The Mercer Island School District will present its third annual Pathfinder Awards to four graduates of Mercer Island High School whose achievements, strength of character and citizenship inspire and challenge today’s youth to make significant contributions to humankind.
Dawn Bennett (‘82), Mary Lindquist (‘67), Marty Lott (‘68) and Joel McHale (‘91) will be honored at the Mercer Island Schools Foundation’s Breakfast of Champions on April 24.
Bennett has been an advocate for children and teens throughout her career. As a basketball player and coach, gang prevention specialist and caseworker for the city of Seattle and Seattle Public Schools, Bennett has worked to support those who might otherwise fall through the education gaps.
During her work on political campaigns and as a community organizer, she co-founded the Multicultural Education Rights Alliance (McERA) to eliminate the school to prison pipeline through education and action. Bennett continues to work with teens and is board chair of the African American Leadership Forum, which focuses on improving the economic health of communities through public and private partnerships. She is also a board member of Washington’s Paramount Duty, which seeks full funding for K-12 schools.
Lindquist taught English and social studies for 36 years (1971-2007) at MIHS, and coached the debate team during much of that time, earning a place in the WIAA Debate Coaches Hall of Fame. An innovative educator, she combined literature, writing and social studies, and advocated the use of this interdisciplinary method for all students.
She served multiple teams as president of the Mercer Island Education Association, then rose through the ranks to become the president of the 80,000-member Washington Education Association, the statewide teacher union. In 2007, when Lindquist was beginning her six-year tenure as president, the WEA and a coalition of partners filed a lawsuit against the state for failing to live up to its paramount duty of funding K-12 education. She left office a year after the Washington State Supreme Court made its historic McCleary ruling.
Lott is the CEO and founder of SanMar Corporation, the largest supplier of imprintable apparel in the U.S., with more than 4,000 employees and operations in eight states, and factories around the world.
Begun as a college project at the University of Washington, SanMar is governed by a set of values they refer to as the SanMar Family Values, a personal approach to corporate responsibility, supporting communities, delivering sustainable products and taking action to reduce its environmental impact. From directly supporting thousands of workers throughout Africa, most of whom are women who would otherwise struggle to find employment, to partnering on a power plant in Honduras powered by renewable clean biomass energy, SanMar is making a difference in the lives of people around the world.
McHale is an actor, comedian and television host. He may be the most well-known famous Mercer Islander alive, with nearly 4 million followers on Twitter. He has made a hugely successful career in the most precarious of professions, acting and stand-up comedy. He got his start in acting at the high school and at Youth Theatre Northwest, and was a cast member on KING-TV’s “Almost Live.”
He is best known as the longtime host of “The Soup,” which ran for a decade on the “E!” television network; star of the NBC-TV sitcom “Community” that ran for five seasons; and leading role in the CBS sitcom “The Great Indoors” that ran in 2016-2017. His new weekly Netflix show “The Joel McHale Show starring Joel McHale” debuted in February. McHale was host of the 2014 White House Correspondents’ Association annual dinner and is frequently a guest on late-night talk shows. He is also the author of a popular book entitled “Thanks for the Money.”
The recipients were selected from over 40 nominations submitted by the community at large and chosen by a selection committee comprised of staff, students, administrators, community members and alumni from the district and board of the Mercer Island Schools Foundation.
A permanent Pathfinder Awards wall has been created at Mercer Island High School alongside previously recognized distinguished graduates.
To attend the Breakfast of Champions, visit http://mercerislandschoolsfoundation.com.