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Steven AmesSteven Ames is a consulting long-range planner and a founding principal of NXT Consulting Group, LLC. He is also the principal of Steven Ames Planning, a private consultancy providing long-range planning services for an international urban planning clientele.

Much of Steven’s work has focused on developing long-range strategic plans for public agencies and institutions. In this capacity, he has advised local, state, provincial and federal government agencies, state court systems, health advocacy and aging care organizations, and institutions of higher education. Steven’s work for NXT is concentrated on process design, facilitation and plan development.

Described as an “architect of public process,” Steven is widely recognized for his work in community visioning and civic engagement. He is the author of the award-winning American Planning Association (APA) handbook A Guide to Community Visioning and innovator of its Oregon Model. He has advised the long-range planning efforts of more than 75 cities and towns in North America and overseas, including two generations of visions for the city of Portland, Oregon (Portland Future Focus, VisionPDX).

Over the years, Steven has consulted on numerous community-based visioning projects in the Western U.S., including Washington's Wenatchee Valley (Our Valley, our Future), Oregon's Central Coast (Greater Newport Area Vision 2040), North Idaho (Coeur d’Alene 2030), Central Oregon (Bend 2030), the Big Island of Hawai’i (Envision Downtown Hilo 2025), Portland metropolitan area (Hillsboro 2020), Arizona's Colorado Plateau (Flagstaff 2020), South Texas (BoldFuture for the Coastal Bend), and the collective communities of the Columbia River Gorge (Columbia Gorge Future Forum).

Outside the U.S., Steven has advised local, regional, and state/provincial governments in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, including Alberta Municipal Affairs (Alberta 2020), greater Christchurch, New Zealand (Future Path Canterbury), and the Australian cities of Brisbane (CityShape), Canberra (Canberra Spatial Plan), and Gold Coast City Council (Bold Future). More recently he advised the Committee for Perth in Western Australia and the Queensland Government’s statewide, community-based Queensland Plan.

Steven speaks often on planning for the future and the relationship between civic vision and community stewardship, sustainability and resilience. He has taught master classes in visioning, and has contributed to numerous publications, including the American Planning Association (APA) major reference work Planning and Urban Design Standards. He is a recipient of Oregon APA Award for Distinguished Leadership by a Professional Planner.

Steven was the first Craig Byrne Fellow of the Orton Family Foundation, a private foundation dedicated to helping small towns enrich and protect their sense of place. He authored the Foundation's Stewarding the Future of Our Communities, and contributed to its Community Heart & Soul™ Field Guide, a technical manual for community-based planning.

Steven holds an A.B. degree in political science from Drew University, College of Liberal Arts, Madison, New Jersey, and an M.S. degree in natural resources from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he studied environmental advocacy and long-range planning. He has also studied with faculty of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Donald RushmerA senior executive with extensive experience in development, implementation and operation of programs and services in research, education and health, Donald Rushmer has exceptional skills and experience in strategic and financial planning, personnel management, budgeting, and institutional development. His consulting work with NXT focuses on strategic issues identification, environmental scanning, visioning, strategic planning and organizational development for higher education institutions and non-profit organizations primarily involved in education, health care delivery and research.

As managing partner and principal of NXT Consulting, he has led or facilitated long-range planning projects for Vancouver General Hospital, Vancouver, British Columbia, Pacific University, Forest Grove, Oregon, St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa, Linfield College (Portland Campus), Portland, Oregon, Portland State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs at its IUPUI campus in Indianapolis and its IU Bloomington campus in Bloomington, Indiana, as well as Portland Community College. In addition, he has led organizational development initiatives and served on boards of a number of nonprofit organizations.

Educated as a research scientist, Don worked for 20 years in research and research administration. He developed the concept, obtained funding from a private foundation, created research facilities and became the first executive director of the Neurological Sciences Institute at Good Samaritan Hospital and Medical Center in Portland conducting basic and clinical research in the neurosciences. The Institute ultimately became a major research program of Oregon Health and Sciences University.

