The tradition of honoring women who have made significant contributions to the Greater Puget Sound community began in 2006 and was entitled “Inspiring Women Night.”  Creating such an honor allowed the team and fans to recognize and thank the women who have made a difference in the community.  To reflect the ever-changing roles and opportunities that women have in our community,  the program will now be called “Believe in Women Night.”  This year the program amplifies the contributions of Black women, leaders of color, and organizations serving Black communities during the 2020 WNBA season and beyond.  This year’s Believe in Women honorees are Seattle-area businesswomen and civic leaders of color, driven by their shared philosophy that women and girls should have the chance to succeed at every level no matter their race, ethnicity, or gender.

 

2021 Honorees

Val Thomas-Matson – Ginger Ackerley Award

Creator and Executive Producer, Look, Listen and Learn TV

Val is a community organizer/activist with deep experience in media. In addition to early work at KING-TV, she created, produced and hosted the daily community affairs talk show, Communities in Action, for King County Government TV for three years. She has also worked extensively with the multi-award-winning production company, North by Northwest, serving as co-host on Washington Grown, and managing video production elements for educational, non-profit, and government video campaigns. Hattie McDaniel and Fred Rogers serve as primary sources of inspiration.

 

 

 

 Sophia Danenberg 

First Black woman and first African American of any gender to summit Mount Everest

International Policy Leader, Environmental Policy Analysis and Strategy, Boeing

Sophia Danenberg is a rock, ice, and mountain climber who, in 2006, became the first black woman and the first African-American to summit Mount Everest.  In addition to climbing, she volunteers as a Washington State Parks and Recreation Commissioner, on the board of NatureBridge, an organization that provides hands-on environmental education to students in national parks, and as a track & field official with Special Olympics. She is also very active in state and local politics, currently serving on the Legislative & Public Affairs committees for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) and the King County Redistricting Committee. Professionally, Sophia leads international environmental policy analysis in Global Enterprise Sustainability at Boeing. 

 

Angela Jones

Director of the Washington State Initiative, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Before joining the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in August 2021, Angela Jones served as Chief Executive Officer of Washington STEM, a statewide nonprofit working to ensure that youth experiencing poverty have access to high-quality STEM education and pathways that will help them thrive in our state’s technology-driven economyAngela has also served in higher education leadership positions at both Washington State University and Eastern Washington University. Before that, she spent six years as the Director of Human Resources and Conciliation Services at Spokane Public Schools. Angela also taught English and Language Arts as a teacher, and she served on a team that opened PRIDE Prep Charter Schoolone of first charter schools opened in Washington State.