Tom Byers, Founding Partner
Recent projects include:
- Pacific Tower Health College and Innovation Center
- Community Health Worker Planning Session
- Washington State Health Care Innovation Plan
Tom walks the walk when it comes to living his convictions. When he was 20, he hitchhiked to Seattle to organize resistance to the Vietnam War. Through the anti-war movement, he got involved in creating Country Doctor Community Clinic, and served as its first director. He helped form the Public Health Care Coalition, which successfully fought the Nixon administration’s attempts to close the Seattle Public Health Service Hospital (now Pacific Medical Center). He worked closely with Senator Warren Magnuson to change federal legislation to bring National Health Service Corps physicians and nurses to poor urban neighborhoods and Indian Reservations throughout the United States.
In 1977, Tom took a leave of absence from the clinic to work in the campaign of Charles Royer for Mayor of Seattle, then joined the Mayor’s staff as Special Assistant for Health, Human Services and the Environment. In that role, Tom helped lead the effort to secure City of Seattle funding for shelters, food banks, clinics and other nonprofit organizations through the city’s Human Services Fund, which provides millions of dollars each year for essential human services. He also was instrumental in creating the 1989 Regional Health Facilities Bond Issue, which provided more than $100 million for Harborview Hospital and the community clinics.
Deeply committed to the environment, Tom helped shape the City of Seattle’s first environmental action agenda, and was deeply involved in the effort to preserve the Cedar River Watershed as a 96,000-acre natural area and source of pure water for the city. He also served as Deputy Superintendent of Parks and Recreation, and helped launch the first comprehensive parks plan in more than 30 years.
After 12 years in the Royer administration, Tom formed the Cedar River Group to work on “projects in the public interest.” Many of the firm’s first clients were health care organizations. These included Children’s Hospital, which sponsored Tom’s work on strategies to reduce infant mortality, and the Kellogg Foundation, which funded his proposal to create the Cross Cultural Health Care Program, which has since become the nation’s largest training program for medical interpreters.
In the human services field, Tom helped to craft a successful plan to create housing for homeless women and children at the abandoned Sand Point Naval Air Station. He also was an architect of the Port Jobs Apprenticeship Opportunity Program. This program has brought thousands of women, minorities and persons with disabilities into the construction trades through a unique partnership that includes the Port of Seattle, City of Seattle, King County, the Seattle Mariners, Harbor Properties, Pine Street Associates, Vulcan and the State of Washington. Tom’s environmental projects during this period included “Bands of Green,” a plan that led to the expansion of Seattle’s bicycle trails, and the Conservation Futures project (with John Howell), which helped to preserve thousands of acres of farms and forests in western Washington.
In 1998, Tom was asked by newly-elected Seattle Mayor Paul Schell to serve as one of two Deputy Mayors. In that capacity, Tom had responsibility for strategic planning, housing, community development, neighborhood programs, land use regulations, parks and recreation, education, health, human services, human rights, the arts, Seattle Center and the Seattle Public Library system. In this role he helped to shape three successful ballot initiatives. These initiatives provided nearly $600 million to (1) rebuild the city’s library system; (2) redevelop the Opera House and other buildings at Seattle Center and expand the city’s network of community centers; and (3) upgrade and expand the parks system.
Tom also had oversight responsibility for the administration’s implementation of 37 neighborhood plans, and for the creation of the Office for Housing. He played a leadership role in the development of Project Lift-off and Reinvesting in Youth, two major initiatives to improve early childhood education, expand out-of-school youth programs, and reduce juvenile incarceration.
Since returning to Cedar River Group in 2002, Tom has continued to work toward solutions to some of the most difficult issues facing our region. From 2003 to 2006, he served as the Coordinator of the Washington State Farmworker Housing Trust, a coalition of growers, farmworker advocates and rural housing providers. The Trust was created by Senator Patty Murray to address the critical shortage of housing for farmworkers and their families. Tom also authored “Pathways to Prosperity,” a poverty reduction plan for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, which led to $10 million in funding from the Northwest Area Foundation.
Tom is currently working with the Community Health Network of Washington on strategies to implement the Affordable Care Act in Washington state.
Tom lives in the Madison Park neighborhood of Seattle, where he and his wife, Carol Lewis, raised their two sons. They enjoy trips to their summer home in the San Juan Islands, hiking and the arts.