Thomas Dixon

2015 Laureate

Thomas Dixon, the “voice of black Tacoma” for over thirty years and mentor to two generations of African-American civic leaders, has been a vital force in Tacoma’s 50-year drive forjustice and diversity. As we continue to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize, it is timely that we honor this leading figure in Tacoma’s non-violent struggle for racial and social equity.

Born the grandson of a slave in Georgia in 19,31, Tom remained in Tacoma after completing military service at McChord Air Force Base in 1964. Two years later he became the first director of the Hilltop Multi-Service Center and in 1968 became the inaugural executive director of Tacoma’s new affiliate of the National Urban League, a position he held for 34 years. As Tacoma Urban League executive director, Tom Dixon worked assiduously for economic development, job training, social services, and the general benefit of all Tacomans. But as a leading black voice within black and multi-racial communities in Pierce County, Tom was in a key position to advocate progressive change to a conservative, predominately white city leadership; respond to an outbreak of racial violence in the Mother’s Day Disturbance of 1969 with a strong voice of non-violence and conciliation; and was a leading figure in the formation of the Black Collective, a weekly gathering of black civic leaders that continues today.

As influential as the Urban League was during this era of enormous and often hard­ fought progress, Tom Dixon’s most lasting contribution to Tacoma’s transformation since the 1960s may have been his work with and place of influence within the Black Collective. From this rich and dynamic source of human energy have emerged such influential civic leaders as Harold Moss, Tacoma’s first black mayor; James Walton, Tacoma’s first black city manager; Bil Dixon, Tacoma’s first black female city council member; and current city council member Victoria Woodards – all encouraged, supported, and mentored by Thomas Dixon.

Even today, at the age of 84, Tom Dixon continues his fight for social and economic justice with a strong, influential voice in equity efforts throughout the Pierce County area.

Learn more about Tom in his video Laureate Spotlight:

Dawn Sharp Olson Lucien (Local Mediator) and Admiral Eric T. Olson, US Navy, Retired (4-Star Admiral and Peace Keeper)

2014 Laureates

Nominated by William Lincoln, Norm Dicks, and Clare Petrich, Dawn Olson Lucien and her son Eric Olson have served our local community and our nation for over forty years, seeking in their respective careers community and international peace.

Dawn Lucien has merged the spirit and skills of advocate and conciliator – always civil, transparent, influential, and effective. In many ways she has been the conscience of the community. As district manager for Congressman Norm Dicks, she played a key role in the 1990 Puyallup Indian Land and Jurisdictional Claims settlement. In the mid-1980s, she was instrumental in bringing together the federal government, the Puyallup Tribe, the Port of Tacoma, the City of Tacoma and numerous local municipalities and private partners. In retirement Dawn maintains strong relationships with all parties and is an informal and meaningful advisor. She remains an advocate for the Pierce County Center for Dispute Resolution; she has been a tireless contributor to community-based efforts to develop a first-class graduate degree program in dispute prevention, management, and resolution at the University of Washington – Tacoma.

Eric Olson, Dawn’s son, is a 1969 graduate of Stadium High School and a 1973 graduate of the US Naval Academy. In a career of over 35 years, he rose to the rank of Admiral, the first Navy SEAL to be promoted to the four-star rank, and ultimately served as the leader of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOC). Twice decorated for personal valor in combat, Admiral Olson advocates for the “deeper understanding of the context of any conflict as a means to predict the effects of our actions” and he has been widely quoted for his statement that “we cannot kill our way to victory in today’s wars, so we must think our way to success.” Retired in 2011, Admiral Olson remains a thoughtful leader for a more balanced military force, one that considers linguistic and cultural expertise as essential. In 2012, as keynote speaker at Portland District Rotary ’s “Peace Is Possible” conference, he reminded listeners: “Going to war is a political decision, not a military decision.”  He currently teaches a graduate course at Columbia University focusing on the challenges of “turning down the heat” in a time of global friction.

Dawn Lucien and Eric Olson
2014 Dawn Lucien and Eric Olson

Together, Dawn Lucien and Eric Olson have been formidable advocates for nonviolent solutions to difficult conflicts. It is our honor to recognize these lifelong Tacomans as the 2014 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize laureates.

Learn more about Admiral Olsen on his video Laureate Spotlight:

Sallie Shawl

2013 Laureate

Not one, but two respected members of the Tacoma community nominated Sallie Shawl for the 2013 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize, which is indicative of the high regard in which she is held throughout our community for her continued peacebuilding efforts. Among many other achievements, Shawl founded a local chapter of the international group, Jewish Voice for Peace, which promotes a U.S. foreign policy based on peace, democracy, human rights, and respect for international law. She led the organizations Tacoma Arabs, Jews, and Others (TAJOS) and Palestinian-Israeli Peace Endeavors (PIPES).

Sallie Shawl
2013 Sallie Shawl

Through the Ground Zero Center for Non-Violent Action, she participated in protests against nuclear weapons at the Bangor Naval Base in Kitsap County. She formed the groups People for Peace, Justice, and Healing and United for Peace of Pierce County, and she was instrumental in the inauguration of the South Sound Peace and Justice Center.

Learn more about Sallie in her video Laureate Spotlight:

Father William Bichsel, S.J.

2012 Laureate

Over 160 members of the Tacoma community came out to help celebrate the presentation of the 2012 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize to peace activist Fr. Bill Bichsel on June 2, 2012, at the Spring Banquet of the Scandinavian Cultural Center, Pacific Lutheran University.

 “Brunch with Bix” was a Great Success!

Over 80 guests enjoyed a delicious Norwegian-style brunch and heard 2012 Laureate Father William “Bix” Bichsel, S.J., report on his trip to Norway, where he attended the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony. The brunch was held on Sunday, January 27, 2013, at the Scandinavian Cultural Center, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma WA.

Father Bix 2
2012 Father Bix
Father Bix 1


Here’s an article by Helen Young, in the “Huffington Post,” in which she writes about Father Bix at the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony.

Tacoma Weekly article announced Father Bichsel as the 2012 GTPP Laureate

Plowshares article reported on the June 2, 2012, Award Presentation

LINKS to other articles about Fr. Bill Bichsel, 2012 Laureate

University of Washington Tacoma receives a Gift of Peace May 7, 2012

Seattle Times article 1998

Links to Articles written by Father Bix

Choose Life 2010

Lethal Force  2009

Dr. Donald Mott

2011 Laureate

In 2002, Dr. Mott, a retired pediatrician and orthopedic surgeon, was instrumental in the founding of China Partners Network.

CPN is a group of physicians, therapists, and professionals working in under-served regions of China to meet the medical needs of children with cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular disorders. Dr. Mott and others donate their talents, skills, and time to work with and to provide training to professionals in China, improving the quality of life for children and their communities.

Don and Beret Mott
2011 Don and Beret Mott

Since its founding, members of the network, in collaboration with the Amity Foundation of Nanjing, China, have traveled to China many times to conduct workshops and courses for orphanage workers, therapy students, medical students, physicians in rehabilitation medicine, traditional Chinese medicine physicians, and others. Thousands of children who live in under-served areas of China now have improved health because of Dr. Mott and his China Partners Network team.

Learn more about Dr. Mott on his video Laureate Profile: Dr Donald Mott

Donald Mott Obituary on Legacy

Kim Ebert-Colella

2010 Laureate

Kim Ebert-Colella came to Tacoma as a Jesuit Volunteer and has continued to do peace work in all areas of her life. She volunteers at Bryant Montessori School, a racially and economically diverse school in the Hilltop area of Tacoma. She established Bryant as an International Peace Site in 2009.
Ms. Ebert-Colella established and continues to chair the Peace Committee at Bryant. The Committee, in partnership with “Pierce County Reads,” raised $9,000 in 2008 to send to “Pennies for Peace,” an organization which builds schools in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Kim Ebert-Colella
2010 Laureate Kim Ebert-Colella

Each year, Kim helps the students at Bryant choose a peace-related theme for the year. In 2009-2010 the theme was: “Water: Peace in Every Drop.” Partnered with NorwexTrue Clean (which originated in Norway), the students conserved water in their school by procuring rain barrels, which were decorated and installed around the school. Classes went on field trips to the Puget Creek watershed to learn the connection between sewer, ground water, and Puget Sound. They provided opportunities for all the students in the school to learn about the impact of our storm drains on our watersheds and the salmon population

Another goal of the Peace Committee in 2009-2010 was to raise $6,000 for the ETTA Project, which helped a poor village in Bolivia start a community garden and get running water to homes and the school in order to improve health. The garden provides the children of the village with fresh vegetables to augment their meager daily diet.

