John Howell, Founding Partner

Mediator, husband & dad, Milk Carton Derby champ

Recent projects include:

A Seattle native with strong ties to the local community, John specializes in project management, group facilitation and mediation, and community outreach.

John graduated from Franklin High School in South Seattle. He went on to receive a Bachelors degree from Rutgers University in New Jersey. After finishing college he worked for a planning department in a small town in New Jersey and then returned home. While looking for work, he volunteered for the campaign of one of the eight candidates running for Mayor of Seattle — Charles Royer.

In 1977 Royer won the mayoral election and at the age of 24, John became Special Assistant to the Mayor. He served as liaison to neighborhood groups and several city departments, including engineering, water, community development and the policy office. He worked with community groups to solve local noise, traffic, drainage and crime problems. John also worked closely with state and county officials negotiating public defense contracts, developing farmland preservation and parks bond issues, and securing large grants for combined sewer overflow (CSO) projects.

After four years in the Mayor’s office, John became Assistant Director in the City of Seattle Office of Management and Budget. John was responsible for preparing Mayoral recommendations on the $170 million capital budget, and the $14 million Community Development Block Grant Program. He supervised development and revision of energy, solid waste, housing and human resource policies.

In 1985 John returned to school to receive a graduate degree at Harvard University. He received a Masters in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government. While at Harvard, John was awarded the prestigious Lucius Littauer fellowship award for outstanding academic achievement.

After graduate school John started his own public affairs consulting firm specializing in policy analysis, conflict resolution, and long-range planning for public and private nonprofit agencies. He operated that business for four years, working on a wide variety of public policy projects, including serving as interim city manager for the City of Snoqualmie. He staffed a citizen committee examining the future of the Puget Sound Council of Governments, served as facilitator for the Port of Seattle Neighborhood Advisory Committee, and prepared analysis of long-range issues facing a regional hospital association.

In 1990, John returned to Harvard when Charles Royer left office after completing three successful terms as Mayor. Royer became the Director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University, and John left his consulting practice to join Royer as the Deputy Director at the Institute. He managed the daily operations of the Institute — a center designed to encourage discussions among political practitioners, scholars and undergraduate students.

Upon returning to Seattle at the end of 1992, John joined Cedar River Group. He has been a project manager for complex public policy projects, served as a facilitator for numerous successful negotiations, created strategic plans for a variety of nonprofit organizations, and organized and facilitated many board retreats and planning sessions. He has worked on regionally significant projects involving transportation, preservation of parks and open space, health care, early learning, homeless services, protection of endangered salmon species, affordable housing preservation and creation, arts and culture, support for agriculture, farmland protection, and neighborhood farmers’ markets.

John took a leave of absence from the firm for approximately 18 months in 1997/98 to serve as Interim CEO/President of PacMed Medical Clinics. He was responsible for the management and oversight of a multispecialty group practice with 120 physicians, 17 clinics located throughout King and Snohomish counties, annual revenues of $115 million, and approximately 700 staff. John worked closely with physician and administrative leadership to develop a financial turn-around strategy, requiring staff reductions, renegotiation of contracts and sale of assets.

John and his wife live in the Ravenna/Bryant neighborhood of Seattle. He is an avid skier, boater and gardener. And during many Seafair celebrations, his family and friends have enjoyed and even won the Green Lake Milk Carton Derby. He is the past Chair of the Board of Forterra (formerly the Cascade Land Conservancy), a five-county land trust that has negotiated some of the region’s largest land conservation transactions. He is also a board member of the Burke Museum Association and Washington Green Schools.

Back to top.