Advocating for a safe, clean, connected and engaged SODO

A Business Improvement Area (BIA) provides a mechanism for property owners and business to collectively obtain the improvements they want to see in their district.  The SODO BIA was created under the auspices of the City of Seattle in 2014. The mission of the SODO BIA is to advocate for a safe, clean, connected and engaged SODO, for the benefit of property owners, businesses, tenants, employees and patrons of the SODO district.

The SODO BIA is guided by the Ratepayer’s Advisory Board which is comprised of members representative of the varying types and sizes of business and properties throughout the neighborhood. This includes SODO business tenants, property managers, business leaders, MIC members and a Port of Seattle representative.

Over the course of the last year, we have worked to improve our critical awareness around equity and explore how – within our organizational mission – we should act to best affirm and support those most impacted by the disproportionate impacts of systemic racism.

Read our Equity Statement Here…


A Seattle native, Erin came to the SODO BIA from the U District Partnership where she administered the U District BIA and produced the annual U District StreetFair. With a Master’s in Public Administration, Erin is committed to being an ardent advocate for SODO businesses and assisting them in developing a vibrant business district in SODO that is Safe, Clean and Moving.

✉︎ Contact Erin     |     she/her/hers

Lauren Lundberg, DEPUTY DIRECTOR

An East Coast Transplant, Lauren serves as the Deputy Director of the SODO BIA. She holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. Before joining the SODO BIA, she’s worked with several Seattle based non-profits in program and campaign fundraising, advocacy, and outreach. She is eager to work with the diverse community and support businesses in creating a Clean and Safe SODO.

✉︎ Contact Lauren    |     she/her/hers


Moving throughout the country during childhood, Janelle has always called Seattle her hometown. She holds a Bachelors degree in Communications from The University of Tampa with a heavy focus on Graphic Design. Prior to working with the SODO BIA, she gained valuable marketing experience in the Manufacturing industry, Healthcare industry, and Real Estate industry. Janelle enjoys optimizing the BIA’s marketing efforts to benefit the SODO community through improving online resources, managing the newsletter, producing videos, managing social media, hosting events and advocacy programs to name a few.

✉︎ Contact Janelle     |     she/her/hers


A native to the greater Seattle area, Tyler joined the SODO BIA team in October of 2020. He holds a degree in Business Administration from Seattle Pacific University. Between graduating and joining SODO BIA, he  worked in sales, customer service, and then office management with a local construction company. Tyler is excited to be joining SODO BIA as the Office Manager to support in the process of a positive change in the SODO community.

✉︎ Contact Tyler    |     he/him/his

Ankur Garg, Program Manager, District Services

Having grown up in Washington, Ankur has always considered Seattle home. After high school, Ankur followed his desire to serve by enlisting into the US Army Reserves. Simultaneously, he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice & Criminology from Washington State University. Shortly after graduating, Ankur worked in security while kick-starting his podcast. Through his podcast, he hopes to gain new perspectives, make meaningful connections, and create a platform for people making a positive impact in their communities. Now at the SODO BIA, Ankur looks forward to using his background in criminal justice and leadership experience to create a safe and clean SODO.

✉︎ Contact Ankur     |     he/him/his

Todd Biesold


Chief Financial Officer, Merlino Foods

Todd is the CFO of Merlino Foods, a specialty broad-line foodservice distributor based in Seattle, Washington. Born and raised in Seattle, Biesold grew up working in Merlino Foods. After earning his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in public accounting from Gonzaga University and passing the CPA examination, Todd  attended the University of Washington School of Law, earned his J.D. and passed the Washington State Bar exam. Upon graduation from Law School Biesold worked as a tax professional at KPMG Peat Marwick. In 1991 Biesold rejoined Merlino Foods on a full time basis and helped to grow the company into a major foodservice distributor in Western Washington.

