Before she became a bank executive, philanthropist, and civic leader, Phyllis Campbell ’73 felt the powerful impact of a benevolent act.

Phyllis Campbell ’73. Photo Scott A. Harder
Phyllis Campbell ’73 (Photo Scott A. Harder)


Former WSU Regent Campbell was trying to raise money to attend Washington State University, when a check for $2,500 arrived from a WSU scholarship fund aimed at low-income students. “The thing that left the impression was this person who gave back, who paid it forward,” she recalls. “I know the power of a check, the power of somebody’s message, somebody paying attention,” she once told a reporter.

Now Campbell is receiving recognition for giving back to others with the Seattle-King County First Citizen Award for 2016. She is only the fifth woman to be singled out for the prestigious award, which has been presented annually since 1939.

Campbell began her banking career in 1973 upon graduation from WSU when Old National Bank in Spokane hired her as a management trainee. She became the first woman to lead one of Washington’s larger banks when she was named president and CEO of US Bank of Washington in the early 1990s. Campbell now heads up the Pacific Northwest division for JPMorgan Chase & Co.

She served as a WSU regent from 1991-2003. Campbell has also sat on many boards of both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, and eventually headed up The Seattle Foundation where, under her leadership as president and CEO for six years, the state’s largest community foundation doubled its charitable assets, to $600 million.

In addition to numerous other honors, Campbell received WSU’s highest honor, the Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award, in 2006.

Campbell succeeds current WSU Regent and CEO of Chateau St. Michelle Wine Estates Ted Baseler ’76, who was honored with the First Citizen award in 2015.