June 2009 -

Kindness Starts with Kay: Larson Is Top Volunteer

Kay Larson
Mark Cieslikowski Photo
In the 55 years since she graduated from the University of Washington, Kay Larson has had her sleeves permanently rolled up in service to her alma mater. Need an alumna adviser for the UW's Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter? She'll do it, and eventually serve as the sorority's international president, too. Need someone to help round up classmates for the Class of 1954 25th and 50th reunions? Help field phone calls in the Tyee office, including during a busy Rose Bowl season? Perform various roles for the UW's Panhellenic organization? Serve as vice president of the UW Alumnae Board?

Larson has done it all—and more. In a gesture of gratitude, the UW Alumni Association has recognized Larson with its 2009 Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor bestowed upon UWAA volunteers and members.

Today, Larson continues to volunteer for the UW from her home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. She recently served as the volunteer coordinator for the Chow Down to Washington dinner, part of the Dawg Days in the Desert event featuring President Mark A. Emmert and Head Football Coach Steve Sarkisian. Her idea to raise funds for UW Alumnae Board scholarships has grown into the annual Coffee and Conversation luncheon there.

"Just like I always knew I wanted to go to the UW, I always knew I would be a volunteer afterward," she says. "I want people to feel good about the University. I want to be that connection for them."

Husky connections seem to be Kay Larson's specialty. Who else could help create a grassroots UW fundraiser a thousand miles from Seattle, and grow it from 14 attendees to more than 100 in four short years? "I am just thrilled with what we're doing here," she says. So is her alma mater.