Features

Most Influential, Media: Michael McPhearson

Taking over the ‘South Seattle Emerald’ at a crucial time

By Danny O’Neil March 10, 2023

Michael McPhearson CQ, executive director of the South Seattle Emerald, is photographed at Daejeon Park in Seattle's Beacon Hill neighborhood Tuesday, June 7, 2022.
Michael McPhearson CQ, executive director of the South Seattle Emerald, is photographed at Daejeon Park in Seattle's Beacon Hill neighborhood Tuesday, June 7, 2022.
Photo by Erika Schultz for The Seattle Times

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

Michael McPhearson is one of Seattle’s 25 most influential people reshaping our region. #mostinfluential  

The South Seattle Emerald  born in 2014, founded in a basement and funded by the savings account of Marcus Harrison Green.

The online publication has come an awful long way since then, growing to fill Green’s ambition of providing a platform to amplify the voices of the city’s most diverse community. There’s so much further it can go, though, which is why Michael McPhearson was hired to be the executive director earlier this year.

“Any influence I have is due to the work that was done before I arrived,” he says. “I just want to make that clear.”

Duly noted. McPhearson came to Seattle from St. Louis in 2019, moving to the Beacon Hill neighborhood to join his wife, who grew up in Ellensburg. An Army veteran who was deployed in the Persian Gulf War, he became an anti-war activist and spent 11 years working with Veterans For Peace as executive director. In Missouri, he was the co-chair of the “Ferguson Don’t Shoot Coalition” following the killing of Michael Brown in 2014.

McPhearson joins the Emerald at a crucial time for the publication, the community and not to get all dramatic, but the country as a whole.

“South Seattle, itself, has an opportunity,” he says, “because it reflects more of where the nation is going.

It is the most diverse community not just in Seattle, but in many ways, the entire region, which means it reflects both the challenges and opportunities to create a more just and equitable future.

“Building a diverse community where we all respect each other and try to lift each other up,” McPhearson says. “We have an opportunity to be an example of what that can look like and how to do it.”

The mission of the  Emerald is to amplify the voices of South Seattle, providing a more accurate and authentic depiction of a community too often underserved by traditional media. It is funded by a combination of individual donors, grants, advertising and sponsorships. Green remains the publisher and serves on its board of directors

#mostinfluential

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