Press Release

Wednesday, September 16

AWB honors legislative, business leaders at annual event

Association of Washington Business recognizes three state lawmakers and seven business leaders from diverse industries for their work to improve state's business climate and economy

CLE ELUM — The state's largest business organization paid tribute today to three state lawmakers and seven AWB volunteers for their work on behalf of the state’s employers with awards for their work on improving the state’s transportation system and leading efforts to improve the state’s business climate.

Deputy Majority Leader Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, received the organization’s Matson Award for his work in the 2015 legislative session on the operating budget, tax fairness issues and key water issues, such as storage, stormwater and flooding. Republican Majority Leader Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, accepted the award on behalf of Braun who was unable to attend due to military reserve duty.

"As we debate issues before the Legislature that make our state either more competitive or less, senators like John Braun are important allies and advocates for employers of all sizes,” said AWB President Kris Johnson. “The Matson Award recognizes his efforts on behalf of the thousands of job creators that make our economy strong in every corner of the state."

The Matson Award is the highest honor a legislator can receive from AWB, Washington’s oldest and largest statewide business association. The award was established to honor the late Sen. Jim Matson, R-Selah, who was a veteran state legislator and AWB member.

AWB also recognized Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, and Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, with Leadership Awards for their work on the bipartisan $16 billion, 16-year transportation funding and reform package signed into law this year. It is the first statewide investment package passed in a decade.

"Without investments in our roads, bridges and highways, our economy cannot grow and reach its potential. We applaud the Representative Clibborn and Senator King for their bipartisan work on not only funding to move people and goods more efficiently, but also the cost-saving reforms that add accountability to the new funds the people of Washington will invest over the next sixteen years," Johnson said.

Additionally, seven business leaders were presented with Heavy Lifter Awards for their efforts to promote policies that improve the state’s business climate and economy. The winners of this award are:

Lee Anne Caylor, chief of staff for Microsoft Learning eXperiences, was honored for her education advocacy and work to implement the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

Alisha Benson, vice president of education and workforce at Greater Spokane Incorporated, was an integral part of the work done to ensure Washington state was ready to implement the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act by this year’s deadline.

Annette Herup, head of human resources for SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers LLC, offered her insights into the workforce needs of high-tech manufacturing employers to ensure the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is implemented in a way that prepares the next generation of workers in the growing manufacturing sector.

Kristal Fiser, director of state government affairs, Northwest District, for UPS, was a solid voice for recognition by the Legislature that the state should not overlook the importance of the use of alternative fuels to lower carbon emissions and grow the use of alternative fuel-operated fleets.

Ken Johnson, corporate environmental manager at Weyerhaeuser Company, was a great help to AWB on crafting the bipartisan, collaborative water quality rule drafted by the state Department of Ecology.

Tim O’Connell, attorney at Stoel Rives LLP, shared his legal expertise with the Legislature on workforce issues important to improving the state’s business and regulatory climate.

JoReen Brinkman, owner of JCB Hospitality LLC, was a leader in the efforts to educate lawmakers on the impacts minimum wage increase legislation would have on small businesses and their employees in Washington state.

The awards were presented Wednesday, Sept. 16, during AWB’s 26th annual Policy Summit at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum.

Photos from AWB's Policy Summit and awards will be posted online at after the event concludes.

For more information about the Policy Summit, visit or follow the Policy Summit on Twitter at @AWBSummit or #AWBSummit15.

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 7,900 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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