Staff Spotlight: Zac Eckstein, Patron Services Manager

Zac Spotlight Picture
Zac Eckstein, Patron Services Manager

How long have you worked at Town Hall?

ZE: Since November 11, 2015. About five months

What attracted you to working at Town Hall?

ZE: I’ve worked in a nonprofit environment for most of my career, even running a nonprofit for a few years after graduating college. I also have a lot of experience in (and enjoy) the work of running a box office and taking care of patrons. Town Hall is unique in that it produces so many events at such a fast pace that there’s never an opportunity to get bored.

What book could you read over and over again?

ZE: I’m a fiction novel and news junky and don’t read much non-fiction (although I should!). Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon is a book I’ve read multiple times and enjoyed more each time.

What would you most like to see presented at Town Hall?

ZE: I’d love to see someone like Elizabeth Warren or former Mayor Mike McGinn. In general, I’m interested in presentations by people who get things done and aren’t afraid to ruffle feathers in the process.

What do you do when you aren’t working?

ZE: Outside of Town Hall I am a freelance Wordpress developer/designer. I also have an in-home shop where I build furniture (both for people and animals) as well as build other home decor pieces.

What is one thing people may not know about you?

ZE: From 2003 to 2008 I worked as a projectionist at a regular movie theatre and at an IMAX theatre and got to watch most movies that came out the day before they were released.

What aspect of your job do you never get tired of?

ZE: At Town Hall almost everything is $5 or free and it’s always a pleasure to help facilitate access to so many different types of events for such a wide variety of people.

Town Green: Join us this Saturday for the 2016 Day of Service

Tomatoe seedlings with spade

Town Green—now in its third year—is a cross-disciplinary series devoted to the environment, sustainability, and local wildlife. In addition to events with scientists, activists, and policy experts, Town Green provides a forum for all of us to share thoughts, voice opinions, and activate ideas in our community. This Saturday (April 16th), we’ll be putting these conversations into practice: please join us for the 2016 Town Green Day of Service.

This year, we are working with Seattle Tilth’s Just Garden project to build raised bed vegetable gardens for low-income families and disadvantaged communities in Federal Way. Volunteers will gather at Light of Christ Lutheran Church at 9 a.m. to share a light breakfast and coffee while the Just Garden team introduces the event. We hope you’ll join us for hands-on learning about organic gardening as we help prep planting beds, plant seeds, and transplant starts—doing our part to support a bountiful harvest for Federal Way gardeners.

We want to thank all of you, our members, for helping us create such a vital discourse. From exploring the “Ancient Places of the Pacific Northwest” to an in-depth examination of the history and future of Washington logging, it has been a season of rich conversations and challenging ideas—and there are still six events remaining this season!

We are also deeply grateful for our foundation partners, the Wyncote Foundation NW and The Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation, whose generous support not only makes Town Green possible, but has helped it thrive this season! Ellen Ferguson, Trustee of the Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation (and Town Hall member) shared: “I support Town Hall because it’s a vital resource, bringing our community together to wrestle with ideas that impact us all.  To that end, I am thrilled to offer our support to the Town Green series, programming that takes many different paths to look at issues of the environment and sustainability, topics I care about deeply.”

GiveBIG: Lunch Break

In partnership with The Seattle Foundation
May 3, 2016 11am-2pm. FREE.


GiveBIG is The Seattle Foundation’s one-day, online charitable giving event, designed to raise money for our region’s hard-working nonprofits.

This year, Town Hall is stretching GiveBIG from the web to our stage. We have 25 diverse area nonprofits joining us at Town Hall to share their missions and highlight our collective impact—and you’re all invited!

Join us at Town Hall on May 3rd for the festivities! Grab lunch at Peasant Food Manifesto and catch a free show. Ten of our partner nonprofits are taking over the Great Hall for a three-hour, live-streaming showcase—so no matter when you stop by, something great will be waiting for you on stage!

Wander through our lobby to visit a nonprofit you know and love, and get to know some organizations you may not have met yet. Mobile giving stations will make it easy for you to GiveBIG and have your donations stretched by The Seattle Foundation! We hope you’ll join us to celebrate!

These awesome nonprofits will all be here for the party:

Bushwick Book Club
Climate Solutions
Community Alliance for Global Justice
Early Music Guild
Friends of the Children
Got Green
Historic Seattle
Lake Union Civic Orchestra
Pike Place Market Association
Pride Foundation
Richard Hugo House
Seattle Arts & Lectures
Seattle City Club
Spectrum Dance Theatre
Teen Tix
The Mockingbird Society
Town Hall
Washington Access Fund
Washington Bus Education Fund
Women’s Funding Alliance
World Affairs Council

Stay tuned to the GiveBIG: Lunch Break event page for details and updates. And let us know you are coming on the GiveBIG: Lunch Break Facebook event page.

