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Each year we request nominations for the Barry Thoma Memorial Award. This is the highest award given by our State Association in recognition of furthering our business through service to the association.

This award is named after its first recipient, a former president of WAHU and tireless advocate for our Association, our members, our industry, our clients.

Please join WAHU in congratulating and presenting the 2023 Barry Thoma Memorial Award to Mel Sorenson, WAHU Lobbyist, retired attorney from Carney Bradley Spellman.


Mel served as WAHU's Lobbyist for 19 years, representing our association in Olympia. Mel's tenure as WAHU's Lobbyist ended as he entered the next phase of his journey, retirement. Congratulations, Mel and thank you for everything you did for the association!


If you would like to nominate a member, complete the Barry Thoma nomination by email to, or mail to WAHU; 19540 International Blvd, Suite 105; Seatac, WA 98188.

The Parameters of the Award

The Board of Trustees of the Washington Association of Health Underwriters established the Barry Thoma Memorial Award to recognize those members who contribute significant amounts of time and talent to further the health insurance industry; who display the character traits and style of leadership; and who promote principals of professionalism and idealism.


The Board of Trustees has further named this award after its first recipient, Barry Thoma, RHU, who set an example for the members of the Washington Association of Health Underwriters.

Nomination Criteria:

  1. Made significant contributions of time and talent to further the health insurance industry.

  2. Must display the character traits and skills of leadership.

  3. Promotes the principles of professional idealism.

  4. Be an active member of the Washington Association of Health Underwriters.

The Barry Thoma Award Recipients

1994 - Barry Thoma, RHU
1995 - Spencer Lehmann, RHU
1996 - Patti Smith, RHU
1997 - Jay Grant, RHU
1998 - Trudy Bleiler, RHU
1999 - Jan Chapman, RHU
2000 - Carol Costello
2001 - Barbara Fives
2002 - Hugh Hendrickson, RHU
2003 - Randy Flem
2004 - Bob Bentley
2005 - Greg Seifert, CLU
2006 - Dean Byus
2007 - Marsha Tellesbo
2008 - Mark Newbold
2009 - Josh Nace
2010 - Sandra Powers-Booth
2011 - No awards
2012 - JoAnn Koll
2013 - Bill Perkins
2014 - Dan McMahon
2015 - Chris Free
2016 - Bob Holland
2017 - Al Pierce

2018 - Not Awarded

2019 - Patty Rice

2020 - Greg Seifert, CLU

2021 - Keith Wallace

2022 - Casey Meehan

2023 - Mel Sorenson

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