Photo of students and faculty from the School of Business who participated in the Thurston Boss of the Year program

"Through our participation with this program, students learn proven strategies that motivate and empower employees."

Lisa Power, Ph.D., MBA
School of Business Assistant Professor, Business and Economics

Saint Martin's University students within the School of Business assisted with the selection process for the Thurston Boss of the Year award.

Saint Martin’s University undergraduate students who were enrolled in the Management of the Sales Force course taught by Lisa Power, Ph.D, MBA, assistant professor of business and economics, recently helped interview nominees for the Thurston Boss of the Year award. The Boss of the Year award is given by the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Express Employment Professionals, and its purpose is to recognize exceptional leaders in Thurston County. Students in the School of Business have assisted with the Boss of the Year award program for a number of years.

As Power explained, the students’ involvement with the Boss of the Year program gives them an opportunity to visit local businesses and interview professionals about what it means to be a leader and a manager. The students submit summaries to the Boss of the Year selection committee and attend the luncheon and awards ceremony.

“Students gain confidence with networking skills when they reconnect with the people they interviewed again at the lunch,” Power says. “Through our participation with this program, students learn proven strategies that motivate and empower employees. My hope is that one day, they will manage others using some of the people skills they learned about in this class. What I love most about this opportunity is that students get to see firsthand what people-centered leadership does for an organization.”

Patrick Carnahan, a senior business major, interviewed Heather Burgess, co-founder of Phillips Burgess PLLC, a real estate, land use and environmental law firm in Olympia and Tacoma. Burgess won the Boss of the Year award in the category of large employers, and Carnahan was left impressed by what he discovered about Burgess and her career.

“Heather’s experiences with the military taught her to never forget about those who depend on her, and it shows in how much her staff love her and how quickly Phillips Burgess PLLC has grown in this community,” Carnahan says. “I’m glad to know that people like Heather Burgess are doing good for their community by sticking to timeless values. If there’s anything I hope to gain from my experience as a student at Saint Martin’s University, it is a disposition of service like that held by the winners of this year’s Boss of the Year program.”

Besides Carnahan, the group of Saint Martin’s students who interviewed nominees included Carol Atonio, Elizabeth Bruske, Christian Caro, Brian Chalky, Steven Chu, Savannah Connell, Matthew DeHan, Austin Derheim, Lauren Diuco, Amanda Grengs, Garnet Hatcher, Andrew Kier, Anthony Manago, Yixin Mei, Maria Roney, Hannah Schumacher, Blake Wolff, Austin Yon, Lisa Zelasko and Weizhi Zheng.

In addition to Burgess, honorees of the Boss of the Year program were Jim Larson, president and CEO of Morningside Services in Olympia, who was recognized in the nonprofit category and Dave Nickerson, general manager of Tumwater Valley Golf Club, recognized in the small business category.  

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