Featured Alumni

A Wisconsin native, Chris Toman earned his Evans School MPA in 2013. He joined the UW Sustainability unit as a Sustainability Project Specialist in 2015 because he was driven by a passion for the environment cultivated by his experience with the Nevada Conservation Corps, part of AmeriCorps. Headquartered in Reno but almost always working in the field, Chris cleared hiking trails and prepared for the fire season -- and met his future wife, a Northwest native.

“Looking back, that year spent working in wilderness conditions is where my interest in sustainability began,” he said.

The couple moved to Seattle, where he continued with AmeriCorps as a basic studies tutor. He also volunteered with a voter-mobilization program, which – with its reliance on data-driven solutions – prepared him well for the Evans School’s rigorous curriculum.

“I didn’t even know public policy was a field,” Chris stated, “but I knew that I wanted to go into public service.” So, he applied to the Evans School and quickly immersed himself in the community, serving as president of the Evans School Student Organization, where he learned and honed leadership, management, and program-development skills. He also became proficient in another valuable trait.

“Evans gave me the foundational skills necessary for working in the public-policy field – I learned to speak the language,” Chris explained.

Chris continued to work in the environmental field, interning with the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Coalition in outreach and communications, then becoming a project coordinator for the University of Washington Recycling & Solid Waste Department. After graduating with his MPA, Chris joined Ecova, an energy and sustainability consultancy, as an associate and analyst. The quantitative analysis that forms the backbone of the Evans School’s MPA program served him well in this role.

“The work is project-based; clients want answers quickly,” Chris said.

But it wasn’t until he returned to the UW, with the Sustainability Office, that he received the opportunity to help set an organization’s direction.

As a Sustainability Programs Specialist, Chris is responsible for helping to coordinate and promote the university’s conservation and behavior projects. Efforts such as MiniMax are but one way to mitigate the enormous utility bills incurred on campus, especially in the more than 3,000 laboratories. The labs occupy only 22 percent of the floor space at UW, Chris said, but they use an astounding 65 percent of the energy. Since many of the labs’ machines must run continuously, UW Sustainability seeks other ways to conserve and help ease budget strains. Chris is leading a pilot program in partnership with a private company to recycle disposable gloves in five labs, as well as working with other campus departments to improve a chemical exchange plan. He draws upon the collaborative teachings of the Evans School when dealing with the numerous stakeholders, many who have high levels of autonomy and budgeting. 

Finding solutions – an Evans School specialty – to some of the campus’ major sustainability difficulties is what keeps Chris motivated. His education at the Evans School provided him with practical methods to deal with the unique aspects of public service.

“Public service means dealing with big problems, under numerous legal, regulatory, resource, and financial constraints,” Chris concluded. “The MPA program provides the best method for dealing with these challenges.”

More Alumni Stories:

  • Jeanne Bourgault (MPA '90): Jeanne is CEO of Internews, an American nonprofit working to empower local media worldwide to give people news and information.

  • Jingjing Chen (MPA ’13): International student, Jingjing, discusses her decision to retire from elite athletic competition and pursue an MPA at Evans School.

  • David Cook (MPA ’12): David discusses his decision to return to the Evans School's MPA program as a midcareer student.

  • Dani Fumia (Ph.D. ’13): Doctoral student Dani Fumia explains why she chose the Evans School to study social inequality issues related to income in educational attainment across different minority groups.

  • Efrain Gutierrez (MPA ’10): Efrain grew up in Capilla de Guadalupe Jalisco, Mexico. Exposed to the struggles of poverty at an early age, he wanted a career in which he could be a catalyst for social change and came to the Evans School to turn these aspirations into reality.

  • Jon Hickey (MPA ’08): Jon, freelance videographer and web designer, shares his thoughts on the value of an MPA and the future of digital media in public policy.

  • Shayna Higa (MPA ’08): Shayna Higa, a recipient of the Governor Gary Locke Endowed Fellowship during her studies at the Evans School, shares her thoughts about her Evans School education and its application to her state legislative work.

  • Brian Hoxie (MPA ’09): Brian chose to pursue an MPA at the Evans School to learn how to solve public policy problems. Forging his own path, he created an individualized specialization in national security.

  • Rachael Katz (MPA ’11): Rachel talks about her time at as an Evans School student studying environmental policy and as a research assistant for the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship program.

  • Alicia Kinne (MPA ’09): Alicia reports on finding sustainable funding for higher education through her MPA degree project.

  • Mark Mullet (EMPA ’08): Washington State Senator Mark Mullet shares his advice to prospective Executive MPA students.

  • Nicholas T. Muy (MPA ’12): Nicholas, a recipient of the Governor Gary Locke Endowed Fellowship during his studies at the Evans School, accepted a position as an associate with Strategic Operational Solutions, Inc.

  • Abel Pacheco (MPA ’12); Abel discusses how his Evans School courses have prepared him for his career as a communications and program specialist with the Seattle Police Foundation.

  • Chris Rule (MPA ’12): Chris describes how his degree from Evans School has shaped his career in local government as an associate planner for Sound Transit.

  • Chris Runyan (MPA '03): Chris Runyan, director for African Affairs on the National Security Council staff, discusses how his MPA prepared him for his career in international development.

  • Bett Schlemmer (EMPA ’07): Bett Schlemmer, Executive MPA alumna, talks about her time in the program and how it has helped her move forward in her career.

  • Preston Thompson (EMPA ’08): Preston Thompson, Executive MPA graduate and retired director of The Boeing Company, discusses his Evans School experience.

  • Mario Trevino (EMPA ’07): Mario Trevino, City of Bellevue fire chief (retired), discusses the value of an Executive MPA.

  • Anna (Annie) Von Essen (MPA ’09): Anna discusses how receiving funding through the Nancy Bell Evans Fellowship opened connections for her current work.

If you know of someone in the Evans School community who has a great story, suggest a profile.