We are pleased to announce the grand marshals for this year's Parade. Celebrate Kirkland's July 4th Parade's tagline is, "Where we come together!" and we have chosen three individuals who epitomize this sentiment.
Our grand marshals are community leaders who have united people in their own style and unique ways. They have substantially impacted the Kirkland Community, and we are honored to have them lead this year's Parade. Their dedication and passion for bringing people together have made our community stronger and more connected. Their community spirit and leadership will inspire all of us to continue working toward a better and more inclusive Kirkland.
Dr. Catherine Cushinberry – CEO of Hopelink
Dr. Catherine Cushinberry serves Kirkland and the surrounding area through her work as the CEO of Hopelink. Dr. Cushinberry has an impressive history of bringing communities together, and we are very fortunate that she is taking that experience and serving community members right here in Kirkland.
Born and raised in Memphis, TN, she received her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-Columbia in Human Development and Family Studies in 2004. Her Master of Arts, from the University of Memphis, and Bachelor of Science from Murray State University, are in Organizational Communication. She is a seasoned nonprofit executive with over twenty-five years of experience in the education and nonprofit sectors. Prior to her current role, she served for almost four years as the Founding Vice-President/Executive Director of City Year Memphis where she founded the site for the national office. She has served as the National Executive Director of Parents for Public Schools. Prior to that role, she served for five years as the Director of Research for the National Office of Girls Inc. where she created and led research and evaluation initiatives for the more than 80 affiliates in the U.S. and Canada. For four years she led as the Executive Director of a Boys and Girls Club in Tennessee. She has worked in other nonprofits such as Children’s Home Society of California in Los Angeles and for the Missouri State 4-H. Additionally, she owned a consulting business and worked with clients in the U.S. and the Philippines, where she lived for a year. Throughout her career, she has stayed connected to higher education teaching graduate and undergraduate level courses in research methods, sociology, and family science and serves on dissertation committees. During her career, Dr. Cushinberry has published regularly on a wide variety of topics, including community engagement, diversity and STEM. Dr. Cushinberry is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is the only beloved daughter of Matilda "Ladybug" Cushinberry, a retired educator in Memphis.
Austin Picinich – Mural Artist
Austin Picinich, a lifelong Kirkland resident, has made an impact on his community by combining his artistic endeavors with community involvement and activism. As the founder of Save our Salmon Mural Initiative, Austin used his creative talent to educate people about salmon conservation at Juanita Creek. He designed a 112-foot mural on the side of SPUD Fish & Chips in Kirkland. His passion for community-based art projects brought over 160 people together to paint the mural, fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose.
Austin's murals have been featured in 425 Magazine, The Seattle Times, KING 5 Evening, KOMO 4, and the national Inspiring Young Heroes documentary. Austin won the national Barron Prize for Young Heroes in 2023 as one of the top 15 national projects giving back to communities.
In addition to leading many local and regional mural projects, Austin has had booths in over 40 art festivals, including Kirkland Summerfest and Kirkland's Wednesday Market. Austin's art extends beyond Kirkland, where his art is carried at over seventy shops across Washington. Austin is a recent graduate of Juanita High School's class of 2023 and will be a student at the University of Washington this fall.
Austin understands the importance of fostering a sense of belonging and togetherness. Later this summer, he will paint a "Welcome to Kirkland" Mural and Community Paint Day on Lake Street in downtown Kirkland.
Lani Brockman – Artistic Director, Studio East
Lani Brockman is the Founding Executive Artistic Director of Studio East, Training for the Performing Arts, a thirty-one-year-old theater school in Kirkland, Washington. She has her degree in Children's Theater from the University of Washington and her professional acting certificate from Circle in the Square Theatre in NY.
With 40+ years of experience in the performing arts, Lani Brockman brings considerable expertise to the role of Studio East’s Executive Artistic Director. As a teaching artist and director, Lani enjoys challenging youth to make strong and courageous choices both on stage and off. She revels in seeing youth discover their power and independence through the performing arts whether they pursue a career in theater or not. Lani is also the co-creator of StoryBook Theater, the Studio’s Professional Children’s Theater Company. She and her writing partner, Susan Bardsley, create musicals for young audiences, each providing life lessons for all ages. Lani is a graduate of Leadership Eastside and has served on the board of directors at the Kirkland Performance Center as well as the Kirkland Cultural Arts Commission. She currently serves on the Chamber of Commerce Board.