Four MIHS alumni to be honored with Pathfinder Awards at Breakfast of Champions April 30
The Mercer Island School District will present its fourth annual Pathfinder Awards to four graduates of Mercer Island High School whose achievements, strength of character, and citizenship inspire and challenge today’s youth to make significant contributions to humankind.
Caroline Fraser, 1979, author and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for biography for her critically-acclaimed book “Prairie Fires” about the life of author Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Pete Nordstrom, 1980, Erik Nordstrom, 1981, co-presidents of Nordstrom, the Seattle-based fashion retailer, and posthumously, Blake Nordstrom, 1978.
The newest Pathfinders will be honored at the Mercer Island Schools Foundation’s Breakfast of Champions on April 30, 2019.
A permanent Pathfinder Awards wall has been created at Mercer Island High School alongside previously recognized distinguished graduates. Fifteen alumni have now been recognized since the awards began in 2016.
The recipients were selected from dozens of nominations submitted by the community at large and chosen by a selection committee comprised of staff, students, administrators, community members and alumni from the district and board of the Mercer Island Schools Foundation.
Caroline Fraser, Class of 1979
Caroline Fraser was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Biography for “Prairie Fires, The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder,” which also received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography, the 2018 Heartland Prize for non-fiction, and was named of the 10 best books of 2018 by The New York Times.
In awarding her the Pulitzer, considered the country’s top literary award, the judges called the book a “deeply researched and elegantly written portrait of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House on the Prairie series, that describes how Wilder transformed her family’s story of poverty, failure and struggle into an uplifting tale of self-reliance, familial love and perseverance.”
Formerly on the editorial staff of The New Yorker, Fraser served as editor of the Library of America edition of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books and has written for The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The Atlantic Monthly, Outside Magazine, and The London Review of Books, among other publications. She earned a doctorate from Harvard University in English and American literature. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her husband, Hal Espen.
Blake Nordstrom, Class of 1978
Pete Nordstrom, Class of 1980
Erik Nordstrom, Class of 1981
The three Nordstrom brothers all began their careers as teens working in sales and in the stockroom, the fourth generation in their family’s iconic store founded in 1901. After graduating from the University of Washington, all three of them worked their way up in the company, together building on the legacy of customer service for which Nordstrom is famous.
Blake Nordstrom served as co-president of Nordstrom, Inc. and a member of the company’s Board of Directors until his passing in January 2019. He worked closely with co-presidents Pete Nordstrom and Erik Nordstrom, under whose combined leadership Nordstrom expanded its reach into new markets and opportunities while delivering solid financial results and increasing the number of stores from 115 to more than 370 during a challenging environment for retailers. The brothers also took the company international in 2014, opening the first Nordstrom store in Canada, and recently opened the first full-line Nordstrom store in New York City.
From 2000-2014 Erik was president of full line stores and from 2014-2016 he directly supported Nordstrom.com. In his current role, he supports the company’s full line businesses, finance, technology, supply chain and strategy.
In 2000, Pete became the head of merchandising, which includes all planning and buying and also currently supports store planning and the Nordstrom Product Group (the Nordstrom private labels). Pete and his team have strengthened the company’s ability to offer the best in fashion by fostering strong partnerships with the world’s most successful and established brands as well as fresh, emerging designers.
All three been active in the greater Seattle community: Blake and his wife Molly as leaders in United Way of King County, Pete and wife Brandy leading a major fundraiser for uncompensated care at Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Erik and wife Julie with support for UW Medicine.
From left: Blake, Pete and Erik Nordstrom