Meet Six Local Women Who Are Building Community in Bellevue

Jennifer Leavitt, VP of Marketing, Bellevue Collection

How long have you been in your line of work?
I began my career at the Bellevue Collection (Kemper Development Company) right out of college. What began as an internship turned into a career of 34 years and counting.

What is one major lesson in life you have learned and would share with other women?
Continue to try to put yourself in another’s shoes and also be a collaborator with creative ideas. I work with a lot of creative teams in my job – if you can imagine from Snowflake Lane to Fashion Week and everything in between – and collaboration is key. It comes best by trying to see others’ perspectives. It leads to valuable work relationships that last a long time and great synergy.

What do you love about your community in Bellevue? What sets it apart?
I grew up in Bellevue and currently still reside on the Eastside. I love the supportive nature of the community. I received a college scholarship from Bellevue LifeSpring, which is also the oldest tenant of the Bellevue Collection. I love the fact that there are longstanding nonprofits that care about the community and work to help and interact with the members of the community.

“I love my job because we are a big door to the community. I have the opportunity to work with a wide variety of organizations in Bellevue that care so much about this area, and we are all working together to try to make it a better place.”

BellevueCollection.com | @bellevuecollection

Heather Tuininga, Principal, 10|10 Strategies

How long have you been in your line of work?
15 years

What is one major lesson in life you have learned and would share with other women?
I’ve learned that “more” is sneaky. Every time I’ve sought more success, more status or more stuff, it has left me wanting. It never delivers the peace, happiness or contentment I hoped it would. Turns out, more is insatiable…it always leaves us wanting even more.

It took learning something new, something that would replace my desire for more achievement, accolades and acquiring. I learned how deeply loved I am, by my creator, and that his love delivers more than I could ever ask for or imagine. There I found peace, contentment and joy. Not just happiness; true joy. Knowing I’m beloved has changed my life!

What do you love about your community in Bellevue? What sets it apart?
I love that my community is willing to share with one another—everything from the best plumber recommendations to a toy kitchen they’re ready to pass down to another child. It’s a way we help one another and create beautiful, interwoven community along the way.

1010Strategies.com

“My favorite quote is, ‘Your spark can become a flame and change everything.’ —E.D. Nixon”

 

Dr. Lucy S. Hostetter, Anesthesiologist and Owner, Seattle Regenerative Medicine Center 

How long have you been in your line of work?
I have been an anesthesiologist for 15 years but just entered the regenerative medicine world a year ago.

What is one major lesson in life you have learned and would share with other women?
That failure is never a reason to stop trying, it is only a learning point on the journey toward success. I constantly try to challenge myself, and I find that the harder the challenge, the more determined I become. I’m not afraid to try new things, and I’m not afraid to fail, because I know that if nothing else, I will grow and learn from the experience which will be invaluable to my future successes. 

What do you love about your community in Bellevue? What sets it apart?
Bellevue is a very diverse and welcoming community, and I have loved being a part of it. There is also a great interest here in health, wellness and fitness which falls right in line with the mission of Seattle Regenerative Medicine Center.

SeattleReGen.com | @seattleregen

“I built the Seattle Regenerative Medicine Center with the primary focus being to help patients utilize their body’s own healing processes by providing alternate strategies for treating certain medical conditions. This has been a passion of mine for years, and I am so excited to be offering these innovative treatment options.”

Claire Sumadiwirya, Founder & Managing Partner, BellDen Cafe

How long have you been in your line of work?
We celebrated our two-year anniversary of BellDen Café on April 1. Prior to BellDen, my husband (and business partner) and I opened two cafes inside hospitals in Shanghai.

What is one major lesson in life you have learned and would share with other women?
Always put your ego down and ask for help. Growing up, I was an only child, so I never asked for help—I was always independent—but I had to learn to let go and ask for help. Being a part of a community requires flexibility and teamwork, which requires the ability to ask for help.

What do you love about your community in Bellevue? What sets it apart?
I love the authenticity you find in Bellevue. It is such a beautiful place that offers so much to the community, but there are also areas of the city that need our support. I love how strongly knit the community is here and committed to helping each other.

BellDenCafe.com | @belldencafe

Nicole Wakley, Founder and Curator, TREE

How long have you been in your line of work?
It’s been 15 years since I left my career as a lawyer to plant the first seed of TREE, eco-chic home furnishings from the heart.

When I was recognized in Asia Legal 500 as the top young leader in my field, I had a moment of self-reflection to reconsider what I really wanted in life. I remembered my childhood dream of opening a furniture shop with a café, and I followed my heart and opened TREE—and here we are 15 years later!

What is one major lesson in life you have learned and would share with other women?
I’ve learned to redefine my previous understandings of success and to pursue a career and a life that fills my heart and allows me to strive toward balance.

I grew up with a certain understanding of success, which led me to become a successful attorney, striving to compete and succeed in an extreme and commercial world. I was so keen to succeed in it, it was potentially at the sacrifice of greater things in life: relationships, family, all of life’s special moments. And after years of that lifestyle, I learned that I needed to find something that fulfilled me within and brought a deeper value to my life that I could share with others. I decided to refocus my life in the pursuit of balance and personal fulfillment and to listen to what my heart was telling me.

What do you love about your community in Bellevue? What sets it apart?
Opening TREE in Bellevue has been an amazing experience. Bellevue has a true love for beautiful design and signature style, and I’ve loved getting to know so many unique and talented people from all over the world and making new connections.

Tree.co | @tree.us