Alumni Stories

M.A. in Policy Studies alumni work in a variety of roles and sectors. Learn what our graduates are up to!


Amber Shirk recognized as one of Tacoma’s top volunteers

Photo of Amber ShirkAlum Amber (Monson) Shirk has always been involved in her community, but her engagement has only deepened since graduating from the M.A in Policy Studies (MAPS) program in 2017. This June, Shirk will receive a City of Destiny Award from Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards and the City Council for her contributions to the city’s economic development.  Shirk is Digital Marketing Chair for Tacoma Waterfront Association, Event Coordinator for Friends of the Foss’s annual Free Summer Concert Festival Series, and ...

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Alumni receive Fulbright awards to Estonia and Namibia

Photo of Mariah CrystalMariah Crystal (formerly Ortiz) has been granted a Fulbright award to conduct research in Namibia during the 2019-2020 academic year. She will be analyzing the oral history narratives of Namibian women who contributed the anti-apartheid movement and studying how feminine iconography was deployed to further the Namibian War of Independence.

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Alumni Shout Out!

Graphic of IAS crow logoEmily Olson ('13) has joined Proxy Technologies in San Francisco as the Deployments and Partners Manager.




Ericka Weathers builds education policy career as faculty member at Penn State

Photo of Ericka WeathersLast year M.A. in Policy Studies alum Ericka Weathers joined Penn State as an Assistant Professor of Education in the Department of Education Policy Studies. Education policy wasn’t always Weathers’ long-term goal. After graduating with a bachelor’s in psychology from Hampton University in Virginia, she moved to Seattle for a research position with the University of Washington Division of Public Behavioral Health and Justice Policy (PBHJP) where she ...

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Megan Dunn announces candidacy for Snohomish County Council, Position 2

Photo of Megan DunnAlum Megan Dunn has announced she is running for Snohomish County Council, Position 2, which represents portions of Everett, Tulalip areas, and all of Mukilteo. “I’m excited to start this conversation – and campaign – about what kind of new leadership we want for Snohomish County. We can’t just be surviving. We deserve to be thriving,” says Dunn. “With more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit leadership and advocacy, I have a passion for bringing together diverse partnerships and building community

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David Gordon makes the case for fare-free transit

Photo of David GordonIAS alum David Gordon is a policy analyst at Nickerson & Associates, a consulting firm in downtown Seattle, focusing on transportation issues. Currently, Gordon is working on a proposal with Dr. Peter Nickerson advocating for fare-free transit across King County with the ultimate goal of getting an initiative on the 2019 ballot. In December, Gordon made the case for free transit as ...

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Ismaila Maidadi champions equitable access to labor support services at Workforce Snohomish

Alum Ismaila Maidadi has been a tremendous asset to Workforce Snohomish since joining the organization as Service Delivery Program Manager in 2017. Thus far, Maidadi’s largest contribution has been leading the National Dislocated Worker Grant and Rapid Response initiative which assists dislocated aerospace employees and their families. ​Maidadi immigrated to America from ...

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Kristopher Dane presents his research on the influence of building geometry on active shooter events

On November 8, IAS alum Kristopher Dane presented his doctoral research “Does building geometry affect active shooter outcomes?” at the SecureWorld Expo in Seattle. His research discusses how current building standards for protective design focus on a “fortress” approach that does not effectively protect against contemporary attack vectors such as active shooters.  Furthermore, these standards provide little guidance to private building owners whose facilities are increasingly targeted...

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Abigail Echo-Hawk discusses sexual violence among urban native Seattle women on KUOW

Photo of Abigail Echo-HawkIAS alum Abigail Echo-Hawk spoke with KUOW’s Guy Nelson about a 2010 survey of Native women living in the Seattle area. It found that 94 percent had been raped or coerced into sex at some point during their lives. Echo-Hawk directs the Urban Indian Health Institute (UHIHI) in Seattle...

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Andrea Downs advances her career in special education

Photo of Andrea DownsAndrea (Sweerus) Downs has worked in special education for close to ten years, specializing in emotional behavioral disabilities. Downs has advocated for equity, changes in discipline polices, and equal access to educational supports and environments. Since leaving the classroom, she has worked as a behavior specialist and program facilitator for both Everett and Seattle Public Schools, and most recently, accepted a position as the Director of Special Services with Coupeville School District. There, she will oversee ...

