Executive Director Mike McGinn’s Background and Accomplishments

Mike has been a neighborhood leader, Sierra Club volunteer leader, founder of a non-profit working on urban sustainability, a mayor of Seattle working to combat inequity and racism, a campaigner for fossil fuel divestment, an election reformer, and an advisor to progressives running for office for the first time. His work has always focused on working with groups to identify goals, and organizing campaigns to achieve those goals. He has seen policy making and campaigns at the state and local levels from multiple angles, as an advocate and as an elected official. 

Mike was long active in the Sierra club, as state chair or political chair, as well as serving on national committees, for many years.  His entry into city politics was working on getting sidewalks in his neighborhood as Greenwood Community Council president.

Based on that neighborhood and environmental work, he founded a non-profit, Great City, that advocated for environmental sustainability and social justice in city spending and policies.

Through some or all of these efforts, Mike:

  • led a ballot measure campaign for Seattle parks
  • helped pass a city transportation funding ballot measure
  • brought advocates together to get a complete streets policy in Seattle
  • helped with adopting Seattle’s first Pedestrian Master Plan and first Climate Action Plan
  • helped elect environmentalists to office
  • advocated for more transit spending
  • helped lead a campaign to defeat a regional highway expansion bill at the ballot
  • and helped launch the Sierra Club’s Cool Cities campaign to urge cities nationwide to set and meet climate goals.

Mike was subsequently elected Mayor of Seattle in 2009, where his administration:

  • Expanded Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiative, which implemented departmental change teams, supported diversity and inclusion training, and put all policies through a race and social justice analysis.
  • Worked to reduce bias and excessive use of force in policing by negotiating a Community Police Commission with BIPOC representation to oversee police reform efforts under a consent decree.
  • Worked to address racial inequity through investments in POC owned businesses, raising city funds to invest in under-resourced schools in the school district, expanding Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, and creating a felon-reentry program.  
  • Set a goal of zero fatalities and serious injuries through a new Road Safety Action Plan
  • Implemented speeding cameras around school zones, and dedicated the revenues to safe routes to school – a significant and reliable source for pedestrian improvements in Seattle.
  • Implemented the first parklets that converted parking (or other underutilized street space in business districts) to pedestrian friendly spaces.
  • Made placemaking a part of our city’s transportation plan, not just mobility by mode.
  • Made food trucks legal.
  • Won Liquor Control Board to approve sidewalk cafes that were across the sidewalk, not on the sidewalk, enhancing the public realm and keeping sidewalks clear.
  • Made it easier for residents to close streets to cars and open them to people.
  • Built a coalition of mayors across the state to advocate for more local transportation funding for Olympia.
  • Converted numerous fast and unsafe streets that prioritized cars to safer and slower streets for pedestrians and bikers (including Seattle’s first protected bike lanes).
  • Prioritized transportation and other city investments for neighborhoods with greater numbers of seniors, renters, service workers, people of color and immigrants and refugees.

After his term as Mayor, Mike has campaigned for fossil fuel divestment, supported first time candidates for office, worked on moving elections from odd years to even years to increase BIPOC turnout and representation, and worked with local transportation advocates in Seattle.  Just prior to joining America Walks, Mike worked with Washington state’s walking advocacy organization Feet First to launch a statewide network of local advocacy organization – to support each other in their local work and to build power at the state level.