Business owner, community advocate Courtney Wooten among nominees for countywide Emerging Leaders award

Courtney Wooten, left, pauses for a photo backstage with co-organizer Donnie Griffin at the 2020 Martin Luther King Day event at the Edmonds Center for the Arts. Wooten single-handedly arranged all the acts and worked with the performers to present a seamless show. (File photo by Larry Vogel)

She’s a one-woman dynamo, proud to call Edmonds home, and is enthusiastically passionate about building bridges and forging cross-cultural connections in the community.

Courtney Wooten is one of 12 Snohomish County people who have been nominated for the The Emerging Leader award sponsored by The Herald Business Journal. Begun in 2016, the award aims to recognize the next generation of leadership for the county. The award will be presented remotely via Zoom this Thursday night, July 9, starting at 5:30 p.m. and the public is invited to attend. Edmonds resident Alicia Crank will be the keynote speaker for the event.

“This nomination came totally out of the blue for me,” said the 37-year-0ld Wooten  “I got an email informing me that I’d been chosen and inviting me to a screening interview. Then when I found out I was a finalist, I was even more surprised!”

Owner and founder of Suburbia Rising, she offers a potent blend of hands-on training and workshops for groups looking to become more effective and inclusive, and one-on-one coaching and guidance for individuals involved in community organizing on subjects ranging from launching a new initiative to dealing with difficult people. The goal is to help people move from good intentions to competent, effective actions by removing the barriers and excuses to civic engagement.

“I’m dedicated to – and yes, passionate about – connecting folks who for any number of reasons are afraid of each other,” she says. “I truly believe that people are good, and far too often we allow fear of each other to get in the way of what we can do for each other. Mean spiritedness is simply not healthy for your soul or for society, and I see my role as a catalyst to foster understandings on both the personal and systemic levels. It’s a legacy I hope we can leave for future generations.”

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area, Wooten completed her undergraduate education at Stanford University as a Ron Brown Scholar. While an undergraduate, she conducted independent research on mixed race identity, served as the social director for the Queer-Straight Social/Political Alliance, and co-founded her university’s first and only multicultural-interest sorority. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree through Prescott College.

She has lived in the Edmonds area — in unincorporated Esperance — since 2005, and most recently has served as a consultant for the Edmonds Neighborhood Action Coalition. She was awarded a grant from the Edmonds Diversity Commission to produce the multicultural event, “Stories of Self and Solidarity” where young people build community bridges through storytelling and personal narratives.

For the past two years, she has been a key organizer for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day program at the Edmonds Center for the Arts, where she recruits, works with, coaches and instructs the various acts through what for many is their first stage performance in front of a large live audience.

“My message is one of optimism and hope,” she says.  I see us coming together to include more people and devise new innovative solutions. In building our future, we know we can’t use the same processes we used 100 years ago. We need to try new things, and we need stay mindful of what we want our future to look like – a society that is fair, open and where all are welcome.”

You can register for the Emerging Leaders award ceremony at Those registering will receive a Zoom link and password to the remote event.

The full list of this year’s nominees are:

Julio Cortes, Senior Communications Officer, City of Everett

Courtney Wooten,  Community Organizer, self-employed, Suburbia Rising/Stories of Self & Self Solidarity

Christine Stansfield, Volunteer and Community Engagement Coordinator, Sno-Isle Regional Libraries

Dustin DeKoekkoek, Civil Engineer, Perteet Inc., Everett. (Read more on Dekoekkoek, who lives in Mountlake Terrace, here.)

Craig Olson, Vice President of Sales at Washington Energy Services, Lynnwood. (Our story on Olson, who lives in Edmonds, will be posted Wednesday, July 8.)

Natosha Gobin, Language Teacher, The Tulalip Tribes

Ambar Martinez, Self-employed, strategy development and equity strategy work with the state and other organizations

Neil Weiss, Attorney, ABC Law Group, Everett

Nicole Amor, Director of Individual Giving at Boys & Girls Club of Snohomish County

Alexander Lark, Philanthropy Manager, Housing Hope, Everett

Randy Bolerjack, Director of Public Affairs, Marketing and Communication Washington State University Everett

Chester Curtis, Purchasing Manager, McKinstry

— By Larry Vogel


4 Replies to “Business owner, community advocate Courtney Wooten among nominees for countywide Emerging Leaders award”

  1. Met Courtney once, seemed like a nice person. All but three of these names are familar, can’t say I see anyone there that doesn’t deserve to win.


  2. Thinking of bringing us together, Courtney Wooten has those skills. I know her through a neighborhood action group. She is a leader, blessed with kindness and understanding. And, she listens. In her quiet way, she gets her point across without argument, a quality needed in these turbulent times.


  3. Congrats to both Craig and Courtney. Happy to see Edmonds residents being recognized across the county.


  4. I have had the pleasure of working with Courtney over the last few years when Edmonds United Methodist Church decided that a Vacation Bible School curriculum was urgently needed around Inclusion, Racism, Diversity, and Cooperation and we found virtually none existed. So a group of very passionate and talented people have written a unique curriculum for each of the last three years on this topic, spearheaded by Courtney, and also Jennifer McLaughlin, the past Family Ministries Director and Washington Kids in Transition partner. The work that this team has done and continues to do will hopefully branch out into other communities as we work to get this curriculum published for all to use. Congratulations, Courtney, you are doing important and incredible work!


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