WSU CAHNRS

The Ruckelshaus Center

Current Projects

A Road Map to Washington’s Future

Washington state’s framework for managing growth and change consists of a patchwork of more than a dozen laws adopted incrementally over the past century, including the Growth Management Act (GMA) of 1990. To date, no assessment has gauged how well the GMA has met its goals—nor have the purposes, processes, and requirements of older laws ever been reconciled with those of the GMA. Washington’s communities increasingly recognize the linkages between housing costs, transportation, economic opportunity, environmental, and human health. Navigating this complex system and effectively meeting challenges and opportunities facing the state will require a collaborative “road map to the future.” In response to queries from the Legislature and others, the Center conducted a pre-assessment in 2016-2017, and will from 2017-19 assess the State’s planning framework of laws, institutions and polices. The Center will convene workshops across the state to articulate a statewide vision and engage dozens of communities of interest in mapping a path to that future. The effort will identify areas for needed course corrections to the planning framework, and suggest ways to effectively manage future implementation.

Read the Road Map Phase I Report

For more information visit the project page.


 Chehalis Basin Strategy

After decades of little progress on addressing recurring and severe flooding, as well as declining fish populations in the Chehalis Basin in southwest Washington, the Center has facilitated impressive headway by the Governor’s Chehalis Work Group Over the past six years. With the Center’s guidance, the Work Group reached consensus in 2012 on specific recommendations that the Legislature funded with $28.2 million in 2013. In 2014, the Work Group recommended an integrated strategy of long-term flood-damage reduction and aquatic species restoration in the Basin. The Legislature provided $50 million in 2015 to take the first steps toward implementing that $500-$600 million strategy. On-the-ground projects are now being constructed to reduce flood damage and restore salmon runs while leaders evaluate the need for larger, long-term actions to protect the community and restore the Basin. The Legislature also created an Office of the Chehalis Basin to give continuity to implementation of the flood-reduction/species-restoration strategy, and a Chehalis Basin Board to oversee the new office and ensure the strategy continues to be led by community and tribal leaders. Approximately $50 million is proposed in the 2017 state capital budget to continue implementing the strategy over the next two years.  Moving forward, the Center will continue to facilitate the Work Group, manage future technical analyses, and organize technical, policy, and public workshops.

Visit the Chehalis Basin Strategy website.


Southwest Washington Accountable Community of Health

The Center is currently working with the SW Washington ACH to assess the collaborative potential of community leaders, healthcare providers and payers to reach consensus around regional implementation (Clark, Skamania and Klickitat counties) of statewide Medicaid transformation goals. Each region must determine how to collaborate at community levels to decrease health disparities, improve access to care and health outcomes, and increase delivery of care efficiencies. This ACH region can earn up to $55 Million of the State’s $1.5 Billion federal Medicaid transformation demonstration, if collaborative progress and outcomes targets are met involving:

  • Physical and behavioral health (mental health and substance use disorders) care delivery integration
  • Care coordination to address the ‘whole person’
  • Opioid prevention and treatment
  • Focused efforts around series of optional initiatives, including oral health service access; chronic disease prevention and control, and maternal & child health

Read the SW WA ACH Initial Brief

For more information, contact Project Manager and Senior Facilitator Kevin Harris.


Spokane River Toxics

Since 2012, the Center has facilitated consensus on hundreds of decisions among the diverse parties comprising the Spokane River Regional Toxics Task Force (Task Force), a collaborative group of government agencies, private industries, and environmental organizations employing an innovative approach to the reduction of toxic, bio-accumulative chemicals (polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs) within the Spokane River. These unanimous agreements have occurred on small and large issues, topics, studies, and actions. Notably, the Task Force agreed on a Comprehensive Plan to bring the River into compliance with water quality standards and in 2015 the Washington Department of Ecology declared that the Task Force had made measurable progress in its work to reduce PCBs in the River: 283 pounds and counting!

For more information, contact Project Manager Chris Page or visit the SRRTTF website.


Yakima Health Provider Capacity

The Yakima Valley has historically had a disproportionately high uninsured/Medicaid population, and Medicaid transformation has swamped local healthcare providers’ ability to provide appropriate primary and specialty care services to their community. The Center is facilitating a process to help executive and operational leadership at hospitals and rural health centers collaborate to identify short-term interventions and longer-term strategic innovations that will help with emergency room diversion, physician and other practitioner recruiting, and other access to quality care improvements.

For more information, contact Project Manager Kevin Harris.


Making Access to Outdoor Recreation Lands Simpler and More Consistent

Outdoor enthusiasts in Washington must acquire and display one or more of at least 20 different passes to use state and federal trails and lands for recreation. Confusion among users and challenges facing state agencies (such as increased visitation coupled with decreasing state and federal allocations) prompted the Washington Legislature to direct the Washington Parks Commission (in cooperation with the departments of Natural Resources, and Fish and Wildlife) to “develop options and recommendations to improve consistency, equity, and simplicity in recreational access fee systems while accounting for the fiscal health and stability of public land management.” At those agencies’ request, the Center synthesized expertise from interviews with a cross-section of engaged parties into a situation assessment, commissioning and managing data collection and analysis, and then designing and facilitating a collaborative process. The resulting multiparty Leadership Team and work groups identified scenarios for analysis and public opinion surveying. The Center has the Leadership Team on track to provide clear, actionable recommendations to the agencies and Legislature.

