We're thrilled to share some news: We've recently hired Bo Wright as our new Development Director.  Bo's work will focus on growing Strong Towns' donor base — identifying partners who will make strategic investments in growing our movement for change.

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Previously, Bo was a research analyst at Calvin Edwards & Company, where he provided consulting services to support the giving decisions of major donors. Prior to that he was a research fellow at the Georgia Center for Opportunity, a state-based public policy think-tank dedicated to increasing opportunity and improving the quality of life for all Georgians. In 2013, Bo was a fellow at the John Jay Institute.

Bo has been a Strong Towns reader for several years and is looking forward to being more involved in the movement as a staff member. He says:

Like many Strong Towns members, there are several different streams of interest that draw me to the movement. First is my desire to see thriving communities that allow all members the opportunity to prosper in every way. This began for me with a very abstract appreciation for the importance of “civil society,” but through Strong Towns and day-to-day life in my town, I’ve developed a genuine appreciation for the messy yet beautiful reality of life in community. I am also interested in the question of why we seem incapable of building the sorts of places we love and admire today—the walkable communities with beautiful architecture and civic spaces—especially given that we are far wealthier than the people who built those places. This isn’t the problem that Strong Towns is trying to solve, but it’s related, and I don’t think we will be capable of building great places until we begin to focus on making Strong Towns. 

This gets at one of the things I really like about the Strong Towns movement: While I and many others come to the Strong Towns movement from a love for “walkable urbanism” and strong local communities, Chuck Marohn (founder of Strong Towns) bases this movement on the financial productivity and resilience of towns and cities. I’m not a reflexive number crunching guy, but Chuck has taught me to appreciate the need for that in order to create thriving and beautiful communities."

Bo currently lives in a small town in Georgia with his wife, Dannie, although they recently sold their home and are relocating to the Rust Belt. Read more about that decision.

"Strong Towns has a unique business model for a non-profit organization," says Chuck Marohn, founder and president of Strong Towns. "It is very important to us that our revenue streams keep us mission-focused. In the past, we've not pursued relationships with foundations and major donors because, even though it would have been nice to have that financial backing, we didn't want it to distract from our focus on building a movement. Having the broad support of thousands of people each giving us modest amounts has given us a stable base of support consistent with our values. Our model of change is built around our members."

"As we enter our tenth year as an organization, we recognize opportunities now available to us to reach more people and accelerate the growth of our movement," says Marohn. "Strategically, we are looking for foundations and major donors willing to provide what we call Social Venture Capital to help us act on those opportunities. I'm excited about Bo's ability to identify and help us build relationships with people who believe in our mission, are inspired by our success thus far and have the capacity to help us accelerate change."

Bo is excited too. One of the things he enjoys most about working at Strong Towns is meeting the people who are involved in this movement. "In the midst of all that our nation is going through, it has been so refreshing to meet people on different sides of the political spectrum (and many who are outside of that spectrum) who are working to make their towns and cities stronger," says Bo. "I’ve met folks who left well-paying jobs to move back to their struggling hometowns in order to make it better, I’ve met millionaires who walk around picking up trash in their community, and I’ve met so many people who put in a lot of work behind the scenes to make their places better and stronger. The Strong Towns movement continues to blow me away."

We're so glad Bo has joined our staff and we hope you'll say hi to him if you see him at an event or in our online communities.  You can get in touch with Bo via email or on Slack (@bwright).