More than 500 business professionals and civic leaders gathered at Meydenbauer Center on Feb. 7 for Bellevue Downtown Association’s 45th Annual Celebration.

The event honored individuals and organizations who contribute to the city’s central business district, and included insights and perspectives from Bellevue Downtown Association president Patrick Bannon, International Downtown Association president and CEO David Downey, and Symetra Financial Corporation president and CEO Margaret Meister.

The BDA’s Place Making Award, which honors outstanding contributions to the city and its skyline, was presented to Su Development for SOMA Towers, a mixed-used project that includes 270 apartments, public plazas, retail shops, and the performing arts space Resonance.

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Cathy Su (center) received the Bellevue Downtown Association (BDA) Place Making Award on behalf of Su Development. She was joined by (left to right) BDA president Patrick Bannon, Jim Hutchinson of Republic Services, and Baylis Architects senior principal Brian Bland. (Photo by Rolan Wong/HRV Media; courtesy Bellevue Downtown Association)

Last year, Place Making Awards were presented to the City of Bellevue and Rotary Club of Bellevue for their work to complete the 21-acre Bellevue Downtown Park and create the 1.5-acre Inspiration Playground, as well as Kemper Freeman Jr., chairman and CEO of Kemper Development Company, for his company’s construction of Lincoln Square Expansion.

The John Boespflug City Builder Award was presented to Stacy Graven, the former executive director and CEO of Meydenbauer Center. Graven, who spent 28 years at the organization, retired in December. According to the BDA, she championed two major renovations of the center, and spurred the creation of the destination marketing organization Visit Bellevue Washington.

The award is named after the late attorney and civic leader.

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Stacy Graven (center), the former executive director and CEO of Meydenbauer Center, received the Bellevue Downtown Association’s John Boespflug City Builder Award. She was joined by (left to right) BDA president Patrick Bannon, Jim Hutchinson of Republic Services, and Wallace Properties CEO Bob Wallace. (Photo by Rolan Wong/HRV Media; courtesy Bellevue Downtown Association)

During her keynote presentation, Symetra president and CEO Meister announced the company would donate $100,000 to The Sophia Way, a Bellevue-based nonprofit that aims to help end homelessness for single adult women in King County. Symetra donated $100,000 to the organization last summer.

Symetra Financial Corporation president and CEO Margaret Meister. (Photo by Rolan Wong/HRV Media; courtesy Bellevue Downtown Association)

“The Sophia Way provides a vital service to women experiencing homelessness in our Eastside community,” Meister said. “As a Bellevue-headquartered company, Symetra is committed to being part of a broader solution to address this ongoing crisis and joining forces with our Eastside business peers to do so. Symetra’s business as an insurance carrier is all about helping people during some of life’s most challenging moments. The Sophia Way has a similar mission, serving some of our community’s most vulnerable members. We feel fortunate to have played a role in supporting their much-needed work for many years.”

Symetra, founded in 1957, offers life insurance to two million customers, employs approximately 1,000 people at its downtown Bellevue headquarters, and has $43 billion in assets.

Established in 1974, the BDA aims to strengthen the economic and cultural vitality of Downtown Bellevue.

More information is available online here.