The Urbanist is led by a core staff of four members and supported by a large team of other members responsible for external collaboration, publishing, community engagement, endorsements, and local advocacy. If you’re interested in sharing your skills (e.g., event planning, community engagement, and writing), let us know.
Owen Pickford, Executive Director
Owen 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 3 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 @pickovven or send him an e-mail.
Stephen Fesler, Publication Director
Stephen 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. Follow him @safesler or send him an e-mail.
Ben Crowther, Policy and Legislative Affairs Director
Ben 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 @BenCrowther or send him an e-mail.
Scott Bonjukian, 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 @nwurbanist or send him an e-mail.
Aleksandra Culver, Editor and Webmaster
Aleksandra (Aleks) 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 @schala09.
AJ McGauley, Eastside Staff Writer
AJ 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.
Sarah Oberklaid, Creative and Designer
Sarah 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 @drawntocities.
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 @typewriteralley or send him an e-mail.
Doug Trumm, Senior Editor
Doug Trumm is a senior editor at The Urbanist. He 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. Living on disputed land between Wallingford and Fremont, he is doing his best to improve both neighborhoods. Follow him @dmtrumm or send him an e-mail.
Community Advocates and Syndicated Contributors
Caelen Ball, Neighborhood Advocate
Caelen 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.
Laura Bernstein, Neighborhood Advocate
Laura Anderle Bernstein is an educator, musician, and gardener from Colombia/NY/LA/Chicago who has lived in Seattle for almost seven years. Her work includes a stint as Co-Editor of the UCLA Undergraduate Science Journal, and the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association’s newsletter, The Roosie. She currently volunteers with Sierra Club’s Seattle Group, University District Racial Equity Project, Tent City Collective, U District Renters’ Council and tweets as SEAyimby. Additionally, she was a member of the 2015-2016 cohort of the City of Seattle’s People’s Academy for Community Engagement. She is a renter in the U District. Follow her @yimbySEA.
Charles Bond, Neighborhood Advocate
Charles 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. Follow him @Charles_B_STB.
Nathan Vass, Syndicated Contributor
Nathan 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.
Gordon Werner, Neighborhood Advocate
Gordon 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 @GordonWerner.
Chuck Wolfe, Syndicated Contributor
Chuck is an attorney and educator from Seattle that is well known for his expertise in permitting, land use, and environmental law. He enjoys the unique qualities of urban life and cities, which he passionately shares through photography and writing. He is always inspired by his travels and has a knack for telling reflective and thoughtful stories. From his blog, myurbanist, he publishes his work and contributes to a wide array of publications such as The Atlantic and The Huffington Post. In May 2013, he released his first book, Urbanism Without Effort.
Guy joined The Urbanist in 2014 and served as a Staff Contributor 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.
Ben was a former editor and board member of The Urbanist. In early 2014, he helped found the organization to become a platform for shaping public policy on a wide range of urban issues. He set out to provide a medium to share ideas, educate, and spur people to advocate for positive change. His efforts were integral to connecting people together for common causes and goals. In November 2014, Ben decided to step down from his role in order to focus on his passion for activism.
The Urbanist Elections Board is a standing committee that conducts candidate interviews and weighs in on candidates and measures. Current voting members include: Scott Bonjukian, Kate Burnette, Ben Crowther, Aleksandra Culver, Alex Hudson, Ryan Packer, Owen Pickford, and Doug Trumm. You can read our archive of past endorsements and interviews.