2013 Washington State Jefferson Award Winners

Feb 27, 2013, 16:25 ET from

SEATTLE, Feb. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Over 200 amazing individuals were nominated for the 2013 Washington State Jefferson Award. The Jefferson Awards is the "Nobel Prize" for public service. The 2013 winners represent our states' unsung heroes; those who are making a difference in their community, the nation and the world, through their jobs or volunteer service. In 1972, the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Senator Robert Taft Jr. founded the Jefferson Awards, a unique nationwide effort that recognizes the highest ideals and achievements of individuals in public service in the United States.

The 2013 Washington State Jefferson Award Winners:

Jared Costanzo- As a high school student in Richland, WA Jared formed the Student Voice Project to fight for student rights after the local school board decided to restrict access to extracurricular activities due to a Gay-Straight-Alliance club request.  Three years later the student coalition has expanded nationally to include more than 20 states.

Karen Krejcha- After her two sons were diagnosed with autism, Karen was diagnosed with autism in her 40s.  Karen co-founded Autism Empowerment based in Vancouver, WA and she currently serves as the volunteer Executive Director.  Her vision promotes Acceptance, Enrichment, Inspiration and Empowerment within the Autism and Asperger communities. 

Michael Mowat- As a volunteer with FISH Food Banks of Pierce County, Mike developed an innovative mobile food bank that is able to go where the greatest demand is five days a week.  His converted moving van provides access to emergency food assistance for people in need with dignity.

Julia Sheriden- For more than 25 years, Julia has been an advocate for injured and disabled veterans, in particular veterans who have suffered military sexual trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and brain injury.  Currently she is President of Outreach and Resource Services for Women Veterans (OARS) based in Seattle.

Olowo-n'djo Tchala- After moving to the U.S. from Togo Africa, Olowo-n'djo earned his college degree and worked to improve the lives of women in his native Togo.  Recognizing gender inequalities and poverty, he organized a women's cooperative in Togo to produce shea butter, which ten years later is the biggest private employer in central Togo with over 400 members and employees and is based in Olympia.

KING5's Evening Magazine will air stories about the winners on Mon., March 18th at 7:00 p.m. More information visit

Bridget Anderson, 206.682.7395