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Pathfinder Award

The Pathfinder Award, established in 2016, celebrates graduates of Mercer Island High School whose achievements, strength of character, and citizenship inspire and challenge today’s youth.

Pathfinder Award recipients have contributed to society in meaningful ways through their service, leadership, and creativity in our communities. Graduates of Mercer Island High School have impacted the world in a variety of fields, including but not limited to the following areas: the arts and athletics; business; education; entertainment; law; medicine; the military; philanthropy and volunteerism; public service; religion; scholarship and science. 

Growing up on an island with committed schools and residents, they embraced the larger world around them and pushed the boundaries of their potential. They are our inventors and artists—imaginative and creating the future. They understand the global context in which we live today. All are pathfinders who aspire to a better way of living for humankind. They discovered that path, or showed others the way. 

Nominations for the 2024 Pathfinder Award are now open 

The deadline to submit a nomination for the Pathfinder Award is in the first week of February 28, 2024. As part of the nomination, submitters will be asked to tell the Pathfinder Award committee how the nominee has contributed to society as a Pathfinder through their service and leadership. Additional documentation such as news stories, awards and honors, other letters of support, photos, CV or résumé may be sent to alumni@mercerislandschools.org.

The 2023 Pathfinder Award recipient was Joan Vetto Papasedero, 27-year MISD special education teacher, instructional coach, and MIHS Class of 1974.

At Mercer Island High School there is a permanent display that recognizes all Pathfinder Awards recipients as well distinguished graduates recognized prior to the Pathfinder Awards.

Program objectives

1. To recognize distinguished alumni from Mercer Island Schools and to inspire students and residents with their accomplishments; and

2. To create a network where alumni and students feel they are part of an extraordinary global community who support each other and are dedicated to making the world a better place for humankind.

Criteria for selection
  • Nominations will be vetted by the Pathfinder Selection Committee made up of island residents, business leaders, alumni, and school officials from the district and the Mercer Island Schools Foundation. The committee may request additional documentation if needed.
  • Candidates must be graduates of Mercer Island High School
  • Graduates not selected in the year they are nominated will remain eligible for two years following the initial nomination process, without requiring a new submission.
  • In order to be nominated a graduate must be 10 years from their graduation year.
  • Any person may submit a nomination, except for Selection Committee members.
  • Posthumous nominations will be accepted.
  • Nominations for the Pathfinder Awards require submission of the district's nomination form, which is released in November of each year. 
  • All information submitted will be considered confidential by the Selection Committee.
  • The Selection Committee reserves the right to reject any or all nominations.

2024 Pathfinder Selection Committee
Annabelle Hegarty – MIHS Senior
Asha Woerner - MIHS Senior. Student Representative to the School Board
Daniel Becker – MIHS Class of 2001. Parent of future MISD student.
Ian Henry – MIHS Class of 1991, MISD Communications Coordinator
Sol Park - MIHS Senior. 
David Rosenbaum – MI Deputy Mayor
Tammy Shoop – Executive Director, Mercer Island Schools Foundation
Ava Zhang - MIHS Junior. Student Representative to the School Board. 

For more information, contact Ian Henry, Communications and Alumni Relations Coordinator, 206-236-4514. 

Pathfinder Award Recipients

The Pathfinder Award honors our graduates’ remarkable impact in a variety of fields, including the arts, athletics, business, education, entertainment, law, medicine, the military, philanthropy & volunteerism, public service, religion, scholarship and science. 

Year Pathfinder Award Recipients    
2023 Joan Vetto Papasedero, 1974      
2022 Matt Galvin, 1987 Kirk Robinson, 1995    
2021 Kathy Taylor, 1984 Hunter Goodman, 1988 Mickey Rowe, 2007  
2020 Robin Bennett, 1977 Steve Hawes, 1968    
2019 Caroline Fraser, 1979 Blake Nordstrom, 1978 Pete Nordstrom, 1980 Erik Nordstrom, 1981
2018 Dawn Bennett, 1982 Mary Lindquist, 1967 Marty Lott, 1968 Joel McHale, 1991
2017 Trish Coffey, 1979 Leslie Hendricks Fall, 1981

Adrian Hanauer, 1984

 
2016 Warren Brown, 1988 Earle Canfield, 1965 Dariush Mozaffarian, 1987 Michelle Flowers Taylor, 1988