My wife Danielle and I moved to Seattle in 2012. My oldest brother is a professor at the University of Washington, and our visits out here first came once a year, then twice, then three or four times, until we couldn’t understand why on earth we shouldn’t live here full-time. We got our chance when I found an opening as director of communications for the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at UW, and Danielle, who had already started a position with Microsoft, was able to shift her role to Seattle.
We immediately felt an incredible connection with the city. It has a special energy and magnetism, and even the most brutal commute can surprise and lift you with a view of the Olympics, or a glimpse of Mount Rainier above the container cranes. Before coming here, we’d lived in a number of cities all over the country, and Seattle is the first place that has truly felt like home to us. We didn’t settle completely, though, until we bought our first house in Delridge this past fall, and we feel so excited and energized to be part of West Seattle’s vibrant community.
My background is in community journalism, writing and communications, and I’ve always enjoyed interviewing people and learning about their stories. I love hearing them talk about their passions and interests, their nuances of perspective and understanding, and realizing how much we can always learn from each other. My first job out of college, in fact, was as the editor of a tiny weekly newspaper, The Pioneer Review, in the ranching community of Philip, S.D. It was a town of about 850 people, and I covered pretty much everything, from school board and county commissioner meetings, to a cover feature about the town cat, to football games, cattle sales and the prom. I even got to coach junior high boys’ basketball and high school cross country, and the best part for me was getting to meet nearly everyone in town by the end of the year—and getting to share in part of their story. That was more than 12 years ago, and I’ve never forgotten the joy of being so connected to a community.
After my time in Philip, I spent more than five years with Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, where I got to promote trail projects and work with passionate local advocates across the country. Rail-trails are one of the most creative recycling projects. They repurpose former rail lines and generate a wealth of economic and recreational opportunities—all while preserving public access to thousands of miles of outdoors pathways. It was so rewarding to be part of such a wonderful mission, and to have a hand in building a legacy for countless others to enjoy.
I feel a similar rush and inspiration at the University of Washington, where I work as the director of communications for the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. We are a global leader in sustainability sciences, and my job is to support a wide range of faculty and student research, ranging from wildlife conservation (wolf reintroduction, wolverines and pikas affected by climate change, etc.), to landscape ecology and other broad-scale impacts of climate change, to biofuel production in Washington, to sustainable forest management and stewardship, to environmental restoration and horticulture, to urban forestry, to eco-psychology and so much more.
Through all of this work, though, I still find myself eager to be even more plugged in and involved—to be a bigger part of the leadership that’s working to shape and guide our future. That’s what makes the possibility of serving on the Seattle City Council so exciting. It truly gives me a giddy, nervous feeling and a knotted stomach—and it should, because there are so many people we have a chance to touch and help, and so many ways we can continue to make Seattle such an incredible city and place to live.
Until then, I’ll keep doing a job I love during the day, and in the off hours of morning, evening and the weekends, I’ll do all I can to win your trust and support in this election. I sure hope I get a chance to meet you in the next couple months, and then—if I’m lucky—the chance to represent our community for the next four years!