Women Who Inspire Us Special
Author: KING Staff
Published: 9:20 PM PDT April 25, 2017
Updated: 9:20 PM PDT April 25, 2017
EVENING 8 Articles

From business owners to artists using their talents for a good cause, all of these women have stories that empower others.  

We'd love to hear stories about local women that inspire YOU.  Join our Women Who Inspire Facebook Group to tell your stories, and get empowered by the stories of others.  

EXPLORE

Women Who Inspire Us Special

EVENING
Chapter 1

Jenn McBeth, Kenmore Air Mechanic

Produced by Anne Erickson

Three women who inspire share stories about their paths to success, and discuss the common struggles women often have to face.

Our panelists included Allison Tenney, Maghogany Villars, and Erin Benzekein.Kenmore Air Mechanic, Jenn McBeth

Her office -- a hangar in Tukwila.

"My name is Jenn McBeth, and I am an A&P mechanic at Kenmore Air."

Her job -- keeping planes in the air.

"I love it."

Jenn McBeth flew an airplane before she drove a car, thanks to some aviation pioneers.

"Got my pilot’s license in high school, got introduced to flying through the Tuskegee Airmen, who were the first African-American military fighter pilots.”

Jenn McBeth, Kenmore Air Mechanic
Jenn McBeth, Kenmore Air Mechanic

Flying led her to a fascination with the mechanics of getting airborne.

'"And I do have the aviation bug, I love those airplanes specifically, and I love that what I work on can fly."

She's been at Kenmore Air for one-and-a-half years. When this 26-year-old’s head isn't in the clouds, it's in a pontoon.

"This used to be all disgusting in here, but I cleaned it up,” she commented as she inspected the inside of one of the floats.

"Sometimes we go up to Lake Washington to help out -- I find a lot of spiders there -- which is not okay!” she laughed.

She's encountered worse things than spiders doing this job.

"I've been in situations where I haven't had an ally, or um, being a woman in this field for whatever reason is either offensive or uncomfortable to people."

She quickly adds that's not the case at Kenmore. 

"I'm just another employee, in the best of ways.”

Kenmore's maintenance manager, Ira Woyar, just wishes there were more of her, "She's got a fabulous attitude, a hard worker, good attention to detail, shows up at her job every day, does it well. I couldn't ask for anything better. She's sharp."

Jenn McBeth was flying an airplane before she could drive a car.
Jenn McBeth was flying an airplane before she could drive a car.

Per Payscale.com the average pay for an airplane mechanic is 55 thousand dollars a year -- job satisfaction rating is very high -- and there are few women doing it. 

This mechanic shared a secret -- she wasn't born with these skills.

"What I've done in aviation, it's all learned, I'm not a natural mechanic wiz,” Jenn said. “I think especially for women you can find the trap of thinking 'I'm not naturally mechanical, so that whole field of the entire world is closed off to me."

Ira Woyar adds: “The skies the limit at this point. She could be director of operations for an air carrier in short period of time. Usually, there are a lot of opportunities for mechanics.”

For now, Jenn McBeth is excited about the future she's building at Kenmore Air, and she says she already is doing exactly what she wants to be doing, "Work on planes fly them and just keep doing that more and better!”

Chapter 2

Owner of FUELHouse, Molly Kieland

Produced by Kim Holcomb

Seattle gym owner Molly Kieland believes women are stronger together, figuratively and literally.

"It's been cool to see how we as women bond through strength, and make that the (gym’s) focus,” she said.

Molly Kieland's Fremont FUELHouse is all about building strength by building up each other.
Molly Kieland's Fremont FUELHouse is all about building strength by building up each other.

Kieland opened FUELhouse in the Fremont neighborhood after spending 15 years working as a trainer in other gyms.

"What has changed is being exposed to seeing, over time, more female owners," she said.

She took a leap of faith and opened her own space two years ago.

FUELhouse's layout and training philosophy reflect everything Kieland prizes: a wide-open floor plan where people can modify and do their own thing. She doesn’t allow intimidation. But she does allow dogs.

"’House’ being a part of our name, that's how I want it to feel the minute you walk in the door,” she said.

The gym is co-ed, but a majority of her clients are women.

Kieland wants FUELhouse to be a metaphor for life: building strength, by building up one other.

