Meet Esprit Autenreith, the newest member of our Neighborhood Matching Fund team

Esprit Autenreith is an Administrative Specialist working as the self-proclaimed “paperwork wizard/witch” for the Neighborhood Matching Fund (NMF) program. She is responsible for tracking all things related to the Community Partnership Fund within NMF as well as providing basic administrative support to the whole team.

Get to know more about Esprit below:

Where did you grow up?

All over. I spent most of my childhood in Traverse City, MI, a tourist/resort town on the freshwater shores of Lake Michigan. Because you cannot see the other side of the lake from the shore, I felt like I was growing up on the ocean. In 25 years I’ve lived in Santos, Brasil, Chiang Mai, Thailand, San Francisco, Tucson, Leavenworth and, briefly, Perth, Australia. I moved to Seattle after graduating college in 2016 and, as far as permanent dwellings go, have not looked back.

What neighborhood do you call home?

Currently, the tippy top of Queen Anne hill – I’m looking to move in the next two months, however.

What makes your neighborhood special?

There is a lichen-and-fog air of mystery to Upper Queen Anne. It’s gentle, but it’s there. As a budding outdoor runner, I love and hate the dozens of staircases that scaffold so many side streets. I love the mix of food and culture in the stalls at the Farmer’s Market, the dog parks, the hole-in-the-wall bookstores, and the blocks of people eating outside. Kerry Park is just one of many nearby spots with a breathtaking view of the skyline.

People don’t all know each other here, but it’s small enough that I talk with my neighbors when I see them. The folks at a few coffee shops and hardware stores know what I’d like before I come in. Anyone who knows me knows I wanted to move to Queen Anne for the architecture – everywhere I see the juxtaposition of brick and glass: Victorian and Postmodern jockeying for position on the same side of the street.

What did you do prior to joining the Department of Neighborhoods? What excited you about the work?

I’m a non-profit gal. Before joining the city, I worked for organizations like Seattle Repertory Theatre, Tacoma Art Museum, and the City of Federal Way. I earned my BA in both technical theatre and sociology in 2016 and have been putting my knowledge of people, behavior, and communal narrative to work every day since.

What made you want to work at the Department of Neighborhoods?

Besides wanting to get in on the mind-boggling premise that neighborhoods are breathing, emotional, growing and decaying entities made up of thousands of smaller breathing, emotional, growing and decaying entities, I sought out the Department of Neighborhoods because it seemed a perfect fit for both my personal and professional trajectories. I know that building stronger and more interconnected communities makes for not only stronger cities, but more at-ease people and vibrant cultures. I’ve seen it. I want to aid in making it happen.

What’s your favorite place in Seattle and why?

On the beaten path: the tops of Columbia and Smith Towers, sailing on Puget Sound, and in the grass near the International Fountain.

Off the beaten path: The Ballard Farmer’s Market and the U-District Goodwill.

Also: Anywhere with a spiral staircase.

What are you passionate about?

Helping people live lives rich in dignity, health, purpose, and strong social ties. Ample creative outlets, too. A lot of my other passions flow into and bolster this mission (combating climate change, addressing and eliminating poverty, homelessness, non-living wages, reimagining healthcare, reimagining the prison industrial complex, promoting women, promoting education, preventing individual and institutional discrimination, particularly when it comes to race, etc.)

In a nutshell: helping people and communities to better themselves, to heal cultural wounds, to self-manifest. I consider it my life’s work.