Kim’s deep passion for helping people has taken her all over the world. Through the high school youth ministries at her church, St. Nicholas in Gig Harbor, WA, she traveled to the barrios of Tijuana, Mexico. She ministered to both the elderly and teens as a Jesuit Volunteer; traveled alone to Calcutta because she had always wanted to meet and work with Mother Teresa; joined a delegation of women who traveled to South Africa; and worked in Hospice centers and homes in multiple villages to fight the AIDS crisis.

Kim received her B.A. in liberal studies, with a minor in psychology, from the College of St. Benedict and earned a Master’s Degree in pastoral studies from Seattle University. She makes her home in Tacoma, Washington, with her husband Niko and son Sam.

“Kim brings peace to the kids she works with by helping them reflect on their own ability to be peaceful, within themselves and with others. She encourages them to think and act both locally and globally.” (Wynne Brown, Nominator)

Learn more about Kim in our video Laureate Spotlight:

Reverend David T. Alger

2009 Laureate

Reverend Alger, nominated by Saundra Sanderson, served for nearly thirty years as Executive Director of Associated Ministries. In his ecumenical work, Rev. Alger helped bring different faith groups together to build a community that is humane, compassionate and just.

He was instrumental in the founding and growth of many agencies that help to build such a community, including (among others)

  • the Pierce County AIDS Foundation,
  • the Indochinese Culture and Service Center,
  • the Shalom Center (focusing on Central American and Middle Eastern Peace),
  • the South Sound Peace and Justice Center,
  • the Pierce County Dispute Resolution Center,
  • Faith Partners Against Family Violence,
  • the Moments of Blessing program (services held to reclaim places where homicides have occurred), and
  • the Hilltop Action Coalition.
David Alger
2009 David Alger at Seattle’s 17 Mai Parade

Read an article about Rev. Alger by clicking here.  And click here to read David and Sally Alger’s account of their trip to Oslo, Norway, in December of 2009.

Learn more about Rev Alger in his video Laureate Spotlight:

David Corner

2008 Laureate

Tacoma resident David Corner, nominated by Dr. Robert Klein, was awarded the 2008 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize. Mr. Corner is the founder and director of The Gathering Project, a humanitarian organization he created in 1997 after visiting Africa as part of the Men’s Fellowship for Ghana mission program. He had the vision to join the vast amounts of surplus and waste materials destined for landfills from businesses and hospitals in the Western US with the people and programs that desperately need them. As a result, the Gathering Project has gathered and shipped thousands of tons of goods around the world, and provided support for programs in the Tacoma area and across North America. By building trusted relationships with local businesses, hospitals and schools, The Gathering Project has been able to remove usable goods from the waste stream. From hospitals alone the organization saved an estimated $80-90,000 in landfill costs, but more importantly provided usable medical supplies and equipment around the world.

The Gathering Project has shipped about 160 containers of goods to more than 40 countries around the world. After last year’s magnitude 8.0 earthquake in Peru, they quickly had a container of relief supplies on the scene and in local hands, even before the Red Cross. Domestically, Corner also gathered and shipped 35 trailer loads of household and relief supplies to areas of need. He supports a wide variety of organizations with donated goods, including GoodwillI Industries, St. Vincent DePaul, Community Health Care, the Tacoma Seaman’s Center, as well as individuals and foreign sailors in need.

Davod Corner
2008 David Corner

In the course of his work, Corner has visited 12 African countries. He was elected a Lt. Governor of Kiwanis, and is one of the founders of Tacoma’s Sister City agreement with the City of George, South Africa. He is also on the Board of Kenya Methodist Development Association, the American support arm of Kenya Methodist University in Meru, Kenya. The Gathering Project has also supported the small farmers and crafts people of Kenya by directly importing coffee and handicrafts for sale here. Corner frequently works with local public agencies and educational institutions on international trade issues for developing countries.

Learn more about David in our video Laureate Spotlight:

Reverend Ron Pierre Vignec

2007 Laureate

The Rev. Ron Pierre Vignec received the prize in 2007. Pastor Vignec founded the Salishan/Eastside Lutheran Mission in 1985.

