David Brewster, cultural inventor: After stints at the Stimson Bullitt–owned, 1960s version of Seattle magazine and KING Broadcasting, he founded Seattle Weekly, Town Hall, Crosscut (now partnered with KCTS), and The Seattle Athenaeum, a membership library and writers’ center at the downtown YMCA. Has anyone done more to reshape civic discourse in Seattle?
Phyllis Lamphere, former Seattle City Council member, civic leader and active nonagenarian: Lamphere served on the local and national government stages, including the Seattle City Council, where she successfully lobbied to transform Seattle city government from a weak-mayor to strong-mayor system. She also served as the first female president of the National League of Cities.
Ron Sims, social justice champion and government leader: The ordained Baptist minister joined the Obama administration’s Department of Housing and Urban Development directly from his post as King County executive, and then, in 2012, returned to his Seattle roots, where he continues to be involved in social equity issues as the chair of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board.
Dow Constantine, lifelong Seattleite and politician: The King County executive began his long-standing political career as a West Seattle High student body president. He has made progress in running the county more efficiently, and his strong alliances span the constituencies of labor unions as well as prominent alternative music groups from his early days as a DJ at KCMU-FM.
Norm Rice, prominent civic leader and former mayor: A fiscal champ for leading the rejuvenation of downtown during the tech boom of the ’90s, Rice is Seattle’s first and only African-American mayor. He has received local and national recognition for his ongoing public service as a campaigner for diversity.
Ron Dotzauer, quick-witted political tactician: Sporting an iconic cowboy hat at virtually all times, the cofounder and CEO of Strategies 360 has given his strategic counsel to a diverse group of regional and international clients, most notably leading both Sens. Henry “Scoop” Jackson and Maria Cantwell to victory.
Greg Nickels, urban environmentalist and Nickelsville namesake: The former Seattle mayor is credited with starting the urban green revolution with an environmental action agenda that aimed to meet or beat levels in the Kyoto Protocol. He also spearheaded the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. Paper or plastic? You have Nickels to thank for that, too.
Charles Royer, journalist, populist politician and civic activist: Royer holds the record for the longest mayoral tenure in the city, 12 years, from 1978 to 1990. While his relations with the City Council were often contentious, he gets credit for guiding the city through a period of incomparable growth and in the cleanup of Puget Sound waterways.
Gary Locke, former Washington governor, U.S. secretary of commerce and U.S. ambassador to China: The first Asian-American governor in the continental U.S. has forged a career dedicated to public service, even when faced with harassment for crossing party lines. From his early years living in the Yesler Terrace housing project, where Chinese was the spoken language, to Yale University, Locke has become America’s most successful politician of Chinese descent and remains influential, advising local companies on U.S. and China business relations.
Tim Eyman, prolific referendum sponsor: Through his organization Permanent Offense, this controversial conservative activist has promoted a multitude of ballot initiatives (including the popular I-695, which abolished the motor vehicle excise tax). Many of his initiatives have been overturned, or repealed, for their lack of constitutionality, but all of them get people talking.
Paul Dorpat, historian and photographer: Founder of Helix, Seattle’s first underground newspaper, and, since 1982, author of the weekly “Now & Then” column for Pacific NW Magazine; also a cofounder of HistoryLink.org.
Marie McCaffrey, executive director, HistoryLink.org: Graphic designer who inspired the creation of this online encyclopedia of Seattle history, cofounded by her late husband, Walt Crowley.
Knute Berger, journalist/historian: Part historian, part civic conscience, this self-described “mossback” and longtime Seattle writer (including, full disclosure, his column in Seattle magazine) and editor, champions historic preservation and the Pacific Northwest.
Jean Enersen, television news anchor: Iconic Seattle news anchor for nearly 50 years and the first and longest-serving local female news anchor in the U.S.
Tim Keck, founder and publisher, The Stranger: Irreverent media visionary and savvy businessman who, after founding The Onion in Wisconsin, launched this Pulitzer Prize–winning free weekly newspaper in Seattle, which is thriving in a dying print media landscape.
Dan Savage, editorial director, The Stranger: An outspoken champion for gay rights, he’s the nationally syndicated “Savage Love” sex advice columnist and fearless leader of the beloved alternative weekly. His “It Gets Better” project, a reaction to the 2010 suicides of bullied LGBT youths, has inspired more than 50,000 videos, which have been viewed more than 50 million times.
Assunta Ng, founder and publisher, Northwest Asian Weekly and Seattle Chinese Post: Politically savvy voice for Seattle’s Asian community and stalwart volunteer and fundraiser, working on behalf of community and leadership development, diversity training, youth, women and survivors of domestic abuse.
The Blethen family, independent newshounds: Five generations of Blethens have spent 120 years building The Seattle Times (one of the few large city newspapers still family-controlled) into the dominant West Coast newspaper north of San Francisco, outgunning that city’s paper: 10 Pulitzer Prizes to the Chronicle’s six. Current publisher Frank Blethen helped the paper win six Pulitzers since 1985, plus 14 finalist honors. Passionate to a fault, Blethen fights tooth and nail for education funding, cultural diversity and the dying business of family newspapers. Can 7.5 million readers (print and online) be wrong?
John Richards, associate program director and morning-show host, KEXP-FM: This host of The Morning Show offers a refreshing and honest take on music and life to his legions of “Morning Faithful.”
John Cook, cofounder, GeekWire: Longtime business and technology reporter whose interest in emerging technologies and the local startup scene led to the creation of this national technology news site.