Snohomish County leaders, UW Bothell alumni

Jared Mead and Megan Dunn have known each other for several years through Democratic Party politics in Snohomish County. But they didn’t realize they were both University of Washington Bothell alumni until earlier this year when they took seats on the Snohomish County Council.

Dunn (Master of Arts in Policy Studies ’13) is an Everett community leader who was elected to a four-year term from the district that includes Everett, Mukilteo and Tulalip. Mead (Global Studies ’14) is a state lawmaker from Mill Creek who was selected by the council to fill a vacant seat for the district that includes the Snohomish County part of Bothell. He’s running to retain the seat in November. He’ll also remain in the state House of Representatives through the end of the year.

The Kochis connection

Although their time at UW Bothell didn’t overlap, Dunn and Mead share a love of courses taught by Bruce Kochis, a senior lecturer on human rights who retired last year.

Dunn said her master’s cohort had its first course with Kochis. He brought everyone together through the way he had each person share their policy analysis. “From that, I think we became a really cohesive group,” she said.

Mead recalled how on the first day of class Kochis had everyone discuss the most divisive policy issues — abortion rights, gun rights, the death penalty. After that, everyone felt comfortable talking openly the rest of the quarter. “I loved that,” Mead said.

Now, community building, policy analysis and difficult discussions couldn’t be more real for Mead and Dunn as part of the five-member legislative body for the third-most populous county in the state (after King and Pierce).

Now it’s real

Megan Dunn

As members of the health district board, council members are involved in making decisions in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The council also oversaw spending $148 million from the federal CARES Act for economic recovery. Meanwhile, they have to make up a $24 million deficit in the county’s nearly $1 billion budget. In response to demonstrations, the council also recently passed a resolution denouncing white supremacist groups and addressing racial justice in law enforcement.

“I use my major every day, thinking about unintended consequences, knowing how to analyze policy and program management,” said Dunn, who recalled her capstone project about measuring human well-being with non-economic indicators. “We are responsible for the well-being of the people of Snohomish County.”

Mead recalls the experience of being in classes and having conversations with students who were different because of race, geography, economics, age and stage in life, including some students who had children and others who were retired.

“That’s helped me a lot in politics where you’re asked to work with people who are totally different than you every day,” Mead said, “whether you’re campaigning and asking for votes or it’s policy and you’re trying to figure out how it’s going to affect different types of people.

“My experience at UW Bothell really helped me learn how to see things from different perspectives.”

Forever Huskies

Jared Mead

When Mead was a student, working at a fast-food restaurant and living at home, UW Bothell was a more accessible way to earn a UW degree, he said.

Dunn said the flexibility of night classes made it possible for a “mom with kids” to earn a master’s degree in a strong policy program.

“I also appreciated skills I learned in how to argue a point and have facts to back it up so that you can convince people to support what you’re suggesting,” she said.

Dunn and Mead both retain ties to UW Bothell and other graduates in county government. Dunn has been an alumni ambassador for the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences and in 2019 was named to the IAS Hall of Alumni Excellence. Mead has spoken in courses and participated on panels.

Other connections in Snohomish County government include Mead’s aide, Angela Ewert, who is a UW Bothell graduate (Law, Economics & Public Policy ’17). Dunn’s aide, Paula Rhyne, grew up in Bothell and is a graduate of the Evans School of Public Affairs at the UW in Seattle (’11). Mike Irons, the county’s juvenile court program manager for probation, received a master’s in public policy (MAPS ’13). And UW alumna Kelly Snyder, the county’s public works director, was formerly the assistant vice chancellor for campus and community development at UW Bothell.

Partners, fondly

Dunn and Mead see UW Bothell as an education and research partner to Snohomish County and an asset to the county’s workforce development, especially with technology and biotech companies in the Bothell area.

It’s also personal, said Mead. “UW Bothell has been an important part of my life and something I’ll always try to support.”

Dunn has an additional tie to campus. For a time, she worked with the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides and conferred with Tyson Kemper, grounds supervisor, about how the campus had stopped using chemicals.

“I think it’s one of the most beautiful campuses. I love that it’s environmentally sustainable and pesticide free,” she said. “I definitely look back on it fondly.”

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