A little over a year ago, I was meeting a group at a cafe in Vancouver, BC. I walked in and a guy stuck out his hand and said, "I'm Yuri Artibise."

"Yes...yes you are," I said, somewhat surprised. You see, for quite a while Yuri Artibise was a twitter handle to me, albeit an omnipresent one. We'd gone back and forth sharing things of mutual interest for a long time, to the point where I'd lost connection with the notion that there was a real person behind the handle. Watching Yuri work online taught me a ton about how to frame and share our message. I was a fan and it was really cool to finally meet him. And he's a great guy in person too so: bonus.

Part of the humbling experience of having over 150 people apply for our two open positions last summer was having the name Yuri Artibise show up as one of them. I was, again, quite stunned and just plain giddy at the notion of having someone of his talent level on board to help us out.

As it was, I knew our two positions were actually three -- two immediately and one very soon -- and so, after talking to Yuri and discussing possibilities, we both realized that it made the most sense to wait until 2016 for him to join the team. We've all been excited here and, after making a quick run up to Vancouver last week to finalize the details, I'm really happy to let everyone know that Yuri Artibise has joined Strong Towns as our Community Builder.

Yuri is a community engagement and digital communications specialist with a passion for urban planning, public participation and social media. He has a Master of Public Administration degree and has over 15 years of public policy research, analysis, advocacy, and communications experience. Previously, he served as the Director of Community Engagement at PlaceSpeak, Policy Advisor for the Assembly of First Nations, and Program Manager for Re-Imagine Downtown Vancouver, to name a few roles.

He is also the Executive Director of the Vancouver City Planning Commission, an associate editor of Spacing Vancouver and an elected director of the Co-operative Housing Federation of British Columbia. When he isn't building community online, Yuri can be found training for his next marathon.

Please give him a warm welcome. You can contact him through any of the following channels:

TWITTER | FACEBOOK | LINKEDIN | WEBSITE | EMAIL