Driven by a desire to give back to the community that has supported his family since the founding of Seattle Fish Co. in 1918, James Iacino stands behind his company’s vision of sustainably feeding people and communities. As a third-generation business owner, Iacino worked his way through the company, learning not only the family business, but also living and breathing the collaborative culture of Seattle Fish Co.

“We have an incredible company that has been here for 99 years,” Iacino said. “This community has been so supportive that we want to continue to give back and support its growth.”

He walks his talk by volunteering countless hours to multiple local causes, including serving as a board member for Cooking Matters Colorado | Share Our Strength, a program educating low-income families about nutrition and healthy cooking to encourage sustainable, healthy living. Iacino saw an opportunity with the organization’s annual Chefs Up Front fundraiser, enlisting the help of his peers and the Colorado cooking community to elevate the event and far exceed fundraising and awareness goals. He is also dedicated to the Colorado Children’s Chorale and ACE Scholarships, which both allow him to channel his passion for providing access to quality and diverse education.

Iacino has also developed a culture of giving within his company. Each year, he and company leadership set a significant budget for charitable giving to support organizations in line with the company’s vision and causes near and dear to the hearts of their employees.

Under Iacino, Seattle Fish Co. has experienced unprecedented growth over the last five years, making it the largest seafood distribution operation in the region. As Iacino plans for the future, sustainable and organic growth is always on his mind, as is the long-term impact his company and its product can have on the planet.

“James is a visionary. He’s really good at looking at an organization, figuring out what it could be and helping to devise a plan to get there,” said Derek Figueroa, COO of Seattle Fish Co. “Giving back to the community is part of who James is, and more importantly, he has ingrained that spirit of philanthropy into our business as a whole.”

Iacino has extended his passion for community beyond Denver as a founder of the Green and Gold Foundation, which offers scholarships for students to attend Colorado State University. In this role, he inspires other CSU alumni to come together and contribute smaller sums to create a larger impact for the next generation of leaders.

“I love seeing people get inspired,” he said. “I love taking their passions and putting them to work to better the community because there’s a great energy around that and everybody gets involved and ultimately, we’re having a better, sustainable, positive impact.”

Meet the other two oustanding 9NEWS Leader of the Year finalists.

James Iacino in a SNAPSHOT 

Quote: “Fish is the future.”

Biggest Hope for Denver: “I love that Colorado has a vibrant economy of educated, engaged and passionate citizens. It is my hope that we continue to lead and invest in education to help ‘feed’ the next generation of leaders.”

Significant Accomplishments

  • Has doubled the growth of Seattle Fish Co. in the past five years
  • Oversees the largest seafood distribution operation in the region, including two distribution centers in Denver and Kansas City, a team that operates 24/7 to supply more than 15 million pounds of seafood annually throughout the Rocky Mountain region
  • Raised over $1 million over the last eight years through the Chefs Up Front Gala to support Cooking Matters Colorado | Share Our Strength
  • A founder of the Green and Gold Foundation, providing over $80,000 in scholarships in 2016 alone for students to attend Colorado State University

Awards, Accolades and Community Investment

  • Denver Business Journal 40 Under 40 honoree (2017)
  • EY Entrepreneur of The Year 2016 recipient (2016)
  • Green & Gold Foundation (2015 – Present) Founder & chairman
  • ACE Scholarships (2013 – Present) Board of advisors, executive committee member
  • Colorado Children’s Choral (2013 – Present) Vice president, board of trustees
  • Cooking Matters Colorado | Share Our Strength (2009 – Present) Chair of No Kid Hungry Colorado Leadership Council