Team – old’s professional team is passionate about Olympia.  While our paths leading to Olympia differ, we all live, work, and play in Thurston County.


Dan Jones, CEO, Founder,

Dan Jones (left) and Martin McElliott lead the ThurstonTalk team.

Dan has been running his own businesses in the technology realm for the last 13 years. He currently has around 35 team members working between his three organizations.  After receiving his BS in Engineering and Master of Science degrees, he focused on creating products that create long-term impacts in the marketplace.  When not working long hours as an entrepreneur, Dan enjoys skiing, wind surfing, and spending time with his wife and twins in Olympia.

Martin McElliott, VP of Sales,

Martin has lived in the Olympia area his entire life.  A proud Olympia High School graduate, Martin married his high school sweetheart and is the father to two daughters.  Martin credits his experience in the grocery business for developing his people skills.  A realtor since 1997, Martin now enjoys being part of a fantastic team creating a positive new business.

Amy Rowley, Editor,

Amy is a Washington-native who is happy to call Olympia home since 2008.  With a bachelors degree from UW, Amy took a brief hiatus to Boston to earn a Masters in Business Administration.  After a career in human resources, she has found a niche in operations of small businesses and a sincere love of non-profit management.  She has written numerous articles, newsletters and fundraising brochures and translates these content development skills to ThurstonTalk.  Beyond volunteering as a board member for three local, non-profit organizations, you will find Amy shuttling her two young daughters, sewing a quick project, or paddle boarding.

Stephen Backholm, VP of Technology,

Stephen is passionate about using technology to help businesses succeed.  He has over a decade of experience architecting and managing large, enterprise systems, and has held a variety of senior technology leadership positions. He enjoys spending time cooking, drinking well made wines, and traversing the mountains and valleys of North America.  Stephen is happily married to a beautiful girl named Paige and together they have four amazing children. He holds a BS in Computer Science from Western Washington University. Stephen has cried three times in his life: at the birth of his first child, when Spain won the World Cup in 2010, and during the final scene of Rudy.

Dawn Black, Back Office Support,


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Natasha Ashenhurst

Born in Anchorage, Alaska, Natasha moved to the South Sound to attend high school, then Western Washington University. Upon graduating with a B.A. in both Political Science and English, she had no choice but to turn to a career in marketing, starting in Boulder, Colorado. There she advanced her career until she was Business Unit Director of Bioenergy Nutrients, a former subsidiary of Whole Foods Market. When her son was born, she left her full-time job, and Colorado, to return to the Pacific Northwest. For the past 11 years she has been busy as a parent, volunteer and as a freelance marketing consultant. Since joining ThurstonTalk, she has been having a great time getting to know the local business community.

Jennifer Crain chats with celebrity chef Guy Fieri at an event at JBLM.

Jennifer Crain

Jennifer Crain is a freelance writer, mom of two and native of the Pacific Northwest. She and her family have called Olympia home since 2006. Her articles on nutrition, health and parenting have appeared in ParentMap, Portland Family and Seattle’s Child and in regional publications across the U.S. She also contributes to The Co-Op News where she writes on subjects ranging from onions to chicken feed. Every week she logs her cooking adventures and tries her hand at food photography at The Plum Palate, her blog on regional produce. When she’s not writing, she’s been known to ignore the laundry, pick up a novel, troll used clothing stores, wander in the woods and take day trips around the region with her family.

Drew Crooks

Drew Crooks grew up in Olympia and graduated from Olympia High School. He later graduated from the University of Washington with a masters degree in museum studies. For over thirty years Drew has worked with various museums in South Puget Sound, and written extensively on the region’s history. His latest book, entitled Edward Lange: An Early Artist of Olympia and Washington State, was published in 2012.

Katie Doolittle

Katie Doolittle is a self-proclaimed school nerd. After earning a B.A. from Brown University, she went back for her Masters in Teaching at Seattle University. Teaching English in the North Thurston School District gives her an excuse to stay immersed in the world of education. Outside of work, Katie enjoys cooking, reading voraciously, and tinkering with her novel. Her top priority is spending time with her husband and toddler-age daughter.

