September 27, 2021

Event Recap | PPIA Public Service Weekend

For the first time, the Evans School hosted the Public Policy International Affairs (PPIA) Program’s Public Service Weekend (PSW), a free four-day virtual conference with participants from across the country, convening with the goal to introduce undergraduate students to the broad range of opportunities in public service. The virtual conference themed, ‘From protests to policy changes: Lessons from Seattle’, drew upon lessons from recent Seattle events garnering national attention, such as the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) and Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) – demanding the end of police violence against people of color, and our state’s HEAL Act passage – ensuring that our state centers the needs of frontline communities most affected by pollution and environmental degradation.  

These local events contextualize policy’s daily impact in people’s lives, and the many ways in which community-led advocacy and activism advanced policy change at the local, state, and regional levels. Below you will find our keynote speakers’ and panelists’ unique insights and perspectives, providing knowledge and inspiration for us all to break the status quos in public service that have directly and indirectly harmed marginalized communities for decades. Through this change, our future public service leaders will advance policies and actions allowing all people to equitably thrive. 

The PSW’s full agenda can be found here.

Keynote Speeches and Panels

Insights on a Year of Protest in Seattle

– Professor Karin Martin, Assistant Professor Evans School of Public Policy and Governance

“that’s what’s really exciting about public policy … to say what is the problem that I really care about or that I think needs to be changed and how can I personally be engaged”

In her opening remarks, Professor Karin Martin told participants how public policy provides toolkit for solving even the most complex social problems, and how it enables you to pull directly on the levers of power and social changeShe added, even if you don’t pull those levers yourself, you can closely align with the people who do have access. She also reminded participants there is no one way to do policy or to do protesting right – but there are ways to enhance your own success, by participating while staying energized and engaged. This is vital if you’re thinking of the long haul. When we plan for the long term, we must prioritize how you’re going to sustain interest in changing the world.

A year of Protest: Reform, Community, and the Future of Seattle

– Vu Le, Nonprofit Leader from South Seattle (former founder and director of Rainier Valley Corps)

“Over time we’ve lost our ability to think of a future and a society we want to see… we have to embrace our imagination and reclaim it again”

Vu shifted focus to his experiences and impacts in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector, how the setup and formalities of many organizations do not function for communities of color and marginalized groups – actually contributing more harm than good. While the past year has been incredibly difficult, there has been some good to blossom from tragic events. People are beginning to recognize and address systemic racism, indigenous land rights, a need for universal basic income and healthcare access, and so much more.

Panel: A year of Protest- Policy Priorities & Voices of the Community

Panelists: Marlon Brown, BLM Seattle King County & Trae Thompson-Wiley, Black Action Coalition
Moderator: Professor Karin Martin, Assistant Professor Evans School of Public Policy and Governance

“We need all the pieces. We need people the people on the ground, unity happening, and raising awareness as well as we need to get into the system and interrupt it at its core.” – Marlon Brown

“This country was built to benefit white folks… We need to have the most marginalized folks at that conversation when we’re talking about what success and failures looks like because they’re impacted the most by any decisions we make.” – Trae Thompson-Wiley

Centering community and activists’ voices, Marlon Brown and Trae Thompson-Wiley joined in conversation with Professor Karin Martin to reflect on their activism and advocacy work. They spoke to how through dual pathways of boots on the ground efforts (like rallies and phone calls), and pushing systems change in governmentthe voices and experiences of black, brown, and indigenous people can be uplifted. The inclusion of these voices and experiences will be critical to redefining what success means for policy.

PanelPolicy, politics, and the public: Insights on a year of the protest in Seattle & WA

Panelists: Washington State Representatives Jamila Taylor (D-30), Jesse Johnson (D-30), & Kirsten Harris-Talley (D-37)
Moderator: Dean Jodi Sandfort, Evans School of Public Policy & Governance

WA State Representatives Jamila Taylor, Jesse Johnson, & Kirsten Harris-Talley joined Dean Jodi Sandfort to discuss the making of historic policies advanced by the state legislators addressing systemic racism, police reformand accountability along with the implementation of the Healthy Environment for All Act (HEAL). In sharing their inspiration for pursuing public service through community-engaged and community-centered leadershipthey work to inspire the next generation of black, brown, and indigenous legislators. To watch the recording, please skip to 1:34:30 on the video below.

Panel: Climate and Environmental Justice: Strategies for Impacting Policy

Panelists: Aurora Martin, Co-Director, Front And Centered & Matt Remle, Environmental Justice Activist, Community organizer, & Educator
Moderator: Adrienne Hampton, Program Manager, Duwamish River Community Coalition

“What I wanted to do is change the hearts and minds…it matters that we do both” – Aurora Martin

Matt Remle and Aurora Martin joined Evans alumna Adrienne Hampton to discuss the impact of climate degradation in marginalized communities and strategies to help advance policies like the HEAL act.

Panel: Policy Approaches by Centering Homelessness

Panelists: Patricia Allen-Dick, National Coalition to End Urban Indigenous Homelessness, Paula Carvalho, Raikes Foundation, & Matt Fowle, PhD Candidate, Evans School of Public Policy & Governance
Moderator: Professor Rachel Fyall, Evans School of Public Policy & Governance

Professor Rachel Fyall moderated our final panel between Matt Fowle, Patricia Allen-Dick, and Paula Carvalho, discussing homelessness as a product of social inequity structures that marginalize certain groups and inhibit the potential for growth and successful life progression. The conversation evolved to inform the audience of future policymakers regarding the special considerations required in creating and implementing policy efforts to prevent and end homelessness. To watch the recording, please skip to 1:02:00 on the video below.

Interested in getting started on policy and activism? Here’s a list of resources provided by our speakers:

Other resources
  • Nap Ministry – The Nap Ministry was founded in 2016 by Tricia Hersey and is an organization that examines the liberating power of naps
  • Servant Leadership (philosophy)
  • Social Justice Fund NW is a foundation working at the frontlines of social change. They leverage the resources of our members to foster significant, long-term social justice solutions throughout Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.
  • Resource Generation is a multiracial membership community of young people (18-35) with wealth and/or class privilege committed to the equitable distribution of wealth, land, and power.