By Jack Mayne

At Monday night’s (Aug. 3, 2020) meeting, the Burien City Council honored its ‘Citizens of the Year’ – Pastors Jenny Partch (Highline United Methodist Church), Lina Thompson (Lake Burien Presbyterian church), and Grace Stiller (President, Burien Arts Association).

The annual nomination and selection was made by Council from eight who were nominated, and City Manager Wilson said it was a quality group selected and a “very difficult choice” for the Council to make.

During the meeting, Councilmember Cydney Moore nominated Pastors Jenny Partch and Lina Thompson, as well as Grace Stiller for the award, thanking all those nominated “for everything you have done for our community. We hope that we can recognize your efforts in other ways, if not this particular method, some other means, because we do appreciate you and we are grateful.”

Ecumenical leadership
Partch and Thompson are members and leaders of the Ecumenical Leadership Circle, a group of Faith Leaders working to make Burien a better place.

“This group came together to address the tragedy at Fox Cove and raised money quickly to respond to the crisis,” said nominators Nancy Kick, Irene Danysh, Jagoda Perich-Anderson and Jen Powell. “They bring together coalitions that include their faith community, teachers and students, and everyday residents of Burien to work with city officials to address the issues we face. They open their churches to the public to provide life saving services (and shelter), education, places for community gathering and programs.

“The two of them have done incredible things mobilizing the community for the temporary emergency shelter, for passage of renters’ protections, and for so much coalition building,” the nominators said. “The two of them are ready to participate and assist with any civic project no matter how busy they are. Those of us who are civically active would be absolutely lost without them and their churches. They are a moral and communal force for good in Burien.

“They help mobilize the community to help with many volunteer endeavors and to look out for the well being of all people living and working in Burien.

“One specific example is the Severe Weather Shelter and homelessness. Together, they helped lead the planning for and execution of the Burien Severe Shelter. Jenny took on the additional role of acting as the shelter director and oversaw all aspects of the planning and running of it during our recent cold snap. They are continuing to be the community leadership force behind figuring out how to address the homelessness crisis in our city, reaching out to others in our region and using a collaborative approach to find solutions that work for everyone,” said the four nominators.

“They have been such amazing, compassionate, and supportive leaders for the emergency shelter and renter’s protection rights. As members of the Ecumenical Leadership Circle, they have done an incredible job mobilizing the community and helping with so many volunteer projects.

Arts Leader Grace Stiller
Stiller was nominated by 2015 Citizen of the Year Eric Mathison, and is president of the Burien Arts Association.

“Grace sits at the community service table at the Community Resource Fair at the community center,” said Mathison. “Grace arranges community service work for those who want to work off parking for speeding fines sentenced by the community court. Grace is also on the board for the New Start Community Garden on Highline School District property in north Burien. She has also conducted classes for youth and adults at the Burien Community Center on behalf of Weed Warriors/Nature Stewards Program, the non-profit she personally founded in 2008.

“Through the National Wildlife Federation, Grace is a Team Leader to certify Burien as a Wildlife Habitat City. She is leading the effort for full certification for Burien.”