The 2016 Executive Excellence Awards: Mark Okazaki
Executive Director, Neighborhood House
January 28, 2016
Mark Okazakis ties to his own home drive him to serve people uprooted from theirs. The Seattle native has spent more than 30 years working in the citys low-income communities. Today, he leads Neighborhood House, which works to lift families out of homelessness and poverty by connecting at-risk individuals and families with organizations that provide housing and related services.
Since 2000, Okazaki has grown the organization from $4 million to $15 million in total operating revenue. Even so, he says, Budgets and net assets are not the thing Im most proud of. He prefers to share tales of the community health, childhood education and social services for more than 11,000 people in King County.
Along with owning two low-income housing properties, Neighborhood House operates West Seattles High Point Center, where residents receive a variety of services. Neighborhood House has staff at more than 20 locations throughout King County, including in 11 affordable-housing communities. For children, especially, Okazaki has seen how poverty sets them back a lot, has a huge impact on their education. Its a potent cocktail.
He also notes that 67 percent of those served are immigrants and refugees, and he marvels at the trauma borne by families forced to flee their homelands for relative safety.
Of the 250 staffers he leads, Okazaki says, I think of them as miracle workers who labor in careers he would like to see more young people pursue. What we share, he says, is an ideal for a future state that is about transformative work.