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

Dan Jones, CEO, Founder,

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.

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.

Kristina Lotz, Publisher

Kristina was born with writing in her genes. She grew up writing stories for her toys and quickly turned her passion into a career choice by earning her undergraduate degree in English and a Masters in Business Administration. Since then, she has written and edited for both print and online publications in the United States and internationally. She has a particular passion for telling the stories of people, the history of places, and anything to do with animals. When she isn’t writing, she loves to create through various crafts, including sewing and even leather work. She also enjoys spending time on her farm full of animals, including riding the many horseback trails Southwest Washington has to offer and participating in mounted archery and mountain trail with her Gypsy mare, Merida. Follow their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

Tim Shaw, Business Development

Tim Shaw has lived around Olympia since he was ten years old. Tim raised his children through the Tumwater School District. Prior to joining ThurstonTalk, Tim worked in the mortgage industry, served pizza at local Brewery City Pizza, and baked bread at Top Foods bakery. Tim loves that Olympia is centrally located to everything that he loves.

To submit a story idea, send an email to

Interested in joining our writing team?  Read more here.

We’re hiring for a Business Development professional. Read the job posting here.

For information about promoting your business or organization, drop a note to

To contact a ThurstonTalk writer, please send an email to

Jess Caldwell

Professional Rewilder | Founder of Wildkind Academy 

With 20 years of local engagement, volunteering, working and recreating in Thurston County, Jess brings her love for people, storytelling and profound connection to nature to the ThurstonTalk community. As both a content writer and Pacific Northwest Outdoor & Adventure Influencer who shares her journey of hunting, fishing, foraging and nature engagement through her weekly Field Notes Blog, Jess has partnered with NorthAmericanTalk to bring our state-wide audiences live coverage from the field. From outdoor adventures to local treasures Jess Caldwell is trailblazer for sharing the many gifts of Washington State through our media outlets.

Jennifer Crooks

Jennifer Crooks is an Olympia native and a graduate of Olympia High School. She recently graduated from Central Washington University with a M.A. in history. She loves the history of the region as well as sharing stories that have been forgotten. Jennifer completed an internship at ThurstonTalk while at Saint Martin’s University (where she received a B. A. in history) and is excited to be on the team again. She spends the rest of her time volunteering at her church and absorbing (almost) everything Star Wars and Marvel.

Nancy Krier

Nancy is an attorney in Olympia who retired after more than three decades in state service, most recently as the Open Government Ombuds. With a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from the University of North Dakota and a J.D. from the University of Washington, upon retirement she returned to her writing roots and is freelancing for ThurstonTalk. She is a member of the Washington State Bar Association, the National Federation of Press Women, and recently joined Joggernauts, a Lacey running/walking club that gets her out into the Pacific Northwest rain for her 10,000 steps. Nancy says she learned from growing up in Minnesota’s famously frigid winters that there’s no bad weather, only bad outdoor clothing.

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.

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.

Jessica Reeves-Rush

Jessica Reeves-Rush is a lifelong Washingtonian from Tenino. She is a graduate from the University of Washington with a Bachelor’s in English Literature and an emphasis in history. She spent 16 years in the family’s furniture business and has a strong background in marketing. Her work as a hobby historian landed her an unusual job as clerk of the
Forest Grove Cemetery in Tenino. Jessica is a mother of three and enjoys writing fiction and poetry. She also can’t get enough of the great outdoors and often goes hiking and

camping with her family. Jessica also owns a small farm specializing in dairy goats.

Rebecca Sanchez

Rebecca is a Pacific Northwest native who thrives on traveling and exploring historical locations, funky restaurants, independent bookstores and any great hike that includes dogs. She has covered 37 states and British Columbia looking for adventurous writing and photography opportunities to add to her blog. As a writing instructor, Rebecca has been guiding students through fiction writing, poetry structures and the various essay forms for fifteen years. She has a bachelor’s degree in secondary education emphasizing English composition and a master’s degree in language and literacy.

Molly Walsh

Molly Walsh has been a resident of Olympia since 2013.  After finishing the Running Start program at South Puget Sound Community College, she attended The Evergreen State College, where she studied visual and performing arts and ultimately discovered her true passion in writing and photography. You can usually find Molly traveling around the Pacific Northwest, photographing and chronicling the world around her. Molly loves connecting with others and telling stories with both words and photographs and can’t wait to chronicle local businesses for ThurstonTalk. You can find Molly’s photography at

Donés Williams

Donés Williams is a passionate writer who’s all about using the power of words to create compelling and unforgettable stories. Born in Norfolk,VA, and raised everywhere as a military child, she developed a love of reading. Eventually, that love of reading evolved into a love of writing, which she channels through freelance writing work. She has a bachelor’s in business communications from Southern New Hampshire University and is working on her MFA in Creative Writing. She currently lives in Yelm, Washington with her black cat Luna.