Meet the Board
The Alliance Board of Directors consists of a diverse mix of Pioneer Square professionals and residents.
Attorney, Microsoft Corporation
Azar is an attorney at Microsoft Corporation, where he provides legal support to the the company’s online advertising business. Prior to joining Microsoft, Azar was a corporate attorney at Cairncross & Hempelmann, P.S., a law firm located in Pioneer Square. Azar has been a resident of Pioneer Square for almost eight years and is passionate about advocating for the neighborhood’s residents and businesses. Azar received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and a B.S. in Political Science from Northern Arizona University.
Martin Smith Inc
Ryan Smith is a Principal of Martin Smith Inc, a commercial real estate investment and operating company specializing in office properties in Seattle. With approximately 1 million square feet under ownership/management across 20 buildings, Martin Smith Inc holds a leading position in the Northwest commercial real estate marketplace. In addition to serving as Board Co-Chair of the Alliance for Pioneer Square, he is also on the Board of Friends of Waterfront Seattle, as well as the Board of the Downtown Seattle Association.
CFO, Marchex Inc
Leila Kirske is the Chief Financial Officer of Marchex – a leading conversational analytics company that connects the voice of the customer to business. Leila is responsible for finance and administrative operations. She has held senior financial executive roles at Tune, Varolii, Washington Mutual, and Bsquare. Leila has more than 25 years of experience driving finance, accounting and administrative activities in the technology and telephony industries. She began her career at PricewaterhouseCoopers and is a Certified Public Accountant. Leila holds a B.B.A. Degree from the University of Washington. Her interests include promoting local businesses, enabling technology start-ups and historic preservation.
Property Owner/Samis Land Co and BIA Ratepayer Board
Adam Hasson is the Senior Property Manager for Samis, a real estate company with 11 building in Pioneer Square. He is the co-chair of the Design Committee at the Alliance for Pioneer Square and former member of the Pioneer Square Preservation Board. His interests include urban design, promoting local retailers, alley activation and historic preservation.
Barry Blanton, CPM
Blanton Turner & BIA Ratepayer Board
Barry began his career in real estate management at Jennings & Co. Property Management in 1980 in Eugene, Oregon. Barry was offered a partnership in the firm in 1985, and by 1987 the firm had grown into a regional management firm with offices in Eugene, Salem and Lake Oswego, Oregon. In 1994, Barry formed Lorig Management Services (LMS), a Washington partnership between his Oregon firm and Lorig Associates, a Seattle-based real estate development company. Barry served as President of LMS until 2011, when he left to form his new firm, Blanton Turner.
Blanton Turner is a regional real estate management company led by Barry and his partners Heidi Turner, Chasten Fulbright, Alan Byars and Krista Janes-Blackburn. Blanton Turner has offices in Seattle and Eugene, Oregon. Blanton Turner specializes in the management of urban mixed-use properties, student housing properties, and provides consulting and marketing services for new developments and property lease-ups.
Barry served as the 2010 President of the Western Washington Chapter 27 of the Institute of Real Estate Management, and was named Chapter 27 Certified Property Manager of the Year for 2009. Barry has served on several industry and community Boards including Washington Rental Housing Industry Coalition, Washington Association of Realtors, Downtown Events Management/Eugene Celebration (Eugene), Jackson Street Corridor Association (Seattle), and Pioneer Square BIA (Seattle).
Pioneer Square Resident
Jan Drago is an 18-year resident of Pioneer Square. She is a partner in Drago Associates, a business development company. She established, owned and operated four Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream Shoppes in the Seattle area. She is a graduate of Douglass College, Rutgers University. Jan served 16 years on Seattle City Council including two terms as Council President. Her committee chair responsibilities included Finance and Budget, Transportation, Business and Labor, Economic and Community Development, Land Use and Construction and Government Affairs. She also served one year on the Metro King County Council. Jan currently serves on the Alliance for Pioneer Square Board, Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau Board and the Mountains to Sound Greenway Board
General Counsel, Numera
Paul Swegle is currently General Counsel of Numera, Inc. and CEO of Ecrocruise Electric Transportation. He was previously General Counsel of ING DIRECT ShareBuilder and he is the Immediate Past President of the Bellevue College Foundation. Paul serves on the Executive Committee of the Corporate Counsel Section of the Washington State Bar Association and is the Immediate Past Chair of that organization. Prior to joining ShareBuilder, Paul was Director, Law at Seattle-based Plum Creek Timber. He began his career with the SEC’s Division of Enforcement and served two appointments as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. Paul later transferred to the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance where he reviewed IPOs and other corporate transactions. He holds a BA in political science from the University of Washington and received his law degree from the University of Washington School of Law.
Denise M. Merle has been Senior Vice President, Chief Administration Officer, since February 19, 2016. She has held various roles in the company’s paper and packaging businesses, including finance, capital planning and analysis, and business development. She joined the company in 1981. She is a licensed CPA in the state of Washington. She holds a Bachelor of Accounting degree from Pacific Lutheran University and an MBA from Seattle University. She serves on the Board of Advisors of the Seattle University business school.
Nelson & Nelson PLLC
Jane Rakay Nelson has more than three decades of experience handling numerous real estate financing, lease and acquisition transactions for nonprofit and for profit clients.
