April 12 – C-Suite Roundtable on Developing a Skilled, Inclusive Workforce

Skills shortages. Talent wars. Increased hiring needs. How are C-Suite executives planning to educate, retrain, and recruit new workforce to meet the accelerated demands of decarbonization efforts and digitalization initiatives?

What will it take to build this highly skilled, diverse workforce of tomorrow? We explored all these topics during this dynamic lunch conversation at the Perkins Coie office in downtown Seattle!

Introductory Speakers:

Ben Straughan, Partner, Perkins Coie LLP

Ben Straughan is a partner in the firm’s Emerging Companies & Venture Capital practice and serves as the co-chair of the New Space industry group. He assists high-growth technology, venture-backed, and emerging and early-stage companies in industries that include new space, software and software as a service (SaaS), clean energy, e-commerce, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and technology transfer spinouts. Ben advises companies in angel and venture capital and other financial transactions, board matters, and mergers and acquisitions. Ben brings an exceptional skill set as a corporate attorney who began his legal career advising clients on tax matters. 

Ben is a regular speaker on emerging companies, financing, and mergers and acquisitions. He is an advisory board member for the University of Washington’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, the vice president of the Plymouth Housing Group Board of Trustees, and the former board chair of the Northwest Entrepreneur Network (NWEN).  

Prior to joining the firm, Ben was an associate at the Skadden law firm in Washington, D.C., and had a career as a certified public accountant (CPA) before going to law school. 

Jamie Johnson, Counsel, Perkins Coie LLP

Jamie Nicole Johnson represents emerging growth companies from their earliest stages through exit events. She advises clients on entity formation as well as multiple fundraising and financing methods, including friends and family, angel, venture capital, growth equity, and strategic investments. She also counsels her clients on board matters, equity compensation, and other corporate legal issues. Jamie also represents investors that invest in emerging growth companies, including venture capitalists, family offices, and corporate venture groups. 

Jamie advises clients across industries, including fintech, cleantech, proptech, ag tech, and other fields, such as software as a service (SaaS), artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), mobile applications, medical devices, and uncrewed vehicles systems (UVS). She also works frequently with university spinouts and regularly advises social entrepreneurs and social purpose entities.

Jamie is committed to leadership in diversity and inclusion both within the firm and in her community. She is an active member of Perkins Coie’s diversity and recruiting efforts and has served as a member of the firm’s 1L Diversity Hiring Committee, the Seattle office’s Diversity Committee, and the Summer Associate Committee, and as the Co-Chair of the firm’s LGBTQ+ Resource Group.


Marie Kurose, CEO, Workforce Development Council of Seattle

Marie calls on decades of policy expertise, collaboration, and strategic partnerships across government, community, and philanthropy in her work as Chief Executive Officer at the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County. Prior to joining the WDC, Marie developed and led the Port of Seattle’s workforce development initiatives designed to increase equitable access and career opportunities in construction, maritime, aviation, and other port-related industries.

Her previous experience includes the City of Seattle and The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, where she led initiatives focused on equity in workforce, organizational change, and sector-based workforce development strategies, and nearly ten years working with diverse populations in community-based employment and training programs. 

Throughout her career, Marie has worked to bring the voices of diverse community stakeholders to address issues related to racial equity and social justice. 

Garry Clark, CEO and President, Economic Alliance Snohomish County

Clark has been in the economic development field for 15 years. Clark currently works as the President & CEO at Economic Alliance Snohomish County, which is the county north of Seattle, Washington. Snohomish County represents 820,000 people. Prior to his move to Washington State, Clark led the Greater Fremont Development Council, in Fremont, Nebraska as its President & CEO for 3 years. Clark also served in the same role Cuming County, Nebraska for 6 years. In late, 2018, Clark was awarded the Midland Business Journal’s 40 under 40 award for his aggressive workforce housing efforts in Fremont, Nebraska. Garry received his BA in Sociology from Dana College, Blair, N.E. and his Master of Science in Urban Studies/Public Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.


Dr. Kareen Borders, Executive Director, West Sound STEM Network

Dr. Kareen Borders is the Executive Director of West Sound STEM Network. She provides oversight of the regional STEM business plan, serves as Principal Investigator on several STEM Education grants, and convenes and supports all Career Connect partners in the region with a focus on expanded career connected learning (CCL) opportunities, especially for those furthest from opportunity.

Dr. Borders works with regional partners to communicate STEM legislative priorities and mandates, develops protocols for high-level communication, and cultivates key partnerships that result in sustainable support for major STEM education and workforce development initiatives.

Prior to joining West Sound STEM Network, Dr. Borders worked for the United States Department of Education, where she served as an appointee in the Office of Communications and Outreach. In that role, Dr. Borders teamed with the Senior STEM Advisor to collaborate on STEM initiatives and briefs. She conducted analyses of, and recommendations on, Common Core State Standards/College and Career Readiness, STEM, CTE, Tribal outreach and listening tours, and the alignment of state assessment systems.

Via speaking engagements, blogs, written communication, and legislative meetings, Dr. Borders communicated policy to education and business leaders, parents, school boards, and universities, as well as local, state, and federal legislators.

Dr. Borders taught middle school for 18 years and led professional development in the Peninsula School District. She holds a B.A. degree in Psychology and a B.S. in Biology from the University of California, Irvine. She earned an M.A. in Education and a teaching credential from California Polytechnic State and her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, superintendent credential, and program administrator credential from the University of Washington.