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Allyson Fredericksen helps organizations thrive

Allyson Fredericksen has dedicated more than 10 years to serving nonprofits. Passionate about social justice and mobilizing communities for change, she has found her calling as a strategic operations professional, helping organizations create efficient and effective internal systems so they can focus on their missions. Fredericksen is thrilled to ...

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Alumni Shout Out!

Richie Meyer (’16) has joined UW Bothell’s First Year & Pre-Major Program (FYPP) as Program Coordinator. In this role, he provides administrative support to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Director of the Academic Transition Program, academic advising team, and other FYPP staff and faculty.


Melissa Watkinson researches the social and cultural dimensions of ocean acidification

Photo of Melissa WatkinsonMelissa Watkinson is a social scientist with Washington Sea Grant where she supports the social science efforts on the Olympic Coast Ocean Acidification Vulnerability study. Washington Sea Grant, the UW Applied Physics Laboratory, and the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean have teamed with federal and tribal partners to study the social and ecological vulnerabilities of ocean acidification in the Olympic Coast. They hope their work will help policy makers and tribal communities develop evidence-based strategies for anticipating and responding to the effects of ocean acidification. “Harvesting ...

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Megan Dunn advocates for pesticide alternatives and district elections

Photo of Megan DunnMegan Dunn (’13) is Program Director for Healthier People and Communities with Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides where she leads efforts to advocate and educate for pesticide alternatives within Washington schools, public spaces, and low income housing.

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Debbie Hopkins connects Our Coast Community Film Series to UW Bothell

Photo of Debbie HopkinsAs a member of the Snohomish County Marine Resource Committee (MRC), alum Debbie Hopkins (’17) brought the Our Coast Community Film Series to UW Bothell.  The film series is the MRC’s annual outreach initiative, aimed at educating the community about local and global marine ecosystems.  Hopkins saw UW Bothell as an ideal site for connecting both students and community...

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Sustainability guru Sean Schmidt champions good biz

Photo of Sean SchmidtIn his Nordstrom days, co-workers called Sean Schmidt (’09) the "Green Machine" and an "environmental entrepreneur." Ahead of the curve, Sean was the driving force behind several grassroots employee groups which sought to heighten sustainability awareness at the company and better serve customers who were seeking sustainable products. In 2000, Sean led the effort to launch a Sustainable Business & Development program at Nordstrom with the goal of improving and expanding the company in ways that had economic, as well as social and environmental value, by ...

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Image of IAS crowJung Lee (’13) started a new position as Academic Services Manager for the School of IAS at UW Bothell.  In this role, Jung is responsible for the planning, implementation, maintenance, analysis, and assessment process of IAS courses and programs. She guides admission and enrollment management, as well as the equitable process for academic programs and scholarship opportunities.

Brooke Magnusson connects her talents with passion for global health

Photo of Brooke MagnussonBrooke Magnusson (’09) had spent several years in cancer research when she decided to pursue a master’s in Policy Studies.  While she felt positive about her work, she desired greater impact and saw policy as that vehicle.  Through her graduate studies, Magnusson received advanced training in research, policy analysis, and project management.  She also conducted three internships, which complimented her learning, clarified her career direction...

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Photo of Mary HoustonHouston (’10) credits an internship with Workforce Snohomish, later her employer, as integral to her learning and professional path.

“I really believe so deeply in the work at UW Bothell,” says Houston. She also serves as the alumni representative to the UW Bothell Engagement Council, which looks for more and better ways to connect with students and continue serving the community.

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Melinda Bocci builds inclusive communities through education and employment

Photo of Melinda BocciMelinda Bocci (’06) had worked several years in the developmental disabilities sector when she decided to pursue a master’s in Policy Studies. Much of her work was driven by policy, and she wanted to impact change at a systemic level. While earning her degree, critical disability legislation was being implemented in Washington state. Melinda chose to ...