Rushmer then moved to higher education administration as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs of Pacific University in Oregon. He developed and led the University's first consensus based strategic planning process, implemented new models for budgeting and financial projections that led to greatly increased accuracy in revenue and expense projections and provided effective prioritization and implementation of strategic planning initiatives.

In 1999, Dr. Rushmer became Executive Director of the Frederick C. Artz Center for Developmental Health, a private, multidisciplinary non-profit clinic serving children with speech, hearing, and developmental issues including autism and other neurological and behavioral issues. Designed to serve the children and their families with a full spectrum of clinical services, the program tripled in size and budget during his tenure.

Dr. Rushmer has a B.S. in biological sciences from Antioch College and a Ph.D. in neurobiology/physiology from the University of Rochester. He was also a Senior Fellow of the International Executive Forum of the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute, La Jolla, California.

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Ruth Williamson


Principal, Ruth Williamson Consulting

Ruth Williamson, B.A., ACC, CDFW is principal of Ruth Williamson Consulting. As a leadership coach and organizational culture consultant, Ruth helps generate collective vision by paying attention to the intersection of whole systems and building upon the subtler aspects of common ground. She works to optimize group outcomes with a deepened sense of connection between team members and sustained ownership of the process.

For more than 25 years, Ruth has worked with local government and contributed to a broad spectrum of community and non-profit organizations. Her passion for community building has led to local elected positions, major consulting projects, and a reputation as an effective civic activist, especially in the areas of parks and recreation, environmental policy, land use planning, and local governance. Among her more recent projects are the Oregon Recreation & Parks Association strategic plan (with NXT Consulting), the Trust for Public Land's Deschutes Country Greenprint plan, and the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project.

Ruth's first-hand experience in community visioning and planning is unparalleled – as an action team member for the groundbreaking Bend (Oregon) 2030 visioning process and Board Chair of its successor nonprofit organization entrusted with implementation of the citizen-generated vision and action plan. As convener of the Bend 2030 Leadership Alliance, Ruth also successfully engaged business and community leadership with citizen voices, identifying the crossroads of public, private and civic interests, sustaining the Bend vision during a critical juncture in its implementation.

Ruth holds a B.A. degree from the University of Washington. Her educational background also includes an ACC coaching credential through the International Coaching Federation as a graduate of the Hudson Institute, and a CDWF credential to facilitate The Daring Way™ curriculum, based upon the research of Dr. Brené Brown. She draws upon the latest resources and best practices for building trust, respect, and sustainable collaborative outcomes in her professional practice.

Jillian Taylor


Principal, Jillian Taylor Consulting

Jillian Taylor, B.A., M.S.O.D. is principal and business strategist of Jillian Taylor Consulting. As a planning strategist and organizational development consultant, Jillian facilitates public and private leaders to gain clarity on their vision, mission and values. She also leads clients through a process to identify strategic priorities and guides them to implement complex initiatives. Jillian is known for helping groups navigate conflict and difficult topics to seek alignment with common priorities.

For more than 20 years, Jillian has worked with private companies and non-profit organizations to focus their teams, gain clarity on priorities, and hold each other accountable for results. Recently, Jillian managed the Oregon Recreation & Parks Association strategic planning project (with NXT Consulting), and led the Oregon Economic Development District organization to define their eighteen-month strategic priorities, based on a five-year vision. She has worked with multiple non-profits including Economic Development of Central Oregon (EDCO) and EPIC Property Management for low-income housing. She also has led the City Club of Central Oregon through a strategic planning and rebranding initiative.

Jillian is passionate about community visioning and planning, and immediately upon moving to Central Oregon reached out to join the Bend 2030 board. Bend 2030 is a non-profit formed as an outcome of a city-initiated community visioning process. She was asked to lead the board through a three-year strategic plan and currently serves as Board Chair. In this role, she guides the organization to address current complex growth issues, such as the need for a comprehensive multi-modal transportation plan, encouraging development of middle marketing housing, and engaging under-represented voices in public policy. During her tenure, Bend 2030 has adopted the Stanford Collective Impact model for addressing complex public issues.

