Organization Staff

The Urbanist is led by nearly a dozen core volunteer staff and supported by a large team of other members responsible for community engagement, endorsements, and local advocacy. If you’re interested in sharing your skills (e.g., event planning and writing), let us know by sending us a message through our contact form. Please note that all views expressed by writers and members of The Urbanist staff team are their own and not that of their employers or other organizations.

Executive Board


Owen Pickford, Executive Director

Owen Pickford does servicing and consulting for a software company to pay the bills. He spends the majority of his free time learning and writing about urban policy. Owen started grassroots advocacy in 2004, organizing over 400 volunteers in three counties for a presidential campaign. Since then he’s continued volunteering for political organizations, cycling and transit groups. Owen primarily follows and writes about housing issues. Follow him on Twitter @pickovven or send him an email at owen [at] theurbanist [dot] org.

Anna Minard, Boardmember

Anna Minard is a freelance writer and copy editor and former City Hall reporter for The Stranger and 
author of the music column Never Heard of ‘Em. She’s also worked as a digital organizer at progressive nonprofits and spent six years as a bookseller. Her writing has appeared in The Stranger, The Seattle Review of Books, Crosscut, and Prairie Dog magazine in Canada. Follow her on Twitter @minardanna.                                                                                                                 

Patrick Taylor headshot

Patrick Taylor, Education and Programming Director

Patrick Taylor grew up across the Puget Sound from Seattle and use to skip school to come hang out in the city. He is an designer at a small architecture firm with a strong focus on urban infill housing. He is passionate about design, housing affordability, biking, and what makes cities so magical. He works to advocate for abundant and diverse housing options and for a city that is a joy for people on bikes and foot. He lives in the Othello neighborhood with his fiancé and kitty. Follow him on Twitter @pwalchtaylor.

Doug Trumm, Publication Director

Doug Trumm joined the exodus to Seattle in 2014, leaving behind his home state of Minnesota. Volunteering with the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition and serving as an alternate on his local neighborhood association ignited his interest in urbanism. Reading urban planning greats like Jane Jacobs stoked that fledgling fire to an inferno. He lives in the borderlands between Wallingford and Fremont and is a newly minted Master of Public Administration and graduate of the Evans School at UW. His kitty Ole is the best darn cat in town. Follow him on Twitter @dmtrumm or send him an email at doug [at] theurbanist [dot] org.

Organization Staff

Natalie Bicknell, Senior Reporter

Natalie Bicknell is a writer and community college instructor who lives in the Central District with her husband and two adorably pugnacious Chihuahuas. In her research and writing, she is always on the lookout for better ways of creating sustainable, diverse, and vibrant cities. Email her at natalie [at] theurbanist [dot] org.                                                               

Aleksandra Culver, Webmaster

Aleksandra (Aleks) Culver is a software engineer who moonlights as a writer and copy editor. Aleks’s love of cities started as a child, when she would ride the commuter rail into Boston with her family for day trips. Her mission is to share that love with the world, by ensuring that our cities have a place for everyone. Aleks primarily writes about transportation and land use. She is also the webmaster. Follow her on Twitter @schala09.

Stephen Fesler, Senior Reporter

Stephen Fesler is an urban planner with a passion for promoting sustainable, livable, and diverse cities. He advocates for smart policies, regulations, and implementation programs that enhance urban environments by committing to quality design, accommodating growth, providing a diversity of housing choices, and adequately providing public services. Stephen primarily writes about land use and transportation issues. He previously served as Publication Director and boardmember of The Urbanist from February 2014 through August 2017. Send him an email at stephen [at] theurbanist [dot] org.

Ryan Packer, Senior Editor

Ryan Packer lives in the Summit Slope neighborhood of Capitol Hill. He is on the board of the Friends of Pike Place Market, and writes about transportation issues at Capitol Hill Seattle. He believes in using Seattle’s history to attain the vibrant, diverse city that we wish to inhabit. Follow him on Twitter @typewriteralley or send him an email at ryan [at] theurbanist [dot] org.

Alexander Wheeler, Operations and Development Manager

Alex grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska and for 20 years knew only wide open spaces, suburban sprawl, and the necessity of owning an automobile. With only two suitcases and a college diploma he moved to Tokyo, Japan to teach English for three years. While abroad, he rode his first train and fell in love with the joys, excitement, and challenges of living in a city. He worked as Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, before moving to Seattle. He lives in Capitol Hill. Follow him on Twitter @alexw_wheeler or send him an email at alex [at] theurbanist [dot] org.

Syndicated Contributors

Mike Eliason, Syndicated Contributor

Mike Eliason is a certified passivhaus designer, energy geek, and design nerd with an almost fetishistic interest in prefab wood buildings, low-energy architecture, social housing, and all things German. He has lived in Fremont for nearly a decade, and wants Seattle to become a greater version of Freiburg so his wife doesn’t force him to return to live in Vauban. He’s also begun the process of forming a baugruppe. Follow him on Twitter @bruteforceblog.

Troy Heerwagen, Syndicated Contributor

Troy Heerwagen is the producer of Seattle’s pro-pedestrian blog, Walking in Seattle. He’s a native Texan who moved to Seattle several years ago to enjoy the wonderful combination of urbanity and nature in the region. He wrote a book to help others looking to find the right place for them, called Move to the Place of Your Dreams: A Relocation Handbook. He loves cities and walking, hiking, and biking. By day, he is a professional consultant for a technology firm. Follow him on Twitter @WalkingSeattle.

