WASHINGTON'S LEADING BUSINESS MAGAZINE

100 Best Companies to Work For 2012: Nonprofit Companies

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Nick Horton |   July 2012   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION
Liz Swift, principal and head of school at Holy Names Academy, foreground, with members of her staff

FIRST PLACE: Holy Names Academy

In 1880, the city of Seattle was little more than a rough-hewn timber town, replete with brothels, log booms and saloons—and one all-girls school. Holy Names Academy was founded that year by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, and it has been educating some of Seattle’s finest young women ever since.

From the outside, Holy Names today appears to be rooted in its Catholic foundations: The domed exterior of the school’s neoclassical Capitol Hill building remains relatively unchanged from when it opened in 1908. But the structure of Holy Names has been evolving right along with the faculty, staff and student body. Original classrooms have been remodeled into spacious science labs. A gymnasium stands on former tennis courts. And a faculty that, in 1880, was composed entirely of Catholic nuns has evolved into a group of educators as diverse and multicultural as the student body itself.

How does Holy Names differentiate itself from other private schools in the Seattle area? “It’s the diversity of our community,” says Principal Liz Swift. “It’s the ethnic and the economic diversity of our students. And we have worked very hard to increase the ethnic diversity of our teaching staff.”

The academy’s benefits and perks make it easy to attract some of the best educators in the Pacific Northwest. Holy Names Academy’s faculty and staff receive fully paid medical and dental insurance, a ridiculously generous paid time off program and a summer sabbatical program that would make any teacher drool: All school employees are eligible for 10-, 20- and 30-year summer sabbatical grants equaling 15, 25 and 35 percent of their salaries, respectively.

Holy Names’ employees also reap the benefits of the employee-founded Active Club, which organizes healthy outings (hikes, bike rides and trips to farmers markets, for example) and frequent lunches. Add an annual Distinguished Teaching Award (good for a $2,500 stipend to the recipient), two annual retreats and an industry-best professional development program, and it’s easy to see why Holy Names is such a great place to work.

SECOND PLACE: Career Path Services

In healthy economies, job-placement organizations provide an important service. In hard times, they become vital. Career Path Services has been linking employers and workers in the Spokane Valley since 1971, and the organization is now more essential than ever. And Career Path Services doesn’t limit its focus to would-be workers and help-starved employers. It treats its own employees with some of the industry’s best benefits and perks, including full medical, dental and vision coverage; a compressed four-day workweek; excellent health and wellness reimbursements; and an annual team entry in Spokane’s famed Bloomsday Run.

THIRD PLACE: Sightlife

SightLife brings vision to those who need it most. It has been providing crucial cornea-banking services since 1969, linking donated corneas with needy individuals in the Pacific Northwest and California. (SightLife’s donated corneas cure blindness in 30 people each day.) The organization, which aims to eliminate cornea blindness worldwide, is saturated with a spirit of service: In addition to receiving fully covered medical insurance, a generous 401(k) employer match and ample opportunities for professional development, employees are able to donate their paid vacation time to coworkers in need.

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