Matching Donor Spotlight: Kathryn Shields

Kathryn Shields
Kathryn Shields

Every year over eighty Town Hall members enable matching gifts through their employers for volunteer hours and philanthropic donations, providing an additional $25,000 of revenue for Town Hall each year. We want to thank these members and volunteers for donating their time and money to Town Hall each year and for making their donations go even further by enabling corporate matching funds. We are also grateful for those corporate entities whose employee matching programs have such a direct impact on Town Hall’s success each year. (Visit our supporters page for a full list of companies that have provided employee matching gifts to Town Hall.)

One such matching donor is Kathryn Shields, a Town Hall member and employee of the RealNetworks Foundation.


You have been a Town Hall donor since 2011. What initially attracted you to Town Hall and what keeps you engaged year after year?

After attending several events at Town Hall (and benefiting from the deeply-discounted ticket prices, thanks to other Town Hall donors), I felt that I had a responsibility to do my part. I want to keep Town Hall accessible to everyone regardless of ability to pay.

I love that Town Hall offers something for everyone. And with most tickets just $5 (and free for students), Town Hall provides an unbeatable opportunity to be inspired by and directly engage with local, national, and global writers, artists, and leaders. Honestly, there’s something almost every night at Town Hall that interests me! I’m proud to support such a truly “democratic” community asset.

In addition to your personal support of Town Hall, you also work for a company that provides a 1:1 match of your donations and volunteer hours. How has this ability to enable gifts from your employer affected your philanthropic giving?  

I feel fortunate to work for a company that matches my personal donations—up to $10,000 per year!  Prior to working for RealNetworks I made a fair amount of charitable donations, but once I knew that my contributions would be matched, I dramatically increased my charitable giving—in large part because I didn’t want the Foundation match to go to waste. I feel good about contributing to Town Hall because I’m confident that both my gift and the Foundation’s matching grant will be used wisely.

We are so fortunate to live in a city with so many corporate entities that match employee donations and volunteer hours, but not all employees take advantage of this benefit. Why have you chosen to take the time to enable corporate matching for so many years?

Actually, corporate/foundation matching grant programs are more rare these days than you may think. I survey our employees each year and they consistently say that the Foundation’s matching grant programs are meaningful employee benefits that they value. So, I encourage corporations and foundations that don’t currently have an employee matching grant program to consider initiating one.

In terms of my personal use of our Foundation’s matching grant program, it couldn’t be easier!  It typically takes less than two minutes to log in and submit a matching grant request. Our vendor sends an email to the charity that a matching grant request is waiting to be verified online. I believe that it is equally easy for nonprofits, like Town Hall, to verify receipt of employee donations and qualify for matching grants. From my perspective, matching grant programs are an effective way for companies and foundations to support both their employees’ philanthropic giving and the work of community-based nonprofits like Town Hall. It’s a true win-win.

Staff Spotlight: Katy Sewall, Program Director

Katy Sewall
Program Director Katy Sewall

How long have you worked at Town Hall?

KS: Since mid-November 2015

What attracted you to working at Town Hall?

KS: I have always been interested in exploration, on-going education, sharing ideas, and performance. In everything I do—whether it be radio reporting, writing or production—this is at the center. I also have an unceasing curiosity about the world and a deep desire to understand the experiences of others. I was attracted to Town Hall because it is a place of learning where our worldview can be tweaked in new directions.

While I was the Lead Producer of KUOW’s Weekday with Steve Scher, I had the privilege of producing two live stage versions of the radio show at Town Hall. It was an unforgettable experience. The staff at Town Hall were so competent and professional. The audience was incredibly engaged. “What a special place,” I remember thinking. Who doesn’t want to work at a special place?

What book could you read over and over again?

KS: Third Wish by Robert Fulghum. It rekindled my sense of play and made me dream of creating a remarkable life for myself.

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

KS: This is an impossible question for me to answer. There are too many. I find so many people worth listening to. That said, it sure would be fun to have President Obama and his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng on stage together.

When you’re not working, what are you doing?

KS: The radio producer in me can’t shut down the desire to keep radio listeners company. As a result, I spend a lot of time interviewing guests, editing audio and co-hosting a weekly podcast for expats, former expats, travel-lovers and dreamers called The Bittersweet Life . I also write for myself and for Crosscut, fill-in host for KUOW, and read a ton of novels.

What is one thing people may not know about you?

KS: What I look like. After years of being a voice on the radio, a lot of people know my name, but when they meet me they always say: “Wow. You look so different than I thought!” One of the things I love about radio is that listeners create a mental picture of what you look like. That says a lot about our imaginations.

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

KS: Meeting amazing, intelligent people and having the opportunity to sit beside them and ask whatever questions I can think of.

