Disruptive Innovation

in the Civic Sphere

Civic Ventures


Civic Ventures is a small group of political troublemakers devoted to ideas, policies, and actions that catalyze significant social change. We are serial innovators in the civic space who favor the kind of big, disruptive ideas that upturn conventional thinking. Though we promote many progressive concepts, we’re not beholden to the traditional political framework of liberal versus conservative; an idea’s value and utility should be more important than its origin. By thinking, writing, and acting outside the realm of conventional political discourse, Civic Ventures plans to drive the conversation and fundamentally alter the status quo in Seattle, Washington state, and the United States.


Nick Hanauer

Nick Hanauer is the founder of Civic Ventures. He is a successful business leader, entrepreneur and venture capitalist. Hanauer was the first non-family investor in Amazon.com, and a company he founded, aQuantive, later sold to Microsoft for 6.4 billion dollars. In recent years, Hanauer has established himself as a civic innovator, public speaker, and fierce critic of America’s growing income inequality. He co-authored two bestselling books — The True Patriot and Gardens of Democracy — and his policy pieces for outlets like Politico, Bloomberg News and TED have gone viral, reaching audiences of tens of millions.

Zach Silk

Zach Silk is the President and Chief Troublemaker for Civic Ventures. He oversees strategy, outreach, and policy development. He is an experienced civic leader and entrepreneur. Silk’s most notable recent successes include managing the successful campaign to pass and defend Washington State’s marriage equality law in 2012 (Approve Referendum 74) and co-founding the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility and managing Initiative 594, the successful ballot measure that requires background checks on all gun sales. 

Stephanie Ervin

Stephanie Ervin heads up Civic Ventures’ special projects. She has worked on political campaigns for Governor Christine Gregoire, Congresswoman Susan DelBene, and most recently served as the Deputy Campaign Manager for Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility during the passage of Initiative 594, the successful ballot measure that requires background checks on all gun sales. Ervin specializes in community organizing, outreach, and public policy matters.

David Goldstein

David “Goldy” Goldstein, senior fellow at Civic Ventures, is an expert in Washington state policy, economic philosophy, and propaganda. He has written about politics for The Stranger, The Nation and the Huffington Post. From 2006 through 2008, he hosted The David Goldstein Show on Seattle’s news/talk 710-KIRO, and has been pissing off readers at his blog HorsesAss.org for more than a decade.

Paul Constant

Paul Constant is a fellow at Civic Ventures, specializing in implementation, editing, and the day-to-day focus of the Civic Skunk Works blog. He has written about politics, arts, and culture for Newsweek, The Progressive, the Utne Reader, and alternative weeklies around the US and Canada. From 2010 through 2015, he served as the national politics reporter for Seattle alternative weekly The Stranger. 

Nick Cassella

Nick Cassella is the head researcher and social media manager for Civic Ventures, as well as a blogger at Civic Skunk Works. He studied International Relations at the University of St Andrews, Scotland and served as a fundraiser for Initiative 594, the successful ballot measure that requires background checks on all gun sales.

Hanna Olsen

Hanna Brooks Olsen is a Project Manager for Civic Ventures, as well as a contributor to Civic Skunk Works. She is a long-time journalist who has covered beats ranging from economic policy and politics to sports and new media in The Atlantic, Salon, the Nation, Fast Company, and the Huffington Post. She’s a regular contributor to the the Daily Dot, where she covers homelessness and income inequality, and is a co-founding editor of Seattlish.com.