William Lavaris

Vice President

Chief Financial Officer, Buffalo Industries LLC

Wil is the Chief Financial Officer for Buffalo Industries LLC, a wholesale distributor of cleaning and maintenance products based in Seattle, as well as Buffalo Investment Co, which oversees five commercial warehouses in SODO.  Wil earned his Bachelor of Business Administration from University of Washington and his MBA from Seattle University.  Besides safety and security in SODO, Wil is very concerned with mobility, both professionally as a heavy importer, and personally as a West Seattle resident

Chad Zinda


Founder & Broker, Metropolist

Chad is a founder and self-appointed Master of Ceremonies at Metropolist. He has 20 years in real estate – as both a broker and as a corporate trainer for new and seasoned agents. Chad was born and raised in the Seattle area and is a graduate of Western Washington University. Chad is passionate about the essence of Metropolist and SODO – bringing together people and events, and having amazing things materialize out of it. Where art and science intersect with life.

Robin Howard


Manager, Alcohol Compliance, Starbucks Coffee Company

Robin is the Manager of Alcohol Compliance for Starbucks Coffee Company.  She has over 20 years of experience in operational compliance and regulatory affairs and currently serves as President-Elect of the National Association of Licensing and Compliance Professionals.  Robin holds a BA in English from the University of Michigan and is excited to help make SODO a clean, safe, and accessible district for all.

Daniel Byrne

Manager, Dakota Street LLC

Daniel Byrne founded Byrne Specialty Gases, Inc. in 1984.  In March of 2006, BSG was acquired by Airgas, the largest U.S. distributor of industrial, medical, and specialty gases.
Byrne earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Tufts University and a master of science in mechanical engineering from Stanford University. He completed the Owner President Manager Program and Harvard Business School in 2000.
Daniel currently develops the commercialization of innovative and reliable temperature control and refrigeration systems. Powered by electricity or solar power, these systems will be used to deliver vaccines to the developing world. He currently owns four buildings in SODO, occupied by: ModelWerks, ESI, RD Interiors, and Botanical Designs.

Kenneth Clark

Director Facilities, American Life Inc.

Ken currently works for American Life Inc. as their Director of Facilities

Alex Cooley

Co-Founder, Solstice

Alex is the co-founder of Solstice- the first cannabis brand in Washington State, that built the first permitted cultivation facility, operating still to this day in the SODO. Having lived two thirds of his life in King County and a decade in Seattle, his love for our home shows in his personal and professional actions. He has helped to create the state’s largest cannabis trade association and sitting on multiple boards while working on environmental and homelessness issues. Alex has used his CWU education degree to teach legislators & regulators from the city to the international level how to create and implement productive policy.

Sally Del Fierro


Director, Community Engagement,
Port of Seattle

Sally has worked in Port of Seattle External Relations since 1999 and currently serves as the director of community engagement, overseeing outreach, events, education, and community relations. She has been actively involved in SODO area activities since 2000. She has served on the board of Urban ArtWorks, the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, the Seattle Propeller Club and has been actively engaged in south harbor community relations and projects including the Terminal 5 Redevelopment, the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, the Lower Duwamish Waterway Cleanup, and the Port’s Duwamish Valley Community Equity Program.

Effie Gleason

Vice President Marketing, Gull Industries, Inc.

Effie is the Vice President of Marketing at Gull Industries. She is the third generation to work at Gull and is currently overseeing marketing and operations for Canvas Event Space. Gull Industries has been based out of SODO for over 35 years and value their deep roots in the community. Originally a petroleum marketing company with wholesale and retail fuel operations, Gull’s business operations now consist of a commercial real estate portfolio with several properties in the SODO neighborhood as well as throughout the Pacific Northwest. Effie also serves on the Aquarium board as well as the Down syndrome Community Board.

Mark Miller

President & CEO, MacMillan-Piper

Mark is a native of Shelton, WA, and is the President & CEO of MacMillan-Piper, the Pacific Northwest’s largest transloading and warehousing company. He graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York with a degree in Marine Transportation in 1993. Prior to joining MacMillan- Piper in 2013, Mark spent 21 years in stevedoring and terminal operations throughout the U.S. West Coast, including oversight for terminal, vessel, rail, bulk, breakbulk, and auto/RORO operations.

