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Board of Directors

Ruth Lipscomb


Ruth is a retired software engineer, investor, and philanthropist. She lives in Bellevue, volunteers with progressive nonprofit organizations, and fosters kittens. In 2021, she ran for Bellevue City Council against an incumbent Republican. Alas, Bellevue stuck with the Republican, but her campaign opened her eyes to the dearth of in-depth media coverage on the Eastside and inspired her to get more involved with The Urbanist and join the board. The Urbanist is one of the few organizations reporting on the happenings at Bellevue City Hall.

Patrick Taylor

Vice President

Patrick grew up across the Puget Sound from Seattle and used to skip school to come hang out in the city. He is a 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 has served on The Urbanist board since 2018 as education and programming director. He took over as board chair in April 2022. He is currently co-chair of the AIA Housing Task Force, a member of the Othello Station Community Action Team, and a past two term member of the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board, serving most of that time as a co-chair and its representative on the Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee. He lives in the Othello neighborhood of Seattle with his wife, child, and kitty. 

Shaun Kuo


Shaun is a recent graduate from the University of Washington Tacoma’s Master of Arts in Community Planning. He is an urban planner and a Seattle native who has lived in Wallingford, Northgate, and Lake Forest Park. He enjoys exploring the city by bus and foot. He joined the board as treasurer in 2020. Shaun also serves as an editor and writes about energy policy, development, and parks.

Jesse Swingle


Jesse Swingle is a marketing professional with experience at nonprofits who currently works in the cannabis industry. He is the current board vice president for FIUTS, a non-profit organization founded at UW focused on promoting international understanding and community, and a past board member for the Seattle Opera. He’s a long-time reader of The Urbanist who we are excited to welcome to the board. He grew up in Sequim. He attended University of British Columbia for undergrad and recently completed an MBA at Seattle University.

Erin Fried


Erin is deputy director of the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict, a project of Community Roots Housing. She is also a writer, planner, and conflict resolution specialist with expertise in social marketing, community organizing, and peace-building. She has 12 years of experience in research, advocacy, and program management across a range of focus areas, including affordable housing, climate change, disaster recovery, immigration reform, and the arts. She is committed to approaching all issues through the lens of equity, and leads a racial equity workgroup at The Urbanist.

Jesse Simpson


Jesse Simpson is the Government Relations and Policy Manager for the Housing Development Consortium. Jesse grew up in West Seattle, majored in Environmental Studies at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, and has lived in Capitol Hill since 2018. He started out in the housing policy world by volunteering to advocate for more density in urban areas and funding for affordable homes. He spends his free time walking and biking around Seattle, traveling around to other cities, exploring local arts, playing chess, and building community.

Crystal Fincher


Crystal Fincher is the Founder and Principal of Fincher Consulting, a full service political consulting firm. She hosts Hacks & Wonks, a twice weekly radio show discussing the impacts of Washington state politics and policy on local and disenfranchised communities that airs on Seattle’s KVRU 105.7 FM and via podcast. Over the past decade, Crystal has helped local, legislative and statewide candidates and issue campaigns win in Washington, California, Nevada. Fincher Consulting has helped advocacy and political organizations deploy successful strategies to build power, engagement and turnout, particularly in underrepresented areas and among infrequent voters. Crystal served on the City of Kent Land Use and Planning Board as the first African-American and youngest member in its history and on the board of Tabor 100 as the Economic Development Committee Chair. She resides in Kent with her son.

Rubén Casas


Rubén is a scholar and teacher of rhetoric and writing at the University of Washington Tacoma. He is also the faculty lead of the Urban Environmental Justice Initiative at Urban@UW. In his work and advocacy, Rubén examines how cities and the institutions that comprise them imagine, plan, and build in ways that promote and/or discourage community and a sense of place.

Efrain Hudnell


Efrain first came to the Puget Sound region just as the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure was beginning to build momentum in late 2015, igniting a curiosity for transportation in him. Several years later, Efrain joins the Urbanist Board after years of advocacy culminating in him serving as the Executive Director of the Seattle Subway organization and a run for Seattle City Council in 2023. He aims to center communities of color in the urbanist movement so as to undo the harms current transportation policy and land use. He has a Bachelor of Arts from New Mexico State University, a Juris Doctorate from Seattle University, and splits his time between Seattle and Berlin with his fiancée, Nina.

Sarah Mills


Sarah is a Managing Director and head of the ESG practice at Revision Real Estate Partners, a consulting firm focused on the commercial real estate industry. She moved to Seattle in 2013 by way of Atlanta to experience the magic of the PNW. Originally from rural South Georgia, she fell in love with cities on trips in high school to New York and Paris where the buzz of humanity pulled her in. Having worked in commercial real estate, technology, and sustainability, she is passionate about the intersection of the built environment, environmental sustainability, social support, and urban vitality. Sarah is also on the Board of Directors for the Pike Place Market foundation, serving as a member of the finance committee. She lives in Capitol Hill with her husband Derek and Irishdoodle Zuko.

Ben Maritz


Benjamin Maritz is an affordable housing developer based in Seattle. His expertise is in the construction and management of homes affordable to low income residents of the Puget Sound region. Ben has a background in Management Consulting and Finance, having previously worked as an advisor to private and public sector entities on the development and financing of large capital projects. He is passionate about the role of housing in creating permanent solutions to our region’s homelessness crisis. Ben has a BSE and MSE in Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from Stanford University. Ben lives with his wife and four kids in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle.