Seattle Culture

Celebrating Seattle

Honoring the driving forces creating change in our community

By Jonathan Sposato January 8, 2024

Photograph of Jonathan Sposato, owner and publisher of Seattle and Seattle Business magazines

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

Seattle magazine has consistently posited that “what happens in Seattle impacts the rest of the world.” This issue’s cover subject is one such example of the outsized influence Seattle’s thought leaders can have on our culture and shared history.

Author Daniel James Brown was someone whom I fondly remember knowing while at Microsoft during the pre-internet era. He was a quiet and contemplative thinker with a reputation for humility and hard work, and such is the very ethos that has come to define how we see ourselves in the Pacific Northwest. When very few tech retirees could reboot to wholly non-tech careers, Daniel thrived as an author of multiple best sellers.

His most famous book, Boys in the Boat, now a major motion picture directed by George Clooney, offers us an opportunity to both feel very “Seattle proud,” and a moment to reflect on the myriad of ways we are interconnected. The wide footprint and impact of the University of Washington (now the No. 3 public university in the country, according to the 2023 Academic Ranking of World Universities), the pivotal role of scholarship and access in higher ed, the sustained eminence of our region’s sports heroes, and the connection between the Pacific Northwest and Hollywood are all represented by Daniel’s journey, and are the reasons why he is the right cover subject for this issue.

And what would be the fun of putting someone like Daniel on the cover if we didn’t also invite world class photographer Alex Caley into the fold? One of our key editorial values at Seattle magazine is to always ask different and unexpected questions, ones that insist on us seeing our subjects differently. Creative Director Matt Berman and Photo Editor Jennifer Miller lent their expert eye, and collaborated with Caley to bring an isolated and stark focus on dignity, invoking the photography of famous Life magazine covers of Hemingway, Bogart, and Einstein made famous by Yousuf Karsh.

“What happens in Seattle impacts the rest of the world.”

It doesn’t stop with Daniel. Throughout this issue of “Seattle’s Most Influential” are world famous philanthropists like Melinda Gates, who offers us her thoughtful ideas in an exclusive conversation with us about what matters most to her, and how to break through the barriers of gender equity in government. We highlight the work of fi ve incredible Asian American women, all storytellers giving voice to their community amidst continued violence. Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe show us new forms of leadership as both ascend fiercely in their public roles uplifting women.

Across the arts, sports, health care, hospitality, fashion, and education, we are proud to amplify the efforts of so many who are truly changing the world for the better, while asserting and reasserting Seattle’s importance. Many are not famous in a conventional sense, but all will inspire you. In the words of rower Joe Rantz, as recounted in Boys in the Boat:

“If you simply kept your eyes open, it seemed, you just might find something valuable in the most unlikely of places. The trick was to recognize a good thing when you saw it, no matter how odd or worthless it might at fi rst appear, no matter who else might just walk away and leave it behind.”

Listen to Episode 1 and Episode 2 of our conversation with Daniel James Brown.

About the Publisher’s Note Column

Publisher's Note is Seattle magazine owner Jonathan Sposato's highly subjective perspective on the issues that confront our community the most.  Jonathan's mission with the publication is to focus our attention on solutions, and to change the conversation in Seattle to an always hopeful, positive, and productive place.

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