Seattle Storm Announces Believe In Women Night Presented by Symetra

Force 10 Ownership to honor five local Black women business leaders on Sept. 9 vs. Dallas

SEATTLE, Wash. – The Seattle Storm today announced the five women who will be honored on September 9 during the Believe in Women Night presented by Symetra.

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 make 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. The 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.

Selected by a committee that consisted of players, owners and front office executives, this year’s honorees are Andrea Caupain, Makini Howell, Erin Jones, and Jessie Woolley-Wilson. In addition, Dr. Patricia Dawson will be recognized as the recipient of the annual Ginger Ackerley Community Service Award.

“Symetra proudly joins the Storm in honoring five extraordinary Black women leaders. Their professional accomplishments speak for themselves, as do their many contributions to our Puget Sound community. Above all, at this pivotal moment in our country, their actions and voices are paving the way for a more equitable and just future. Andrea Caupain, Patricia Dawson, Makini Howell, Erin Jones and Jessie Woolley-Wilson are powerful examples of women leading forward, and we stand alongside them,” said Trinity Parker, SVP, Marketing, Communications & Public Affairs for Symetra.

The Ginger Ackerley Community Service Award is given to an individual who has made an impact on improving the quality of life in the Puget Sound. Ackerley, who passed away in 2018 at the age of 79, founded and chaired the Storm and was a co-owner of the Seattle SuperSonics for 18 years.

This year’s Ginger Ackerley recipient, Dr. Patricia Dawson, was the inaugural Medical Director for Healthcare Equity at UW Medicine from 2018 to 2020. Through an investment in health care equity, Dawson inspired improvements in medical experiences by patients and staff, work conditions and health care outcomes. Prior to her work with UW Medicine, she became a leader in breast cancer treatment and diversity in the Puget Sound region, championing the breast cancer program at Swedish Hospital. A 2010 Puget Sound Business Journal “Woman of Influence,” Dawson was named Medical Director for the Swedish Cancer Institute Breast Program and helped establish the True Family Women’s Cancer Center. She started at Group Health in 1983 as the only woman general surgeon. Dawson earned a PhD in Human and Organizational Systems and completed a dissertation on residency training for Black women general surgeons in 1998. Her dissertation was later published as a book: Forged by the Knife – The Experience of Surgical Residency from the Perspective of a Woman of Color.

Andrea Caupain has worked passionately for the last 20 years to make a positive impact on issues of racial and social equity. As Byrd Barr Place’s Chief Executive Officer since 2008, she has built a strong foundation for future growth by effectively leading the organization through critical change and innovation. Through her work with Byrd Barr Place, Caupain is putting people, equity, and communities of color at the center of a movement to advance intergenerational well-being in Washington state, as well as supporting new approaches to services that benefit low-income people and small businesses in our region. Prior to Byrd Barr Place, she worked for four years for the Washington State Governor’s Commission on African-American Affairs, providing analysis and development on strategic legislative projects.

Makini Howell, the owner of Makini Howell Plum Vegan Restaurants, is a lifelong vegan, chef, restaurateur, community leader, and plant-based food advocate. She has had the unique opportunity to serve as chef to the stars, cooking for celebrities such as Stevie Wonder, Serena Williams, and Queen Latifah. Howell is also a culinary advisor for companies like Google where she helps chefs develop new, plant-forward food programs. Howell’s passion for building community through a shared love of food has led her to create recipes beyond the commercial kitchen and has made veganism an inclusive, elevated, and personal experience.

In addition to recognition as a Believe in Women honoree, all proceeds from the Storm’s “Believe in Women” t-shirts will be awarded to Plum Vegan Restaurants, owned by honoree Makini Howell, and selected by the Storm players.

Erin Jones has been involved in and around schools for 30 years, teaching in a variety of environments including both predominantly Black and predominantly White communities as well as some of the most diverse schools in the nation. Jones was awarded the Most Innovative Foreign Language Teacher in 2007 and was named the Washington State Milken Educator of the Year in 2008. She received recognition at the White House in March of 2013 as a “Champion of Change” and was Washington State PTA’s “Outstanding Educator” in 2015. After serving as a classroom teacher and instructional coach, Jones worked as an executive for two State Superintendents before leaving in 2012 to work in college-access at the school district level.

Jessie Woolley-Wilson is the President and CEO of DreamBox Learning, an award-winning PreK-8 digital math program. She is a two-time recipient of EdTech Digest’s Leadership Award and was honored as one of 2018’s Top 100 Influencers in EdTech. Forbes placed her on its “Impact 15” list for being a disruptor in education and The New York Times featured Woolley-Wilson in its Corner Office column. Regionally, she has received multiple accolades for her leadership, including Seattle Business Magazine’s 2015 Executive Excellence Award in the “CEO of the Year” category, GeekWire’s 2019 “Big Tech CEO of the Year” award, the Puget Sound Business Journal’s “Women of Influence” and “Innovator of the Year” awards, and most recently the Ernst & Young 2019 “Entrepreneur Of The Year” award in the Pacific Northwest region.



Symetra Life Insurance Company is a subsidiary of Symetra Financial Corporation, a diversified financial services company based in Bellevue, Washington. In business since 1957, Symetra provides employee benefits, annuities and life insurance through a national network of benefit consultants, financial institutions, and independent agents and advisors.

The Seattle Storm and Symetra announced a 10-year partnership in April 2019. In addition to branding on the WNBA team’s jersey and ‘Official Life Insurer of the Seattle Storm’ designation, Symetra will be the presenting sponsor of the Storm’s ‘Believe in Women Night’ throughout the partnership.



The Seattle Storm is a three-time WNBA championship team committed to bringing a premium professional basketball and entertainment experience to a fan base rich in tradition and support. The organization places high value on community and building platforms to positively impact the overall entertainment, attraction and economy of the Puget Sound region. In addition, the Storm is dedicated to local youth development in the areas of fitness and wellness, with a special emphasis on inspiring leadership, motivation and the empowerment of girls and women. For more information, visit