He played the key role in revitalizing the Salishan neighborhood in east Tacoma, the largest federal housing project on the West Coast. It once was awash in violence, drugs, prostitution, and ethnic tensions, but Vignec’s hard work has helped drop every measurable crime statistic in Salishan.

The nomination submission from Louis Zubaly and Bill Lincoln stated that Pastor Ron’s activities “exemplify international peace work within diverse and often troubled communities as he creatively, persistently, effectively and non-intrusively responds to the need of citizens and non-citizens while striving to find ways to help them develop sustainable cultures of peace with justice.” Former Bishop David Wold remarked, “Ron is my passport to worlds I have not known.”

Rev Ron Vignec
2007 Ron Vignec

Pastor Ron, as he is known in the community, has been serving the community for years demonstrating authentic leadership as a liaison with law enforcement, educators, news reporters, community organizations, non-profit agencies, businesses as well as community, civic and elected government leaders. His approach to community service and the building of communities has created a positive evolution of the fabric of the Salishan/Eastside region of the county and far beyond. Mr. Lincoln adds, “People from all over the world have made Tacoma their home, often coming from war torn regions or from extreme poverty. If we want peace in the world we need to strive for peace with justice at home as well, particularly in concert with persons of different cultures and beliefs. For years, we have had among us a true peace worker who deals with global problems on our local scene.”

Read Ron and Nancy Vignec’s account of their Norway trip.

Click here to read an article about Pastor Ron and the GTPP.


Pastor Ron Vignec, known in Tacoma as the “Bishop of Salishan”, passed away on Sunday, November 10, 2013. The Memorial Service was held on Thursday, Nov. 21 at Urban Grace Church in Tacoma, Washington. Here is an article about the service from the News Tribune. Pastor Ron will be greatly missed!

Links to articles about Ron:

Son Lauren’s tribute to his father

The News Tribune: Nov. 11

KING5News: Nov. 12

Learn more about Ron in his video Laureate Spotlight:

Conflict Resolution: Research and Resource Institute Bill Lincoln, Polly Davis, Dawn Hooper

2006 Laureates

In 2006, the committee was pleased to award the Prize to CRI (Conflict Resolution, Research and Resource Institute). Mr. Julio Quan of Centro Latino submitted the nomination, citing Executive Director William F. (Bill) Lincoln and Associate Director Polly Davis for “doing whatever it takes to restore peace in troubled regions, often accepting the risks without a fee.”

The mission of CRI (now the Lincoln Institute) is to teach and practice the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict in the community, the nation, and the world through the utilization of time-tested theories, processes, and techniques which ensure equitable, practical, and lasting agreements.
Update: We congratulate 2006 GTPP Laureates Bill Lincoln and Polly Davis who were presented with special awards at the recent conference of the Washington Mediators Association (WMA).

Bill Lincoln
2006 Bill Lincoln

Mr. Lincoln received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Bill has been recognized as a pioneer in mediation and negotiation theory and practice. He was a federal commissioner who helped found the United States Institute of Peace, has extensive experience working in hot spots – Wounded Knee, Walpole Prison, with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, the URNG in Guatemala in preparation for the UN sanctioned peace talks and recently with warlords in Afghanistan. Bill is a co-founder of the Russian-American Programs for Peace which started the first graduate program in conflict resolution in Russia, and began the conflict resolution center in St Petersburg. The list goes on Many practitioners in our region have been trained by Bill whether as members of his early mediation training programs at Antioch, through the State of Washington Career Executive Programs or through the Pierce County Dispute Resolution Center of which he was a founder. Bill continues his work in Tacoma and is currently involved in training negotiators involved with the United Nations food safety program.

Ms. Davis received the Excellence in Mediation Award. This award is in recognition of those who promote and practice excellence in mediation, exemplifying the application of thought that is at the forefront of our field. In her more than 20 years in the field, Polly has worked with the Northwest Institute for Restorative Justice, the King, Snohomish and Pierce County DRCs, the Lincoln Institute and the King County Interlocal Conflict Resolution Group. She has extensive international experience, working in Russia, Cuba, Poland, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Sudan and Afghanistan. She is a teacher and mentor, developing and providing trainings on a wide range of mediation topics. She also conducts facilitations and mediations in workplace, public policy and other areas. She is widely recognized by training participants and colleagues for her thoughtfulness and insight.