The Legends Campaign, a partnership between Reign FC and Avanade, honors women for their extraordinary contributions in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Prior to our June 2 match against the Houston Dash, Reign FC will recognize FareStart CEO Angela Dunleavy-Stowell as a Reign FC Legend.
Dunleavy-Stowell co-founded Ethan Stowell Restaurants and served as CEO for 11 years, managing 16 of Seattle’s most popular eateries. As CEO of FareStart, she works to provide training and life skills to help at-risk populations break cycles of poverty and homelessness through job training and employment opportunities in the food service industry.
In 2013, Dunleavy-Stowell was named one of Puget Sound Business Journal’s “40 Under 40.” She is also a member of the Puget Sound Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” Hall of Fame. She and Ethan Stowell received the 2016 Richard Melman Innovator of the Year Award. Dunleavy-Stowell was named as one of the Puget Sound Business Journal’s 2017 “Women of Influence” and was one of the “50 Most Influential Women in Seattle” according to Seattle Met Magazine.
Dunleavy-Stowell has a long history of charitable work. A board member of the United Way of King County and co-chaired its $40 million 2017-2018 fundraising campaign. In 2012, Dunleavy-Stowell co-founded Eat Run Hope, a 5K and culinary event that benefitted the Fetal Health Foundation. She has also volunteered and raised money alongside organizations such as Amara, Russell Wilson’s Why Not You Foundation, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Pike Place Foundation and other local charities and schools.
Have sports meant anything particularly special in your life?
I grew up in rural eastern Oregon. Envision ‘Friday Night Lights,’ because it was all about football. We didn’t actually have soccer. As a kid, I didn’t do as many team sports, but it was always something that was really important to gathering a community. I was a swimmer and skier and did track, but the big team sports in the town where I grew up was how the community gathered. That’s how it would continue to gather even years after people would leave high school. Parents would go even after their kids had graduated. In that way, sports have always been a really strong center of community for me. I think living in Seattle, continuing to rally around all of our sports teams including the Reign and the Storm and the Mariners and Seahawks, that’s been a continuation of that for me.
What did you learn from sports that you use in your daily life?
As an adult, I’ve done a lot of marathons and triathlons. The thing I particularly love about running is that you have to have the perseverance to finish. You can’t run five miles out and take a cab home. You have to get yourself home. That’s something that I value in any job, whether it’s in the service industry or as the CEO of FareStart. You have to get the job done. In restaurants, you might be staying until 2 in the morning to get the restaurant closed up. In my work now, we come to work every day with a vision of ending homelessness and poverty in our community and around the nation. We show up for that every day. In sports, you have to show up to finish. At your job, you have to finish.
What does being recognized as a Reign FC legend mean to you?
It’s a huge honor. It’s been so inspiring for me to see the voices of Reign players and other female athletes taking center stage in the Seattle sports conversation. Not only does it inspire me, but it inspires a whole generation of younger girls and boys to see role models in different ways. I have two little boys, and I love the fact that female athletes are role models to them. They see these female athletes as role models. I think it’s important that boys and girls see female CEOs, female business executives, female lawyers and doctors. All of the great women who are making changes in our community and being honored as leaders. To be part of that means a lot to me. I’m a huge fan of the Reign.
What attracted you to work with FareStart?
The restaurant industry is so much about food and community. I care less about what’s on a plate then I do about the people around the table. I have the strong sense that restaurants and food are catalysts for the community. I see oftentimes this huge and important community ignored and that’s our homeless community and our neighbors who are experiencing poverty. At FareStart, our mission is to empower youth and adults who are experiencing poverty and homelessness through life skills, job training, and employment in the food service industry. Giving them a way to take that path. I put myself through college working in restaurants. We can take this incredible opportunity to give people who have a lot of barriers to employment access to write their own story and write the next chapter of their life. That’s always been a big calling to me. To be a part of every community that I’m in. Our neighbors who are experiencing poverty or homelessness, they’re part of our community too.
How is FareStart combatting existing inequities within the service industry?
I think the work that we’re doing at FareStart is to address some of those inequities. I think if you look at racial equity, people of color disproportionately worked in the back of the house and white people worked at the front. I think that FareStart has worked hard to provide more opportunities. We’re not just restaurants, we have such a huge service we’re offering the community. We’re really a training organizations and a social service organization. That gives us an opportunity to really be focused on breaking down some of those barriers and breaking up some of that inequity. We’re seeing that in our apprentice program that focuses on getting people better paying jobs in the service industry. Often, those barriers to employment that they have are systemic barriers like gender identity or race. It’s completely relevant now, but I think there’s good progress being made in general restaurants, but particularly at FareStart. We have a keen eye on that.
What advice would you give to young women who are pursuing dreams in a field where they are underrepresented?
The advice I would give is that you just have to believe that you can do it and then go do it. Even if you’re not going to accomplish it perfectly, continuing to strive toward whatever your dream is. That’s crucial. You have to dream it. Then you have to do it.