THE OLYMPIC COLLEGE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION & KITSAP ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ALLIANCE CELEBRATE LOCAL LEADER FOR OUTSTANDING SERVICE
Microsoft’s Nathan Evans Honored at Annual Fall Event on October 26th
[Monday, October 30, 2017, Kitsap County, WA] In partnership with The Olympic College Alumni Association (OCAA), Kitsap Economic Development Alliance (KEDA) announced important news on Thursday, October 26th, at the Decision Makers II event at Kiana Lodge, Suquamish. The 2017 inaugural Distinguished Alum Award recognized Nathan Evans, Principal Software Architect at Microsoft, for his Outstanding Contributions to the Advancement of Local Economic and Community Development Work.
KEDA Executive Director John Powers says, “Our annual fall event flew under the banner this year of ‘Kitsap: The Next Tech Hotspot?’ Nathan Evans is a prime example of a new generation of Kitsap County business leaders who are stepping up to shape and strengthen our economic opportunities.”
“With the debut of this award, we’re formalizing the relationship between the higher education we offer here and the vitality of our community,” elaborates Monica Blackwood from the Olympic College Foundation Board of Directors. “Nathan helped lead the way for Microsoft to establish a presence in Kitsap, and he and his innovative team will continue to contribute key developments in the county we all call home.”
The honor is accompanied by a $2,500 scholarship in the recipient’s name to a current Olympic College student pursing an education related to Kitsap’s cluster markets, including business, economics, technology, engineering, manufacturing, and related fields.
David Emmons, the Executive Director of the Olympic College Foundation, refers to a recent report, which emphasizes the impact of local talent that remains local. “A national average of only 56% of alumni remain in the communities in which they’ve gone to school. For Olympic College, that rate is 80%. People love it here. They stay in Kitsap or come back to it after fulfilling their educational dreams, which stimulates market growth and new business. It’s a great return on investment.”
“Kitsap County is the perfect place for so many talented people to learn, live, and work,” Evans believes. “Olympic College, along with my participation in KEDA, has opened many doors for me. I am very honored to receive this award. It was completely unexpected.”
Born in New Orleans, Evans moved to Kitsap County when he was in elementary school. Typical of many military families (his mother was a pediatrician in the U.S. Navy), the Evanses lived around the country before landing in Washington state. After graduating from high school in Central Kitsap, he then earned an Associate of Arts degree at Olympic College. Evans continued his education at Western Washington University, completing a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science.
From working as a research scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to handling “big data,” such as satellite imagery and geographic information systems, Evans demonstrated a natural aptitude for the high-tech world. In 2006, he joined Applied Technical Systems (ATS), fully immersing himself in software engineering and eventually becoming the company’s Chief Technical Officer.
“At ATS, I became involved in paving the way for high schoolers through high-tech internships. These students would go off to college and then come back to us. They didn’t choose to make lives and careers in Seattle or Tacoma,” explains Evans. “Former interns wanted to return to their roots. Helping to develop them meant that it became easier to find smart young people we could help shape into the kind of employees we wanted and needed – compassionate, empathetic, driven, and creative.”
During the summer of 2017, Nathan joined Microsoft to help establish a new campus in Silverdale. Specializing in data visualization and user experience for Artificial Intelligence and machine-learning projects, he and his highly-trained research team are enjoying work and play in equal measure.
“I am super proud of helping to establish the Microsoft presence in this market,” Evans enthuses. “We value the talent here, and now our people don’t have to commute. It’s a great business strategy. We’re closer to talented professionals, and they’re closer to the great quality of life that Kitsap offers.”
West Sound CoderDojo is another passion of his. The program, offered free on weekends to kids from eight to 18, develops relationships between youngsters and mentors from the computer technology industry. “We want to get the next generation excited about coding at an early age,” elaborates Evans. “At CoderDojo, they learn how fun it is to write code, whether it’s for game design or interactive video. The environment is collaborative and casual, and it’s exciting to see these students harness the power of computers to do whatever they want to do creatively.”
“Nathan is a born leader,” Blackwood adds. “His manner is understated yet impactful. He spearheaded our newly-formed tech committee, launching an ‘internship incubator.’ It’s centered around connecting students, educators, and company leaders across a diversity of industries. The outcome is that Nathan has given us a model to build upon for new and relocating businesses.”
Powers echoes this perspective: “We are grateful for Nathan’s leadership on the KEDA board of directors. The local tech sector is raising its profile and raising the bar in our county’s economy. New market developments, like Microsoft’s operations in Silverdale, and the contributions of people like Nathan reflect dynamic times in Kitsap.”