Lisa Nitze

Vice President Marketing Investments, Community Partnerships, Nitze-Stagen

As the V.P. Marketing Investments, Community Partnerships at Nitze-Stagen, Lisa is responsible for branding, community engagement and partnership development. She has 30 years of experience leading organizations and initiatives seeking to develop and implement strategies for positive social change. Having started and led four nonprofits, Lisa was most recently CEO of Seattle Social Venture Partners working with nearly 600 philanthropists to invest in social change in the Puget Sound region. Lisa holds a BA degree from Harvard and an MBA from Stanford.

Jen Osborn

Owner, Paratex Pest Prevention

Jen is the third generation owner of Paratex Pest Prevention in SODO, one of the oldest Pest Control companies in the Northwest. Paratex is proud to service a variety of commercial and residential customers including hospitals, shelters, food storage, marine industry, restaurants, multi-unit and single family housing and everything in between.
Before Jen and her husband, Ed, took over from Jim Osborn (who ran Paratex since 1962), she worked for years in and around the local restaurant and events industry with many of Seattle’s well-known chefs and spent several years in Community Relations and fundraising at FareStart, a highly successful job training organization now replicated across the U.S. She has two daughters and enjoys skiing, traveling, boating, cooking, and most things outdoors – but nothing more than dogs. 

Tavia Rhodes

Director of Philanthropy & Communications, Evergreen Treatment Services

Tavia is the Director of Philanthropy & Communications at Evergreen Treatment Services (ETS), a non-profit that is working to address the drug epidemic and homelessness crisis in Western Washington. ETS programs foster healing through homeless outreach services and substance use treatment that are deeply rooted in community justice and health equity. ETS is honored to be part of the SODO BIA community, with its largest clinic on Airport Way. A native Seattleite, Tavia got her bachelors in psychology and anthropology at the University of Washington and has since spent her career supporting local non-profits. A little-known fact is that throughout her 20’s, Tavia traveled to SODO twice a week for band practice at Sodo Pop on Occidental.

Juan Rodriguez

Director, Ballpark Operations, Seattle Mariners

Juan is the Director of Ballpark Operations for the Seattle Mariners. He has worked for an MLB team for over 10 years and is currently responsible for the Guest Experience, Security and Stadium Operations departments of the Mariners at T-Mobile Park. Juan earned his bachelors in Sports Management from Florida International University and his MBA from the University of Phoenix. The Mariners are committed to creating a safe, clean and friendly environment for all visiting SODO businesses on their way to games, making the Clean and Safe committee a natural fit for Juan.

Garth Schlemlein

Founding Member, Schlemlein Fick & Franklin

Garth is a founding member of Schlemlein Fick & Franklin and has represented clients in trials, arbitration and mediations in a variety of matters  including construction law, commercial and corporate litigation and real estate law. He represents and counsels individuals, small business, financial institutions, large businesses, and publicly traded companies.

Mr. Schlemlein obtained his undergraduate degree from University of Washington with a Bachelor of Science in Building Construction in 1979. Prior to obtaining his law degree, Mr. Schlemlein worked in the construction industry and owned his own construction firm, as well as worked for the architectural firm the NBBJ Group.


The mission of the SODO BIA is to advocate for a safe, clean, connected and engaged SODO, for the benefit of property owners, businesses, tenants, employees and patrons of the SODO district.

Feel free to look through our 2022 workplan below to see how we plan to reach these goals this upcoming year:


The SODO Business Improvement Area is more than just one person or organization, it is a collaboration of businesses, property owners and the City of Seattle working together to create lasting change in the our shared district, SODO.  Effectively addressing the issues of the district requires the participation of ratepayers to create a shared vision of the district.  Interested in getting involved? Consider  participating in one of our program area Committees.


For more information on these committees and other ways to get involved please fill out our online form, by calling us at, 206-294-3285, or by emailing