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Storm's Third Annual "Women of Inspiration Night" Salutes Four Women

July 3, 2008 - Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) - Seattle Storm News Release

SEATTLE, July 3, 2008 - During its July 12 game against the L.A. Sparks, the Seattle Storm will host its third annual Women of Inspiration Night, honoring a group of accomplished women who have been trailblazers in their fields.

"Part of the mission of the Storm is to provide young girls and boys role models they can look to for inspiration, to show them what is possible to achieve in life when you work hard and reach for your dreams. This night is an opportunity to shine the spotlight on women who have dedicated themselves to helping others and have done so much to give back to the community,'' Seattle Storm CEO Karen Bryant said.

This year's honorees are Dr. Sutapa Basu, Mimi Gates, Ramona Pierson and Colleen Willoughby. The Storm's Women of Inspiration Night is sponsored by Wells Fargo and Saturn and will include a special ceremony during halftime of the game.

About the 2008 Women of Inspiration honorees:

Dr. Sutapa Basu is the Executive Director of the Women's Center at the University of Washington, which has become the largest university-based women's center in the country under Basu's leadership. Dr. Basu is dedicated to the empowerment of women both in the United States and internationally, encouraging women to take leadership roles and to speak out on critical issues affecting women such as working conditions, domestic violence, micro credit, family health and education. Her leadership helped create anti-trafficking legislation and the first statewide taskforce in Washington in 2002 to study the issue.

Mimi Gates has led the Seattle Art Museum through the creation of its Olympic Sculpture Park (opened January 2007) and the recent expansion of its downtown building (completed May 2007). During her tenure over the past 14 years SAM has achieved a high level of artistic excellence and unprecedented levels of accessibility; organized major exhibitions of scholarly and critical acclaim; increased its endowment, attendance and membership and added more than 6,500 works of art from a wide variety of cultures to its collection.

Ramona Pierson is the founder and CEO of Seattle-based SynapticMash, a business with a mission to revolutionize the way school administrators manage information, the way parents track students' progress and the way children learn. A former district administrator of Seattle Public Schools, Pierson has overcome tremendous personal obstacles in her life which include being the victim of a brutal attack and being struck by a drunk driver which left her blind, in a coma and having to endure numerous surgeries. Despite the challenges she has faced, Pierson has remained a passionate and driven leader in the field of education.

Colleen Willoughby is the founder of Washington Women's Foundation, which educates, inspires and works to increase the number of women committed to philanthropy. Willoughby is credited with teaching a new generation of women in the Puget Sound area and beyond about philanthropy and the impacts that can result from informed, focused grant-making. Under her guidance, more than 500 members of the foundation have invested more than $8 million in the community through pooled and individual grants. Willoughby retired from the presidency of the foundation in 2008 and currently serves as a member of the board.

Previous Storm Women of Inspiration honorees include Patricia Barker, retired prima ballerina with Pacific Northwest Ballet; Bonnie Dunbar, Ph. D, president and CEO of The Museum of Flight and retired NASA Astronaut; Trish Millines Dziko, co-founder and executive director of the Technology Access Foundation; Rosa Franklin, Washington State Senator and member of the Washington State Nurses Association Hall of Fame; Kathi Goertzen, anchor at KOMO 4 News; Doris Heritage, head coach of the Seattle Pacific University's women's cross country team and a former U.S. Olympic runner; Sally Jewell, president and CEO of REI; Dr. Mary-Claire King, American Cancer Society professor of medicine and genome sciences at the University of Washington; Karen Moyer, co-founder and vice president of The Moyer Foundation; Mary Ellen Stone, executive director of the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center and Courtney Thompson, member of the NCAA champion UW women's volleyball team. (For more info on previous honorees visit

The Storm's opponent for the Women of Inspiration game will be the Los Angeles Sparks, one of only two other WNBA teams with a majority women ownership group. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. For information on purchasing tickets to the Women of Inspiration game visit:

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