Director, Seattle Center
Robert Nellams has directed Seattle Center since his mayoral appointment in 2006. He is the longest serving department head in the City of Seattle. Robert began his career with the City of Seattle as an accountant in the Department of Administrative Services. He left that position to serve as Deputy Director of Seattle Center from 1998 and Director of Patron Services, 1996-1997.
Robert considers Seattle Center to be the heart and soul of our community. With a firm grasp of both the business and bureaucracy of the City department he heads, he focuses on building the capacity of Seattle Center to delight and inspire the human spirit in ways that strengthen communities. During his time as Director, Robert has negotiated homes at Seattle Center for many organizations that contribute significantly to the livability and economy of the region through the performing arts, family activities, free public programming and professional and collegiate sports. He has welcomed the WNBA to KeyArena, Chihuly Garden and Glass and Artists at Play playground to the former Fun Forest areas and Seattle International Film Festival, KEXP, Cornish College of the Arts and PrideFest onto the grounds. Robert was at the heart of multi-departmental efforts on behalf of the City to negotiate and finalize an agreement with Oak View Group to renovate and operate KeyArena and remains closely involved as he aligns City and OVG efforts on Arena redevelopment. He has also led efforts to bring Seattle/King County Clinic to KeyArena. In its first five years, the four-day dental, vision and medical clinic served 19,950 patients to a broad range of free healthcare services.
Robert is a member of the Board of Directors for The Northwest African American Museum and was recently elected Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Central Washington University (he previously served as Chair of the CWU Foundation Board). He is also a member of The Breakfast Group, a Seattle-based non-profit service organization devoted to mentoring African-American and other low-income and at-risk male youth of color. A native of Seattle and graduate of Franklin High School, Robert holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Central Washington University.