Mercer Island's Visionaries

Champions of Innovation, Culture, and Community

Mercer Island has been a hub for influential figures who have shaped industries, transformed the world, and enriched the local community.  Our story focuses on Paul Allen, Kurt Dammeier, and Brad Brotherton and their contributions to Mercer Island and beyond.

Paul Allen was a visionary in the world of technology. Allen co-founded Microsoft with childhood friend Bill Gates in 1975, which helped spark the microcomputer revolution. He had a passion for innovation and a keen eye for identifying emerging trends. Allen founded the Allen Institutes for Brain Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Cell Science, as well as numerous companies.

Through the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Allen donated millions of dollars to support education, arts, and culture. He was instrumental in the development of the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), the Living Computers: Museum + Labs, and the Allen Institute(s).

Allen was a self-taught guitarist and played in "The Underthinkers". The band released "Everywhere at Once" in 2013, which featured Allen's guitar work and songwriting. His passion for music was a significant part of his life.

Kurt Dammeier is a visionary in the world of food and a long-time resident of Mercer Island. A fourth-generation Puget Sound native, Kurt Beecher Dammeier entered the food scene with the purchase of the iconic gourmet shop, Pasta & Co. in 1999. He’s opened several food concepts under the Sugar Mountain umbrella, including Beecher's Handmade Cheese in 2003, Bennett's, Liam's, and Maximus / Minimus, where he serves as CEO and head chef of these businesses. Sugar Mountain has two lines of premium meats, Mishima Reserve, a luxury Wagyu beef brand, and Beecher's Whey Fed Pork.

Beecher's Handmade Cheese's flagship store is in the Pike Place Market with another in the Flatiron district in NYC.

With each endeavor, Dammeier's goal was to demonstrate how quality ingredients make for delicious meals without the use of industrial additives like food colorings, flavor enhancers, or preservatives.

Dammeier has always sought to effect change in eating habits. In 2007 he wrote "Pure Flavor". This passion extends to the Beecher's Foundation.

Brad Brotherton, a luxury automobile dealer, has shown dedication to the local arts and culture scene. Brotherton is the owner of the Brotherton Cadillac dealership in Renton, Washington, which has been recognized as one of the top Cadillac dealerships in the country.

Philanthropy is also an anchor to Brotherton. Along with his wife Amy, they are active supporters of the performing arts scene through the Paramount Theater. The crown jewel of their many efforts is Brotherton Cadillac’s Celebrity Steak Out. As a tribute to Brad's father and their passion for cancer research, the event was founded in 2010 to benefit the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center. The Steak Out is an annual hub for celebration. The Brotherton family’s passion runs deep. During the pandemic, they even made sure the event carried on by proclaiming the 2020 version, the Celebrity “Steak-In”. Since inception, Brotherton is pleased to say that the event has raised over $3M for the Hutch.

Beyond their Mercer Island connection, these men share traits that have propelled them to the heights of success: strong leadership, a visionary mindset, and an unwavering commitment to excellence. By applying the lessons learned to our own lives, we can honor their legacies and inspire the next generation of visionaries.

Supporting the philanthropic efforts and causes championed by these men is one way to celebrate their contributions. Emulating their values – hard work, perseverance, and innovation – can help us cultivate a better future for the community.

From these visionaries, we can learn valuable lessons about overcoming challenges:

  1. Embrace change and adaptability: Be open to change and willing to adjust as needed. 
  2. Stay focused on your goals: Keep your eyes on the prize, even when facing setbacks. 
  3. Be persistent and resilient: Challenges and failures are inevitable. Learn from them, bounce back, and stay determined to overcome obstacles.
  4. Seek innovation and continuous improvement: Strive to be at the cutting edge of your field. Pursue new ideas and look for ways to improve your skills and knowledge.
  5. Value collaboration and teamwork: Recognize the power of working together to achieve a common goal. Foster a culture of collaboration and mutual support.
  6. Practice good decision-making: Develop the ability to make informed, strategic decisions even in challenging situations.
  7. Stay grounded in your values: Uphold your principles and ethics, even when faced with tough choices or pressure to compromise.

Great lessons!

"My philanthropic goal is to have a meaningful and lasting impact on people's lives." – Paul Allen

"I believe that good food brings people together and can make a positive impact on our communities." – Kurt Dammeier

"As a business owner, I feel a responsibility to give back to the community that has supported us over the years." – Brad Brotherton

The Beecher's Foundation supports food education. The Pure Food Kids Workshop empowers grade school students in Seattle and NYC to make healthy food choices. The mission is to spark curiosity about what they eat. Since 2006, over 190,000 "Food Detectives" have learned how to make healthier choices through label reading with the opportunity to cook and eat a wholesome, delicious meal right in the classroom!

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