Lisa Howe Verhovek


Lisa is a community connector with deep roots in civic engagement. She helps bring diverse groups of people together to define a shared vision, get at the core of what they want to achieve, and create a roadmap to get there. Prior to Uncommon, Lisa served as the community relations manager for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, creating its first formal civic engagement program and managing the public affairs related to the opening of its Seattle-based world headquarters. As director of communications at Philanthropy Northwest before that, she helped to align collaborative action spanning a six-state region.

A natural communicator, Lisa has always been passionate about the power stories have to connect people and spur important change. Her graduate work focused on the representation of cultures, working with museums and studying the Cree Nation in Quebec as they fought for the cancellation of a hydro-electric dam that would have flooded a huge part of their land. This was the catalyst to what she calls her “crazy quilt” career in communications and engagement -- helping organizations to achieve their goals, and people and communities to connect by finding, owning, and informing their narratives.

Lisa served for many years on the boards of Seattle CityClub and Seattle Arts & Lectures. Her belief in the power of writing inspires her to support young writers through programs such as Writers in Schools and the Bureau of Fearless Ideas (formerly 826 Seattle), of which she was a founding board member.

When Lisa is not driving change for her clients, she’s outside in her garden or walking her dog, reading the news and whatever good fiction she can get her hands on, and hanging out with her husband and three grown children on both coasts. She is married to journalist and author Sam Howe Verhovek.

The real Lisa:

Hidden talent:  I can tie a beautiful bowline knot with my eyes shut, a result of my many years as a Sea Scout. 

Easily swayed by:  My three children, Gordie, Alice, and Johnny. They give me hope for the future.  

Favorite guilty pleasure:  Cape Cod Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips. 

Travel essential: A cozy scarf and warm socks. 

Life motto or quote that really resonates with you: An Eleanor Roosevelt quote that is taped to my computer monitor: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Having that little bit of edge every day makes me feel alive.  

Beach, mountain, or city? I love all three, but beach is #1.