Doris Faltys

Doris has lived in the Olympia area for many years.   She has taught many art related classes for various agencies in the community and held volunteer positions in public education, crisis intervention, radio, and public service.  Frequently she can be found in her studio working on pottery, photography, watercolor, silk painting, Ukrainian Egg dyeing , or something a friend wants to try out together.   She is co-owner of Polar Bear Construction a small company building custom homes and remodels  that has offered customers the opportunities to incorporate “Green Building” technologies and materials into their projects for the last 20 years.   Doris has a BFA in Ceramics and Metal Smithing and a BA in K-12 Art Education.

Stacy Fisher

Stacy has lived all over the world, but is a Pacific Northwest girl at heart and happy to call Olympia home since 2006.  She attended UW, and worked in the financial industries and human resources sectors for thirteen years.  She gave it all up to follow her heart and family to Olympia and become a co-owner in a family shellfish farm.  You can usually find Stacy playing with her two young boys, volunteering at school, weeding the garden, reluctantly working out and playing in the tides.

Katie Hurley

Katie Hurley is a longtime Olympia resident, wife and mom of two kids in elementary school.  She keeps busy volunteering and serving on the boards of 4 different nonprofit organizations in Olympia, occasionally teaching cooking classes, and driving her kids to soccer, football, basketball, baseball, softball, guitar and Girl Scouts.

She graduated from Olympia High School and holds a BA in Communications and Public Relations from Pacific Lutheran University.  When not volunteering, carpooling, writing or cooking, Katie and her family enjoy boating on Puget Sound, snow skiing and traveling.

Taryn Kama

Taryn Kama is an experienced media professional working in print and web communications for more than 20 years.  She founded her own business, Go Get It Gal to provide opportunities for women by challenging themselves in the outdoors.  When Taryn is not writing, she can be found surfing, cycling and snowboarding throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Anne Larsen

Amy Rowley (center) and Anne Larsen (right) enjoy participating in local sporting events like the Rampage at the RAC held in October.

A Minnesota native, Anne moved to Olympia in 1992 to attend The Evergreen State College and never looked back. When her dream of saving the Earth was crushed by the realization that it might require math skills, she switched directions and earned a Masters in Public Administration. Currently you can find her spinning pedals and tunes in The Valley’s Indoor Cycling Studio, volunteering at Griffin School, and saying “yes” to every other volunteer opportunity presented to her. She’s fired up about sports and kids, and is hoping she’s got an Olympic hopeful in her brood of three.

Emily McMason

Emily arrived in Olympia as a kindergartener in 1975.  She was an L.P.Brown Eagle, a Jefferson Jaguar and a Capital Cougar before being wooed back east for college.  Emily studied astrophysics at Wellesley, then earned a master’s degree in education from Harvard University.  Most recently she earned a graduate level Certification in Parent Coaching from the Parent Coaching Institute at Seattle Pacific University.  In addition to being a writer, Emily is a personal & parent coach.  You can connect with her at where you can also read her weekly blog about life as the parent of a middle school son and elementary school daughter.  Emily and her husband returned to Olympia in 2003.

Leslie Merchant

Kate Scriven (left) and Amy Rowley enjoy a spin on the zip line at Evergreen's Challenge Course.

Kate Scriven (left) and Amy Rowley enjoy a spin on the zip line at Evergreen’s Challenge Course.

Leslie is a New Orleans transplant who now calls Olympia “home.”  With a degree from University of New Orleans (yes, it is an actual accredited university) and a teaching certificate from St. Mary’s College in California, Leslie brings a colorful perspective to ThurstonTalk.  She has held a variety of positions from running a child care center in New Orleans to teaching fourth grade in Washington.  When she is not busy managing her 8-year-old future Olympic athlete or her 4-year-old future Queen of fashion, she is very involved in all things Steamboat Island.

Kathryn Millhorn

While not native to the Olympia area, Kathryn has called it home for the past 20 years.  As a transplanted Floridian, you can find this occasional librarian watching tugboats and drinking iced tea by the quart.  Research is her passion and her training has granted amazing opportunities for exploration, travel, and knowledge.  She can also find ANYthing, because that’s what librarians do best.  Having traveled the world, she settled here to raise her daughter, tend goldfish, and make the best popcorn known to man (references provided upon request).  In the next five years, she sees herself owning ducks, being debt-free, and finally conquering homemade pizzas.