Nathan Vass

Nathan Vass, Syndicated Contributor

Nathan Vass is a Seattle­-based photographer and film director with over twenty shows and eight films under his belt. In addition, he holds a side job as a Metro bus driver, which he enjoys almost as much as his film work–if not slightly more so! He is a two-time winner of Metro’s Operator of the Month award and holds a record number of commendations. His blog, The View From Nathan’s Bus, which has been featured on Slog, the Stranger’s news and arts blog, KPLU, and The Seattle Times, details his adventures on the road.

Community Advocates

AJ McGauley, Eastside Correspondent

AJ McGauley is a recent arrival to the Seattle area, settling down in East King with his lovely wife. He’s also a recent arrival to urban design, discovering the wonky side of urbanism after reading The Urbanist. Having lived in nine very different cities in the six years prior to moving to Washington, his interest is in why cities grow (or don’t grow) in different ways.

Chris Priest, Neighborhood Advocate

Chris Priest is a writer and community advocate who lives in northeast Seattle. Chris is a founding member of Safe 35th–a community-based group focused on bringing planned, designed and agreed upon safety improvements to 35th Ave NE in the Wedgwood, Ravenna and Bryant neighborhoods. He is a frequent cyclist, runner, transit rider and walker who believes safe, inclusive modes of transportation is the way of the future.

Former Staff/Advocates

Kelsey Mesher, former Boardmember

Kelsey Mesher grew up in the Seattle area and nurtured her love for cities (and walking, biking and transit) while living in the urban jungle of Chicago. Grounded in theories of public health and cultural anthropology, she sees urban policy and planning as a means to building healthier, more socially connected communities and puts this into practice daily as an active transportation advocate. She currently is Advocacy Director at Transportation Choices Coalition. Kelsey lives in Columbia City, less than a mile from her childhood home, with her husband, dog, and many bicycles.

Alex Hudson, former Boardmember

Alex Hudson is an advocate for people-centered planning and urban design who works at the neighborhood scale to build a city based on equity, vibrancy, innovation, and cultivation of place attachment. Alex was previously the Executive Director of the First Hill Improvement Association, and sits on the board of the Freeway Park Association and the Community Involvement Commission–her opinions on The Urbanist are her own. She lives in First Hill with her cat, houseplants, and overflowing library of books about urban planning, design, and placemaking. Follow her on Twitter @Ersilians. Alex is currently the Executive Director for Transportation Choices Coalition.

Scott Bonjukian, former Education and Programming Director

Scott Bonjukian is a car-free urban designer with a passionate interest in sustainable and efficient cities. With degrees in architecture and urban planning, his many interests include neighborhood design, public space and street design, transit systems, pedestrian and bicycle planning, local politics, and natural resource protection. He primarily cross-posts from his blog at The Northwest Urbanist and advocates for a variety of progressive land use and transportation solutions. Follow him on Twitter @nwurbanist. He has turned his focus to Lid I-5 efforts.

Ben Crowther, former Policy and Legislative Affairs Director

Ben Crowther is a Seattle area native, living with his husband downtown since 2013. He started in queer grassroots organizing in 2009 and quickly developed a love for all things political and wonky. When he’s not reading news articles, he can be found excitedly pointing out new buses or prime plots for redevelopment to his uninterested friends who really just want to get to dinner. Ben primarily writes about political issues. Follow him on Twitter @BenCrowther.

Gordon Werner, former Neighborhood Advocate

Gordon Werner is a native New Yorker who wisely chose to leave the Northeast in the early 1990s. A past resident of Belltown, and Queen Anne, he currently calls First Hill home. He is a board member of the First Hill Improvement Association (FHIA) as well as the FHIA Transportation Committee Chair and is constantly looking for ways to improve transportation up the hill. Follow him on Twitter @GordonWerner.

Caelen Ball, former Neighborhood Advocate

Caelen Ball is a third generation son of Ballard. When he was in high school, his parents moved the family out to beautiful Bainbridge Island where he found himself missing urban life–homesickness for Seattle continued on into his college pursuits. Classically trained in structural engineering with an emphasis in earthquake design, he loves steel, glass, and concrete. He primarily writes about Ballard land use (hopefully home to future TOD) and Sound Transit packages, both emphasizing long-range planning.

Charles Bond, former Neighborhood Advocate

Charles Bond is an avid cyclist that uses his bike as his primary mode of transportation. He grew up in the Puget Sound, but previously spent time overseas living in Japan. He covers a range of topics like cycling, transit, and land use. His time in Tokyo really opened his eyes to what urbanism offers people and has a strong desire to see growth happen in Seattle. He now lives in Japan. Follow him on Twitter @Charles_B_STB.

Sarah Oberklaid, former Creative and Designer

Sarah Oberklaid is an urban planner and artist from Melbourne, Australia, and for a long time called Seattle “home.” She has contributed to diverse long-term projects addressing housing, transportation, community facilities, heritage and public spaces with extensive consultation with communities and other stakeholders. Her articles for The Urbanist focus on her passion for the design of sustainable, inviting and inclusive places, drawing on her research and experiences around the world. Follow her on Twitter @drawntocities.

Guy de Gouville, former Staff Writer

Guy Gouville joined The Urbanist in 2014 and served as a Staff Writer until Summer 2015. While now back in metropolitan Paris, he came to us by way of his time living in Bellevue. Growing up in the Paris metropole, he fell in love with and learned from some of the best rail systems in Europe. Translating his experiences from abroad to Seattle, Guy was passionate about improving this region’s public transit (especially marine-based transportation) and cycling infrastructure. He enjoys photography and music, and one day hopes to be an urban planner.

Elections Board

The Urbanist Elections Board is a standing committee that conducts candidate interviews and weighs in on candidates and measures. You can read our archive of past endorsements and interviews.