”

Beth Knox

Knox recently completed serving as the President and CEO of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games that were held in Seattle. Considered to be the most significant event in Seattle since the 1990 Goodwill Games, the Special Olympics showcased the abilities of athletes with intellectual disabilities, providing for world-class competition and inspirational experience.

Prior to that, she served as President and CEO of Seattle Seafair from 2005 -- 2015, overseeing Seattle’s largest regional celebration with 75 events – 10 of them large scale – over eight weeks.

She also was the President and CEO of the Seafair Foundation and the Boise River Festival in Idaho from 2001 – 2003. She served as a Vice President at One Reel for two different stints (1994 – 2001 and 2003 – 2005), in charge of revenue development for a $22 million operation that produced Bumbershoot – The Seattle Arts Festival, At&T Summer Nights at the Pier concert series, Teatro Zinzanni, AT&T Family Fourth and many other events.

She began her career as the Director of Promotions at Seafair, serving from 1988 – 1994.

“Knox is a natural leader,” said Skinner. “She is skilled in all facets of the events industry while being a team builder and staff and volunteer motivator. People are amazed at how calm she can be in the event industry’s fast-paced, high pressure environment.”

Past Inductees

Mike Brennan (2001)

Mike Brennan is the economic development and Make it in Washington grant specialist for the Washington state Workforce board.  He has over 30 years’ experience in private sector business and private not-for-profits, and eleven years with the State’s Workforce Board.  His professional background is wide ranging from teaching elementary school; operating a SCUBA/Snorkel dive chart business on St. Croix, US Virgin Islands; serving as president/CEO of the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry and chairing the Mt. Baker School District Board.  He is a graduate of the University of Delaware with a Degree in American Studies, and West Chest State College with a Pennsylvania State Certification in Elementary Education.  Mike is also certified as a Marano Fellow by the Aspen Institute.  He works across the state supporting the coordination of the workforce and economic development systems at the regional level.  

Norm Langill (2001)

Norm Langill’s career spans over 40 years beginning with the creation of One Reel in 1972. The once travelling, off-beat vaudeville troupe performing from a fold-down stage of an old 1931 Model A truck expanded to become an entertainment empire. As Founder and President, he presided over high-profile events including the Bumbershoort Arts Festival, Summer Nights at the Pier concert series, Family Fourth of July Fireworks bash, the WOMAD USA festival, and Denver’s Lodo Festival. In addition, he created Seattle’s world-class 1990 Goodwill Games Arts Festival, a ground-breaking American tour by Japan’s Grand Kabuki Theatre, orchestrated the first live performance of Spinal Tap, and produced the original tri-lingual musical Gumbo YaYa for the 1992 Cultural Olympiad in Barcelona.

    The original concept for his Teatro ZinZanni was sparked by that visit to Barcelona, when Norman strolled into a weather-beaten speigeltent. Inspired by the great cabarets of Europe, spiked with a fresh sense of American comedy, and steeped in absurdity, Teatro ZinZanni took shape. Since 1998 Langill has conceived and directed over 50 productions and presided over 6,000 performances in Seattle, San Francisco and Costa Mesa. Norman has been recognized for many accomplishments over the years including an Emmy for writing, a Grammy for lifetime achievement, the Royal Brougham Award, and an induction into the International Festivals and Events Association Hall of Fame.


    David Doxtater founded The Workshop in 1997 with a vision for inspiring people to connect with new ideas, celebrate achievement, and participate in making our world a better place. Following this vision, The Workshop has produced hundreds of events, concerts, galas, festivals and community celebrations that strive to build stronger engaged community.

    Concurrent to this work, David has also served as Director of Events at the University of Washington, overseeing hosted experiences for offices of Advancement and the President; and also served Executive Director for the Tacoma Tall Ships Festival. David has been very busy. Prior to The Workshop, he began his career as a "One Reel Vaudeville" pioneer helping create the Bumbershoot Arts Festival and building it into a world-class multi-million dollar entertainment brand. During this time, he also developed the iconic "Summer Nights at the Pier" concert destination, as well as Seattle's annual 4th of July Fireworks show on Lake Union.

    ED NEUNHERZ (2015)

    Ed retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after 27 years of active duty in the United States Air Force. After 4 years with the Spokane Lilac Festival, Ed joined Global Credit Union as Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications and Government relations and also served as an elected member of the Board of Directors for 8 years.

    Ed was an active board member, past President and founder of WFEA. He also served on the Spokane County Planning Commission as Commission Vice Chair, past president and board member of the West Plains Chamber of Commerce, Vice Chair and Chair of the Spokane Chamber of Commerce Armed Services Committee, Past President of the Funding Development Board of the Vanessa Behan Crises Nursery of Spokane. Board member of Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council, Spokane British Brass Band, Spokane First Night, Spokane Area Veterans Task Force.


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