Annual C3 Leaders' High Ground Breakfast and Award

The Annual C3 Leaders' High Ground Breakfast at The Bellevue Club is a gathering of C3 Leaders, business, and community leaders who come together to share stories about transformation in Community, Commerce, and Culture. It is also during this breakfast that we recognize the Annual Ralph Palmen High Ground Award recipient. This is a leader who brings the good news and values of Jesus to the marketplace and seeks to take the "High Ground" in all areas of his or her life.

Our business community stands on the shoulders of world-class, game-changing leaders. I Thessalonians 5 says that we are to hold our leaders in “high regard.” That is what we will do at 7 a.m. on Thursday, October 5, 2023 at the C3 Leaders’ High Ground Breakfast.

The annual C3 Leaders' High Ground Breakfast will be a morning to highlight the faithful service of colleagues who have taken the “high ground” during the last year.

Join us. Registration is now open for individuals ($69) or bring a table from your office or your C3 Forum ($595/table of 10). In a challenging season, they will be encouraged. It will be a beautiful time to behold at the Bellevue Club.

The High Ground Award

Stories about people that have chosen to use their unique gifts to glorify God are both inspirational and instructive. Ralph Palmen is such a man. His life inspired C3 Leaders to create an annual award to recognize a leader who has used his or her gifts over their career to bring the values of Jesus to Commerce, Community and Culture.  This is the mission of C3 Leaders.

2023 Award Recipient Ward Tanneberg

Ward is a listener and influencer, a pastor/writer and novelist, called from generations of pioneer farming families into Christian ministry. He attended 2 bible colleges, 2 universities, a seminary, even graduated a couple of times, including a PhD Theology. He began ministry as a young evangelist, then a denominational youth and men’s ministries director, college public relations director, a nonprofit organization executive director, and pastor in 3 churches.
“I’ve told stories since I was a kid, been spanked for a few, had some others published. I write a blog, ‘Perspective,’ about life as I see it. My goal is to listen well, teach with humility, write creatively, stir the glowing embers of my peers, and leave the Light on for the next generations.” A widower, Ward enjoys quiet evenings, good books, movies, family, sports, travel, and early morning walks with Gage, the ‘wonder dog.’

Ward Tanneberg

2021 Award Recipient Chi Dooh "Skip" Li

Skip Li built a first-class law firm - Ellis, Li, McKinstry - made up of men and women who care deeply about clients, each other, and the city of Seattle. He launched an innovative ministry to students at the University of Washington called Vision 16. And he founded Agros International, an empowering work among the poorest of the rural poor in Latin America.

2020 Award Recipient Dr. Joseph Castleberry

Dr. Castleberry, a native of Alabama, came to the Puget Sound Region after a transcultural career that took his family throughout the Americas before he landed at Northwest University. He transformed the university into a regional leader with his blend of Biblical knowledge, cultural perspective, extensive study and writing, ability to connect throughout a community and his love of Jesus. Dr. Castleberry has been interviewed on Fox News Channel, CBN, TBN, GodTV, China Global News Television, One America News Network and hundreds of radio shows. Dr. Castleberry is a thought leader on Christian high education. He and his wife, Kathleen, have three daughters, three son-in-laws and four grandkids.

2019 Award Recipient Jon Sharpe

Jon's life is a testimony to his love of Jesus through his family, his service as a businessman and a pastor, Founder of the Serve Seattle Initiative, Vice-President of Northwest Graduate School, Academic Dean of Bakke Graduate University, Founder of the Center for Global Urban Leaders, Executive Director of Pinnacle Forum Northwest and since 2012, Founder and President of C3 Leaders. Under his leadership, C3 experienced substantial spiritual and organic growth from 4 forums to over 40; representing 300 business leaders learning how to live and lead like Jesus.

2018 Award Recipient Jack McMillan

Jack McMillan led Nordstrom through a phenomenal growth curve of business, changing the landscape for luxury retail and demonstrating generosity at every level. Nordstrom has become a brand for excellence, service, and grace. Jack not only led this incredible company to the top but he has a lifetime of demonstrating compassion and care for the urban poor and a Jesus like love for others. Jack is a reconciler, a friend, and a leader in the Seattle region. Those serving the urban poor recognize that Jack is in their corner with a big heart. Jack seeks to see men and women everywhere learn that Jesus loves them and can transform them.

2017 Award Recipient Jim Larkin

Jim Larkin is the president and CEO of Romac Industries. Jim graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in Business Administration which is also where he met his wife Barb of 41 years.  Together they raised two sons, Matt and Josh, and they are now enjoying their six grandchildren.

2016 Award Recipient George Toles

George Toles is a Seattle legend. NBA public announcer, marketing guru, radio personality, networker extraordinaire, and community leader. George was an NBA public address announcer at about a thousand games – two seasons with the Detroit Pistons and nineteen with the Seattle Sonics.  In addition to his sport side announcing, Toles had an outstanding career as a marketing executive, and is founder of His Deal, a twice-a-month luncheon in downtown Seattle where men can discover the person of Jesus in a safe, relaxed environment.

2015 Award Recipient Kendra VanderMeulen


Kendra was the first recipient of the High Ground Award. Bob Nuber, Chair Emeritus shares  some of the reasons she was chosen as the inaugural person to receive this award for having ascended to the High Ground of her profession. Here are just a few of her many accomplishments: Kendra helped pioneer the wireless industry having served as SVP of the Wireless Data business for AT&T Wireless (formerly McCaw Cellular Communications) and EVP of Mobile at InfoSpace . Kendra served as COO and President of the Communications Group of Convergys (formerly Cincinnati Bell Information Systems). Kendra was the recipient of the 1999 Catherine B. Cleary award as the outstanding women leader of AT&T. She currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors at both INRIX and B-Square, and has previously served as a board member of a number of other companies. Kendra holds a B.S. Degree in Mathematics from Marietta College and a M.S. in Computer Science from Ohio State University. She has been married to Bill Snider for 34 years and has two grown children, Rich Snider and Bess Navarrete, as well as one grandson, Oliver Navarrete.

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“It was great to reconnect with old friends, meet new people and hear powerful testimonies. It is all about Christ and Community and reaching out to as many as we can. I know that has been the mission of C3 Leaders and so many others in the room. It was an honor to participate.”