“My fuel is the people. It's the people,” she said.

FUELhouse is located at 1320 N 35th St, Seattle, WA 98103.

Chapter 3

Seattle Ignited Women Project

Produced by Abby Grimmett

Before discovering their path to success, many women often have to move past personal challenges. Sometimes the best way to do that is to hear from others who’ve overcome the same struggles. Those kinds of conversations were highlighted at the Seattle Ignited Women Project.

Allison Tenney founded and coordinated the Seattle Ignited Women Project. 
Allison Tenney founded and coordinated the Seattle Ignited Women Project. 

From stories of post-partum depression to admissions of body image issues and career setbacks. These usually taboo topics were in the spotlight at the Seattle event.

"This event is meant to show these women that you're not alone,” said event organizer Allison Tenney. “That just because my life might look a little different than yours, we have the same fears, we have the same struggles."

Allison is a mom of two who was struggling to hold things together. With help from her tribe of friends, she found her voice. Now, she hopes the collective voices of women will normalize these issues.

Stories like speaker and activist Erin Brown's.

"I spent most of my life obsessed with the idea that something was really wrong with my body,” said Brown. “What changed for me is, I had a baby, and as soon as I found out I had a baby girl, I realized that all I had to teach her about being a woman was how to hate herself."

Dianna Russinin, SportsCenter Anchor speaks at the Seattle Women Ignited Project.
Dianna Russinin, SportsCenter Anchor speaks at the Seattle Women Ignited Project.

And SportsCenter anchor Dianna Russini, who faced a swarm of scrutiny after she was wrongly accused on social media of sleeping with someone for a story.

"I mean messages after messages, and horrible things are being said about me. ‘Slut, whore...’ Now, when you Google my name it's the first thing that pops up,” said Russini. “Not the story that I was the first reporter on the scene of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting that morning. Not that I was there for the Boston Marathon bombing."

While each of these women has faced different struggles, by speaking out, they've found their success and hope others find theirs, too.

Registration for next year’s Seattle Ignited Women Project event opens December 1, 2017.

Chapter 4

Ballard's Monster: Art, Clothing, and Gifts

Produced by Abby Grimmett

The story of struggling artists is one Monster:  Art, Clothing, and Gifts is familiar with. In an effort to help artists make a better living, Holly Gummelt decided to open a curated shop, which at anytime features the work of up to 60 local artists.  

"One night I remember lying down in bed and thinking, 'Gosh I wish there was a shop where all of these artists could have their stuff at.' And at the moment I just decided I needed to be the one to open up that shop," said Gummelt. "And I couldn't sleep all night."

After only four months, Gummelt was able to make that dream a reality. 

"Every month when I cut checks it made me really happy to know I was helping support them," she said. "I almost saw it as sort of a community service project."

Tara Van Buren, Jessica Beans, Holly Gummalt, and Rosalie Gale, the women of Ballard's Monster Art and Clothing
Tara Van Buren, Jessica Beans, Holly Gummalt, and Rosalie Gale, the women of Ballard's Monster Art and Clothing

Since then, Gummelt has passed the torch to other women who have the same vision and mission of supporting local artists and makers. Gummelt now splits her time between being a parent, running her Fremont store, The Sock Monster, getting her Masters in physics, and learning to fly planes. 

Tara VanBuren, who was the shop's second owner, says the shop's monthly participation in the Ballard Art Walk was always a big highlight. 

"A lot of times we'll feature an artist that has never had their work displayed for a crowd," said VanBuren. "It's like their first art show. And so it's really exciting you can see their excitement, and it feels really great."

VanBuren is now focusing on her company, Revival Ink. After VanBuren's had ended her run at Monster, the store's future was in limbo. But Rosalie Gale, who's known as the maker of unapologetic shower art, stepped up to take it over so the legacy could continue. 

"I've been so passionate about makers and getting the word out about people who's work I love," said Gale. "So having a shop where I can do that more is just the greatest."

Jessie Beans, who is one of Monster's featured makers, has been working at the store from the beginning. She knows first hand how beneficial it is for artists to have a brick and mortar store where they can sell their work. 

