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Press Release

Wednesday, September 17

AWB Honors Champions of Free Enterprise

Association of Washington Business honors leaders in industry and government for decades of work to improve state's business climate

CLE ELUM — The state's largest business organization paid tribute Wednesday to state Sen. Andy Hill and four longtime AWB volunteers for their work on behalf of the state’s employers: Lisa Janicki of Janicki Industries, retired UPS leader Nancy Koeper , Darcy Kooiker of Ryan LLC, and outgoing Association of Washington Business Board Chair Mel Russell.

The awards were presented Wednesday during AWB’s 25th annual Policy Summit at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum.

Hill received AWB's Matson Award, given annually to a lawmaker who upholds the tradition of the late Sen. Jim Matson, R-Selah, by working courageously and effectively across party lines in Olympia to make the state a better place for business.

Hill, R-Redmond, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, led the budget-writing work of the Majority Coalition Caucus in 2013, resulting in the most bipartisan budget in decades and the first in 30 years that did not increase tuition at public universities and colleges. The budget, which received yes votes from 89 percent of lawmakers, added $1 billion for basic education. This year, he worked with others to build upon the success and helped pass a supplemental budget that was even more bipartisan, passing 48-1 in the Senate.

"Sen. Andy Hill was instrumental in building a sustainable state budget that put students first and halted three decades of relentless college tuition increases," said AWB President Kris Johnson. "Senator Hill worked across the aisle and created a broad coalition of lawmakers to move our state in a positive direction."

Hill said he took the hard way toward a balanced budget. “The easy way out is to raise taxes,” Hill said in accepting the award. “The hard way is to sit in a room with your Democratic counterpart and hammer it out line by line. We were able to change the fundamental trajectory of spending and we were able to do it in a bipartisan manner.”

Outgoing AWB Board Chair Mel Russell received the S. Fred Bruhn Award, the association’s top honor for a member of the business community. The annual award, named for the former Safeco senior vice president and longtime AWB board member, recognizes a member of AWB’s board of directors for exceptional work on behalf of AWB and the state’s employers.

Russell has been active in AWB board and executive committee leadership for many years. He led the strategic planning committee that created an 18-month "bridge" plan to ensure continuity as longtime AWB president Don Brunell retired. Russell also chaired the hiring committee that selected the new president, Kris Johnson. He spent a great deal of time on AWB's Finance Committee.

"Mel explains his dedication to AWB by saying it stands for the values embedded in the American system, and I can truly say that Mel embodies AWB's spirit of enterprise and service," Johnson said. "We can't thank him enough for his steady hand and wisdom as AWB works to improve the state's business climate."

Policy Summit is also traditionally the time the association honors individual members for exemplary help throughout the year. Recipients of the 2014 AWB Heavy Lifter Award are:

Lisa Janicki, chief financial officer of Janicki Industries. Janicki is a longtime AWB volunteer and board member. She was a face of Washington's employers in AWB's "We Mean Business" campaign and has testified before the Legislature about the needs of the state's manufacturers.

Nancy Koeper, retired president of the Northwest District of UPS. Koeper was chair of AWB's Transportation Committee and served as chair of the 2012 AWB Policy Summit. She frequently led AWB forums on transportation. Her energy and devotion to statewide issues were important to UPS, AWB and the entire population of Washington.

Darcy Kooiker, director of sales and use tax for Ryan LLC. Kooiker was AWB's nominee to represent business' interests on the Join Legislative Audit and Review Committee's task force for data and metrics to evaluate tax preferences. She has testified before the Legislature on complex, important tax preference and business data reporting issues.

Photos from AWB's Policy Summit and awards will be posted online at For more information about the Policy Summit, visit or follow the Policy Summit on Twitter at @awbsummit.

About the Association of Washington Business
Formed in 1904, the Association of Washington Business is Washington’s oldest and largest statewide business association, and includes more than 8,100 members representing 700,000 employees. AWB serves as both the state’s chamber of commerce and the manufacturing and technology association. While its membership includes major employers like Boeing, Microsoft and Weyerhaeuser, 90 percent of AWB members employ fewer than 100 people. More than half of AWB’s members employ fewer than 10. For more about AWB, visit

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