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Heidi Larwick receives “20 under 40 Rising Business Stars” award

Photo of Heidi LarwickOn December 5, alum Heidi Larwick ('05) received a "20 under 40 Rising Business Stars" award, recognizing her as one of 20 emerging business leaders making a difference in the Eugene-Springfield, Oregon community. Larwick is the Director of Connected Lane County, a coalition aiming to increase the number of high school graduates who are successful in higher education and life by creating a streamlined transition between early childhood, K–12, and higher education. Larwick is also ...

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Jefferson Ketchel named Snohomish Health District Administrator

Photo of Jefferson KetchelOn November 7, the Board of Health confirmed Jefferson Ketchel (’08) as Administrator of the Snohomish Health District.  Board Chair Adrienne Fraley-Monillas stated, “It was clear through our search that Jeff is the best person for the job, and we couldn’t be more pleased. He has a passion not just for public health, but this agency and the people of Snohomish County. Jeff has the board’s full support and confidence as we continue moving the health district forward as the community’s chief health strategist.”

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David Doyle reflects on his transition from Microsoft to public service

Photo of David DoyleIn September 2016, David Doyle (’15) began a new venture as City of Seattle’s Open Data Program Manager.  The Open Data Program makes the data generated by the City of Seattle openly available to the public, enabling those outside of government to find solutions to our most pressing civic challenges.

The Master of Arts in Policy Studies program was pivotal in David’s transition from 18 years at Microsoft to the public sector.  “Once ...

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Caitlin Moore’s research on heat islands contributes to Snohomish County’s healthy housing assessment

Photo of Caitlin MooreFor her MA in Policy Studies capstone project, Cailtin Moore (’17) researched heat islands in Snohomish County, mapping temperatures and impervious surfaces. Caitlin’s finding show that developed areas of Everett and other cities are warmer than rural areas. She gave her report, “Turning up the Heat: Urban Heat Islands in Snohomish County” to the Snohomish Health District. Interim Administrator Jeff Ketchel says it will be part of the county’s healthy housing assessment in October. Read the full article about Caitlin’s research.

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Jennifer Clarke Caruso (’08) has joined ELEVATE Global as Director of their Supplier Ownership program.  Jennifer began her career as a social responsibility specialist at Nordstrom, and then spent nine years at the Fair Labor Association (FLA) supporting licensees and other leading companies in building ethical sourcing programs that promote and protect workers’ rights and improve working conditions.

Image of IAS crowVy Nguyen (’12) was appointed appointment as legislative aide to Seattle Councilmember Lorena González, where she will serve as policy lead on immigrant and refugee affairs, housing, homelessness, and education.


Chris Covey speaks on victory for Bothell's North Creek Forest

Photo of North Creek Forest ribbon cuttingChris Covey ('03) and other supporters recently celebrated the acquisition of the final parcel of North Creek Forest. UW Bothell has a long history with saving the forest, a 63.4 acre reserve in the heart of Bothell.  A primary champion has been Friends of North Creek Forest, of which IAS faculty members Warren Gold and Amy Lambert are board members and alum Alice Tsoodle (’13, Environmental Studies) serves as Education Manager. Countless UW Bothell students and alumni have toured, studied, and restored the forest, many though UW’s Restoration Ecology Network program.

As co-president of Friends of North Creek Forest ...

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Policy Studies alumni discuss their career paths with students

Photo of Policy Studies alumniNate Brown (’13), Natasha Hundley (’07), and Brandon Mayfield (’10) recently visited campus to discuss their career trajectories, how they’ve applied policy studies to their professional roles, and resources they maximized as students. 

Nate Brown is a Research Coordinator at the Center for Education Data and Research (CEDR). Nate entered education research following ...

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Heidi Schauble finds her passion in supporting people with disabilities

Photo of Heidi SchaubleHeidi Schauble graduated from UW Bothell with a Bachelor of Arts in Society, Ethics & Human Behavior (’13), and an MA in Policy Studies (‘15).  During this time, she worked as a teacher for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a private, nonprofit school, and she partnered with the Woodinville Rotary to launch the Rotaract Club at UW Bothell, a student club dedicated to civic service.
After completing her masters and a capstone research project on education policy issues in Washington State, Heidi was hired as an Employment Consultant for AtWork!...

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Paula Matano (‘12) is now the program manager for Oregon State University’s Professional and Continuing Education division.  In this role, she develops and manages non-degree certificate programs and roughly 50 online and onsite courses.

Josh Thompson (’11) has announced his candidacy for Edmonds City Council, Position #1.  He currently serves as a Legislative Aide to the Snohomish County Councilmember Stephanie Wright and sits on the Mayor's Climate Protection Committee for City of Edmonds.

Mojan Ahmadi presents on game industry resumes at Game Developers Conference

Photo of Mojan AhmadiAs Coordinator of Career Services at DigiPen Institute of Technology, Mojan Ahmadi ('15) advises students and facilitates professional development opportunities in the video game, entertainment, and technology industry.  DigiPen is a private university that offers bachelor and master degree programs, as well K-12 programs.  Recently, Mojan and colleagues gave a panel presentation on creating effective game industry resumes at the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco ...

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Julianna (Mandler) Martin (’12) has been promoted to Management Analyst at County of Santa Clara’s Clean Water Program.

Melissa Watkinson (’15) is now serving on City of Seattle's Environmental Justice Steering Committee, helping leverage the concerns and voices of Seattle's Native American community.

Abigail Echo-Hawk discusses indigenous research as storytelling on Red Talks

Photo of Abigail Echo-HawkAbigail Echo-Hawk (’09, Policy Studies; ’07, American Studies) shared her approach to research with indigenous populations on “Red Talks"...

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David Doyle becomes City of Seattle’s new Open Data Program Manager

Photo of David DoyleLast week David Doyle (’15) began a new venture as City of Seattle’s Open Data Program Manager.  His primary focus is continuing the implementation of Seattle’s open data policy, which involves coordinating efforts across all City departments to accelerate the publishing of high value datasets into In February 2016, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed an Executive Order directing all City data to be "open by preference," meaning City departments should make their data accessible to the public after screening for privacy, security, and quality considerations.

A Microsoft employee for 18 years, David credits the Policy Studies program as key in his transition to public service.  Describing his trajectory, David writes:

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Alums Partner with UW Bothell Faculty on Grad and Undergrad Community-Engaged Learning

Photo of Irons and KarenaMike Irons ('13, Policy Studies) and Nora Karena ('14, Cultural Studies) have been recognized for their facilitation of community-based and applied learning opportunities for UW Bothell graduate and undergraduate students respectively.  Irons, who is Snohomish Superior Court Juvenile Court Program Manager, has engaged Policy Studies students as interns in various programs...

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Policy Studies Alumni Share their Career Paths with Students

Photo of Policy Studies alumniFour Policy Studies alumni recently met with current Policy Studies students to share their career trajectories and lessons learned along the way. Collectively, they highlighted the value and relevance of  their education, which built skills in research and analysis, program administration, critical thinking, advocacy, and collaboration.  Alumni included: Mariah Crystal (’10),  Jefferson Ketchel (’08), Vy Nguyen (’12), and Josh Thompson (’11).

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Mariah Crystal and Marcus Johnson Go On to Doctoral Programs

Photo of Crystal and JohnsonMariah Crystal (’10) has been accepted into the Ph.D. program in Political Science at the University of Kansas. Mariah’s capstone project for the Policy Studies program in IAS was “Collaborative Social Change: A Transformational Approach,” which focused on the global dynamics of social change and development projects. Global Studies alum Marcus Johnson (’13) is currently ...

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Vy Nguyen Co-presents Report on “Brain Waste” among WA State Immigrants and Refugees

Photo of Vy NguyenVy Nguyen (’12) has focused the past year on workforce and education issues related to immigrant integration, particularly the issue of "brain waste" among foreign-educated immigrants. Many immigrants and refugees bring a wealth of knowledge and experience yet find it difficult to continue their professional careers in the U.S. This enormous underutilization of human resources has been dubbed “brain waste,” and OneAmerica’s report details ...

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Photo of Melissa WatkinsonMelissa Watkinson ('15, Policy Studies; '11, Global Studies and Society, Ethics, and Behavior) has been selected as the first Hershman Marine Policy Fellow from UW Bothell.  She will start working with The Nature Conservancy this fall on coastal climate resiliency and policies, where she hopes to learn how established non-profits engage with local communities and policies on pressing environmental issues.

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