"It's huge! We constantly have artists coming in here saying, 'if only there were ten more stores like this I could be a full-time artist,'" said Beans. "Having the opportunity to have that regular income from selling their art without having to wait for the festival season or go out to a show and not know whether you'll make money it's so helpful."

Monster:  Art, Clothing, and Gifts is located in Old Town Ballard, on the corner of Ballard Ave and 20th. It's open seven days a week from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Chapter 5

Artist Adrienne La Faye

Produced by Diane Torre

“All I ever wanted to do was paint and be a fine artist."

Adrienne La Faye of Seattle describes herself as a “colorist” who uses a signature style of bold, bright colors in her works and draws inspiration from her own life. She insists that her entire reason for painting is because of the colors.

“I just believe that colors are everything,” said La Faye. “There are times I get in this zone, and I can’t stop painting for like eight, ten hours.”

And getting lost in the art feels natural to La Faye. Her passion lies on the canvas, and she knows that it is her life’s calling to be an artist.  An artist who paints based on feelings.

Artist Adrienne LaFaye.  "I'm the epitome of intersectionality."
Artist Adrienne LaFaye.  "I'm the epitome of intersectionality."

“I’m an activist. I believe that part of an artist’s job is to be the narrator of today,” said La Faye. “My painting is about chronicling what is actually going on around in my world, and sometimes it’s not nice, it’s not pretty.”

But La Faye doesn’t shy away from these emotions, she uses them to inspire creativity and even pulls from her own experiences.

“And being an African-American, lesbian, ex-drug addict, I’m like the epitome of intersectionality,” said La Faye. “For twelve years, I was a crack addict. I believe the reason I even became a drug addict is because my family ostracized me because I was a lesbian.”

La Faye knows her parents are good people, but it hurt her that they could never accept her for who she truly was.

The artist has been clean and sober for 17 years now and wants to make a difference, not only with art but with youth through her Children's Painting workshops.  

With her repertoire of prestigious awards, that’s what she plans to do. Her latest works include paintings of black life and a portrait of President Barack Obama.

“You go into any black family’s home, and there’s usually a painting of Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, and Jesus,” joked La Faye. “Well, now we’ve got to add Obama to that collection!”

La Faye’s other works of art depict the lives of those who have been marginalized and disenfranchised. It’s her form of social justice and activism.

“I’m on this journey to try to be the best possible person that I can be and to do good, and to give back to my community,” said La Faye. “Because we all have obstacles. We all have our battles. We all have something that we’re trying to overcome. I feel compelled to help other people.”

Now, La Faye has accepted who she is and is ready to make a change.

“God made me to be exactly who I am.,” said La Faye. “I’m happier now than I’ve ever been.”

You can see Adrienne La Faye’s paintings on display in Mayor Ed Murray’s office and at an upcoming exhibit at King Street Station.

Adrienne's start in June at the Union Gospel Mission.  She donates her time, skills and art supplies for the workshops.  You can make a donation to support them on her website.   Adrienne would like to extend her thanks to her printing company, Color 1 Photo, owner Carl Cooper.  

Adrienne La Faye Art , (206) 859-3981, adriennelafayeart@yahoo.com

Chapter 6

Henna Artist, Sarah Walters

Produced by Kim Holcomb

Henna is an ancient art form, but artist Sarah Walters of Bothell is using it for a very modern purpose.

She creates henna crowns for women undergoing chemotherapy.

Henna artist Sarah Walters creates Henna Crowns for women undergoing chemotherapy. 
Henna artist Sarah Walters creates Henna Crowns for women undergoing chemotherapy. 

“It does satisfy that creative urge. But when it's also something you're doing for someone else, benefiting someone else in a positive way, and when it can be a gift that you're giving them, that's just a great feeling."

Her intricate designs, made of a plant-based paste, are like temporary tattoos on her client’s heads.

Lauren Russell has gotten three crowns from Walters.

"I'm long term chemo, so I'll be on it for years,” she said. "This is kind of like something I can wear, and not wear, at the same time."

Working free hand, Walters makes up the shapes and angles in the moment. The experience is almost meditative.

"It's almost like when you get a haircut, and you leave the salon,” Russell said. "You're really satisfied, and you know you look good. It's that feeling, kind of being pampered."

Sarah Walters of Bothell's SaraHenna, creates a Henna Crown for client Lauren Russell.
Sarah Walters of Bothell's SaraHenna, creates a Henna Crown for client Lauren Russell.

