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Metropolitan King County
Council News

King County residents receive Martin Luther King Medal of Distinguished Service


This is the third 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?”


One recipient defends the rights of immigrants, another protects the county’s “curtain of green.” There’s a recipient who’s the voice of Snoqualmie Valley farmers, one who strengthen ties between Federal Way and the Republic of Korea—and another helping his neighbors in Renton, when he’s not catching touchdown passes. What do they have in common? Going above and beyond in their efforts to make a difference in communities across King County. Today the Metropolitan King County Council awarded nine citizens the Martin Luther King Medal of Distinguished Service, an accolade recognizing those who are committed to public service.

This is the third 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:

Councilmember Rod Dembowski recognized Terry Lavender, an advocate for open space and protecting the environment, who started with saving a fragile wetland in her community.

Councilmember Larry Gossett presented the medal to Bettie Williams-Watson, a community activist whose focus has been on developing culturally relevant programs to assist both the survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and those who have been abusers in the past.

Council Vice Chair Kathy Lambert recognized Cynthia Krass, Executive Director of the Snoqualmie Valley Watershed Improvement District and the Snoqualmie Valley Preservation Alliance who has been a strong voice for the agricultural community in the Snoqualmie Valley.

Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles recognized Jorge Barón, Executive Director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), who arrived in the U.S. as an immigrant and now leads an agency protecting the rights of those following him to America.

Councilmember Dave Upthegrove acknowledged the leadership of Seattle Seahawks Wide Receiver Doug Baldwin on various community initiatives throughout King County, including leading the efforts of a partnership between the city of Renton, the Renton School District and HealthPoint in creating the Family First Community Center in South King County.

Council Vice Chair Claudia Balducci recognized the tireless work of Karina O’Malley in assisting the homeless in East King County through her work with The Sophia Way, a shelter for women experiencing homelessness.

Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer presented the medal to long-time community leader Mike Park, who has served the city of Federal Way in a number of areas. He was the first Korean-American Mayor of the City and has been active in strengthening ties between Federal Way and the Republic of Korea.

Council Chair Joe McDermott recognized Bryan Hastings, who helped keep White Center’s Evergreen Pool operating when the County had to close the facility due to budget cuts. A new generation of swimmers are in the pool because of Hastings effort as the Executive Director of WhiteWater Aquatics Management, the non-profit agency operating the pool.

Councilmember Reagan Dunn acknowledged the tireless efforts of Scott Gray, who went from selling Pepsi at the King County Fair to leading the volunteers who have kept the oldest County Fair West of the Mississippi open.

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.

 Councilmembers are joined by the 2018 recipients of the
Martin Luther King Medal of Distinguished Service.
Front Row: (l-r) Medal recipients Scott Gray, Karina O’Malley,
Terry Lavender, Bettie Williams-Watson, Cynthia Krass and Jorge Barón
and Councilmember Larry Gossett

Back Row: (l-r) Councilmembers Claudia Balducci,
Dave Upthegrove, Rod Dembowski, Reagan Dunn, Joe McDermott,
Kathy Lambert, Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Pete von Reichbauer.
Not in photo: Medal recipients Doug Baldwin, Bryan Hastings and Mike Park.

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