2022 Mukilteo Citizen of the Year

The annual honor is sponsored by the Mukilteo Kiwanis Club.

Tim Ellis

We welcomed the 2022 Mukilteo Citizen of the Year, Tim Ellis.

In a word, Tim is passionate. He’s passionate about the community he lives in. He’s an avid environmental advocate, serving on a number of committees and is active in many organizations such as #Beachwatchers and #Snohomishcounty MRC. He works with his wife for the Nick of Time organization that monitors the risk of heart disease in young athletes.

Tim is a gifted singer, a solid friend to all, and a caring member of #Mukilteo and we were honored to have him join us today.


2021 Mukilteo Citizen(s) of the Year

Dan and Rachel Kittle

(© Mukilteo Beacon 2021)

In recognition of their dedication to the community during trying circumstances, the Kittles were named Mukilteo’s Citizens of the Year. The couple was informed of their honor by several previous Citizens of the Year, who paid a surprise visit to the Kittles Monday, Aug. 16, at their home.

The award is sponsored by the Mukilteo Kiwanis Club. Previous Citizens of the Year vote on the award.

The news floored Dan and Rachel.

“I’m humbled. I’m honored,” said Rachel, Leadership Launch’s executive director and founder. “I’m emotional. These previous recipients are my heroes.”

Dan, who co-founded Leadership Launch and is a member of the advisory council, said he was overwhelmed. He praised the work of previous award winners.

“They’re just amazing people, who have done incredible things and who continue to help our city flourish and thrive,” Dan said. “So to be considered among those is just very humbling and awe-inspiring.”

In light of the challenges of last year, the award felt extra special, the Kittles said.

“It feels like a breath of encouragement for what we’re doing,” Dan said. “OK, let’s keep doing what we’re doing. We know that so many other people out there are making such a big difference. We want to continue to do our part to serve and make a difference.”

Last year’s Citizen of the Year, Carolyn “Dode” Carlson, was one of those who nominated Dan and Rachel.

In her letter Carlson said of the Kittles, “They work with school counselors to select five kids to mentor each year. With the help of several great mentors, these kids have a coach, friend, and guide from ninth grade through their first year in college. …. Rachel and Dan have meetings in their home around a supper table where the kids eat together and plan projects that enrich our community.”

Lindsay Rucker said of Rachel, “She’s an attorney by degree and could be out working some high paying job doing family law, but instead she chooses to give back to growing and shaping these kids and the future of our community.”

Dan remembers how the two came up with the idea of Leadership Launch.

“We really created it from scratch, seeing a need in the community that we really wanted to fill,” he said. “We work closely together and Rachel just has continued to grow the program and continue to reach more students and their families. We try to incorporate the families.”

Leadership Launch is a small organization, and many of the activities are held in the Kittles’ home.

Rachel noted they work with a limited number of students for very specific reasons.

“We’re investing in them because these students get nominated into our program by teachers and counselors, who see their leadership potential, but they also know they could use extra support opportunities,” Rachel said. “So they’re nominated because they have something special. We intentionally work with a small number of people, and we work with them for five years because we know they will be the ones who will then be equipped and connected to the community.”

The Kittles appreciate how Mukilteo residents support Leadership Launch’s students. The students write letters and make videos soliciting support for their projects from community members. This year, students raised more than $1,500 and had residents donating clothes and supplies for projects.

“I love that about Mukilteo,” Rachel said. “Here are these youths wanting to do good, and Mukilteo residents flooded in and said, ‘How can we support you and make your project bigger?’ So the students felt excited that they dreamed up this project and put themselves out there to vulnerably share why it was important to them, and then they got the benefit of the community supporting them.”

The community projects were an important educational opportunity for the students, Dan noted.

“They got the whole experience of planning, putting it together, searching out support, and then implementing the projects,” he said. “It was very fulfilling.

A big part of the success of Leadership Launch is directly related to the support the Kittles provide each other. Dan works full time as an attorney at Lane Powell in Seattle.

“Dan is my hero,” Rachel said. “He has a high stress, high achieving job, and his weekends and free time are spent volunteering because he believes in this. He’s passionate about it and our kids are involved in it.