But unlike a trip to the salon, this service doesn't cost a thing. Walters offers henna crowns to her clients for free - a gift that comes from a deeply personal place.

"My stepdad had cancer. He was only alive for five months to the day after his diagnosis,” she said. “I felt very helpless during that time when he was sick, so I think the fact that I can use my art to be helpful in some way, it’s important to me to be able to give in that way."

The crowns are visible for about two weeks, but the impressions on Walters' clients last much longer.

"For a little bit, people don't see that it's because I'm sick. They see art. And it doesn't look like just a bald head or any of that. It's pretty,” Russell said.

Anyone interested in a henna crown can contact Walters online for an appointment. You can follow her work on Instagram.

Sarahenna, (425) 208-9542, 10130-B Main Street, Bothell, WA 98021

Chapter 7

Betsy Reed Shultz, Captain Joseph House Foundation

Produced by Jose Cedeno

The loss of a child is one of the worst events any parent could imagine going through, but one Northwest woman turned the tragedy of losing her son into something triumphant – the Captain Joseph House Foundation.

Betsy Reed Schultz created the Captain Joseph House Foundation after her only son, Joseph, was killed in Afghanistan.
Betsy Reed Schultz created the Captain Joseph House Foundation after her only son, Joseph, was killed in Afghanistan.

Betsy Reed Schultz created the foundation after her only son, Joseph, was killed in Afghanistan.

The Captain Joseph House serves as a respite house to serve Gold Star Veteran Families of our military’s fallen heroes. The idea is that the families will come to the Port Angeles home for an all-expenses-paid respite week.

“It’s the only house like it in the country, and we’ll be serving all branches of the military,” said Schultz.

Betsy started planning for the house after she visited Dover Air Force Base to welcome her son home.

“I promised that I would go on,” said Schultz. “That I would make his loss of value. To honor our fallen heroes is by living today.”

Betsy closed the home she was using as a bed-and-breakfast at the time, to create a space for the foundation.

Betsy knows that her son would be proud and says she wouldn’t have been able to create the house without the love of her late son.

The Captain Joseph House in still under construction.

Chapter 8

Chef Lisa Nakamura, Project Feast

Produced by Anne Erickson

This Kent kitchen where a handful of cooks are kneading, chopping and sautéing is a true melting pot.

Tenaye Adem is from Ethiopia, Bebe Renzaho is from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iryna Mikhalchuk is from Ukraine – and they’re are all apprentices for Project Feast. This hands-on program helps immigrants and refugees learn the ins and outs of the restaurant business, in hopes that they'll open their own.

“I would like to open my business in the future but not now,” explained Bebe Renzaho. “ I would like to work for somebody so that I can get a little bit of serving, and maybe in the future, I have a vision that I can have my own.”

Chef Lisa Nakamura in the kitchen at Project FEAST
Chef Lisa Nakamura in the kitchen at Project FEAST

Well-known Seattle chef Lisa Nakamura teaches at Project Feast.  

 "I think it is important that we as a nation of immigrants turn around and help the next wave coming in,” said Nakamura, who adds that helping immigrants now is more important than ever.

"I don't care really what your political stance is - it's about being a human being,” Nakamura said. "They've all fought their battles to be here, so my job is to try to ease their way."

Nakamura grew up in Hawaii in a Japanese family, cooked at The French Laundry, then launched a restaurant dedicated to Italian dumplings: Gnocchi Bar. She knows how breaking bread breaks down cultural barriers.

"I view food is a bridge,” Nakamura said.

This chef and these apprentices are combining talents to open the most international eatery in the Pacific Northwest -- Ubuntu Street Café. Nakamura explains that Ubuntu is a Zulu word that loosely translates into ‘I am because You are.'

The students take turns making food from their native countries -- today Irenya guides the group as they make a classic Ukrainian soup – borscht.

These immigrant students end each day the same way: they sit down -- and eat together.

They welcome anyone to join them for a feast that turns strangers into friends.

"We may come from different cultures, from different parts of the world, but we do have this common thing. That's, we're all human beings, right?" Nakamura said.

Project Feast, 12424 42nd Ave S, Tukwila, WA 98168