Laurie O’Brien

Laurie is a Thurston County writer, wife and mother of two teenage sons.  In addition to hauling her children all over the state for their activities, she finds time to volunteer at her local elementary school and to sing in a chorus with 35 of her best friends.  A  trained English teacher, Laurie has spent most of her adult life involved in recreation and organized camping.  These days, you’re likely to find her behind her camera at bike races and soccer games.

Emmett O’Connell

Emmett O’Connell has blogged about Olympia for over ten years, most currently at Olympia Time: He has also contributed to the Olympia Historical Society Newsletter and volunteers with the Friends of the Olympia Library. He tweets at @emmettoconnell.

Mary Ellen Psaltis

Mary Ellen Psaltis eats food every day and loves it. She finds food fascinating, fun and limitless in possibilities. She believes that eating well is a foundation for being well. Mary Ellen speaks and writes in varied venues about making healthy life choices. She is a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. For the most part she eats in Thurston County, but her travels take her across the globe. Two of her favorite things are cats and chocolate.

Alyssa Ramsfield

Alyssa Ramsfield is a lifetime PNW native. She graduated from The Evergreen State College and earned a Masters in Teaching degree from City University. She has worked as an assignment editor/writer for Northwest Cable News and KING 5 in Seattle, WA. She currently teaches Language Arts and Social Studies in the North Thurston School District. Alyssa is married and is expecting her first child.

Tom Rohrer

Tom Rohrer (left) and Dan Jones pose atop the tower at Percival Landing.

A native of Minnesota, Tom was blessed to move to the Olympia area in 1991, when his parents decided they wanted to live in an area with more variety and opportunity.

After graduating from Capital High School in 2006, Tom went on to study journalism at Washington State University, where he wrote for the student newspaper and worked as an intern for the school’s athletic program.

Starting in June of 2011 he worked for a year as a sports reporter for the Lake County Examiner in Lakeview Oregon, and was a volunteer basketball coach for the local high school team

A sport enthusiast (understatement), Tom grew up watching and participating in Thurston County sports and was a two -year varsity letterman on the CHS basketball team.

When he’s not interviewing, snapping a photo, or writing up a story, you can find Tom exploring the wilderness of western Washington, or watching a WSU sporting event with his family and friends.

Kate Scriven

Kate is a Washington native, raised in Spokane, and has lived in and loved Olympia since 2002.  Kate  holds an undergraduate degree in English Literature as well as a Master’s Degree in Education, both from the University of Washington.  Kate taught fourth grade for eight years, both in public and private schools, before having children and focusing her teaching talents on only her own “students”.

Kate now balances the activities of two busy girls, keeping on top of the weeds in her Boston Harbor garden, running PTA Meetings, serving on several local boards and crafting interesting reads for Thurston County’s curious residents.    She runs her own small business as a Virtual Assistant and sometimes wishes she could hire herself.  She enjoys gardening, hiking and camping in the Pacific Northwest and reading as much as she can.  She loves to cook using local ingredients and doing all things crafty.

Eric Sims-Brown

Eric Sims-Brown lives with his wife and two dogs in West Olympia. He started writing stories when he was 8.  Mostly they were reworks of movies he’d just watched. When not writing, Eric enjoys playing basketball, reading, working in the yard and keepin’ it real.

Gail Wood

Gail Wood is an award-winning sportswriter, writing for the Olympian for 23 1/2 years. He’s written for more than 60 publications, including USA Today, Guideposts, Athlon Sports and Family Circle. He met his wife in an interview for a story he was writing.




Ken Balsley

Ken Balsley has been covering news and politics in Thurston County for more than 41 years.   He works in both print and broadcast. Ken has a local radio show and a monthly print newsletter.  He also has a business and political blog.

Alec Clayton

Alec Clayton is a longtime arts writer for The News Tribune, The Olympian and the Weekly Volcano. He is a former editor and publisher and has been published in magazines and newspapers nationwide. He is also a novelist with five published novels and a book of art criticism.

