Public Matters: 2021

Thursday, May 13th, 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. (PDT)

Join the Evans School’s inaugural community convening Public Matters: 2021 as, together, we envision inclusively built societies powered by collective wisdom, brave leadership, and rigorous action.

This is an inflection point in our nation’s history, as distrust in public institutions manifests itself in the questioning of long-standing public services, systems, and processes. The fundamental strengthening of our democratic system will depend on our ability to address racial inequities and systemic injustices in order to transform public service.

Featuring dynamic lightning-style storytelling on this year’s theme, “Transforming Public Service,” celebrating the knowledge and experience of our wider community. Join us as we listen, learn, engage, and commit to a new vision for anti-racist public service.

Meet Our Storytellers:

Priya D. Saxena, MPA

Priya D. Saxena, MPA (They/Them)

Priya D. Saxena, MPA is Founder + President of Equitable Future.

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Equitable Future is a strategic anti-racism and justice consulting firm that works with change makers across the Puget Sound region to reimagine and transform our communities. They do this by envisioning an unapologetically equitable future, unpacking white supremacy culture from our values, relationships, and institutions, telling bold truths to make strategic, fact-based decisions, and redistributing power to generate enduring, positive change. Priya is queer and nonbinary; they live in Tacoma with their partner, two cats, and growing houseplant collection.


Karen Johnson Headshot

Karen A. Johnson, PhD (She/Her)

Karen A. Johnson, PhD, serves as director of the newly created state Office of Equity.

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Appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to this post in February, 2021, Johnson’s office will work with WA agencies to increase access to equitable opportunities in order to bridge opportunity gaps and reduce disparities. Dr. Johnson has worked for the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and serves as adjunct faculty at The Evergreen State College, teaching courses in dismantling racism and identifying bias in public service settings for the master of public administration program. She holds both a PhD and Master of Public Administration.


Amanda Lee Headshot

Amanda Lee (They/Them)

Amanda Lee is a board member of Shared Spaces Foundation and Volunteer Field Director at The Heron’s Nest Outdoor.

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They are based out of Seattle, WA, on unceded Duwamish Territory. Both initiatives are focused on restorative justice through land restoration and sustainable education. Amanda is working collectively with The Duwamish Tribe and local community organizations to reimagine an equitable community powered future.


Sara Levin

Sara Levin, MPA (She/Her)

Sara Levin (MPA ’99) is Vice President of Community Services at United Way of King County.

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Sara thrives working across sectors, connecting communities and people to resources, and keeping racial equity central to her work. Her 30-year career in Seattle has offered exciting and varied experiences from direct service with Russian-speaking refugees, to a stop at the Evans School, then leadership roles in government and philanthropy, including an unforgettable opportunity in 2018 helping members of Pearl Jam amplify the issue of homelessness in King County.


Evan Cook

Evan Cook, EMPA (He/Him)

Evan Cook is a community advocate and leader in the City of Federal Way and surrounding areas.

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As a philanthropist on a mission to heal the community, he founded Restoring Mindz LLC, a public speaking and clothing company. His mission is to rebuild this world through service and inspiration helping at risk youth find their purpose.


Jodi Sandfort, PhD (She/Her)

Jodi Sandfort, PhD is Dean of the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance.

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Jodi Sandfort, PhD joined the Evans School as dean in January 2021. Her work focuses on improving the implementation of social policy, particularly those policies designed to support low-income children and their families. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Public Administration, a distinguished honor recognizing her innovative leadership in the field. Dr. Sandfort has worked as a consultant with national and statewide foundations, think tanks, and other nonprofit human service organizations.


Thank you to our sponsors:

  • Amazon
  • The Association of Washington Cities
  • The Hon. Bobbe & Mr. Jonathan Bridge
  • Cascadia Consulting Group
  • Civic Ventures
  • Costco Wholesale
  • Nancy & Ben Remak
  • University of Washington Alumni Association
  • University of Washington Office of External Affairs
  • The William D. Ruckelshaus Center

Recent Events

Dean’s Forum on Race & Public Policy: Leading and Managing Anti-Racist Organizations

On April 16, 2021 the Evans School hosted a live conversation with Evans School Dean Jodi Sandfort and Dr. Susan Gooden, Dean of the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University where participants considered the challenges and opportunities in leading and managing anti-racist organizations.

This is a list of resources from the conversation.

Events Calendar