Don’t think you will be able to make it? No worries! We are live streaming the event as well.

Visit to learn more about this city-wide day of giving.

GiveBIG 2016: Lunch Break Live Stream!

THUMB_2016 Give Big websiteYou may already know about GiveBIGThe Seattle Foundation’s one-day, online charitable giving event, designed to raise money for our region’s hard-working nonprofits. But did you know that this year, Town Hall is adding a new, non-digital element to the annual event?

May 3rd, we’re partnering with 25 diverse area nonprofits to fill every nook and cranny of Town Hall for a Lunch Break Bonanza. We’ll have local food truck Peasant Food Manifesto out front where you can grab lunch and then head inside where ten partner nonprofits will take over the Great Hall for a three-hour showcase, highlighting their mission and our collective impact.

Check out our event page for a full list of our partners and more information. Can’t make it? We’ll live stream the event HERE as well! Loop in from a desk, a phone, wherever; we’re happy to have you and hope you’ll GiveBIG to the organizations that help make Seattle great!

Who’s presenting?  

11:00am Tony Mestres, The Seattle Foundation
11:05am Katy Sewall, Town Hall Seattle
11:10am Spectrum Dance Theater
11:25am Crosscut Public Media
11:30am The Mockingbird Society
11:47am Intiman
12:05pm Seattle CityClub

Donor Spotlight: Wyncote Foundation Northwest

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Donor Spotlight: Wyncote Foundation Northwest

Wyncote Foundation NWTown Hall Seattle was spared from the wrecking ball nearly 15 years ago, largely due to the vision of founder and longtime executive director, David Brewster. He saw the need for a space that could be a home for many small non-profits in Seattle – a platform where many voices could engage with the community. A group of 17 community leaders and visionaries championed this cause and helped fund the purchase of the building.

Fast forward 15 years, and we find ourselves in deep gratitude and appreciation for the vision of our patrons. The Campaign for Town Hall is a project for our community, and has been embraced as such. Many have stepped forward to invest in the future of Town Hall, through donations, guidance and leadership.
One such donor is the Wyncote Foundation. Incorporated in 2009, the foundation supports causes from arts and education to preservation. Town Hall is fortunate to be the recipient of a $2,000,000 grant to restore and preserve our building. $1,000,000 of this gift is designated as a challenge grant, to help build momentum around fundraising efforts. To unlock this gift, Town Hall has started the 90 in 90 Challenge. In short, if we receive 90 major gifts in the first 90 days of 2016, this gift will be unlocked. If you have questions about the challenge, please contact Michael Breeden, Capital Campaign Manager, at 206.652.4255 ext. 20 or

The generosity of The Wyncote Foundation is transformational, as is the support of so many other organizations and individuals in our community. Our deep gratitude extends to all of the generous donors who have contributed thus far.[/vc_column_text]


Partner Profile: Zeno

To some, making math fun might seem—well, as hard as math itself.

Zeno makes it look easy. A non-profit whose mission is to increase children’s competence and confidence in math with fun and engaging activities, last season Zeno partnered with Town Hall to bring engaging math-focused programming like ‘stand-up Mathematician’ Matt Parker, Fields Medal winner Cedric Villani, to name a few. “We like to highlight the work being done in our community,” explains Town Hall Program Director Stesha Brandon,” Zeno brings games to programs for audience members to play with and they have put on post-program workshops, which only enriches the experience for all involved.”

This season’s math-focused programming kicks off on September 14th with an evening with “mathemagician” Arthur Benjamin, who brings the message that while math CAN be seriously complex, it’s also seriously fun. “Town Hall has made it possible for our community to come face-to-face with the people who are showing the world that math can be inspiring, exciting and transformative,” says Zeno’s Development Manager Erin Tierney, “what has struck me is seeing so many of our community members bringing their kids and the whole family along and enjoying seeing math through a new lens.”

Already love math? Then we have the programs for you! Never really felt comfortable with algebra or geometry? We still have the programs for you! Attend one of Town Hall’s math-focused programs and give Zeno, and our speakers, a chance to make math fun and engaging for the whole family.

Partner Profile: Early Music Guild

When David Brewster founded Town Hall Seattle in 1998, he envisioned a home for small and mid-sized arts organizations—specifically, Seattle’s Early Music Guild, which became one of Town Hall’s first presenting partners. EMG committed to presenting its entire series in the Great Hall during Town Hall’s first season, cementing a successful partnership that has lasted 15 years and counting.

Early Music Guild is dedicated to advancing the community’s appreciation for music from the middle ages through the 18th century, but Executive Director August Denhard is quick to note that you don’t have to know about the history of the music to enjoy the performances—they do all that work for you.

