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…


Erin joined the SODO BIA as the Executive Director in 2014. She holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of South Carolina, and has over 20 years of experience in non-profit administration, placemaking, and economic development. Erin uses her strong relationships with city leaders and key organizations to advocate for the issues that impact SODO. A Seattle native, Erin lives in the Rainier Beach neighborhood and enjoys spending time with friends and family, gardening, and always has a puzzle in progress on the dining room table.

✉︎ 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

Cam Orgaard, District Services Manager

Originally from the Midwest, Cam found his way to Seattle and has been a resident for 34 years. Cam has had an exciting and varied career from mortgage and Real Estate, regional account development and management for large national chains, to owning a couple local small businesses, all focused on bettering the communities they operated in. He looks forward to taking all the experience gained in those other roles and applying them to his role at the BIA to make the community better for all who work in it and visit.

✉︎ Contact Cam     |     he/him/his


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, Healthcare, and Real Estate industries. Janelle enjoys optimizing the BIA’s marketing efforts to benefit the SODO community through improving online resources, managing the newsletter, producing videos, maintaining social media channels, advertising SODO and hosting events to name a few.

✉︎ Contact Janelle     |     she/her/hers

Alex Ruby, Communications Associate

Growing up in the Bay Area and studying Journalism/PR at the University of Oregon, Alex found his way further north and landed a position with a Seattle PR firm where he developed skills in media relations, content creation, and social media for a variety of clients. After that, Alex continued his work in communications and marketing at Camp Solomon Schechter as he expanded his passion for community building and development, which led him to finding a position with the SODO BIA. Alex is looking forward to learning more about urban place management, sharing and creating stories about SODO businesses, and working for the benefit of our ratepayers! Outside of work, you can find Alex playing board games with friends, discovering new breweries and eateries, and cuddling with his cat Fievel.

✉︎ Contact Alex      |     he/him/his

Tyler Blackwell, Transportation Planner

Originally from the Midwest, Tyler relocated to Seattle to pursue his Master of Public Administration degree at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. During his time in graduate school, he worked on a variety of transportation projects, and he completed his capstone project with Seattle Public Utilities, where he worked closely with small businesses across Seattle. Now, with his Master’s degree in hand, Tyler is excited to apply his experiences and knowledge to advance efforts to make SODO’s transportation systems clean, connected, and safe.

✉︎ Contact Tyler     |     he/him/his

Cormac Li, Program & Policy Associate

Born and raised in China, Cormac moved to the Pacific Northwest to pursue a degree in Politics at Whitman College. He later completed training in Intelligence Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Cormac has experience in policy, security, and outreach, having worked at the WA-05 Congressional Office, the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament), and Providence Health. In his spare time, he is a volunteer first responder, enjoys planespotting at the Boeing Field, studying aviation studies, and the Jewish Law.

✉︎ Contact Cormac     |     he/him/his

Amy Fox, Office Manager

Originally from Florida, Amy moved to Seattle in 2003 to serve as an AmeriCorps volunteer in a Seattle elementary school. Since then, she has worked as an office administrator in health care settings, schools, and other community-serving organizations, including the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library. Amy holds a Bachelor’s degree in Global Studies from The University of Washington and is a certified ESL teacher. In her spare time she enjoys volunteering at a pig sanctuary, pulling up invasive plants with various environmental groups, painting, and hanging out with her cats.

✉︎ Contact Amy     |     she/her/hers

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.

Board Member since 2014

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.

Board Member since 2017

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.

Board Member since 2019

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. 

Board Member since 2022

Christine Beeman

Senior Clinic Manager, Evergreen Treatment Services

Christine has over 8 years of healthcare management experience (and has been in healthcare for 20 years, starting her career in Nursing) including medical (pediatric and family practice), mental health, dentistry, and now works as a Clinic Manager at Evergreen Treatment Services. 

She was a Regional Administrator for Valley View Health Center, her region included multi-disciplinary teams with a focus on the uninsured or under insured population in Lewis County. Prior to that she worked as a manager at Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare in Lakewood.

She loves to explore all the outdoor activities Washington has to offer from hiking, camping, kayaking and everything in between.

Board Member since 2023

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.

Board Member since 2021

Kenneth Clark

Director Facilities, American Life Inc.

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

Board Member since 2021

Philippe Gayte

Vice President of Operations, MacMillan-Piper

Philippe Gayte is Vice President of Operations for MacMillan-Piper.  He has worked at MacMillan-Piper for 5 years where he oversees operations at all five of MacMillan-Piper’s facilities located in Seattle and Tacoma.  Prior to MacMillan-Piper, Philippe spent 20 years managing ocean container terminals in the Port of Seattle where he held various positions in terminal operations and stevedoring.  He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography with an emphasis in International Trade & Transportation from the University of Washington. Philippe also serves on the Transportation Club of Seattle board as well. He currently resides in Renton, WA with his wife of 30 years and their two sons and enjoys fishing, golfing, travelling and Husky football Saturdays in the fall.

Board Member since 2024

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.

Board Member since 2017

Andy Gregory

Sr. Program Manager Maritime Industrial Engagement, Port of Seattle

Andy is Sr. Program Manager for Maritime Industrial Engagement at the Port of Seattle. His career has spanned maritime sectors including tourism, towing and salvage, and environmental for over two decades. Andy holds a Master of Marine Affairs from the UW and a BS in Psychology from Clemson University. He is passionate about finding sustainable solutions to complex social and environmental problems and working directly with communities and businesses to make the Puget Sound region a healthy and equitable place for all.

Board Member since 2023

Shannon Josie

Studio Manager & Producer, Particle Studios

Shannon Josie is the Producer & Studio Manager for Particle Creative & Studio working with filmmakers of all types to create a world of new content. She has been in the film industry since 2015 working on a range of projects like the 50 Shades of Grey Sequels, Parts Unknown, and interviews with tech leaders. She enjoys sunny days on Herron Island, crocheting, and cracking a few jokes with friends.

Board Member since 2024

Ted Lehmann

VP of Sales & Regulatory Affairs, CMS Energy Advisors

Ted Lehmann has worked at CMS Energy Advisors for the past 25 years supplying large commercial/industrial energy users in the Pacific Northwest.  Many of his customers operate manufacturing plants in the SODO and he brings a deep understanding of energy infrastructure along with commodity market experience to our Board.  In addition, Ted represents his families land holdings adjacent to the SODO Light Rail Station and interfaces with many SODO neighbors, city officials, and Sound Transit on local transportation and zoning issues impacting the SODO neighborhood.

Board Member since 2024

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.

Board Member since 2020

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.

Board Member since 2021

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.

Board Member since 2021

Joe Sievers

Vice President, The H.O. Seiffert Company

Joe Sievers is passionate about building community and partnering with people to achieve great things. Equal parts dreamer and realist. And a total collaborator to create mutual wins. He loves being an integral member of a team and excels at relationship building. A Seattle native, Joe has over 30 years of professional experience working with individuals and businesses to achieve desired results while working at strong Northwest brands, including Premier Golf, Pacific Capital Resource Group, and currently with The H.O. Seiffert Company. Joe is the VP of The H.O. Seiffert Company, a fourth-generation commercial real estate firm and developer dedicated to creating great spaces for Northwesterners to relish a “moment in time.”  One of HOSCO’s commercial properties includes the 2020 purchase of the Trigger Building in SODO, which offers commercial office space, self-storage, and a unique event space experience.

Board Member since 2023

Board members serve on our Board for a two-year term. To view a list of our previous board members, please click here.


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 2023 workplan and budget 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