Today I'm very excited to announce that Rachel Quednau of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is now a colleague of mine at Strong Towns. Rachel is filling the role of Communications Specialist, a new position we have created to help us spread our message. She started this week and, if you've been following the blog, you've already seen her work.

Of course, for long time readers, Rachel is not going to be new. She's been writing for us all year providing some of the highest quality material we've released here. I'm thrilled that she's going to be devoting her energies to the Strong Towns movement on a full time basis.

I met Rachel last year at our National Gathering. Gracen Johnson made a point to mention her to me as someone I should get to know. She said Rachel was doing great work. A Gracen endorsement is the gold standard for me and I've followed Rachel with interest ever since.

Rachel is from Minnesota (bonus: she's a Twins fan) but has experienced life in a number of cities around the country including New York, Washington DC and Walla Walla. In the latter, she received a Bachelor's degree in religion from Whitman College. Since religious studies is a passion of mine (as are the Minnesota Twins), that piqued my interest and we've chatted a couple times about it. I'm looking forward to more of those conversations.

The thing that really stood out about Rachel was her passion for the Strong Towns movement. Not only has she been a long time member, she has volunteered her time, shared our message on her blog The City Space and offered her thoughts and suggestions long before she became a candidate for this position.

Her work doing communications for non-profits, local governments and at the federal level gives her some strong experience. We had some amazing candidates for this position -- it was actually overwhelming and humbling the quality of the people who applied -- yet Rachel clearly stood out from the rest.

And besides being competent and well-qualified, Rachel is a very nice person. You are going to enjoy getting to know her here and, for our members, at events we do around the country.

The staff changes we've made the past two months are important for the future of this movement. Adding Rachel and, earlier this month, Jason Schaefer to the team positions us for another big step forward. Our message is so powerful. We find time and again that when we get it in front of people, it makes a difference and we start to see change happen. Rachel and Jason are going to help us get that message out there in front of more people.

And so are you. Thanks for doing your part, especially our members who have been so supportive. We're 750 strong in a movement that is growing rapidly to 1,000 by the end of the year. Keep doing what you can to keep the momentum going.