June 8, 2023

Eastern Washington Road Trip

By Ray Im, Development Director

Across four days, eight counties, and 906 miles, we heard leaders from across the state share one consistent message: the importance of educational pathways to public service for Central and Eastern Washington communities.  

In mid-May, Dean Jodi Sandfort and I embarked on a road trip through Central and Eastern Washington with stops in Quincy, Moses Lake, Yakima, the Yakama Nation, Spokane, and Leavenworth. Over four days, we were grateful to connect with more than 40 community and tribal leaders, elected officials, and UW and Evans alumni. Our goals were to strengthen relationships with local leaders across the state and learn how the Evans School can partner with them to serve community needs east of the Cascades. 

Our first stop in Quincy included dinner with community leaders from Moses Lake hosted by Washington State Representative Alex Ybarra, a lifelong Quincy resident and member of the Evans School Dean’s Council. During our stay we talked about the need to equip the next generation of local public leaders and Rep. Ybarra gave us a tour of the new Quincy High School. Built in 2019, the school serves close to 800 students with state-of-the-art learning environments and an extensive Career and Technical Education Department. 

Dean Jodi Sandfort and Rep. Alex Ybarra at Quincy High School

Dean Sandfort with Dean’s Council Member and Evans alum Paul Ward on the Yakama Nation

The next day, Tribal Council members and other Yakama leaders welcomed us at Yakama Nation Headquarters. We were joined by Paul Ward, an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation, long-time leader in fisheries and river habitat management, Evans alum, and member of our Dean’s Council. We explored potential partnerships that could serve the Yakama Nation through educational pathways for undergraduate students and emerging mid-career leaders.

In Spokane, we met Annmarie Caño, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Gonzaga University to share about our Junior Summer Institute and discuss the importance of summer immersion programs, especially for students from historically marginalized communities. We also hosted an evening reception with community and elected leaders as well as UW and Evans alumni. 

(above) Spokane Reception attendees, the author second from left

(above) Lunch in Leavenworth

Our last stop was in Leavenworth for lunch hosted by Ana Cortez, MPA ‘90, the City Manager for Carnation, Washington. We were joined by other Evans alumni working in agriculture and forestry fields as well as Mary Jo Ybarra and her team from Moses Lake/Quincy Community Health Center for a conversation about their involvement with the EPIC Paid Family and Medical Leave project. The lunch led to rich discussion centering community voices and highlighting cross-sector work. For the early-career professionals at the table, it was an opportunity to witness a real example of what a career in public leadership could entail.

Dean Sandfort and I reflect on this trip through Central and Eastern Washington with a sense of gratitude for new relationships that were started and existing relationships that were deepened. We also look forward to the work ahead to continue building educational pathways for public leadership to inspire public service and democratize public policy across Washington state.