Jillian holds a Master of Science in Organization Development degree from Central Washington University. Additional training includes certification as an executive coach, and tools such as Strengths Finder, Hogan Leadership, Myers-Briggs and DISC for teams.

Steve Maher

Steve Maher

Principal, Steve Maher New Media

Steve Maher is owner and principal of Steve Maher New Media, a Washington-based communications, public relations and project management business. Among Steve's expertise are such specific skills as community campaigns and public outreach, public event design and delivery, working with traditional print and broadcast media, website management and social media, online survey research and analysis, and strategic planning report development.

Steve's consulting work in recent years has focused on community campaigns and community outreach and engagement projects. These include the groundbreaking Our Valley, Our Future project, a visioning, planning and community-building initiative in Wenatchee Valley, Washington, for which he has served as contract Outreach Coordinator and then Project Coordinator.

In recent years, Steve has also worked with the $8.5 million Chelan-Douglas Land Trust/The Trust for Public Land Wenatchee Foothills Campaign, in which he served as contract Community Coordinator. He also oversaw on contract a two-year research and analysis project for the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Visitor Impressions Project.

Steve's other clients have included the Port of Douglas County, City of Wenatchee Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, Wenatchee Tourism Promotion Area Group, Mission Ridge Ski & Snowboard Resort, and the Leavenworth Winter Sports Club.

Prior to establishing his consulting firm, Steve completed a 25-year career in the newspaper industry as an editor and reporter, including at The Wenatchee World and Eugene Register-Guard. In addition to his ownership of Steve Maher New Media, Steve is a partner in RunWenatchee LLC and AdventureWenatchee LLC, two outdoor recreation businesses in Central Washington.

A native of Portland, Oregon, Steve attended the University of Oregon and Carroll College in Helena, Montana.

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Marvin Kaiser

Marvin Kaiser, Ph.D., MSW

Marvin Kaiser, Ph.D., MSW is a senior executive with extensive experience and leadership in both the not-for-profit and public settings. His work has provided leadership to multiple programmatic, policy and research initiatives and community organizing and fund development activities ranging from local and community settings to national and international organizations. In these leadership roles of policy, research, organizational and community development, Marvin’s work has emphasized the importance of partnerships along with strategic visioning and planning to ensure programmatic impact with desired outcomes. With an educational and practice background as a social worker and gerontologist, the content focus of much of Marvin’s work has been educational policy and practice, social and health services for older adults, community and volunteer service programs, and community and economic development.

Marvin’s leadership has come through a wide range of settings. Among these leadership opportunities, he has served as consultant to the United Nations Program on Aging, the United States Agency for International Development aging initiative, the Select Committee on Aging of the United States House of Representatives and multiple long-term care communities. As professor and academic dean at both Kansas State and Portland State universities, he has led the development of significant academic, research and service learning programs. He has served as the Executive Director of an inner-city volunteer health clinic for indigent clients, developed of a rural home health agency and initiated statewide economic and community development programs for rural communities. On behalf of the Portland Mayor’s Office, he served as the co-chair of the VisionPDX initiative to lead a public engagement process to develop and support a shared vision and resulting plan for Portland’s future. He has also served as the CEO of Mary’s Woods at Marylhurst, a life plan community in Lake Oswego, Oregon. While serving on several community boards, he continues his Encore work with Catholic Charities of Oregon and the Jessie F. Richardson Foundation to build and expand programs and partnerships to address the social, health and housing needs of older adults in both urban and rural settings throughout Oregon.

Marvin has a B.A. in Philosophy from Cardinal Glennon College, St. Louis, MO, an MSW from the University of Kansas and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is the Dean Emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Portland State University and a W.K.Kellogg Fellow.

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