January 25, 2021

SPS’s Chief of Equity, Partnerships, and Engagement’s commitment to racial equity: A Q&A with James Bush (MPA ’10)

As the district’s Chief of Equity, Partnerships, and Engagement of the Seattle Public Schools, what is one way you plan to ensure racial equity throughout the Seattle School District?

As the Chief of Equity, Partnerships, and Engagement my plan is to build from the existing work of Chief Dr. Keisha Scarlett and ensure that racial equity is embedded in all district processes, policies, and plans. At its core, our plan for educational equity will center on serving students furthest from educational justice. This includes supporting other district colleagues in using our racial equity analysis tool in the development and design of district programs such as our upcoming districtwide Black Studies classes.

What is something you have been most proud of, professionally?

Professionally, I am most proud of my appointment as Seattle Public Schools’ Chief of Equity, Partnership, and Engagement.

This appointment is the culmination and recognition of years of collaborative work with local government institutions and community partners. My original Seattle Public Schools role, as the Director of School & Community Partnerships, required that I use all my skills, experience and training to lift up a variety of complex and innovative projects. As the leader of an amazing team, we were able to push the system to better understand collective impact and the need to work directly with community partners, students, and families to ensure that students had access to programs and services to help them reach their goals.

What are the most critical problems faced by people who work in your field? How do you think these problems should be handled?

One of the most pressing issues in the field of education is the lack of diversity in our educational system. SPS has taken a variety of steps to increase the diversity of our teacher ranks with the creation of SPS’s Academy for Rising Educators. Additionally, our educational systems also need to develop new pipelines to recruit and retain public policy professionals who specialize in policy design, implementation, and evaluation.

What is your favorite memory from your time at the Evans School?

I have many fond memories of my time at Evans. Working with an amazing team on my degree project, serving as a mayor’s fellow, and building community with the Evan’s People of Color. As a lifelong Seattleite and Rainier Beach / Beacon Hill resident, having the opportunity to work on a degree project that directly serves my community was an experience that was aligned to my personal and professional goals.

Who has been your strongest influence in life? Why?

I am blessed to have grown up and be supported by a variety of community leaders. I have had a village that has guided me, lifted me, held me accountable, and pushed me to ensure that I achieve my personal and professional goals.


We’d love to learn more about you and your tremendous contributions to the public good, so we can share your story as we connect, learn and reflect. Share your story!