Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

Welcoming our New Executive Director, Rian Watt!

EOI is excited to begin its next chapter under new leadership

Economic Opportunity Institute welcomes Rian Watt as new Executive Director.

Following a months-long search, the Economic Opportunity Institute is excited to announce Rian Watt as our next Executive Director, starting April 22, 2024.

Rian joins EOI from Community Solutions (CS), a national homelessness nonprofit. There, he served as the Strategy Lead for International Large-Scale Change, leading a team that designed and launched organizations building large-scale movements to end homelessness in Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, and the UK.

Prior to joining CS, Rian worked as a Senior Analyst at Abt Global, a research and evaluation firm based in Washington D.C. At Abt, he led and supported research, evaluation, and technical assistance projects for federal, state, and philanthropic clients, with a focus on economic security and anti-poverty efforts.

Rian has also served in leadership roles with numerous organizations in and around Seattle. He serves on the boards of the statewide land use organization Futurewise and the Third Door Coalition, a group focused on advocating for Permanent Supportive Housing in King County. Rian is also currently the part-time Executive Director of The Urbanist, an advocacy journalism organization covering housing, transportation, and land use. He will be transitioning to the role of Senior Advisor as he joins EOI.

“Humbled and honored”

Rian says he’s “humbled and honored” to join the Economic Opportunity Institute, adding that he’s eager to build on “EOI’s impressive track record of delivering concrete policy wins for Washingtonians.”

“I've spent the last eight years of my career working to end homelessness; it's clear to me that effort is inseparable from the work of building an economy that leaves nobody behind. EOI has been in that fight for the last quarter-century, and I'm eager to put my shoulder to the wheel – alongside staff, Board, donors, partners, and allies – to keep building an economy that works for everyone.” - Rian Watt

EOI’s hiring committee – led by Board President Michael Tamayo and comprised of both Board and staff members – partnered with Clover Search Works to design and run a thoughtful and inclusive recruitment process. This process looked both nationwide and locally for our next leader and ultimately ended up finding the right choice in our own backyard.

“The EOI Board is confident that Rian’s experience, skills, and approach are uniquely well-suited to helping EOI chart its course and deliver on its mission for all Washingtonians,” said Michael.

Traci Underwood and Aaron Keating, who have jointly served as interim co-Executive Directors since last May, will return to their roles as Policy Director and Managing Director, respectively, while supporting the transition ahead.

“It has been an honor to serve in a leadership role with Traci these past 12 months, and I’m looking forward to supporting Rian’s success,” said Aaron. Traci stated that she is “excited to see EOI return to full capacity,” observing that “the entire staff team is looking forward to writing the next chapter in the organization’s history with Rian.”

Meet Rian in person at one of EOI’s upcoming events

Rian is excited not only to work with EOI’s staffers, but also to meet our community. If you’d like to congratulate him, share your ideas, and get to know his vision, there are several opportunities coming up.

EOI Espresso and Economics

Join us for coffee at one of our noontime Espresso and Economics events in Seattle. You’ll have a chance to connect one-on-one with members of EOI’s policy team, ask questions, and share your thoughts – and Rian will be there too! Please RSVP here.

Espresso and Economics:
    • April 25th – Chocolati in Greenwood
    • May 9th – EOI’s New Office in Westlake
    • May 23rd – Chuck’s Hop Shop in Seward Park

We’d also love to see you at our 2024 Changemakers Dinner! The event will be held on Thursday, September 19 at Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion. We’ll release more details soon. Subscribe to our emails for the latest updates.


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