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Council News

King County residents receive MLK Medal of Distinguished Service


Recognizing those who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to make a difference in communities across King County



Front Row (l-r) Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles MLK medal recipients
Allan Panitch, Francisco “Frank” Irigon, Vicki Olson, Mimi Siegel, Hamdi Abdulle, and
Councilmembers Larry Gossett and Kathy Lambert.

Back Row (l-r) Councilmembers Rod Dembowski, Reagan Dunn,
Claudia Balducci, and Joe McDermott,
MLK medal recipient Fred Mendoza and Councilmember Dave Upthegrove.

One helps young people dance, another has preserved the history of the community she grew up in. Others have worked to aid people with special needs and make newcomers to King County to feel welcome. Today the Metropolitan King County Council awarded nine citizens the MLK Medal of Distinguished Service, an accolade recognizing those who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to make a difference in communities across King County.

This is the second year Councilmembers have recognized individuals in their districts that have answered the question asked by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “What are you doing for others?” Today’s recipients have helped in their communities in a number of ways:

Council Vice Chair Rod Dembowski recognized Francisco “Frank” Irigon for his lifelong commitment to the improving the lives of Asian and Pacific Islanders through activism in the labor and civil rights movements.

Councilmember Larry Gossett presented the medal to Melba Ayco, founder and Artistic Director of Northwest Tap Connection Studio, where she has trained generations of young people in her south Seattle studio.

Councilmember Kathy Lambert recognized Siri Erickson-Brown, who has advocated effectively with the public and county officials for the agricultural community in the Snoqualmie Valley.

Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles awarded the medal to Allan Panitch, who has served his community in a number of roles including as a member of the King County Mental Health Advisory Board.

CouncilmemberDave Upthegrove presented the medal to Fred Mendoza, who has been active in the Highline community he grew up in as a volunteer for programs ranging from the Lighthouse for the Blind to coaching soccer.

CouncilmemberClaudia Balducci recognized Kindering Center Executive Director Mimi Siegel for her four decades of providing family-centered services for children who are disabled, medically fragile or vulnerable because of abuse or neglect.

Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer presented the medal to Joseph Townsend for his devotion to coaching students on the baseball fields and at the bowling lanes, and providing counseling and mentorship to the student athletes at Thomas Jefferson High School.

Council Chair Joe McDermott recognized Hamdi Abdulle for her tireless commitment to serving the Somali and other underserved communities in King County through the Somali Youth and Family Club.

Council Vice Chair Reagan Dunn awarded the medal to Vicki Olson, who is preserving the rich history of the City of Newcastle through her maintaining and providing tours of the city’s historic cemetery.

Today’s recipients were selected by the Councilmembers in each respective district. The annual presentation of the MLK Medal of Distinguished Service is the Council’s way of thanking those who have made a particularly strong impact on the county and to encourage others to renew their dedication to serve their community.

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