“It’s my job. It’s his extra commitment. He’s there every step of the way because this is a family endeavor. So it’s really nice that they would recognize both of us because we couldn’t do it without each other.”

2020 Mukilteo Citizen of the Year

Dode Carlson

Even if you don’t know Dode Carlson personally, chances are you’ve enjoyed or benefited from her volunteer work in the Attended the Lighthouse Festival? Carlson serves on the Lighthouse Festival Board.

Ever been to a Mukilteo Senior Association lunch or taken a class at the Rosehill Community Center? Carlson is the current president of the Mukilteo Seniors Association and a past member of the Rosehill Board.

Eaten some fresh vegetables from the Mukilteo Community Garden or partaken in the annual Mukilteo Garden and Quilt Tour? Carlson was past president of the Mukilteo Community Garden and a current member of the Mukilteo Way Garden Club, which co-sponsors the garden and quilt

Been out to a city park, taken a ride on the Mukilteo ferry or walked the trail in the Japanese Gulch? Carlson serves or has served on the City’s Parks and Rec Board, the Ferry Advisory Committee, and the Japanese Gulch Master Plan Sub-Committee.

In recognition of her tireless volunteer work, Carlson was named Mukilteo’s 2020 Citizen of the Year.

Carlson was presented with the award at an Aug. 14 gathering at Amici Bistro.

“I was blown away and surprised,” Carlson said. “I had no idea.”

Carlson, also a member of the Mukilteo Kiwanis, wasn’t planning to attend the meeting but was convinced, or “tricked,” by a friend to go.

Carlson didn’t think that the award was going to be presented this year, given all of the upheaval caused by the pandemic.

In a letter to the Citizen of the Year Committee signed by five past honorees, Carlson was described as “the perfect example of a citizen who has given of her time and financially to the betterment of Mukilteo for many years. You can always count on Dode to step up to help when volunteers are needed. If you need help you think of Dode who always says yes.”

Carlson is in her second term as president of the Mukilteo Seniors Association. She credits her involvement with the organization to past president Mona Howell, who approached Carlson when she was dining at Arnie’s.

Howell was there with her sister, while Carlson was sitting alone at a table for three. Howell invited Carlson to join them.

“The next thing I know Mona drafted me to find a building for the senior association,” Carlson said.

Carlson became a Master Gardener in 2006. Resident Lois Brown started a garden that turned into the Mukilteo Community Garden. She asked Carlson for some help and Carlson readily agreed. The next year Carlson was named president of the community garden.

The community garden contributed more than 1,600 pounds of fresh produce to area food banks in 2019.

Carlson’s most recent involvement in the Lighthouse Festival was prompted last year when festival organizers sent out an SOS for volunteers. There was concern that the festival might not be held unless enough people volunteered to work at the event. “I showed up to try to help,” Carlson said.

2020 Citizen of the Year Dode Carlson poses with friends and past COYs at a surprise announcement on Aug. 14 at Amici Bistro. Dode was overwhelmingly supported for the annual honor. The Mukilteo Kiwanis Club sponsors the event, with candidates nominated by any citizen in Mukilteo and a judging panel of past COYs voting on each year’s winner.

Carlson appreciates it when residents pull together for the common good.

“So many people give so much to Mukilteo in terms of volunteering,” she said. “It’s an incredible community.”

The nomination letter said that “For us, Dode embodies what a Citizen of the Year is – someone who cares deeply for our community, she gives of her heart to all her projects, she is someone who has spent many years helping to make our community a better place for all, and her body of work (volunteering) touches many aspects of the lives of the citizens of Mukilteo. She has made a lasting, positive contribution to Mukilteo.”

As much as others have benefited from her involvement in the community, Carlson said that volunteering definitely has played a positive role in her life.

“It really enriches your life,” she said. “If you volunteer, there is no downside. It’s all a good thing. I think the best part of what’s happened for me with my reaching out is the great friendships I’ve formed. They last. I’m very fortunate. I’ve got a lot of people in my life.”

© Mukilteo Beacon