At the Port of Seattle, diversity is viewed as a source of possibility and strength. It is not an initiative or campaign. Rather, it is integral to policy, processes and programs that are woven into all daily activities within the port community.
The Port assures that diversity is synonymous with our mission, goals and values. Originally adopted by the Port commission in 1998, we now are developing a third edition of a port-wide Strategic Development and Diversity Plan. Watch for it on these pages in the months to come!
The Port’s employment team actively seeks diverse talent pools in the hiring process. Once onboard, employees learn about the importance of diversity at the port in our new employee orientation.
Onboarding is only the beginning of employee development. Regardless of profession and background, employees have access to a wide range of development opportunities and diversity competencies are integrated into all of our leadership courses and other class offerings. These competencies are considered during performance reviews.
Since 2005, the port has sponsored a Development and Diversity Council whose chosen members participate in activities to increase the awareness of diversity at the port. This council collaborates with other employee networks including Blacks in Government, National Management Association, and Port-Wide Pride to sponsor a variety of inclusive internal and community events. Additionally, the port recognizes employees who actively demonstrate a dedication to inclusivity and awareness of diversity with the annual “Charles Blood Champion of Diversity Award.”
The Port’s Office of Social Responsibility (OSR) partners with our diverse community on projects such as the Small Contractors and Suppliers program which provides small businesses access to opportunities at the Port. Beginning in 2008, OSR also has teamed with Human Resources and Development to run a successful Veterans Fellowship Program designed to assist veterans transitioning from military service to civilian employment.
“We understand that diversity encompasses a wide range and depth of cultural, gender based, philosophical and racial spectrums, and will commit to embrace, relate to, and value those qualities and conditions that are different from our own.”
– Port of Seattle Inaugural Diversity and Development Council
A Culture of Inclusion
Employees at the Port of Seattle represent the communities we serve, including some who served in the military.
Port employee lends
his voice "I feel
honored that people allow my voice to be in the vicinity of their
“Ever since I had a voice, I have been singing,” said Port of Seattle employee Carlton Williams. For him, the singing voice came when he was only nine years old.
In the years
since, he sang before five presidents and first ladies; at Seahawks, Mariners
and Storm games and at venues around the world and at home.
During his 20-year military career with the U.S. Air
Force, he traveled around the United States and to several other countries as a
vocalist with the Air Force Ninth Division soldiers’ chorus, and as vocalist/emcee
with the Air Force 45-piece concert band and jazz ensemble. After retiring from
the military, he continued to sing for occasions such as weddings, funerals, military
memorial services and at school Veteran’s Day events.
He said people in his audiences periodically will
ask him to perform at an event they are planning, such as a woman who requested
he sing at her husband’s funeral. “She
and her husband had watched me sing on local television together before he
passed away. For me, singing for that family was much more powerful than
performing for the presidents,” Carlton said. “It’s amazing how fortunate I am
to keep meeting new people with new circumstances, and am able to be of service
to them in this way.”
Williams performed at the 2016 Memorial Day service
in Chehalis, which he described as “a humbling experience.” Even though he has
performed before many large audiences over the years, Carlton said he most
loves singing in small and intimate settings, where the music can speak for
itself. “I feel
honored that people allow my voice to be in the vicinity of their hearts at
occasions like this,” he said.
Williams joined the Port of Seattle in 1999 and
worked in various departments. Currently he is a ground transportation control
agent at Sea-Tac Airport, overseeing taxi and limousine operations. At the airport, he is known for frequently
sharing his a cappella singing style at Port events, and for his warm, outgoing
personality and dedication to friendly customer service.
Woman firefighter shares her story
about six percent of career firefighters
in the United States are women. Among
them is the Port of Seattle’s Lisa Kolwitz.
As a child, Kolwitz
watched her parents advocate for soccer and recreational opportunities for
girls—their commitment reinforcing her own passion for athletics. “Because of my
parents, I believed I had equal opportunity to do whatever I wanted to do. They raised me to be anything I wanted to be.
In turn, I hope my experience can be an inspiration for girls today to consider
a non-traditional career,” she said.
Witnessing firefighters resuscitate her ailing mother first
piqued her interest in firefighting. “I saw it as a way to combine my athletic
background with my desire to help people,” Kolwitz said. “In a male-dominated field, I think women often can enhance
the care, compassion and comfort we offer to patients during a crew response.”
Her biggest challenge and most exciting moment was participating
in and graduating from the Washington State Fire Training Academy in 2000. Soon thereafter, she joined the Port of
Seattle Fire Department.
She has been with the department for 16 years and during the
past two, took on the role of overseeing the airport’s fuel inspections and enforcing
code compliance. With the recent growth at the
airport, fuel use has increased dramatically, she said, which demands twice as much of the
fuel inspection team.
To Kolwitz, the airport fuel system is similar to a human body—with
the fuel tank farm like a heart, the fuel hoses like arteries and fuel like the
blood of the airport. “That’s why taking care of this system is so critical to
She told this analogy to the Federal Aviation
Administration’s (FAA) inspector during the annual fuel system and safety
compliance audit at Sea-Tac. She said the inspector liked the analogy so much
that he used it in his briefing at the end of the weeklong assessment, which
resulted in high marks. Kolwitz was nominated for the Port of
Seattle’s 2016 Women’s Outstanding Awards due to her efforts and the ability to
be adaptative to the increased demand for airline fueling and her collaboration
with the FAA. She was one of the four
women honored earlier this year.
“I feel extremely honored and grateful to be nominated and recognized
by the Port of Seattle,” she said. “I am highly supported by my wife, Carlene,
and I appreciate that the Port of Seattle welcomes diversity, not only with
respect to their employees, but also their families.”
Employee Resource Groups at the Port of Seattle: