Kathryn Gardow brings more than thirty years of accomplishments in diverse land use, public works, infrastructure and organizational leadership initiatives. Her expertise as a civil engineer, land use planner, and regulatory expert includes notable large-scale master-planned communities in the Puget Sound region. Dedicated to preserving and keeping organic farmland productive in perpetuity, Kathryn served as Executive Director of PCC Farmland Trust. In that capacity, she grew the scope and impact of the nation’s only organic farmland trust to a million-dollar operation.
Kathryn is widely known as passionate and effective in regional and Washington policy advocacy on behalf of local farming and strengthening our regional food system. She serves in diverse capacities as a strategic partner among government, business and philanthropy, including past leadership on the board of Food Action (formerly Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network) and former Director of PCC Natural Markets. She has served statewide as the past Vice Chair of Washington’s Public Works Board, member of Washington’s Farmland Advisory Board, and currently serves as a Citizen Member on Washington’s Recreation and Conservation Funding Board. Equally active in her northeast Seattle neighborhood, Kathryn is a Director of the Burke Gilman Place Public Development Authority. She holds a Master of Business Administration from the Foster School at the University of Washington and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Union College. Kathryn was in ULI’s NW District’s inaugural Center for Sustainable Leadership class and taught the Puget Sound as a Bio-Region session for three years.
Why are you motivated to participate in the Health Leaders Network? How will your participation enhance your current and future work?
Building communities with a health focus is the future of the real estate development industry. Today, the real estate and lending industries are too focused on building what has worked in the past, because of expected financial returns instead of building to the future. For real estate to change, the industry needs successful examples, strong financial metrics, and compelling stories to focus and build healthy communities. Neighborhood and social networks are built and strengthened through shared activities, such as walkable communities, trails, playgrounds, farming, gardening, and shared eating and community events. Blueberry bushes, plum trees, kale, or other edible landscaping can augment more traditional landscaping and enhance green stormwater infrastructure proposals, while re-thinking and executing how landscape maintenance dollars are spent.
All of these health focused strategies must be vetted, analyzed and evaluated for their impact on real estate development financials and returns by ULI’s Healthy Leaders Network. By adding community gardens and edible landscaping to a project, can units be sold or leased for higher values? Do projects hold longer term value with amenities focused on health and well-being? I am motivated to be part of the Healthy Leaders Network discussions to answer these types of questions and more. Answers to these questions will strengthen the health and well-being of future residential and mixed-use development projects I work on.