A Revealing Interview With Discover Burien’s Patty Sader

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Discover Burien President Sarah Slaughter, left, and
outgoing Executive Director Patty Sader.

Story and Photo by Janet Grella

The B-Town Blog has acquired a copy of the resignation letter that Discover Burien’s (DB) Executive Director Patty Sader read to her board at their June 2nd meeting.

We sat down with Patty and DB President Sarah Slaughter (Executive Director of BTB Advertiser El Dorado West), and DB Vice President and Prudential’s Lori Alden over lunch at 909 Coffee & Wine to discuss not only Patty’s accomplishments in this position, but the accomplishments of Discover Burien over the past two years.

We had hoped to have past DB president Linda Isernio with us, but she’s on a well deserved vacation. Before we got started, Sarah wanted to especially thank Linda for her two years of service to DB through a particularly challenging time in the groups’ history and long-time board member Kevin Fitz for his leadership. Both remain on the Discover Burien Board.

From the letter:

To The Discover Burien Board of Directors:

In June of 2007 you asked me to come aboard as your Interim Executive Director.

I came aboard at a time when the business community was somewhat fractured and indecisive about what they wanted and needed from an organization like Discover Burien. This business community was very vocal and none to (sic) happy with what they perceived as their “value to membership”.

I jumped right in with a voice of reason, allowing a venue for this business community to voice their concerns of the past and their hopes for the future.

You asked me to do a few very specific things, to bring together the business community to work together as a team, to re-build a relationship with City of Burien Staff and City Council members, to build value to membership and to create programs that were useful to the Burien Business community…

Sarah: “Patty can take credit in growth in membership.”

Patty: “No, I can’t. I believe that I attracted strong committee members to the membership committee. They should be credited. Any member of DB can apply to serve on various committees. Our membership has grown the first half of 2009 from 127 members to 160 currently. Our membership committee members are Jim Hughes, Lori Alden, Sarah Slaughter, Janel Stoneback, Merry Ann Peterson and Shandra Rose.”

Patty: “Early on I made (recently deceased long-time Burien businessman) Dick Dahlgard the ‘Master of Retention’ on this committee.”

Dick died suddenly last November, but his good work continues with other members.

Lori: “I adore Patty, consider her a great friend and thank her for getting me so involved with DB.”

Patty told us she spent countless hours in her fist two months visiting the disgruntled, the unhappy, the unsure about DB. Plus she walked right into the First Ave. reconstruction where she acted as the “ears” between the contractors, city and retail establishments on First Ave., from Burien Nissan all the way down to Fred Meyer, and all parts in-between.

Patty: “Slowly but surely the drop-outs and disillusioned are trickling back into DB.”

Other accomplishments in the past two years include the introduction of monthly networking after-hours at various venues around Burien and the recent introduction of informational seminars that have proven very valuable to BTB and others in the small-business community who have attended. The latter done in conjunction with the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) from the Highline area and Renton.

…In the two years that I have been a part of your organization we have accomplished these things and many more of which we can all be proud. I am confident that the current Board of Directors will continue on with strong leadership, with integrity, and vision for the future.

Saying these things, the time has come for me to step down as your Executive Director as you conduct a search for your next leader who will be able to lead you into the next phase of your dream…

Patty: “I’m proud given where we’ve come from, to where we are today. Both old and new members are energized.”

Sarah: “We have 1,500 licensed Burien businesses and want a substantial number involved in DB. All Burien business are invited to contact the DB office (206-433-2882) if they would like additional information or see our website for a membership application.”

Patty: “My job is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. It’s like you’re nurturing ‘this thing’ for a long time. There are still communites to be nurtured, most particularly the Hispanic community.”

There will be an immediate search for a new Executive Director.

I have been asked by the Board of Directors to remain in my role and assist them in this transition phase of which I am happy to do so.

In the meantime it will be “business as usual”…

Lori: “We’ve had 20 resumes that came in by Tuesday’s deadline. We’ve got a nice round offering of applicants. DB has seven board members on the selection committee. Each member was asked to identify their top five candidates. Interviewing has already started.”

Sarah: “Our goal is to make the transition very seamless. “There’s been a positive roadmap laid out by Patty to follow.”

Patty: “The marketing, membership and website committees are all moving forward.”

…I am looking forward to the next phase of my career and a possible relocation in the near future to sunny Arizona…

A Western Washington native, Patty’s next phase includes moving to Arizona, returning to a private-sector position in the Tel-Com industry, learning to play golf and enjoying hot weather and barbequing.

She concluded by telling BTB that “I will NOT miss working on weekends.”

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