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Meet Our Fellows: Michael Jacobson ('19)

Deputy Director - Performance and Strategy at King County Office of Performance, Strategy and Budget

Who or what inspired you to work in public service?

My dad was a career officer in the Coast Guard and his dad was a high school chemistry teacher. I always thought that they had interesting, challenging, and fulfilling jobs and they felt like they contributed to society.

What is something you are excited about right now?

I am excited by the prospect of making a giant step forward in addressing the racial inequities in our society. Many people have had their eyes opened to the treatment of black men at the hands of police but there are so many ways in which BIPOC communities and other minorities (such as religious or gender/sexual minorities), are marginalized by our public institutions. I see this as a generational opportunity to make change for the better for all of our communities.

What is your favorite class you have ever taught or took and why?

I am a lifelong learner and I have for the past 10 years attended “Saturday University” at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Each fall, winter, and spring quarter has a thematic series of expert lectures addressing the art and cultures of Asia. I am virtually transported to amazing places, and across time and get deeper insights into these diverse and amazing cultures. Next series: Art and Renewal in Times of Crisis in Asia.

What inspires you during these challenging times?

I have been inspired by the passion of my professional colleagues who have dropped what they were doing to collectively address COVID-19, be flexible, prioritize, and advocate for equitable responses amidst it all. It’s rare, at least in my experience, to have that “all hands on deck” experience with so many people involved. Many of my team have been working with our Public Health department on helping our communities, many of whom typically don’t have a high degree of trust in government, with health practices, vaccinations, and financial assistance provided through grants. I also see us identifying “silver lining” opportunities in terms of service delivery and program changes, to change the way we are operating in the name of equity.

What advice can you give to folks beginning careers in public service?

There are so many career routes available in the public sector. We have very diverse lines of business; it’s one of the only places you can be a scientist, a writer, a nurse, or a bus driver! That said, learning how to navigate organization sand understand behavior is essential to be successful. Having some technical skills may help get you your first position, but understanding people and the organizational culture is essential for your future development and growth.

What is your favorite midnight snack?

I tend towards the sweet items so ice cream (dark chocolate with something crunchy like chips) would have to be up there.

Do you have any pets at home?

I have an 85-pound, 14-year old, long black-haired retriever/border collie rescue dog named Stryker. We call him our “go-go” dog because he is always up for going places. Although he’s not as nimble as he used to be, I love going swimming in Lake Washington with him.

If you could witness any historical event, what would you want to see?

I’m torn between a) the July 3rd battle at Gettysburg (vantage point from the Copse of Trees), and b) the liberation of Auschwitz.

Do you have a favorite podcast, journal, newspaper, or other kind of media?

I have been on a bit of a media diet of late, so no.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

Not sure it was ever stated as advice per se, but my dad lived by the rule that I have embraced: Never be afraid to be the first person on the dance floor.

									 Michael Jacobson
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