Putting Service First
A panel discussion with the Seattle Customer Service Rock Stars

Thursday, September 18
1:30 - 2:30 PM

Seattle is home to an array of innovative and beloved companies consistently recognized for outstanding customer service. Maybe the focus on service is a reaction to the grey skies and rainy days. Or maybe it’s the laid-back attitude and relaxed dress-code that spurs the people-driven culture. Whatever the cause, there is a difference you can feel the second you step off the airplane and grab your first latte.  In this panel discussion you will hear how four Seattle-based companies—Alaska Airlines, Bartell Drugs, Starbucks, and zulily— keep service at the forefront of their business and have the loyalty of their customers to show for it.

Jean Bartell Barber

Jean Bartell Barber serves as Vice Chairman and Treasurer of Bartell Drugs, the oldest drug store chain in the United States. Her responsibilities include finance, administration, human resources, real estate, and strategic planning. Jean has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from the University of Washington and an MBA from the Wharton School. She was a banking officer before joining the family business. Jean sits on the executive board and the full board of the YWCA and is a member of the Executive Advisory Board of Seattle Pacific University’s business school.


Howard Behar

Howard Behar's career in business spans over 50 years, all in consumer oriented businesses covering several industries. He retired from Starbucks Coffee after 21 years where he led both the domestic business, as President of North America, and was the founding President of Starbucks International. During his tenure, he participated in the growth of the company from only 28 stores to over 15,000 stores spanning five continents. He served on the Starbucks Board of Directors for twelve years before retiring.

Howard now serves on several Boards including for-profit and non-profit organizations. They include Anna's Linens, Sterling Savings Bank, Education Elements and the advisory boards of Anthos Capital and Roadtrip Nation. His non-profit commitments are to the University of Washington Foundation and he is a Trustee for the Biller Family Foundation. He is also involved in the UW Business School mentoring program.

Howard is committed to the development and education of our future leaders and has been a longtime advocate of the Servant Leadership Model. He has also authored a book on leadership tittled "It's Not About the Coffee"

He lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife Lynn, and enjoys spending time with his children and his five grandchildren. Boating is his favorite hobby, exploring the waterways from Seattle to Alaska.

Maureen Shea

Maureen joined zulily in September 2011 and heads up zulily's customer service team, which supports both domestic and international customers.  Maureen joined zulily from T-Mobile, where she spent the last year leading the My T-Mobile.com web team as director of eService. Prior to T-Mobile, she built out the customer service and fraud departments as director of customer service at Blue Nile. Maureen also spent time working at Airborne Express in various leadership positions, including customer service, training and quality assurance. Maureen has a 7-year-old son who can't get enough of Minecraft and a 13-year-old step-daughter who loves bike riding and animals.

Joe Sprague

The aviation career of Joe Sprague spans over 20 years and includes a broad background of experience in the general aviation, corporate aviation and airline segments of the industry.

Sprague has enjoyed a rewarding 14-year tenure at Alaska Airlines, one of the nation’s largest major airlines, where he has had the opportunity to contribute in several roles of increasing responsibility in both staff and operational capacities. He currently serves as Vice President of Marketing with responsibility for marketing and branding strategy, marketing communications, loyalty programs, digital marketing, sales, corporate communications and onboard product. He also serves on Alaska Air Group’s executive committee.

Previously, Sprague was Vice President of Cargo for Alaska Airlines where he led the company’s $100 million per year air freight unit, Alaska Air Cargo. Sprague provided leadership and strategic direction for all aspects of Alaska Air Cargo including operations, finance, business systems, sales and marketing along with oversight of over 300 air cargo professionals.

Sprague has also served as Staff Vice President of Inflight Services for Alaska Airlines where he oversaw the airline’s inflight operations and its more than 2,700 flight attendants. Prior to that, Sprague was Staff Vice President of Public and Government Affairs, where he led community relations, corporate communications and government affairs. Earlier, he opened and managed the carrier’s government affairs office in Washington, D.C. as Managing Director of Government Affairs. Sprague started at Alaska Airlines as the Director of Sales for the state of Alaska.

Prior to Alaska Airlines, Sprague gained valuable experience at two regional airlines, Era Aviation, an Alaska regional airline that also operated a sizable fixed base operation (FBO) in Anchorage, and Harbor Airlines in the Seattle area. Sprague started as Director of Marketing for Era and also served as General Manager of the Era Aviation Center, its FBO arm. At Harbor, Sprague was Vice President of Marketing and Customer Service.

During his time in Alaska, Sprague also taught as an adjunct instructor of airline management for the University of Alaska, Anchorage.

Sprague was first introduced to the aviation public policy arena when he served as Manager of Government and Industry Affairs for the D.C.-based National Air Transportation Association (NATA), serving the interest of 2,000 aviation businesses.

Sprague began his aviation career as a flight instructor and commercial pilot. He flew for Juneau, Alaska-based Wings of Alaska and also in the corporate flight department for Geico Insurance.

Sprague received a Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Washington and a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He resides near Seattle with this wife and two teenage children.