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2021 Pathfinder Award recipients to receive District's highest alumni honor

The Mercer Island School District will present its sixth annual Pathfinder Awards to Kathy Taylor, class of 1984, the state’s only forensic anthropologist; Mickey Rowe, class of 2007, who has become a national leader among performing actors with disabilities; and the late Hunter Goodman, class of 1988, who left a legacy of public service to the state.

The Pathfinder Award is the District’s highest alumni honor, presented to 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. Twenty MIHS alumni have been recognized since the awards were established in 2016. The recipients were selected from dozens of nominations submitted by the community at large and chosen by a selection committee.

The awards will be presented during the Mercer Island Schools Foundation Spring for Schools Showcase and Auction virtual event on Sunday, April 25. Learn more at mercerislandschoolsfoundation.com. This year’s honorees will be added to the Pathfinder Award wall at Mercer Island High School. 

Kathy Taylor, Class of 1984

Dr. Kathy Taylor, the state’s only forensic anthropologist, has worked for the King County Medical Examiner's office for 25 years. Her duties include scene response to all found skeletal remains and buried body cases, skeletal analysis including biological profiles, identification, and expert witness testimony. She provides services to counties throughout the state, and also in Alaska, Idaho and Nevada.  Kathy Taylor

Kathy is an inspiration to young girls to pursue STEM careers, particularly in the area of criminal justice, said Lauren Bouju Davies, who nominated her for the Pathfinder Award. Davies is a 2017 MIHS graduate who is now studying forensic science at Seattle University.  

“For me, she was someone to look up to and say, "Hey, I could do that too!" That is priceless. In this tumultuous time of conflict with law enforcement, having intelligent and skilled women in forensic science and medicolegal death investigation interacting with multiple branches of law enforcement can be an enormous asset to our community.” 

Taylor recently identified the remains of the youngest victim of the Green River Killer. Her name was Wendy Stephens, and she ran away from her home in Colorado in 1983 when she was 14. Taylor told The Seattle Times that she remembered examining the bones shortly after being hired by the King County Medical Examiner in 1996. Stephens’ case “always meant a lot to me, because I could tell that she was so young,” Taylor told the Times. “Not only did he take her life, but he took her name.”

Taylor received her bachelor of science degree in anthropology and zoology from the University of Michigan and masters and doctoral degrees in anthropology from the University of Arizona. She is among just 100 active scientists with diplomate certification from the American Board of Forensic Anthropology and the only one in the state of Washington. 

Mickey Rowe, Class of 2007

Legally blind and autistic, Mickey struggled with school and friendships as a child, but found sanctuary in the performing arts beginning at MIHS.  Mickey Rowe

He gained national acclaim when he became the first autistic actor to play any autistic character in a professional performance setting as Christopher Boone, the lead role in the Tony Award-winning play, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”  

He has also appeared as the title role in the Tony Award-winning play “Amadeus” and many other theatrical productions.

“Mickey's tenacity and belief that our differences are our strengths have allowed him to live his dream,” said John Parker, MIHS theater tech specialist, who nominated him for the Pathfinder Award. “Mickey now teaches best practices, changing the industries in which he works.”

Mickey was the founding Artistic Director of the National Disability Theatre (NDT), which works in partnership with Tony Award-winning companies such as La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego and the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. NDT productions reimagine disability and universal design, as key storytelling and design elements, showcasing that people can be successful not just in spite of their challenges, but also because of them. National Disability Theatre's productions feature only professional artists, artisans, and designers with disabilities.

A University of Washington graduate, Mickey has been featured in the New York Times, PBS, and other major news outlets, and has keynoted at organizations including the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Disability Rights Washington, Yale, and the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway.

Hunter Goodman, Class of 1988

Hunter Goodman served the public in appointed government positions for nearly two decades until his death from cancer in 2019. He had a substantial local and national impact on legislation to protect and support the public.  Hunter Goodman

“Hunter's passion for helping others was evident by the way he led his life. If you were Hunter's friend, you were a friend for life,” a group of more than 30 of his MIHS classmates and friends wrote in nominating him for the Pathfinder Award. “In his professional life, his ability to quickly connect with people, listen and create solutions to problems was his unique talent.”

While with the Metropolitan King County Council, Goodman was instrumental in bringing together a diverse group of constituencies to develop a solution to King County's aquatic transfer to non-profits, helping to save the Mary Wayte Pool on Mercer Island from being closed. 

During his time with the Washington State Attorney General’s office, Hunter was involved in the passage of 44 bills over eight years, including legislation regarding consumer protection, sexual predators, spyware and human trafficking laws.

Goodman served as secretary of the Washington State Senate from 2013 to 2018, always in a bipartisan manner. He worked with both parties to enact important reforms. In 2015, that included an investment of over $1 billion in additional funds for public education -- without a tax increase. In the same year, the Senate led the charge to cut college tuition, bucking a long national trend to increase it year after year.

He served on a number of community boards, including Bloodworks Northwest and Cancer Pathways. He was a graduate of the University of Southern California with a bachelor of arts in political science and in history and received his juris doctorate from the Seattle University School of Law.