Town Hall’s Commitment to Our Community

Waiting to enter by Michael Hanscom

There is no other place like Town Hall. Not in Seattle, not anywhere. What’s presented on our stages—robotics to food ethics, poetry slams to chamber music, even spelling bees and civic debates—is a real-time reflection of the curiosity, the creativity, and the diversity of our community.

As our fiscal year comes to a close, we invite you to make a year-end, tax-deductible donation in support of Town Hall programming. Your gift, in addition to your membership support, helps sustain our commitment to community.

In addition to the 450+ events you have come to expect during a Town Hall season, this season was marked by two highlights that exemplify not only Town Hall’s commitment to community engagement but our tremendous convening power: last fall’s City Council Debates and this spring’s GiveBIG: Lunch Break event.

During last fall’s City Council Debates, Town Hall partnered with neighborhood community groups to produce a debate in each district at a neighborhood venue (from Rainier Valley Cultural Center to Phinney Neighborhood Association), as well as the two at-large debates at the Seattle Central Library in partnership with CityClub. This was the most ambitious political program Town Hall has ever produced, and it offered nearly 700 people from across the city the opportunity to interact directly with their local representatives and engage in our political process. This style of programming is also a precursor to Town Hall’s 2017-18 season, which will offer programs in venues around the city while we perform major renovation to our 100-year-old First Hill home.

This spring’s GiveBIG: Lunch Break event is also emblematic of Town Hall’s commitment to community. On May 3, in partnership with The Seattle Foundation, Town Hall hosted 25 local nonprofits to share their missions and highlight our collective impact. In addition to the “nonprofit open house” in our lobby, eleven nonprofits took over the Great Hall for a three-hour, live-streamed showcase. As well as serving as a space for our community to get to know many of Seattle’s diverse nonprofits, this event highlighted the diversity of nonprofits that take the stage at Town Hall each year through our affordable rental program.

These events are just two examples of Town Hall’s convening power and why Town Hall is now more critical to our community than ever. As we lay the groundwork for a major renovation of our 100-year-old building, we rely more than ever on the support, advocacy and participation of the 4,000 members who keep this place accessible to all in our diverse community – members like you.

You are already supporting Town Hall in so many ways through your membership. Please consider making an additional year-end gift in support of our community’s cultural center — a place unlike anywhere in the world, a place that is uniquely for and about our community in Seattle.

[button link=”” size=”large” color=”red”]DONATE[/button]

Member Spotlight: Maryanne Tagney and David Jones

Maryanne Tagney and David Jones

Town Hall runs on the foundation of over 3,500 member households that renew their support each year and we’d like to introduce you to one of these households.

You have been Town Hall donors since 2011. What initially attracted you to Town Hall and what keeps you engaged year after year?

As happens with many organizations, David and I initially made contact with Town Hall through a friend who was already involved—I think it was Stephanie Solien. I had no idea the organization existed when we lived outside the city but after moving to Seattle in 2010, Town Hall became one of our favorite discoveries.

You are patrons of our Town Music Series. What keeps you coming back? Is there anything that Town Music offers that you can’t find elsewhere in Seattle?

The Town Music Series was offered to us as one of the programs we could choose to support. David and I are both interested in music, so it seemed like a good fit. Since that time we have both learned a lot about new music and found we appreciate it much more than we used to. I don’t know of other venues that offer this eclectic mix in such an intimate setting, with often real interaction between the performer and the audience.

You have supported our yearly Town Hall Commission for the past 5 years. Why do you think it is so important to support the creation of new music?

Supporting the commissioning of new music is very exciting for us. It is an opportunity we never expected to have and we appreciate it—I have our signed copies of the scores on display in my office! Some members of my family are professional musicians and I know how hard they work and how little many of them get paid. So when they branch out into the world of composing it is great to be able to support them. Music is a very dynamic art—it is constantly evolving—so we get to enjoy not just the music handed down from centuries past but also the artistic expressions of today and maybe tomorrow. Music, like smell, is very evocative—it engages the senses and the memory. A certain piece of music can instantly transport us back to a certain time in our lives. By supporting new music we are expanding that reach forward to future listeners who will find meaning and connection in it.

You are not only very generous donors to Town Hall, but you have also supported our annual Talk of the Town gala as dinner hosts—twice now. What is a highlight from this experience and what made you decide to host a second time?

We hosted a second time because Wier asked us! We said yes because we really enjoyed hosting Talk of the Town the first time—luckily we had just as good a time last month on our second go-round. Hosting Talk of the Town is a great way to combine supporting a cause we care about with meeting new people, reacquainting ourselves with others and having fun! The chefs are always so interesting and produce amazing food—and the Town Hall staff is great to work with, too.

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

[vc_row][vc_column][ultimate_spacer height=”100″ height_on_tabs=”72″ height_on_tabs_portrait=”0″ height_on_mob_landscape=”0″ height_on_mob=”0″][vc_column_text]

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.

Send this to a friend