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eNews Fall/Winter 2016

Posted by | December 7, 2016

 The mission of the William D. Ruckelshaus Center is to help parties involved in complex public policy challenges in the State of Washington and the Pacific Northwest tap university expertise to develop collaborative, durable, and effective solutions.

The Center envisions a future in which government leaders, policy makers, and citizens routinely employ tools of collaborative decision making to design, conduct, and implement successful public policy processes. The Center is a joint effort of Washington’s two research universities.


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Supporting the Center is a tax-deductible investment in the quality of life in our state and region. Donations qualify for donor credit at WSU and/or UW.

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The William D. Ruckelshaus Center’s electronic newsletter (eNews) is published two times per year. If you know of someone who might be interested in receiving this eNews, please forward it to them. If you wish to be removed from the list or would like to subscribe, please email us.


Message from the Director

If you are like me, you have been receiving a stream of email messages from leaders at public and private institutions reacting to the elections. Regardless of how you feel about the outcomes, it is heartening to hear the care in their thoughts and communication, and the passion and commitment to our collective future that they express. Because so much has already been said, I’d like to keep our contribution to that dialogue simple and direct: regardless of what comes next, what we at the Ruckelshaus Center bring to the table will be even more important. Our vision of a future where policy makers routinely use the tools of collaboration to design, conduct, and implement policy processes that meet shared goals provides the hopeful alternative to the continued division, discord, and dysfunction that so many are fearing. Our methodology, using universities as a “fair broker” of trusted information and effective processes, is a practical approach toward reaching that vision. Fundamental to that approach is a commitment to speaking and—more importantly—listening to people whose opinions differ from one’s own with respect, and a desire to learn and understand. We know it works; the stories below provide examples. As you make decisions about your year-end investments, please consider helping ensure that the Ruckelshaus Center has the resources to play a meaningful role in navigating us all through the changes coming to our public sphere.

Let’s Talk Politics 2016: Two Revealing and Candid Discussions

On September 7th the Ruckelshaus Center hosted its sixth annual Dr. David Domke speaking during the Ruckleshaus Center Chairman's Circle LuncheonChairman’s Circle Luncheon featuring UW Department of Communication Chair and nationally-recognized elections expert Dr. David Domke as he analyzed the dynamics affecting this year’s Presidential election and provided a galvanizing call to civic engagement to over 300 community leaders from across sectors. Then, in November at our fourth annual Statespersonship Luncheon, US Representatives Suzan DelBene (D- 1st), Derek Kilmer (D-3rd), and Dan Newhouse (R-4th) discussed the prospects for collaboration in 2017 in Washington D.C. Watch footage of both luncheons on our website, courtesy of TVW.


Ruckelshaus Center members in front of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737

Five Years of Facilitation Culminate in Historic Biofuels Flight

On November 14, the Ruckelshaus Center was honored to participate in an historic Alaska Airlines flight on a Boeing 737 from Seattle to Washington DC — the first powered by biofuel made from wood residues. US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack greeted the flight and congratulated the leadership of the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA), a five-year, $40 million research program funded by the US Department of Agriculture, led by WSU, and featuring 180 researchers from UW and other public, private, and tribal institutions. The Center provided facilitation and other services to help make NARA successful. More information is available here.


Project Highlights

The Center reached important milestones on several of its other Interracial Medical Business Team Meeting in Boardroomprojects, including its work with the Snohomish Health District and the Spokane River Regional Toxics Task Force (SRRTTF). In September, Kevin Harris, Amanda Murphy, and Anna Mikkelborg presented a report of recommendations that were well-received by the Snohomish Health District on how they could potentially navigate transformation of the District’s governance and delivery of care. This November SRRTTF, which Center staff Chris Page and Kara Whitman have facilitated for the past four years, finalized its Comprehensive Plan to Reduce Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB) in the Spokane River. Congrats all around!


Aerial photo of the Palouse

Evaluating Progress in Walla Walla

In October the Ruckelshaus Center faculty, staff, and Advisory Board met with members of the Walla Walla community to discuss area issues in general and the Walla Walla Water Management Initiative in particular. The meeting featured an evaluation of the Initiative and the Center’s role in helping to establish it ten years ago conducted by UW Evans School of Public Policy and Governance Graduate Intern Trevor Robinson. Key findings from the evaluations identified positive outcomes and accomplishments, challenges and strategies for addressing them, and prospects for the future of the Initiative. The evaluation represents an important milestone for the Center in successfully piloting a methodology for evaluating its work in order to identify outcomes, lessons learned and best practices. Thanks go to UW and WSU faculty advisors Craig Thomas and Rebecca Sero, and evaluation sponsors Baker Boyer Bank, and the Walla Walla Water Management Initiative. Read the full evaluation here (pdf).

Arrivals and Farewells

In July, the Center welcomed its first Development Intern, Heather Kosaka. Heather is a second-year graduate student at the UW Evans School, and has provided the development team with invaluable support in the planning and execution of our Chairman’s Circle and Statespersonship Luncheon, in addition to assisting with other outreach and stewardship initiatives. We are pleased to announce that Project Intern Trevor Robinson will be staying with us through June of 2017 and is currently assisting on our assessment of For-Profit Post-Secondary Education Oversight. In September, we were sad to say goodbye to Project Intern Anna Mikkelborg as she returned to her senior year at UW. In November, we were pleased to welcome Brian Surratt to the Center’s Advisory Board. Brian is a UW Evans School graduate and Director of the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development. November also saw us say goodbye to Autumn Fielding, who did an outstanding job filling in for Project Coordinator Molly Stenovec while she was on leave. In January, we will say farewell to Associate Director Darren Nichols, as he returns to Oregon to write the bar exam and teach land use at Portland State University’s College of Urban and Public Affairs. You will be missed!

Happy Holidays from the Ruckelshaus Center!

With the holidays upon us, now is the perfect time to make your 2016 year-end gift to the Ruckelshaus Center. Investments by individuals such as you, who believe in collaborative solutions, enable the Center to facilitate consensus on complex, longstanding challenges. Please consider contributing to our annual fund, or helping us reach the final $1 million of our $5 million Endowment for Excellence goal. Contact Development & Communications Coordinator Erin McCarthy at (206) 219-2418, or at if you have questions or want more information.