For more information visit the project page.


Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition

The Ruckelshaus Center is providing process design and facilitation services to the Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition’s LiveHealthy2020 initiative. The Coalition is a convener of over 140 public and private sector, non-profit and civic organizations, with a collective vision of improving the health and economic vitality of Snohomish County by improving nutrition, increasing physical activity, enhancing mental and emotional health, and fostering civic health and connectivity. The Center is helping the Coalition design and implement collaborative processes to scale ‘accelerator’ efforts and significantly impact Snohomish County population health outcomes.

For more information, contact Project Manager Kevin Harris.


Washington State Coastal Resiliency

In 2016, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer’s Office, the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) cities of Ocean Shores and Westport, the Quinault Indian Nation, Grays Harbor County Emergency Management, the Port of Grays Harbor, and other state and federal agencies partnered to create the Grays Harbor Resilience Coalition. Staff from U.S. Rep. Kilmer’s Office and Ecology contacted the William D. Ruckelshaus Center (Center) seeking independent facilitation services, originally around convening the Coalition partners to develop a 2017-2019 biennial budget request for coastal resilience projects. Over a series of conversations, the Center suggested that—while the Coalition as presently constructed may decide to continue pursuing a budget request specific to Grays Harbor County— given the coast-wide scope and the shared interest in increasing coastal resilience it appeared to be an opportune time to begin developing a coast-wide approach. To identify a path forward that would be embraced by and meet the needs of both “top-down” and “grass roots” interests, the Center suggested conducting an assessment consisting of a series of interviews with key parties to explore opportunities that support long-term resilience to natural hazards for the Washington coast and coastal communities.

An Assessment Team composed of Center affiliated faculty and staff with assistance from a consultant carried out the assessment using an interview-based process. Interviews took place from mid-October 2016 through February 2017. The Assessment Team conducted 104 interviews and conversations with individuals who are involved in organizations with a particular role, interest in, or knowledge of coastal resilience efforts. The goal was to gather a range of perspectives, information, and insights about approaches, processes, structures, and resources needed to enhance and support resilience efforts for the coast and coastal communities.

To read the Assessment Report, click here. For the Executive Summary, click here.

For more information, contact Project Managers Amanda Murphy and Phyllis Shulman.


Snohomish Health District

In 2016, the Snohomish Health District asked the Center to assist in navigating a potential transformation of its governance and delivery of care. The Health District provides public health services to Snohomish County’s 755,000+ residents, from maternal and child health programs to safe drinking water. A 15-member Board of Health, including county and city elected officials, oversees policy and budget development.  Supporting citizens of the fastest-growing county in Washington, the Health District has struggled with its role within statewide healthcare transformation, sustainable local and state funding, and board member turnover. The Center conducted a situation assessment — a series of interviews with a broad range of leaders and organizations throughout the community to discern issues, opportunities and dynamics among key parties, as well as prospects for collaborative dialogue, to identify and agree on long-term solutions. The District is currently in the process of implementing several key Center recommendations, to improve engagement and streamline the Board’s decision-making process. To read the Project Report, click here.

For more information, contact Project Managers Kevin Harris or Amanda Murphy.


Career Colleges

State and federal investigations have uncovered deceptive and illegal practices in the for-profit higher education sector (career colleges). Based on a 2016 Washington Legislature directive, the Washington Student Achievement Council (in collaboration with the State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board and the State Department of Licensing), asked the Center to “objectively analyze and make recommendations about systemic overlaps and gaps in jurisdiction regarding for-profit post-secondary degree-granting institutions and private vocational schools” in Washington state.

The Center’s situation assessment produced 44 recommendations to improve the State’s oversight of the sector, and encouraged the formation of a collaborative effort to generate solutions to existing challenges. The Center then facilitated agreements within a pair of work groups on: 1) an overarching vision and values to guide administrative and policy improvements; and 2) a coordinated inter-agency approach to anticipating and responding to school closure events. The agencies and Legislature now have a framework for better managing challenges with these institutions.

To read the report here click here.

Read the For-Profit Degree-Granting Institutions+Private Vocational Schools Phase II Report, here

For more information, contact Project Manager Chris Page.


Coeur d’Alene Basin Restoration

The federal, state, and tribal Coeur d’Alene Basin Natural Resource Trustees have drafted a plan to restore natural resources injured from historic mining practices in this Idaho Basin. As the Trustee Council moves toward implementation, its members recognize that enhanced collaboration can streamline the achievement of shared interests. To improve collaboration, consensus, and successful shared outcomes, the Council engaged the Center in 2016 to conduct a situation assessment examining the history, dynamics, interests, challenges, and opportunities related to restoration of the Basin. The assessment mapped relationships and objectives among the Council’s member organizations and provided recommendations for the Council’s consideration. The Trustees asked the Center to facilitate a retreat in 2017, at which they reached agreement on a revamped operating structure to optimize outcomes.

For more information, contact Project Manager Chris Page.


Updated on October 10, 2017

The Ruckelshaus Center, PO Box 646248, Pullman WA 99164-6248, (509) 335-2937, Contact Us

901 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2900, Seattle, WA 98164, (206) 428-3021
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