March 15, 2019

An Interview with Sarah Reyneveld (MPA ’08)

In continuation of our celebration of Women’s History Month, we connected with another of our notable female alums who has played an important part in shaping the policy landscape of communities around the state.

In the Q&A below, Ms. Reyneveld provides advice to other women in public policy and speaks to the skills that have helped her be the active and ambitious community leader she is today.


Ms. Sarah Reyneveld (MPA ’08) is Assistant Attorney General at the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, chair of the King County Women’s Advisory Board, and serves on the boards of the Washington Conservation Voters, Washington’s Paramount Duty, the UW Alumni Association, and the 36th District Democrats. Ms. Reyneveld was also a founding member of Graduate Washington, an organization dedicated to maintaining and expanding access to higher education in Washington. Plus, she’s a wife and mom to two young children, Julia and Joel!

What inspired you to pursue your career in the public sector?

I was inspired to pursue a career in public service because I wanted to help people, create a better world, and protect our planet for future generations.  I first saw the power of public service when I worked in the Washington State Legislature and in the Governor’s office. I later served as the elected President and Vice President of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate and successfully lobbied the Washington State Legislature for increased investment in child care and mental health services for graduate students. 

I still believe that the best way I can personally help to create equity and opportunity for all is to work in government. As a public-sector attorney, I take pride in helping to ensure access to justice for vulnerable and underrepresented populations that may not understand the system.  Changing the systems of government to help break down barriers, provider services for those that needs them most, and create opportunities for all is the best job and the highest honor. 

What skill has helped you be a more effective leader and advocate for others?

Listening, understanding and empowering people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives to reach agreement on a policy solution. Progress takes building a big tent. You have to be committed, tenacious and work hard to bring people to the table. 

What other women inspire you?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg because she is courageous, indefatigable and has been a tireless champion for women’s equality. Elizabeth Warren for her progressive leadership and focus on working families and ending income inequality.

In Washington State the women that inspire me are women I’ve worked for or been represented by including, but not limited to: Senator Maria Cantwell, Governor Christine Gregoire, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Senator Pat Thibaudeau, and Representative Gael Tarleton. 

What’s the most important piece of advice you’ve ever received? 

Be prepared. We control almost nothing, but we can be as prepared as possible. And trust yourself. 

What advice would you give women in public policy and leadership today?

Be proud of the work you do each day and be your own advocate.  Don’t expect or wait for others to advocate on your behalf. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Continue to believe in your dreams, work hard and don’t give up. 

What are you going to take on next?

I want to continue to combat climate change and create livable communities and access to opportunity for all. 

I would love to run for office in the future. We still need more women to step up and serve as elected leaders.


Thanks, Ms. Reyneveld, for sharing your journey to public service and for your great advice!