Associate Director Lauren Spokane with Lucy and Herb Pruzan at the welcome lecture for Prof. Mika Ahuvia, March 2015. Photo by Meryl Schenker.

Associate Director Lauren Spokane with Jewish Studies Honorary Board members Lucy and Herb Pruzan, March 2015. Photo by Meryl Schenker.

For the past three years, Lauren Spokane has served as the UW Stroum Center for Jewish Studies’ Associate Director. Her strategic leadership has been central to the Stroum Center’s academic expansion and increased impact in the community. This month Lauren is graduating from the UW Evans School with her Masters of Public Administration (MPA). We recently caught up with Lauren for a short interview. Please join us in wishing Lauren all the best as she moves back east to start a new chapter!

What are you most proud of developing here at the Stroum Center?

I’m tremendously proud of having built such a strong staff team. The level of talent and expertise in a wide range of areas related to Jewish Studies, community building, communications, and organizational development is so exciting. It is very affirming to feel that I can be leaving the Stroum Center in such able hands to continue the growth we’ve developed over the past three years.

What do you think the future holds for UW Jewish Studies?

Under Prof. Noam Pianko’s visionary leadership, Jewish Studies has experimented with new ways to translate our faculty’s expertise through a variety of media so that the public can access and learn from the knowledge that is created here on campus. In addition to a great staff, we have a fabulous advisory board full of community leaders and professionals who are bringing invaluable insights and creative energy to Jewish Studies. I suspect that the board will find even more ways to strengthen the bridge between campus and community in the years to come.

Please share any particular memories or highlights that stand out for you.

The 40th Anniversary Gala is of course a major highlight in my time here. I will always remember the beautiful Harley and Lela Franco Maritime Center, the music and sunshine, and the heartfelt (while comedic!) keynote by Prof. Deborah Lipstadt. I was moved by reflections from longtime friends of Jewish Studies who remarked that this was the first time they had seen such diverse representation from across different parts of the Seattle Jewish community at a Jewish Studies event. It felt like a real turning point for the Stroum Center, solidifying its place both at the university and in the community as a strong presence for research, teaching, and community learning. I was very proud to be a part of it, and it was such fun to work with our amazing planning committee!

Congratulations on your degree from the Evans School! What was your capstone project this quarter?

Thanks! It has been quite a journey. My capstone was part of the Evans School’s Public Service Clinic. I worked with a new organization called the Government Alliance on Race and Equity, which is an alliance of local and regional governments across the country working to narrow gaps in social and economic outcomes between white residents and residents of color. I developed a “Getting Started Toolkit” for jurisdictions interested in learning from others’ experiences to develop new initiatives to advance racial equity.

Tell us about your new job in Washington, DC.

I will be working as the Fund Development Coordinator for the PICO National Network, a coalition of interfaith community organizing groups across the country working to achieve social justice in their communities. Nationally, PICO is working on legislative efforts to make criminal justice and immigration policy fairer, with the goal of eliminating racial disparities.

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