Pathfinder Awards

At the spring luncheon each year, the Puget Sound Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa honors individuals (both adult and youth), businesses, and institutions with the Pathfinder Award. The award certificate reflects the imagery on the distinguished Phi Beta Kappa key, a hand pointing to the stars. It is given to those who “encourage others to seek new worlds to discover, pathways to explore, and untouched destinations to reach.” The people, businesses, and institutions honored do something to broaden peoples' interest in active intellectual accomplishment; they reach beyond ordinary routine, beyond the regular requirement of their lives and jobs, in order to break new intellectual ground and/or inspire others to do so.

Awardees for 2019:

Redeeming Soles for collecting and cleaning shoes and then donating them to underprivileged men, women, and chil-
dren, enabling and encouraging them to overcome adversity.


Garfield High School English teacher Adam Gish for using his own funds and funds from anonymous donors to
take 100 Garfield High School students to Elliot Bay Book Co. to purchase books. Each student had a $50 gift card,
to which the store added a 20% discount. Many students had never been to a bookstore or owned a book of their own.


The Globe Reads for promoting empathetic and social engagement through shared reading and

e-discussion by connecting middle/high school students from diverse cultures, cross sections of society, and coun-


Humanities Achievement Awards

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of their founding by an act of Congress and in recognition of the valuable support given by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts to liberal arts education, the Puget Sound Association of Phi Beta Kappa established its PSA-PBK Humanities Achievement Award. It is offered on a non-monetary, non-periodic basis to individuals or organizations whose contributions to the humanities or arts are considered to be outstanding.

The two National Endowments are dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities and the arts. They provide grants for high-quality projects to cultural institutions and individual scholars, and provide opportunities for life-long learning.

This non-monetary, non-periodic award is bestowed on an individual or organization who is judged to have contributed outstanding work in the humanities or arts.

The Puget Sound Association of Phi Beta Kappa wishes to recognize this person's or organization's contribution in furthering its own goals of supporting liberal arts education.

The nominee's work will have been done in one of the following fields: arts (visual and performing), comparative religion, history, jurisprudence, languages (ancient and modern), literature, philosophy, and elements of humanistic work in the social sciences.

Our inaugural award was presented at our Spring 2015 Luncheon to Speight Jenkins, for advancing the cultural life of the Pacific Northwest through education and performances of operas throughout his 31-year career as the general director of the Seattle Opera. Our second  award was made to Professor Richard G. Salomon of the Department of Asian Languages and Literature at the University of Washington, where he is William and Ruth Gerberding University Professor. The award was given primarily because of his co-directorship of the Early Buddhist Manuscript Project, a joint enterprise of the University of Washington and the British Library. The work involves the decipherment of Gandhari-language birch bark scrolls, the earliest Buddhist literature extant, dating from the first century BCE. (Gandhari is a variety of Sanskrit.) The results will shed light on the early history of Buddhist culture. Professor Salomon is also general editor of the UW Series on Gandhara Manuscripts. He is a past president of the American Oriental Society, the oldest U.S. learned society devoted to a particular field of scholarship, in the humanities or otherwise.

High School Outreach Awards

Each spring we award a personally inscribed book to outstanding graduating seniors in participating high schools throughout the Puget Sound area. This is one way we encourage and reward outstanding scholastic achievement in the liberal arts and sciences. High school principals and guidance counselors are asked to provide the name of one graduating senior who exemplifies what Phi Beta Kappa represents — a love of learning — as demonstrated by their academic achievement as well as a record of service to others.

Among the books we have chosen in the past are Gordon S. Wood's Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic; Daniel James Brown's The Boys in the Boat; Hope Jahren's The Lab Girl; and Susan Orlean's The Library Book.

Schools may select multiple award recipients. However, we can only pay for the first book award per school. Additional books, with the students' names inscribed on the bookplates, may be ordered at a cost of $35 per book, including shipping and handling. You can place your order using PayPal or by sending us a check.

If you would like additional information about the High School Outreach Awards program or would like to volunteer to present books at the schools' award ceremonies in May and June, please e-mail or, or call Linda Willenberg at (425) 641-1606.


© 2020 Puget Sound Association of Phi Beta Kappa, P.O. Box 15258, Seattle, WA 98115

  • Twitter Social Icon
  • LinkedIn Social Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon