Gates Volunteer Service Award

Jeff and Susan Brotman, 2013 Gates Volunteer Service Award Recipients

Jeff and Susan Brotman

Jeffrey, ’64, ’67, and Susan Brotman’s hard work on behalf of the University of Washington reflects a deeply personal commitment to helping Huskies.

Many nights, Susan burns the midnight oil reviewing reports or strategizing how to bring more volunteers on board at the UW, while Jeff does the same across the hall. Jeff and Susan have sacrificed things like television, socializing and sleep in favor of giving back.

They work hard to make the biggest impact on the community. And their commitment has transformed the University of Washington. Like the time Jeff, co-founder of Costco Wholesale, rallied the community, raising $1 billion as chair of UW Medicine’s portion of Campaign UW: Creating Futures. Or the leadership Susan brought as chair, vice-chair and director of the UW Foundation Board over her 20 years of service.

Make a Gift

Support the work of Jeff and Susan and contribute to the Costco Diversity Scholarship.

Their shared dedication to service was inherited from their parents. Growing up, both Jeff and Susan were raised with a deep sense of community spirit and sense of civic duty. Jeff’s folks helped out their Tacoma clothing store’s employees, covering their tuition in hard times. Susan’s mom and dad volunteered with the March of Dimes and their community church in Montana, supporting their small town with neighborly care.

Influenced by family tradition, the Brotmans have dedicated their lives to helping others, especially underrepresented students who excel academically, but struggle to afford tuition on their own. Jeff and Susan established several scholarships on campus and in 2000, with the help of Costco’s co-founder Jim Sinegal, created the Costco Scholarship Fund. More than a thousand undergraduates at the UW and Seattle University count the Costco Scholarship as a life-changing opportunity to pursue their dreams.

“Without a doubt, Jeff is truly an accomplished person, a self-starter with a vision,” says Herb Simon, who served as a UW Regent with Jeff. The two have known each other since they were 10 years old, growing up in the same Tacoma neighborhood. “Looking back, Jeff was very comfortable in his skin. People naturally perceived him to be a leader. He was never scared to take a risk, and that’s something I’ve always respected about Jeff.”

Did You Know?

As a UW Regent, Jeff Brotman established two important committees: UWINCO (UW Investment Committee), which worked to expand the Consolidated Endowment Fund, and ACRE (Advisory Committee on Real Estate), which assisted in handling a large chunk of UW-owned, downtown Seattle real estate.

With help from Bill Gates, Sr., Nancy Evans and Laurel Nesholm, Susan took the lead in founding the UW Dinner Series, a unique engagement event that the University had never tried before. “She had this brilliant idea that she not only dreamed up, but threw herself into and made it a reality,” says Connie Kravas, UW Foundation president. “And years later, the people who open their homes for these special nights love it. It’s all thanks to Susan’s stalwart support of the UW and her extraordinary vision.”

With philanthropy in their DNA, Jeff and Susan have supported dreams at the UW and encouraged others to follow in their footsteps. Whether it’s the Law School or the Henry Art Gallery, UW Medicine or the Board of Regents, the Brotmans typify the civic glue that brings philanthropy and education together, touching countless lives along the way.

To honor their commitment to access, service, leadership and generosity, this September the UW Foundation will present Jeff and Susan with the 2013 Gates Volunteer Service Award, which recognizes volunteers who inspire others.

Watch a Video

This video is a profile of the Brotmans that highlights their many contributions over the years to the University of Washington. Pictured below is Anisa Ibrahim, M.D. Anisa is a Costco Scholar, Pediatrics Resident at Children’s Hospital, and one of many beneficiaries of the Brotman’s philanthropy featured in the video.

More about the Gates Volunteer Service Award

The Gates Volunteer Service Award is presented annually by the University of Washington and the UW Foundation to recognize and honor individuals whose long-term volunteer efforts of time, service and philanthropy have encouraged others to similarly support the University of Washington.

Recipients of the Gates Volunteer Service Award exemplify the highest standards of service to the University of Washington modeled by the singular vision and generosity of the William H. Gates family, whose volunteer service, commitment of time and philanthropy continues to advance the work of the UW in profound and enduring ways. Read more about the Gates family’s support of the University of Washington.

First presented in 2002, the award follows the tradition of the long-standing UW Recognition Award, initiated in 1976. It is one of the most distinguished accolades bestowed by the UW.

View previous Gates Volunteer Service Award recipients

View the UW Recognition Award recipients

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