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. 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 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 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 spanyell.wix.com/danielbeers.
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 Historylink.org and the Columbia magazine.
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 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.
Gabriella Kinner is a writer and marketing professional based out of the South Puget Sound. She is a creative and enthusiastic writer with a passionate approach for communication and storytelling. Gabriella was born and raised on a small island in the Pacific Northwest, which inspired her love of wildlife and the great outdoors. Outside of work, she can often times be found hiking in the mountains or behind the lens of her camera, along with fueling her love for cooking, and volunteering at a number of wonderful South Sound non-profit organizations.
Gale Hemmann works at a nonprofit in Pierce County. When she’s not working, she helps with her dad’s typewriter restoration business, Marty’s Typewriters. She enjoys spending time with family, church, exploring Tacoma, and animals. She enjoys all things vintage. Gale splits her time between Tacoma and Olympia, calling both places “home.” She has contributed to SouthSoundTalk and ThurstonTalk since 2013.
Michael Berry teaches music classes at the University of Washington. He performs regularly with several local orchestras, and has written a book about rap music. When he’s not teaching, performing, or writing, he enjoys spending time with his family, cycling, and running. You can learn more at his website.
Amanda Bretz is a journalist, romance author and communications professional. She loves telling stories and has been spinning tales since childhood. Born in a tiny town in southern Illinois coal country and raised throughout the Midwest and the South, Amanda has called Tacoma home since 2014 and loves the dramatic scenery and temperate weather of the Pacific Northwest. Besides writing, Amanda’s other interests are reading, cooking, coffee, craft beer, spending time outdoors, snapping photos and connecting with others on social media, especially Instagram.
Kaitlin Armstrong is a writer, non-profit professional and aspiring radio producer. A Pacific Northwest transplant by way of Alaska, Texas and Mexico, she holds a degree in Hispanic Studies and Global Studies from Pacific Lutheran University. She lives with her husband in South Tacoma and spends her free time cooking, singing and retreating into nature.