“There are elements of chamber, world, and folk music embedded in the performances. It feels like classical music, except you’ll hear instruments from another era. Instead of modern violins, we play Baroque violins—copies of instruments from museums. It creates a different sound that clarifies the music, makes the music lighter and brings it to life,” he says.

Denhard is particularly excited about the upcoming 2014-15 season. “This is the year we make a final decision about a new music director for Seattle Baroque Orchestra,” he said. “We’re coming to the end of a two-year search process, and the three remaining candidates will each ‘audition’ at a performance this season. This is a fairly rigorous process for a small organization, but we wanted to make it interactive to really get the audience involved.” EMG will distribute questionnaires at the SBO performances so audience members can share their thoughts and input.  “We’re looking for a great fit for the community and for the orchestra…someone who can contribute to the arts scene on many levels.”

You can catch the first guest director in action on November 1, when Matthias Maute joins celebrated soprano Shannon Mercer and the Seattle Baroque Orchestra for The American Dream, which recreates the musical life of Boston’s early days.

This season, Early Music Guild will also celebrate an international collaboration with Early Music Vancouver and Victoria, BC’s Early Music Society of the Islands to present Theodora, Handel’s famous oratorio. This is the first of many ambitious Baroque masterpieces envisioned by the partners. The International Series kicks off on November 15 with Montreal-based ensemble Constantinople, who will interpret Italian singer and composer Barbara Strozzi’s Baroque cantatas with an Iranian influence, presenting these 17th-century masterworks in a way they’ve never been heard before.

Denhard thinks Town Hall is the perfect place for audiences to appreciate these kinds of unique performances: “The Great Hall itself is perfectly suited to what we do. It’s a historical space with acoustics that are clear and resonant…it doesn’t sound like a CD. There’s a personality and characteristics that are unique to Town Hall.”


Rainier Scholars Share Their Findings

On June 11, Town Hall audiences got a rare glimpse of the teenage perspective as five high school students from Rainier Scholars, a program that works to unlock academic potential and leadership skills of motivated students of color, inhabited the Great Hall stage and shared their thoughts on everything from U.S. foreign policy to curing cancer.

Each season, Town Hall chooses an Artist in Residence and a Scholar in Residence to inhabit the building, attend events at Town Hall, and share their findings with audiences. Program Director Stesha Brandon explained, “This season, we did things a little bit differently. I had worked with Rainier Scholars in the past and I was so impressed by the work that they do and the students there that I thought we would have many scholars this season.” So, she invited nine students from Rainier Scholars to serve as Town Hall’s Scholars in Residence—and their unique insights into Town Hall and its contributions to the community were illuminating.

Hilina Giday, who will be a senior next year, was riveted by a presentation called “Systems Biology in Cancers,” saying, “I can’t stress enough—I didn’t blink. What fascinated me about the event itself was that I was hearing people a couple of feet away from me talking about how they were probably going to cure cancer. The ability to physically be in that range was fascinating. It really opens your eyes to see someone who will probably change the world right in front of you.” She was so moved by the presentation that she went to Town Hall’s website and posted a thoughtful 350-word reaction to the information she learned, claiming that the interactive lecture by a panel of experts “beats any Biology class by a long shot.”

Alicia Finney had a similar experience at a lecture by UCLA Professor Jared Diamond. “When I was really little, I read a book about Lucy, who was the first primate to walk on two legs. When he [Jared Diamond] started talking about that same topic—about Lucy—my love for learning started to come back. I realized that Town Hall hosts events like these so that you’re thinking about things that you don’t normally think about, and it rekindles that pure love for learning.”

They all shared powerful individual experiences, but noted that most of the events shared one similarity: “It was all old people in the audience,” Feven Mckonnen said, as the audience chuckled. “Most of the Town Hall events I went to, the speakers were talking about high school kids. They were talking about our generation, and how this generation is going to do great things, and yet, I was the only person my age there. I think it’s important for kids like us—and especially students of color—to know the expectations adults have for us. Because how are we supposed to meet them if we have no idea what they are?”

If you have young people in your life, we encourage you to bring them to events at Town Hall! (We even offer free and discounted tickets through the Teen Tix program.) “Going to these events gives us a leap forward,” Feven added.

Artist in Residence Tomo Nakayama, a seasoned musician who recorded a new album at Town Hall during his residency, gave a bit of sage advice to the students: “When you grow up and you’re out of school, you look everywhere for opportunities to learn. Town Hall is great for that.”

Town Hall is grateful to A&P for sponsoring the Town Hall residencies and to Capitol Cider for generously providing special sponsorship support for the Artist in Residence program. If you’re interested in supporting Town Hall’s In Residence program, contact Kevin Malgesini at or (206) 652-4255, ext. 34.

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