Much of what John Hoyt has achieved in his adult life has been the result of his willingness to take risks and push beyond his comfort zone.
When Hoyt was at Park School in his sophomore year he had a lead role in the school musical, Bye-Bye Birdie.
“It was the first time I did any sort of musical, and it was the result of finally saying, ‘It’s time to stop playing hockey and try other things.’ I only did it because of the support of a teacher, Peter Williamson, who encouraged me to let go of my fear and take on something like that.”
In addition to his time on stage and in the classroom, Hoyt spent hours on the soccer, lacrosse, and football fields, as well as the hockey rink. He was recruited to play soccer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Russian and Eastern European studies.
“I really wanted to use my time at UNC to do something, like Bye-Bye Birdie, completely foreign to me,” he recalls. “Russian and Eastern European studies were something I thought would push my boundaries and my comfort level.”
After college, Hoyt decided he wanted to “get away from what I knew, and I drove to Alaska with a friend. For five months we built log cabins, went whitewater rafting. Then, not sure what to do next, I went back to what I knew, which was politics. I ended up getting a job with Walter Mondale during the 1984 presidential campaign.”
In 1986, Hoyt managed operations for Hands Across America, a national fundraising event. Shortly after, he decided it was time for a change. A voice told him “go West, young man,” and he chose Seattle. Hoyt did some political work there and worked for a public relations firm. After four years he struck out on his own.
“I asked myself whether I could create something that focuses on issues and projects that are really important to what I believe … the non-profit world, social services, and the environment. I always felt underserved communities weren’t being represented on public policy issues or in communications forums, so I started Pyramid Communications back in 1992.”
Pyramid’s first client was an up-and-coming Seattle band named Pearl Jam.
“I produced their first free concert and did all their politics. They had a social activist, ‘give back to the community’ streak that I was attracted to.” He also did debate negotiations for the Clinton for President campaign with two other people.
“That was kind of the launch of Pyramid.”
Hoyt thrives on crafting solutions to what sometimes appear to be unsolvable issues. Clients include the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship, KEXP, the Yakama Nation, the Seattle Art Museum, Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, the Sealaska Corporation, and Seattle Public Schools.
In the past few years, Hoyt has focused primarily on Indian nations and non-profit organizations that serve Native Americans.
“I would say that my time spent at Park really led me to understand the power of nature and the need to protect what we have,” he says. “The Park School campus is really a jewel in that you have access to nature for exploration that you don’t have at any other campus in the city.”
Hoyt recalls with special fondness his second grade teacher, Winnie Evers. He says her “curiosity about life” has stayed with him. An English teacher he had at Park, Sue DeWitt’, “had a passion for words and storytelling” that resonates with Hoyt in his career.
“For our family, I think we’ve had more relatives go to Park since it opened than anyone else,” John says. “Some people have their summer houses that they go to; the Hoyt family has The Park School. It really is a community that is still with me, that gives me the confidence to go out in the world and build my own community.
"Reflecting on organizations that have made a difference in my life, I recently decided to include Park in my legacy planning. I hope it's a good long time before they get it, but feel good knowing that I'll be helping the School well into its future."