Confluence Health Foundation Board of Trustees has selected Carol Wardell as the recipient of the prestigious Spirit of A.Z. Wells Award. The award honors exceptional local people whose contributions have had an enduring and positive impact on our community. The award will be presented to Carol at the 28th annual gala on Nov. 8.
“I am personally very pleased that Carol has received the award," said Garry Arsenault, president of the Chelan County PUD board. "She has been an inspiration and a terrific supporter of our community. I can think of no one more deserving of this recognition.”
Carol’s volunteerism began immediately after she was hired as a lawyer in Wenatchee. “It was like she had two careers — one dedicated to the law and one dedicated to community service,” said David Dorsey, a partner in the law firm that hired Carol in 1983. "She enjoyed doing this because it made the community a better place for everyone. To me, that was impressive.”
Carol has volunteered time to many community organizations and programs. These include Wenatchee Planning Commission, the local Bar Association’s pro bono committee, co-chair of Friends of WVC Foundation, Wenatchee Valley YMCA, United Way, levy and bond committees, and others. She has been very active in fundraising for kid’s programs. She cherishes her years as a girls soccer and basketball coach, being a lunch buddy at Mission View Elementary School, and mentoring children of all ages.
She currently gives time to Hand-In-Hand Immigration Services, where she helps immigrants seeking citizenship; the Wellness Place as a Senior Active Independent Living (SAIL) program instructor; the Confluence Health Foundation, where she has been a board member since 2002; and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), which she co-founded in 1994 serving as a board member and now as an adviser.
Carol grew up in Richland. In high school, she traveled often to Mission Ridge where she learned to ski and — fortunately for this community — to love the Wenatchee area. After high school, she attended Central Washington University, graduating Magna cum laude in 1978. Carol attended the University of Puget Sound School of Law (UPS) graduating in 1981 with magna cum laude honors, finishing sixth in her class. Her academic successes allowed her to successfully apply for a coveted law clerk position at the Washington State Supreme Court, where she subsequently worked for two years. In 1982, she also taught law at UPS.
Cream-of-the-crop law school graduates with clerkship experience were heavily recruited by large law firms in Seattle and elsewhere. But Carol and her husband, Kurt, were interested in living where there was plenty of sunshine, four seasons, easy access to recreational opportunities and an opportunity to immediately contribute to the community. Wenatchee area offered all of that, and in 1983 they moved to Wenatchee.
Only five or six female attorneys practiced in the entire Chelan-Douglas County Bar Association in 1983. Undaunted, Carol was hired by the Davis Arneil l law firm. “Carol quickly became a standout member of the firm, demonstrating a precocious ability, self-reliance, fearlessness and judgment,” said Bob White of Davis Arneil.
In 1991, Carol switched from practicing law to deciding it. She was appointed a Chelan-Douglas County Superior Court judge by then Gov. Booth Gardner. She was the first female Superior Court judge for either county. After her appointment, she was elected three times, handling many high profile, difficult, and controversial cases.
“I’m very proud of my service as a judge,” said Carol, “and pleased to have broken a gender barrier. But the accomplishment of which I am most proud is getting the CASA program started. The program ensures that a child who has been removed from his or her home due to abuse or neglect has someone to speak up in court for their best interests.”
In 1998, Carol resigned her judgeship to accept a new challenge, becoming the first in-house general counsel for Chelan County PUD, a position she performed with distinction until she retired in 2015. Colleagues observed she possessed incredible energy, passion and intellect, and helped contribute to the PUD’s success.
Carol prefers to do good deeds behind the scenes. But those who love her know that preference does not mean she is shy or afraid of publicity — or anything else. She is, and has always been, a smart, funny, decisive, resilient, loyal, tenacious, goal-directed, boisterous, big-hearted, larger-than-life overachiever and a natural leader. These traits have served her well and have allowed her to serve this community in many wonderful ways. Congratulations, Carol, on receiving this much-deserved honor.
Tickets to the 2019 Spirit of AZ Wells Award Banquet honoring Carol Wardell may be obtained by contacting the Confluence Health Foundation office at 665-6030.
Lew Card is a local attorney and former law school classmate of Carol Wardell.