A well-traveled leader

Paul Ravetta brings Midwestern roots and extensive experience to Chairman role.

By Darrick Meneken, WAC Managing Editor | Photo by Brian Francis

Paul Ravetta is standing 40 stories above Seattle and looking straight down. A crowd gathers on the streets below and stares back up. Paul isn’t sure he wants to move. He’s afraid of heights. Am I really doing this? He’s thought about this moment for months. He looks around the roof. A small crowd smiles back at him. Paul is going over the edge, and the crowd can’t wait.

Paul Ravetta might be the first Chairman of the WAC Board of Governors to rappel off the side of a 40-story building. He might also be the first Chairman to have spent a summer as a bike messenger in San Francisco or to have a connection to Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe. Understandably, stats like that aren’t kept in the official Club archives.

Whatever we don’t know for sure, we do know this. On August 1, Paul became the WAC’s 74th Chairman, and his passion for the Club follows in a great tradition soon entering its 87th year.

During his yearlong term, Paul intends to focus on member outreach and helping the Club stay current to Seattle’s rapidly changing demographics. “This city has witnessed amazing changes over the past several years,” Paul says, sitting in his office in the Park Place Building at Sixth and University, kitty-corner from the WAC.

“As a result, the Club has seen a shift toward younger members who are not from Seattle, and perhaps not even Washington,” he continues. “It’s important to make sure these new members feel welcome, engaged, and a part of the WAC family. It’s equally important to respect nine decades of heritage and history.”

It’ll be easy to keep an eye on things. From his seventh-floor office, Paul has a clear view of the Club’s main façade.

“The WAC team is looking forward to continuing to work with Paul,” WAC President & CEO Chuck Nelson says. “He has a thoughtful energy, and his well-traveled experience provides a great perspective to life at the WAC.”

Chasing tadpoles

Growing up in northeastern Ohio, Paul was the youngest of four children and the only boy. His father was a salesman in the tire industry and his mom was a radiology technician. Paul goes back to Ohio about once a year. The elder Ravettas still live in Akron, as do two of Paul’s sisters. His other sister teaches in Portland, Oregon.

“We lived in a fairly non-densely populated suburb,” he says. “We had big yards and big swaths of empty land around us. As kids we could just disappear for the entire day, chasing tadpoles and riding bikes. The only expectation was we had to be back in time for dinner.”

Itching for more, Paul left Akron for the University of Cincinnati. The summer after graduation in 1991, he moved to San Francisco and worked as a bike messenger. It’s what he calls his “Quicksilver summer,” referring to the popular 1986 Kevin Bacon movie.

He returned to Cincinnati for grad school and, job offer in hand, moved back to San Francisco in 1993. During his first week on the job, Paul’s bus jolted forward and a stranger fell on him. She would later become his wife.

“We started dating on and off for quite a while and ultimately got married in 1998,” Paul says, smiling. “She literally fell in my lap.”

At his desk, Paul keeps a picture of Stacey on their wedding day. She’s standing in San Francisco’s Washington Square Park, across from their ceremony at Saints Peter and Paul Church. It’s the same twin-spired sanctuary where Monroe and DiMaggio snapped wedding photos in 1954.

Paul and Stacey’s reception took place at the nearby San Francisco Italian Athletic Club. They spent three more years in San Francisco. In 2001, Stacey accepted a job at Perkins Coie law firm in Seattle. “It was a good time for us to transition,” Paul says.

In early 2003, they joined the WAC. “For me, the networking side of the Club has been fantastic,” Paul says. “For Stacey, it’s a great way to get in a good workout in a phenomenal environment. For both of us it was a way to feel connected and grounded in a new community.”

Work and play

During their 15 years in Seattle, Paul has worked at three companies. He’s currently Vice President, Director Marketing & Client Relations for Washington Capital Management. The company invests union pension fund assets in commercial real estate projects that, in turn, create jobs for union workers. “The pension funds get the benefit of the investment while the unions get the incidental benefit of the work,” Paul says.

The job comes with lots of travel, most often around the western states. He and Stacey also take at least one big trip a year, most recently to Croatia, which Paul calls “the most amazing place I’ve ever been.”

Back in Paul’s office, there are other mementos—tickets to the Masters golf tournament; a picture from the Greek isles; and a tailhook from a Grumman S-2 Tracker, a reminder of his father’s time flying off aircraft carriers for the Navy.

A Seahawks season-ticket holder, Paul started pulling for the team when he still lived in Akron. “I’m a Browns fan but an appropriately humble Browns fan,” he says. “I took on the Seahawks as my team when I was 12 and I’ve been a fan ever since. It was great moving to Seattle and actually being in the Seattle market. It was more amazing to finally win a Super Bowl!”

Paul and Stacey live in Magnolia. They worked closely with their architect to design their contemporary home, a light-filled space with exposed wood, contrasting steel, and stunning views of Mount Rainier. The couple are also regular users of Discovery Park. Paul arrived for a recent walk along the park bluff wearing shorts and a Cincinnati soccer T-shirt. Stacey had run the same loop twice earlier that morning. She laughs about falling on Paul’s lap on the bus but denies any premeditation.

Five years ago, Paul tore his left anterior cruciate ligament playing soccer. His recovery included Pilates and physical therapy at the WAC. He has since given up soccer and instead gets his exercise in the WAC pool and on treadmills and stationary bikes in Men’s Fitness. Stacey is an avid runner. Paul also hosts a monthly poker group at Hagerty’s and uses Torchy’s for business lunches.

Over the edge

Paul currently serves on the board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County. Past volunteer activities include coaching youth soccer and serving as endowment chair for First Place.

“I tend to lean toward causes that serve underprivileged children,” he says. “I’ve always found that to be a good place to devote my time and energy and monetary contributions.”

Immediate WAC Past Chairman Tammy Young recruited him to the Boys & Girls Clubs board and looks forward to his tenure as WAC Chairman. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Paul over the years,” Tammy says. “He’s a fantastic ambassador for the WAC and has done a great job introducing many of our new members to the Club.”

Regarding his drop off the side of a 40-story building, it was part of the Over the Edge fundraiser for Special Olympics Washington, a WAC Community Partner. “For somebody who’s acrophobic, that was sort of a personal challenge,” he says. “I’m incredibly thankful I did it. I don’t know if I’d ever do it again, but it was a fantastic experience and a great adrenaline boost, that’s for sure.”

—Posted September 1, 2016

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