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Ben Franz-Knight | Past President

Class of 1996, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Sculpture

Portrait: Ben Franz-KnightWhy I Serve

I deeply love Seattle and made up my mind early that I wanted to attend UW. I joined a FIG, Freshman Interest Group, focused on the arts. It allowed me to interact with like minded students and engage in great, informed conversations. When I first walked into the art department, I just immediately felt at home and knew that’s what I wanted.

I was also obsessed with bicycles and rode all around campus. I finally got a job as a mechanic in the ASUW bike shop and eventually became manager. That experience taught me the essence of how to manage and run nonprofits. In many ways, that was the foundation on which I built my career. From the classroom, I took away the lesson of thinking deeply and engaging in critical thinking. From the job, those early lessons taught discipline and working with others.

The UW is an incredibly important institution that’s woven into the fabric of the area. It helps grow folks who occupy critical roles from governance to running businesses, managing organizations and more. We are stewards of that mission. Now more than ever, we have a significant responsibility to support higher education opportunities and ensure everyone has access.


Ben is a Partner with SOJ – a Pacific Northwest firm that specializes in complex public and public/private development projects including the Seattle Aquarium Ocean Pavilion Project, Public Safety Facilities, Convention Centers, Sports Arenas, Civic Spaces and Schools. He has more than 18 years of experience with nonprofit and private business, education and the arts. Prior to joining SOJ in 2017 Ben served as the Executive Director of the Pike Place Market from 2010 to 2017 and the Executive Director of the Santa Monica Pier from 2002 to 2010.