Today I'm very excited to announce that Jason Schaefer of Grand Forks, North Dakota, is now a colleague of mine at Strong Towns. Jason is filling the role of Member Support Specialist, a new position we have created to serve and support our members. He started last week so I know that some of you have already heard from him.

After an application and interview process that started with over 150 candidates, it became pretty easy to identify Jason as our top choice for the position. He's been a member since 2014 and attended our National Gathering last year, which is where we first met. He was a big part of bringing me to Grand Forks this year, a trip that I particularly enjoyed.

There was a point on that trip, after the main festivities were concluded, when we were walking around downtown Grand Forks. Jason is a volunteer on the Downtown Development Association and pretty active in the organization. He wanted to show me an alley with some potential and, as we walked it, he shared his vision for what it could be. I have to admit being a touch skeptical at first, but then, as he spoke, I could start to see it. Apparently others also bought into the vision because last month a team from Grand Forks did this:

Alley Alive in downtown Grand Forks.  Photo credit: John Campbell and Ad Monkeys

Alley Alive in downtown Grand Forks.  Photo credit: John Campbell and Ad Monkeys

Jason is a graduate of the University of North Dakota with a degree in Environmental Studies. His career path includes a number of years in the energy business, a booming industry in that part of the country. Despite the success, at the end of last year, partly inspired by Strong Towns, he left his job and dedicated himself to forging a career in urbanism, cities and building community. He told me that this is where his passions are, something I had no trouble believing after getting to know him.

In addition to serving as a director on the Downtown Development Association, Jason is also a board member of the North Dakota of the US Green Building Council. He commutes by bike, loves to camp and isn't afraid of the cold weather. Most importantly, he's a kind, personable guy who is passionate about the Strong Towns mission.

If you're a member of Strong Towns, expect to hear from Jason soon. We spent some time together last week and are both really excited about what we can do to work with our members. A lot of this is easy stuff -- for example: member meetups where we will be speaking is an obvious one -- that we have just not had the capacity to pull off until now. 

This organizational shift in focus is really important to me as well as our board of directors. You are supporting us and we're committed to doing everything we can to fulfill your expectations, share our message and help you share it with others. We are serious about doing what needs to be done to change the conversation in this country, to make Strong Towns thinking the default approach for our cities, towns and neighborhoods. Expect another announcement in the coming weeks as we continue to enhance our capacity. This is an exciting time to be part of the Strong Towns movement.

Please take a moment to welcome Jason to the team. You can connect with him at any of the following:

jason@strongtowns.org | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | 844-218-1681