Jane’s comprehensive background working with developers and financial institutions provides her with a unique perspective when developing creative solutions to the tax and structuring issues arising under the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program and to close NMTC transactions. She has represented borrowers (QALICBs) all over the country in connection with various types of projects, including arts halls, medical facilities, manufacturing/industrial facilities, hotels, retail and community facilities. Projects include several YMCAs and community centers, Boys and Girls Clubs (NJ and Puerto Rico) the San Francisco Jazz Performance Hall (CA), Columbia Basin Health Association facility (WA), Salud Para La Gente health facility (CA), Presbyterian Medical Services facility (NM), SARLA manufacturing facility (SC), Food Lifeline (WA), M-1 Rail (MI), Pike Place Market (WA), Boys and Girls Clubs (NJ), Audible Headquarters (NJ), Copper King Hotel (MT), Great Falls Rescue Mission (MT), recenter (TX).
Jane remains active in several professional and community organizations, having served as chair of the Downtown Seattle Association Board of Directors, co-chair of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Business Affiliates Board, chair of the Mercer Island Boys & Girls Club Board and member of the Board of Directors of the Woodland Park Zoo. Jane has lectured and taught seminars on real estate development and financing issues, and has also served on the executive committee of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Section of the Washington State Bar Association
Hudson Pacific Properties
Andy Wattula joined Hudson Pacific Properties (HPP) in October 2017 as Senior Vice President, Pacific Northwest. In this role, Andy has primary responsibility for oversight of HPP’s operations in the Pacific Northwest. Prior to joining HPP, he served as Managing Director with Beacon Capital Partners in Seattle, where he oversaw asset management and operations of Beacon Capital Partners’ properties in the Pacific Northwest, as well as acquisitions and development in the region. From 2006 to 2012, Andy served as a Director with Hines in Seattle, focused on acquisitions, development, and leasing of projects in the area. From 1997 to 2004, he served as a Naval Flight Officer in the United States Navy. Andy earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Vanderbilt University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School.
Grant Wojahn joined the Alliance board in 2019. He is an alumnus of the Pioneer Square BIA board, having served as Treasurer as well as heading up the Finance committee. He was the Director of Human Resources for QuoteWizard by Lending Tree for many years before moving on to consulting work in February of 2020.
Brett Phillips is the Vice President of Sustainable and Responsible Investments for Unico Properties overseeing the integration of triple-bottom-line strategies into Unico’s investment and development projects. His responsibilities include leading the company’s sustainable development and operations initiatives through Unico Sustainability, solar energy investments through Unico Solar Investors, and community development strategies for major development projects.
Ex Officio Non-Voting Member
National Park Service
Small Business Owner
Although not a Seattle native, Jen Kelly fell in love with Pioneer Square shortly after moving there in 2009. After living in the neighborhood for just a few months, she decided to start a blog called “The New Pioneer Square” that could show people the positive aspects of the neighborhood and help build a strong community of Pioneer Square residents. A few years later, she had a daughter, who is now a precocious young lady who loves the city, and helped Jen to get more involved in making Seattle a more family-friendly city. In 2014, she and her husband opened a fast-casual restaurant in Smith Tower, called SPROUT. She hopes to continue to be an activist for Pioneer Square, get residents more involved in facilitating change, and share the realities of living in Seattle’s first neighborhood.
Resident & Business Owner
From 1990 until 1994, Mr. Royer served as Director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University and as Lecturer at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Prior to his appointment at the Institute of Politics, Charley Royer served as Mayor of Seattle for twelve years. He was elected Mayor in 1977 following a career in newspaper and television journalism. During his three terms as Mayor, Mr. Royer became a national spokesman for American cities in housing, the arts, health care, energy, civil liberties, and the needs of children and youth. He served as President of the National League of Cities in 1983 and was named one of the top 20 American Mayors in 1988 by U. S. News and World Report. In 1989, Seattle was named one of the ten best-managed cities in the nation by Business Month Magazine and Mr. Royer received the 1989 Distinguished Urban Mayor Award from the National Urban Coalition. Charley was named the 2011 Downtown Champion at the Downtown Seattle Association 53rdAnnual Meeting in June 2011; the first time the award was bestowed on an individual. A resident of Pioneer Square, Charley is co-chair of the Alliance. He also serves on the Downtown Seattle Association Board of Trustees and on the Board of the Public Facilities District for Safeco Field.
President Daniels Real Estate
Kevin Daniels is a founding board member of the Alliance for Pioneer Square. He is President of Daniels Real Estate. His development team has received two National Preservation Awards and numerous local & state awards for their work. He was named as the first recipient of the Urban Hero award from International Sustainability Institute, and received the Washington State Special Achievement Award and the Judge’s Choice Award from the National Association of Office & Industrial Properties for his work to save the historic First United Methodist Church in Seattle. The American Institute of Architects has made him an honorary member in Seattle for his body of work. Mr. Daniels serves on the Board of Trustees for the National Trust for Historic Preservation where he is vice-chair of the Preservation and Audit Committees. He also serves on the Board of Regents for Gonzaga University. Until recently he served on the board of the Gonzaga Business Forum that sponsors Seattle Trek’s annual luncheon and Gonzaga’s Annual Vintner Dinner & Auction in Seattle. Mr. Daniels serves on the boards of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation and Historic Seattle as a board emeriti.