Speakeasy & Listen

Get to know new Chairwoman Rose Mitchell

By Mae Jacobson, Associate Editor | Photos by Jenn Repp

Rose Mitchell joined the WAC 16 years ago. Since then, she’s married, had two children, and settled down in her Mount Baker home. On August 1, she took over as WAC Chairwoman, becoming the 77th member to lead the WAC Board of Governors. We caught up with Rose as she prepared for her year of WAC leadership. If her family’s private speakeasy is any indication, this is going to be a great year!

It’s a late spring evening in Seattle, and Rose Mitchell’s backyard cocktail party is blossoming into a celebration to remember. Friends and family sip drinks, grab snacks, and swirl around Rose, the WAC’s new Chairwoman and the guest of honor at her very own party. Rose accepts each new round of congratulations with appreciation and sincerity, sharing conversations with the kind of engagement you’d expect from a close friend.

It’s this sense of unaffected authenticity that Rose intends to impart throughout her year atop the WAC Board of Governors. Listening—that’s key to Rose.

“Everyone talks about engagement and involvement, but if you’re not listening, you’re not engaging,” Rose says. “When I feel heard and acknowledged it creates a sense of community. I want to foster that at the WAC.”

Rose’s WAC story began on a bit of a whim. She was living in Oregon and waiting to hear back about dental school applications she had submitted. With no job and a year of waiting through the application process, she packed a bag and moved north. Shortly afterward, the dental school letters began to arrive—each one a rejection.

“I found myself not upset at my rejection letters, and that was a huge sign that this was where I belonged,” she says of Seattle.

It wasn’t long after making the move that Rose landed a job at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, joined the WAC on the suggestion of her uncle Jack, and connected with the 20s/30s Committee.

“I’ve always been outgoing,” Rose says. That extroverted nature led her to numerous WAC committees through the years and eventually onto the Executive Board.

“Rose represents so much of the lifecycle of WAC members and will be wonderful in the role of Chairwoman,” WAC President & CEO Chuck Nelson says. “She’s been active in all areas of the WAC as an individual, then a couple, and now a family.”

A place to belong

Rose Mitchell and Frank Yon started dating in 2008. Frank joined the Club shortly thereafter, but Rose made the terms very clear. “I made sure he knew if we broke up, the Club was mine,” she says with a smile. “It was like a pre-nup for dating.”

Frank proposed a year later during a trip to Europe. In France, the couple attended a family wedding. In Germany, they celebrated Oktoberfest in Munich. And in Austria, they visited the same boarding house in Salzburg where Rose’s parents fell in love.

That last stop ended up being the most important. At the boarding house, Rose and Frank discovered old letters written by Rose’s mom to the inn’s house mother, “The Baroness.” Afterward, the couple visited Fortress Hohensalzburg, where they found themselves alone on a balcony overlooking the countryside. There, Frank presented his late father’s wedding band and asked Rose to marry him.

“It was a really special day,” Rose says.

The couple wed the following year in Portland, Oregon. Close friend and fellow WAC member Tom Osmon officiated the ceremony. A few years later, when it was Tom’s turn to marry, Rose returned the favor.

“We love spending time with our friends,” Rose says. “They’re really like our second family.”

Rose and Frank now have two children, 7-year-old Catherine and 4-year-old Everett. Friends often refer to the family as “the Yonchells,” a cheeky portmanteau that solidifies their place as a 21st century clan.

“We’re a tight-knit foursome,” Rose says. “We do almost everything together.”

During rugby season, weekends consist of Seawolves matches—Frank is a former rugby player and the family has season tickets—and frequent gatherings with friends and extended family. Sailing with friends and evenings at the driving range are also family favorites.

Home and away

Rose grew up outside of Portland as the youngest of three children. Family traditions included road trips in the family station wagon, epic camping trips at Lost Lake, and bus trips into the city. “My parents were hip,” she says. “They always tried to give us more flavor to life than what we were getting in the suburbs.”

Rose hopes to instill a similar sense of adventure in Catherine and Everett. To that point, she and Frank enjoy bringing the kids downtown. They frequent the WAC, of course, and Pike Place Market is another preferred destination.

During a recent trip, the family walked among the stalls, dodging tourists, smelling flowers, and stopping at their favorite market locale—Uli’s sausage shop. “When we came back from Oktoberfest, this was like our tiny Munich,” Rose says.

But it’s back home where the family really settles in. Their 1925 Tudor sits six blocks above Lake Washington. Inside, guests are treated to a private speakeasy dubbed The Pheasant Plucker. The name comes from an old tongue-twister turned catchy song, “Pheasant Plucker’s Son.” The room’s rich wood walls, overstuffed leather chairs, and whiskey collection are tucked behind a door masquerading as a bookshelf.

A place ripe with memories, The Pheasant Plucker is the epitome of Rose—thoughtful, welcoming and fun. Not to mention crafty. Rose did some of the woodwork inside the speakeasy herself and also installed the faux-tin ceiling. “I’m pretty handy and artsy,” Rose says. “I do many of the repairs in the house, and we do a lot of art with the kids.”

Her passion for creation makes Christmas and Mother’s Day shopping easy. “I’m always asking for power tools,” she says.

People first

Rose also puts her love for hands-on activities to work as a data manager at Gilead Sciences in South Lake Union. After bouncing around the nation from college to college in the 1990s, she settled down at Portland State, where she completed her undergraduate degree in science education and molecular biology.

“The interactive nature of lab work really interested me,” she says. “It wasn’t like a history lecture where you’re just sitting around taking notes. You actually get to do something.”

After a few years of wet lab benchwork and a move to Seattle, Rose entered the world of data management. Her current job involves leading clinical trials that collect and review data related to liver diseases. “I love working in research and the medical world because behind the spreadsheets and numbers of my work are very real people,” Rose says. “That makes my work extremely fulfilling.”

Seeing the faces behind the figures is integral to what Rose wants to accomplish during her year as WAC Chairwoman. “The WAC is a big ship to steer with lots of numbers coming in and out,” she says. “I care about the people in our community, and I want to make sure everyone is happy, healthy, and engaged.”

—Reach WAC Magazine Associate Editor Mae Jacobson at mjacobson@wac.net.

As published in the September/October 2019 issue of WAC Magazine.

—Posted September 4, 2019

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