This article can also be found in the August 2018 issue of Mercer Island Living Magazine.
The Mercer Island community is lucky to have the Hankes, who are undoubtedly one of the most impressive families you’ll ever meet.
Although they love living on the Island now, Bill and Lisa Hankes will be the first to admit that they initially had some reservations about moving there. “We weren’t sure if we were going to like it when we first moved here,” admitted Lisa. “But it’s worked out really well for us.”
The two met in 1998 at a legal marketing conference in Los Angeles. At the time, Lisa resided in San Francisco while Bill was living in Seattle. They dated long-distance for eight months before getting engaged, and eventually Lisa moved up to the Pacific Northwest. They were married in 1999.
The family lived in Seattle until 2002, when Bill was recruited to Scottsdale, Arizona for a job opportunity as Director of Public Relations for Cyclone Commerce (now Axway). In 2006, he took advantage of another job recruitment opportunity in the Pacific Northwest, and the family relocated permanently to Mercer Island.
They wanted their kids, Danny and Sophie, to be able to experience the excellent Mercer Island School District. It’s certainly paid off for them, as both are headed toward remarkable futures.
Sophie recently graduated from Mercer Island High School and is headed to the University of Southern California in the fall. She was accepted into the prestigious Bachelor of Fine Arts program where she’ll study drama. Sophie has been acting on stage since she was young and is very excited to be working with the exceptional drama department at USC.
This spring at Issaquah’s Village Theater, she starred in Sincerely Yours, a powerful play written by and featuring an all-female cast about the changes that came for women in 1946 at the conclusion of World War II.
Sophie plans to continue merging her love of acting with politics in order to convey important messages to her audiences.
Danny will be a junior at Mercer Island High School this fall and is a prodigious classical piano student. Although he only started learning to play the piano about a year and a half ago, his skills have already progressed to incredible heights. He dreams of one day attending Juilliard to further pursue his piano studies.
Growing up, Danny didn’t express much interest in learning to play music, said Lisa. He started learning to play the trombone at one point but struggled with it due to his small size as a child.
“We just assumed after that that he wasn’t very musical,” Bill admitted. Of course, years later they were proven very wrong when Danny fell in love with classical piano.
Nowadays he volunteers his time at the Aljoya Retirement Community on the Island – an idea he came up with on his own.
Lisa spends much of her time creating beautiful paintings and sculptures inspired by Norwegian folk art. Being of Norwegian heritage, she found herself fascinated by the repetitive shapes and designs that she noticed in the artwork as she was growing up. She’s also volunteered her time to assist the art programs at her kids’ schools.
Bill is the Founder and CEO of Sqoop, a startup company that helps journalists tell their stories by getting them access to critical news and information that might not be readily available to them. Sqoop gets the information directly from businesses and experts themselves.
Sqoop lends its services to nearly every newsroom in the country, despite having only been on the market for less than three and a half years. They’re used by the likes of the New York Times, The Seattle Times, CNN and many others.
In June of 2016, Bill had the opportunity to travel to Vienna, Austria to present Sqoop to a conference of 1,400 editors from around the world at the Global Editors Network Summit.
Although the company has seen great success, it wasn’t always easy getting to that point. “It was tumultuous getting the company started,” said Bill, but he believes that the gratitude they get from the reporters who use their services has made the job worthwhile.
When the Hankes aren’t consumed by the day-to-day commitments of their busy lives, they enjoy barbecuing in their backyard or visiting with friends.
Bill and Danny are also both involved in Mercer Island’s Boy Scout troop 647. Danny is the Senior Patrol Leader and is just four merit badges shy of becoming an Eagle Scout. Last summer, the two of them went on a 70-mile excursion at the legendary Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.
“We love Mercer Island because it’s kind of like being in the country,” said Bill. “There’s so few people that it’s hard to not run into someone you know. It’s a tight-knit community.”