SouthSoundTalk Team

Martin McElliott, VP of Sales

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.


Dan Jones, Founder, Research and Development

Dan has been running his own businesses in the technology realm for the last 12 years. He currently has around 35 team members working between his 3 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.

Stephen Backholm, VP of Technology

Stephen is passionate about using technology to help businesses succeed.  He has 12+ years 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.

Kristin Kendle, Community Editor

Kristin Kendle received her Bachelor of Arts in English/Writing and a minor in publishing and printing arts from Pacific Lutheran University. Her official work background includes writing, editing and freelancing for book presses, print publications and websites alike, but these days her heart is in the digital world and she loves the fast-paced nature of  publishing online. However, she really does try to get off of her laptop sometimes and also enjoys hiking, traveling domestically and internationally, and just about any kind of creative pursuit from making jewelry to painting.

Mariah Beckman

Mariah Beckman is a writer and editor in the Pacific Northwest. A transplant from the cloudless skies and arid heat of the Arizona desert, Mariah spends most of her time in South Hill trying not to feel soggy. Mariah holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Arizona State University, and spends much of her free time with her beau, her family, and her pot-bellied pig, Bebop. When she’s not pretending to know how to knit, she loves to run, hike, kayak, shop, snap photos, and explore the nooks and crannies of the South Sound and beyond.

Daniel Beers

Daniel Beers is a freelance writer who rage quit his life in a cubicle in 2014. Originally from upstate New York, he moved to the Pacific Northwest because he doesn’t have to shovel rain. He is also the author of four novels. He enjoys good beer and despises reality television. His shenanigans are generally recorded at his website at

Carly Calabrese

Carly Calabrese has been a writer for since December 2014. In addition to freelance writing, Carly has been in business for herself for three years, providing writing and editing services to help market business owners and career seekers. Carly was voted best essay writer in Puyallup, Washington, according to in August 2015 (within less than 3 months of joining Thumbtack) and wrote a “Circle of Kindness” article that is published in Women’s World Magazine’s December 17, 2015 issue. To learn more or connect with Carly, please visit:

Chelsea Clark

Chelsea Clark has lived surrounded by Puget Sound all her life. Raised on Vashon Island, and now living in Lakewood, she knows there’s no other place than the Pacific Northwest that she’ll ever call home. There’s something about being able to see the mountains, the trees, and the water on a daily basis — and often all three at once — that she can’t quite get over. When Chelsea isn’t working as a freelance writer or studying for her Master’s degree in Health and Wellness Coaching, you’ll find her camping and hiking in the woods, making baked goods in the kitchen, or harvesting fresh produce in her family’s large garden.

Steve Dunkelberger

Steve Dunkelberger has been a working journalist for more than 15 years at various publications around Washington’s Puget Sound region after receiving his journalism training at Western Washington University, where he also received a BA in Journalism and a minor in History. He started his journalism career locally by working a stint as a reporter and then editor of the Lakewood Journal. He was then the editor of the Business Examiner newspaper. He is now a news writer/ online editor at Pierce County Community Newspaper Group, which is a locally owned group of newspapers that includes the Tacoma Weekly, the Fife Free Press, the Milton-Edgewood Signal and the Puyallup Tribal News. He also does freelance writing and photography projects for web sites in Pierce County. He is also a judge for the Society of Professional Journalists national Sigma Delta Chi Journalism Awards as well as has been a lecturer on issues facing journalists. He is also a member of the Knights of the Pythias and several ukulele groups. He has written two history books on the city of Lakewood and is working on one about McNeil Island as well as had several of his historical articles published on and the Columbia magazine.

Jackie Fender

Jackie Casella has been a resident of Tacoma and surrounding areas since she was just a glimmer. Having recently “retired” from her many years as a slinger of the booze she is now self employed as a regular contributor to the Weekly Volcano, Assistant Producer of Duchess of Downtown Tours, Marketing Assistant for Puyallup Main Street Association and Founder of literary website, Creative Colloquy. Jackie considers herself a fervent creative community enthusiast and strives through various projects to foster the positive growth of the Tacoma community. Beginning her professional writing career with an internship with City Arts Magazine, after moving up the ranks to freelance contributor every project since then has been with a Tacomacentric mentality. Previous creative/community endeavors include Wrist Magazine, Art on the Ave and non-profit Peace Out.

Sonia Garza

Sonia Garza was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, and is a proud Army wife and mother of two. She attended Sam Houston State University and received her BA in Speech Communications and her Masters Degree from Our Lady of the Lake University in Non-profit Management. Her passions are hosting parties, planning fundraising events and helping others. When she’s not planning, you’ll find her writing, traveling, taking pictures and spending time with her family. 

Ily Goyanes

Ily Goyanes writes about culture, lifestyle, news and food for publications from coast to coast, including NPR/WLRN, the Miami New Times (Village Voice Media), Wedding Guide magazine, the Bremerton Patriot, and many more. She is also an award-winning fiction author and editor and has been featured many times on the radio and in domestic and international publications. Goyanes served as a panelist at the 2012 Miami Book Fair International and at the 2014 Meet the Media panel for the Arts & Business Council of Miami, and has served as judge and judging committee chairperson for several literary award contests. She thoroughly enjoys the many adventures she experiences while on the beat for SouthSoundTalk. 

Gatlin Johnson

Gatlin is a freelance writer connecting companies doing amazing work with audiences who need to see it. Gatlin thrives on translating what companies do into a language their audience can understand.  He looks to make sense of and promote items or careers that improve the lives of others.

Shelby Taylor

Shelby is responsible for planning, implementing, executing and evaluating all aspects of the Humane Society for Pierce County’s signature fundraising event, Dog-A-Thon, as well as smaller events throughout the year. When not telling the stories of Tacoma’s furry friends, Shelby explores South Sound’s nooks and crannies with pen in hand, sharing her home with readers.

RC Victorino

RC Victorino is a freelance writer, content strategist and published author. Born and raised in NYC, he always knew one day he would live in the Pacific Northwest, and finally realized his dream in 2015. Aside from managing his own freelance career, RC spends most of his time on a bike, on trails, in a kayak, or on a leash attached to his dogs. You can learn more about RC at or @rcvictorino.

Shelby Beckwith

Shelby Beckwith is a writer born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Since graduating from Central Washington University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts – English in Professional and Creative Writing, Shelby has continued to work on writing novels and freelance writing. When she’s not writing, Shelby loves to go on grand adventures around the Sound, read books, go to concerts and go camping. Shelby spends her life with her husband, two cats, two dogs and a grumpy hedgehog.

Michelle Robinson

Michelle Robinson has worked for as a freelance writer since July 2016, where she has finally put that English/writing/printing and publishing degree to good use. She specializes in reporting on the various small businesses that grace the South Sound. She is a Pierce County native who is delighted to see Tacoma’s renaissance and the rising appreciation for this area’s diversity, culture and outdoor activities. When Michelle is not writing articles for SouthSoundTalk, she can be found working in corporate America, at the Y, on a walk, drinking wine, eating chocolate, reading, rose gardening, trying to knit, irritating her grown children or researching boutique restaurants where people have conversations versus stare at the sports channel.

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