Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity

March 14, 2017

Joanne and Bruce Harrell to Receive UW’s 2017 Odegaard Award

UW Regent Joanne Harrell and President of the Seattle City Council Bruce Harrell have been named the 2017 recipients of the University of Washington Charles E. Odegaard Award.

Bruce and Joanne HarrellThe award will be presented at the 47th annual Celebration event hosted by the UW Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity (OMA&D) and Friends of the Educational Opportunity Program (FEOP), Tues., May 16, at the Husky Union Building on the UW Seattle campus.

Established in 1973, the Odegaard award honors individuals whose leadership in the community exemplifies the former UW president’s work on behalf of diversity. It is the only University and community-selected award, and is regarded as the highest achievement in diversity at the UW.

“Together, the Harrells’ passion, leadership and civic engagement over the last three decades have made a tremendous impact throughout the region,” said Rickey Hall, vice president for Minority Affairs & Diversity and chief diversity officer. “As distinguished alumni, their advocacy for respect, civil rights, diversity and equity embody the best of what it means to be graduates of this university and we are proud to recognize their contributions.”

A Regent since 2009, Joanne, ’76, ’79, served as board chair in 2012-13 and advocates for creating a more inclusive campus environment as the current chair of the Regents’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee. Bruce has been a member of the UW Alumni Board of Trustees, as well as the UW Business and Economic Development Center Advisory Board.

The Harrells’ commitment to giving back does not end there. In her role as senior director for U.S. Citizenship and Public Affairs at Microsoft, Joanne and her team work to changes lives by cultivating public and private partnerships across the country that address problems relating to education, literacy rates and helping young people become more competitive.

She has worked at Microsoft since 2001 and held leadership roles for the majority of her career across high-tech, telecommunications and non-profit sectors including a three-year tenure as president and CEO of United Way of King County. Joanne has served on volunteer boards for a variety of businesses and organizations such as REI, AAA of Washington and the Association of Governing Boards for Universities and Colleges.

Bruce has been a civic leader since graduating from the UW School of Law, working in a variety of leadership roles and representing youth and seniors, union members, non-profits and affordable housing companies. He has consistently protected the rights of people and advocated for respect and civility.

Bruce has been a council member for the City of Seattle since 2007. He currently chairs the Education, Equity and Governance Committee and is president of the nine-member City Council. Bruce has also worked as a senior attorney for technology and telecommunications companies. He is very involved as a community volunteer and has served on several regional committees including the Race and Social Justice Community Roundtable.

The Harrells have received many individual community and leadership awards, including distinguished alumni honors from the UW. Joanne was named the Department of Communication’s 2013 Distinguished Alumna after being inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2009. Bruce was the Department of Political Science Distinguished Alumnus in 2007. He also received a 2008 Husky Legend Award to recognize his outstanding UW football career.