Former Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire poses with her family and former U.S. Representatives Norm Dicks and Jim McDermott.

“The Evans School is a very unique public policy school,” former Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire said. “Every public policy school emphasizes policy, but very few of them emphasize policy implementation. At the Evans School, you get both and they do it very well. From my experience, it is one thing to make policy, but it is an entire different thing to design, to implement, and put policy in place.”

The Evans School Fellowship Dinner, held on the UW’s campus on October 4, was a tremendous success, bringing Evans School alumni and supporters together to celebrate public service—and raise more than $335,000 for graduate student fellowships. The numbers reflected the feeling attendees felt in the room: determination and hope.

Speakers included: alumni Edie Gillis (MPA ’11) and Harold Taniguchi (MPA ’90), Dean Sandy Archibald, former Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation executive and current Advisory Board member Martha Choe, UW Alumni Association Executive Director Paul Rucker (MPA ’02) as the evening’s emcee, and our keynote speaker former Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire. Each speaker emphasized the transformative education the Evans School offers.

“Nearly twenty years ago, I walked into Parrington Hall and changed my life,” Rucker said in his opening remarks. “The Evans School just a few weeks ago welcomed its largest incoming class in its history. And under the tireless leadership of Dean Archibald it has seen its rankings go to fourth in the nation for schools of public administration.”

Dean Archibald poses with Advisory Board member Martha Choe.

Dean Archibald gave a brief overview of the Campaign for the Evans School. The campaign, launched at last year’s Fellowship Dinner, has three main goals: renovating Parrington Hall to be a modern learning environment, increasing the opportunities for students and faculty to translate their research in real-time to help address real-world scenarios, and to increase access to our premier degree programs by increasing the number of fellowships we offer.

“Evans School students are a worthy investment,” she said. “I want to make sure that students can choose their career based not on the need to pay off the debt they carry, but on the best fit for their skills, their passions, and their interests.”

Dean Archibald explained that one of the important aspects of student fellowships is that they allow the Evans School to attract students that would not otherwise have pursued an advanced degree.

“In order to attract the world’s best talent to public service, we need fellowships,” Dean Archibald said. 

Edie Gillis (MPA ‘11), Resilience Director for the City of Seattle, took to the podium to share how the Evans School prepared her for to meet challenges with resiliency.

Harold Taniguchi (MPA ‘90) shared how the lessons he learned at the Evans School still inform his day-to-day work as the Director of King County Department of Transportation.

Advisory Board member Martha Choe offered attendees the opportunity to invest in graduate education, and reflected on the value of the Evans School in the face of challenges in the public sector. 

“Good policy is hard to crack,” she said. “In order to make good policy you need smart people, good data, and facts. Facts matter. This school exemplifies everything that a public servant is. Public policy isn’t theoretical; it affects real people, real families.”

Choe then delivered a call for support of Evans School fellowships.

“This is our community,” she said. “This is our future and we have a chance to make a difference. You can’t ask for a better return on investment than the Evans School.”

Governor Gregoire spoke with passion and heart as the keynote speaker, imploring attendees to consider what they could do to meet the challenges that face public service leadership.

“No matter your political leanings, it’s hard to disagree that the turbulence in American politics are upending many long held beliefs and traditions that we have known as a nation,” she said. “We are facing unprecedented challenges. On the promising side, I feel a new kind of urgency in America, a sense of responsibility, and a sense of duty. Many others feel the same way.”

Gregoire introduced the room to her work at Challenge Seattle, an organization that seeks to find solutions in public and private partnerships and collaboration. She talked about a new initiative between Challenge Seattle and the Evans School where students, professors, and private interests will work together to come up with solutions to some of the challenges facing the region.

“What I really think we should do tonight is put all of us together, pull out our chairs, and get to work,” she said. “Working together we can answer the call for the best in class in healthcare, education, environment, and infrastructure. To succeed we must add the next generation of leaders who will serve the country with fierce determination and Washington state values. Those leaders come from the Evans School.”

 If you missed the Fellowship Dinner, but want to support current Evans School students, you can still participate! Please make your gift today to increase access to the Evans School’s exceptional education.