Jake Luplow

I am a writer: Listen I must. Transcribe I must. Create I must. Or I am left empty and lifeless. I must feel the voice. I must not turn my back on the constant stream of words that are spoken to me. I must just be the voice of something deeper—something that gives and takes life from me.

I was born and raised in Bothell, Washington and later moved to Yelm. I love reading, writing, photography, snowboarding, and spending time with my grandmother. I am currently studying at South Puget Sound Community College and am on track to graduate with my Associate’s degree next spring. From there I will transfer to a university to earn my Bachelors in creative writing.

Charlene Rubinstein

Charlene Rubinstein grew up in Alaska. She’s lived in Olympia for the last 4 years and loves making her home in the Northeast neighborhood. Charlene comes from a background in public radio and arts administration. When she’s not squeezing in a open water swim for her triathlons, or her latest obsession—Ultimate Frisbee, she can be found running her two boys around, looking for a new hiking spot, or finding new ways to get her kids to eat fish.

Stacee Sledge

Stacee is a local writer, originally from Iowa, who began her career at Better Homes & Gardens magazine. After receiving her master’s degree in journalism in 1996, she moved to Bellingham, Washington, where she wrote features and profiles for a wide range of national and local magazines, newspapers and websites.

Stacee relocated to Olympia with her husband and their two young children in 2008.  Now living in Bellingham, you may still come across some of Stacee’s popular articles published between 2010-2012.




Tali Haller – Olympia High School

A local Olympian, Tali Haller is a junior at Olympia High School and an intern for ThurstonTalk. In addition to being an avid writer, Tali likes to stay active. You can find her dancing, doing yoga, or running around Olympia. Academically, Tali is interested in neuroscience and plans to pursue this interest at a sunny Californian university when she graduates in June 2014.

Sara Hollar – Olympia High School

Sara Hollar is a sophomore at Olympia High School and a ThurstonTalk intern. She loves to read, play volleyball, quote movies and hang out with her friends. She spends most of her time in downtown Olympia window shopping, eating at her favorite restaurants and meeting new people. Sara plans on going to college on the East Coast and becoming a lawyer.

Libby Kamrowski – Timberline High School

Libby Kamrowski is a thirteen year resident of Lacey and is a senior at Timberline High School, where she is Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Blazer newspaper. She is excited to be an  intern for which will give her the real-world journalism experience that she is looking for. When she is not writing, she enjoys throwing javelin for the varsity track and field team as well as listening to The Beatles with her twin sister, Abby. Libby hopes to one day become a professional journalist.

Claire Smith – Capital High School

Wisconsin born, and having moved to North Carolina and Oklahoma, Claire Smith now resides in Olympia. Claire enjoys writing, academics, being outside and athletics, and is particularly fond of soccer. Claire is fourteen, and lives with her parents, little brother, and dog. Claire is a Griffin alumni, and currently attends Capital High School.

Kira Stussy – Tumwater High School

Kira Stussy is sixteen years old and attends Tumwater High School. In between homework and school, she enjoys reading, writing, running, spending time with friends, and playing volleyball. Family and her faith are the two most important things in her life. In the future she hopes to work in disease research as well as be a novelist.

Emily VanMarter – Northwest Christian High School

Emily VanMarter is a senior at Northwest Christian High School, in Lacey, WA. She is part of the National Honors Society, and  also an athlete for the school. She loves English, especially writing, and is looking forward to contributing positively through her internship.




Diane – Photographer

Diane McGregor is a professional free lance photographer based in Lacey, Washington. She earned a BA in Fine Arts with a special emphasis on photography, with her specialty being portrait and wedding photography. Diane has been in the business for over 25 years, and has shot in such remote places as New Zealand. She is available for both studio and onsite shoots, and welcomes the opportunity to sit down with you to discuss your wedding, senior portrait, family portrait, or any other project needing a professional touch.

Colleen – Photographer

Colleen is a grandmother of 7 who has lived in Olympia for 21 years.  From 1994-2010 she spent her summers working as a tour guide in Alaska and the Yukon while taking hundreds of  photographs along the way.  Now that she has retired from her tour work, she has embarked on a new career path that combines her love of nature with her excellent photography skills.