It's with great excitement that we officially welcome two new staff members to the Strong Towns team: Kea Wilson and Max Azzarello. Kea and Max rose to the top during a competitive application process in late 2016 and we're so glad they are joining us now. Kea and Max will play a key role in working with our members, growing our movement and planning for the future of Strong Towns.

Kea Wilson - Director of Community Engagement

Kea stood out to Strong Towns' staff and board throughout the application process for her passion, writing skills and warm personality. When Chuck and I interviewed her, I was immediately struck by how quickly she clicked with us. She seemed like an ideal person to work with our members.

In her application, Kea wrote: 

I don’t have a degree in urban planning or any of the technical skills of an engineer. My engagement with the issues in the Strong Towns mission has been exclusively through sites like Strong Towns, and books and blogs and podcasts that have made me a serious armchair enthusiast. But I don’t overstate myself when I say that your work inspires and excites me deeply, that it accords directly with the things I’ve always been most passionate about in my life as a citizen... This is a dream job for me.

Kea's unique background and passion for Strong Towns' mission makes her very well-suited to this position where she'll be working with our members from across the continent and helping to bring new members to Strong Towns. 

Kea currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri, but she's lived everywhere from Santa Fe, New Mexico to coastal Maryland to far northern Michigan. She became passionate about the question of what it means to build a better world when she was in college, where she volunteered at a co-op bike collective and studied (most of) the great works of western civilization, roughly in chronological order. She's worked in community outreach and development for six years, most recently at a small independent bookstore where she coordinated a not-so-small author events series. She's also an avid (if somewhat slow) cyclist, an armchair economics nerd, and a novelist. 

When asked what she's most excited about in this new position, Kea responded, "Strong Towns is a movement for everyone, precisely because we believe that not everyone needs the same things--and that we can still advocate fiercely for the things we need without leaning on dogmatic, one-size-fits-all solutions. I can't wait to help Strong Towns members dig deep and ask meaningful questions about how they can apply Strong Towns principles in their communities, and find solutions that are as unique as those communities are."

You can get in touch with Kea at kea@strongtowns.org or via Facebook or Twitter.

Max Azzarello - Growth Manager

The thing that stood out most to me in Max's interview was that he expressed a genuine love for solving complex problems and trouble-shooting database issues. I don't think I've met anyone who seemed so passionate about something that gives most people a headache.  His past experience on political campaigns  also struck me as an asset for Strong Towns; it suggests the ability to meet challenging deadlines, work hard and bring home results.

When asked why he was interested in working for Strong Towns, Max said: 

I first became interested in urban planning thanks to my love for my childhood town: a charming, friendly, eclectic community in Long Island, New York. On top of all the reasoned and thoughtful discussion that Strong Towns brings to urban planning, it was the clear appreciation for our communities and their potential that drew me to the organization.

Max will be assisting Strong Towns with database management, social media growth and analytics, with the goal of helping Strong Towns bring in new audiences and build a strong technical foundation for the future of the movement. Max says he's excited for the challenges of this new position: "It may not be apparent from the outside, but Strong Towns has some remarkable tools to help a small organization continually do so much. I’m an avid puzzler, so I especially look forward to the fun challenges that come with helping Strong Towns continue to grow."

Max has studied anthropology, public policy and urban planning. His work is as diverse as his residence, from energy management in New York to electoral politics in Sacramento to social justice in Los Angeles. You can currently find him riding his prized Yamaha scooter up and down the beach in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. Max's passions include chess, creative writing, and Medieval Scandinavian poetry. He considers Microsoft Paint to be the most underrated software of all time.  He's also going to star in upcoming documentary where he hopes to set high scores on 48 classic arcade games in a two-day marathon session. 

You can get in touch with Max at max@strongtowns.org.

Please give a warm welcome to these new members of the Strong Towns team. We're excited to have them working with here.

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Yuri Artibise served as Strong Towns' Community Builder in 2016. His contract concluded at the end of the year and we deeply appreciate the work he put into growing our movement over the last twelve months.