Publisher’s Note: The True Seattle Influencers

Forget social media. These are the real heroes.

By Jonathan Sposato January 30, 2023


This article originally appeared in the January/February 2023 issue of Seattle magazine.

In-flu-ence /ˈinflo͝oəns/.

  1. The power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways.
  2. An emanation of spiritual or moral force.
  3. An ethereal fluid held to flow from the stars and to affect the actions of humans.

With all the attention on “influencers” on social media, I think we’ve lost the true meaning of “influence.” If you look at social media as frequently as I do, it’s hard not to be confused by the abundance of shiny influencers who model a life fabulously lived for all. And, if you are anything like me, you’ll understand that I often wander the house with bed head and coffee stains on my PJs. No one amongst us is perfect, while chaos and entropy maintain the human conditions of struggle, aging and perpetual conflict.

But it is precisely because of human optimism for progress and improvement that inspires us to identify those among us with true influence that makes the world a little easier, happier and better. They take a stand, have a clear point of view, and — to me — they seem to actually walk taller and with more swagger than the rest of us. Seattle magazine has identified this year’s most influential people with highly vigorous criteria:

  • Who are the unsung heroes who did something big this year?
  • Who is working selflessly to find solutions to regional or world problems?
  • Who has been behind some of the year’s biggest news stories? It’s often not who you think.
  • Who excites us? Who stirs our souls with hope, optimism and love of a better future?

Our intrepid “Jedi Council” narrowed the list to the top 25 and we are very proud to offer the most diverse crop of individuals the magazine has ever showcased for our annual “Most Influential” issue. Editor-in-Chief Rob Smith once again delivers with intelligent and nuanced insights from across the community, supported by our broader team’s thoughtful selections. We respectfully debated, persuaded, cajoled, coffeed, Zoomed, muted and unmuted our way to several individuals in several key categories.

And speaking of influence mixed with a dose of fun, it’s high time I bring to sharp focus our magazine’s two secret weapons. Creative Director-at-Large Matt Berman and Photo Editor Jennifer Miller who have had an outsized impact on us since the very beginning of our reboot.

Photo Editor, Jennifer Miller and Creative Director, Matt Berman. Photo taken while working for George magazine.

Matt most famously designed the iconic George magazine, partnering with his late friend John F. Kennedy Jr. to deliver a most sexy and provocative take on D.C. politics. After equally influential stints at Elle, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan France, Galerie magazine and Bergdorf Goodman’s luxury department store, Matt joins us in Washington to help change our regional conversation. I know of no one more effortlessly creative.

Whip-smart Photo Editor Jen Miller hails from New York Magazine, Jane magazine, Conde Nast Traveler and Magnum Photos after an overlapping stint with Matt at George. I love working with these two. They up our game, and I am delighted by the opportunity to embarrass them — just a little — with this photo of them from those good old days. Enjoy, read on and Happy New Year!

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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