While Shoreline Community College now gets less than half of its budget from the state of Washington, each one of those dollars is critically important to the mission of serving students. To help ensure the college has a strong voice with those holding the government’s purse strings, Shoreline has hired someone experienced in legislative matters, McKinzie Strait.
“I’m excited to bring McKinzie’s skills here to help Shoreline meet the needs of our students,” Shoreline President Lee Lambert said. “Legislators are going to continue to face some very tough decisions. We need to have a consistent presence with those decisionmakers.”
With the title of Executive Associate to the President for External Affairs, Strait will develop and implement political engagement strategies with federal, state and local elected officials as well as other key government officials and policymakers. Strait comes to the college from the office of State Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-32nd Dist., where she served as legislative assistant. She was also a policy intern for State Reps. Kevin Parker, Jeannie Darneille and Marko Liias. A University of Washington graduate in Political Science, Strait also worked at the public relations firms of Waggener Edstrom, serving as account coordinator on the Microsoft Business Division team.
“Community colleges play a key role in our society. Shoreline is demonstrating thought leadership in higher education and I’m excited to join that effort,” said Strait, who will serve on the President’s Senior Executive Team (PSET).
Lambert said Strait will spend much of her time focused on the Legislature.
“The state budget keeps getting tighter, true, but it is still a huge part of our funding and we need to fight for it,” Lambert said. “In addition, we need to look at the regulatory environment for options that can help us be more effective with the state money we do get. As we’ve seen in recent years, lawmakers have little wiggle room on budget, but they can help us serve students in other ways.”
Lambert said there is more to the appointment than just having someone to prowl the halls in Olympia.
“The state has limited resources so we need to look other places for help; we can’t just put it all on students’ tuition,” Lambert said. “While the federal budget is tight, too, there are grants available. We have strong, competitive programs here at Shoreline and we need start making our case for those grants. In addition, there are significant dollars available from private foundations. We have been successful in getting some of those and we need to expand those efforts.”
To that end, Strait and Brandon Rogers, Special Assistant to the President for Grants and Contracts, will work closely together, Lambert said.
“To be successful with many of these grants, both federal and private, you need a great grant writer plus you need someone who is working with those funding agencies and groups to understand their goals and help tell our story,” Lambert said. “Brandon is a terrific grants-and-contracts writer and now we’ve got McKinzie to help with that effort.”
Lambert said that bringing Strait and Rogers to Shoreline is part of a conscious effort to help the college now and in the future. “Conditions are changing and changing fast,” he said. “We are adapting to those changes.”