The Most Influential Seattleites of 2017

The activists, artists, officials and neighbors making Seattle a better place.

By Virginia Smyth


November 1, 2017

This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Seattle Magazine.

It seems that for every action in this turbulent year, there has been an equal and opposite reaction. From social media campaigns to peaceful marches to lunchroom heroes swooping in to save the day, this was a year of taking a stand. Our Most Influential People of 2017 inspire us with their positive leadership and solution-oriented efforts to solve some of our city’s most daunting challenges.

This year—when our nation is more divided than ever—we’ve sought out people who are using their influence to affect positive change, working to bring together diverse groups, reaching out to help underserved populations and seeking to empower citizens. We hesitate to call them do-gooders—with that phrase’s Pollyanish overtones—but they are collectively doing good for Seattle and our region.

Person of the Year: The Unexpected Activist

The Marchers: Organizers of the Womxn’s March on Seattle

Community Center: The KEXP Gathering Space

The Defenders: Bob Ferguson, Noah Purcell and James Robart

Home Finder: Amazon’s John Schoettler

Giving Shelter: Xochitl Maykovich

Home Maker: Sharon Lee

Conscientious Objector: Chris Vance

Citizen Scientist: Sarah Myhre

Climate Champion: Jay Inslee

Money Manager: Matt Remle

Economic Transformer: Jill Mangaliman

Cellular Connection: Rick Horwitz

Health Protector: Patty Hayes

Lifesaver: Brad Finegood

Immigrant Rights Advocates: Jorge Baron and Carlos Rodriguez

Bridge Builder: Aneelah Afzali

Justice Fighters: Nikkita Oliver, Dominique Davis and Anne Levinson

Coalition Builder: C. Davida Ingram

Pike Place Market Authority: Ben Franz-Knight

Youth Jail Breaker: Senait Brown

Seattle Times Truth Tellers: Mike Baker and Justin Mayo

Transit Transformer: Shefali Ranganathan

School Lunch Philanthropist: Jeffery Lew

Arts Enablers: Intiman Theatre’s Andrew Russell and Jennifer Zeyl

Artist in Action: Inye Wokoma

Music Man: Paul Allen

Crosscut’s 2017 Courage Award Winners


IWG Flexible Workspaces Foster Transformational Change | Sponsored


Sponsored | How COVID-19 Changed College Admissions

University Prep

All Eyes on Seattle

Rob Smith