Storm announces Believe In Women Night presented by Symetra

Force 10 ownership and executives with Symetra to honor three local Black leaders as a part of Force4Change

SEATTLE—The Seattle Storm announced today the three women who will be honored during the Believe in Women Night presented by Symetra, on August 29, as the team hosts the Chicago Sky at Angel Of The Winds Arena, at 3 p.m. PT. This event is will be held under Force4Change, the franchise’s social justice platform.

This year’s honorees were selected by a committee that consisted of Storm players, owners, and front office executives. They are Angela Jones, Sophia Danenberg and Val Thomas-Matson— who will also receive the annual Ginger Ackerley Community Service Award. These women will be recognized during a halftime ceremony by Dawn Trudeau, Seattle Storm co-owner, Alisha Valavanis, Storm President and CEO, Crystal Langhorne, Storm Director of Community Engagement, and Trinity Parker, Symetra’s SVP of Marketing, Communications and Public Affairs.

“We are thrilled to honor Val, Angela and Sophia, three amazing leaders who have left a beautiful footprint in our community and set powerful examples for women of all ages to follow and be inspired by,” said Crystal Langhorne. “Their work and engagement towards making the Seattle area a more progressive place reflects the principles the Storm organization holds dear. We are excited to amplify their voices and history.”

The Storm tradition of honoring Greater Puget Sound-based businesswomen and civic leaders dates back to 2006, when “Inspiring Women Night” was created. In 2020, the program name was changed to “Believe in Women”, to reflect the ever-changing roles and opportunities that female leaders hold and create in the community.

Besides honoring upstanding women, The Ginger Ackerley Community Service Award is given to an individual who has made an impact on improving the quality of life in the local area. Ginger 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.

“Trailblazers in their respective fields, Val, Angela and Sophia embody civic leadership and service to community. Together, they are powerful, inspiring examples of why we support, celebrate and ‘Believe in Women’ at Symetra. Congratulations to these three remarkable women on receiving this well-deserved honor,” said Trinity Parker, senior vice president, Marketing, Communications and Public Affairs.

This year’s Ginger Ackerley recipient, Val Thomas-Matson, current Executive Producer of Look, Listen and Learn TV, is a community organizer and activist with deep experience in media. In addition to her early work at KING-TV, the honoree 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. Val is inspired by Hattie McDaniel—the first black women to win an Oscar for Best Actress—and Fred Rogers.

“I am humbled, excited, and honored to be the recipient of the Ginger Ackerley Award. To see my name along with women I have known and admired from afar is deeply heartfelt. Thank you for recognizing my passion for the mission of Look, Listen and Learn TV and on behalf of young BIPOC children in our community,” said Val Thomas-Matson.

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, who recently started in the role of Director of the Washington State Initiative at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in August, served for years 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 economy. Angela has also worked 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 School—one of first charter schools opened in Washington State.

Check out the full list of past Believe in Women Honorees.

Tickets for the game against the Chicago Sky and Believe in Women night on August 29 are available at the Storm Ticket Central.

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