May 30, 2024 7:03 am

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From ’accidental politician’ to Vice President of Federal Relations

WASHINGTON D.C.—Former Lynnwood City Councilwoman, Snohomish County Councilwoman, and Snohomish County Executive Policy Officer, Stephanie Wright, is settling into her new role as Vice President of Federal Relations at Strategies 360.

stephanie Wright
John Traynor, Legislative Director at Washington State Labor Council AFL CIO, Stephanie Wright, Snohomish County Executive Policy Officer, Everett City Councilwoman Paula Rhyne, and Snohomish County Councilwoman Megan Dunn at the Washington State Capitol Rotunda in May 2023. SOURCE: Stephanie Wright.

The position, she informed the Lynnwood Times, has been a seamless transition so far from her years working as a public servant in Snohomish County.

Strategies 360 is a Seattle-based research, public affairs, and communications firm that offers a variety of services including consultations, legislative advocacy, campaign polling, reputation management and media relations, and government relations.

Wright’s first two weeks in her new role mainly consisted of meeting with clients primarily in Washington and Hawaii, respectively.

For Washington state, Wright deals with both city and county clients, many of which she has had the pleasure of working with in the past as an elected official. She also works as the secondary person for clients located in Hawaii, which include nonprofits such as Hawaiian homelands.

“It was a lot of client meetings and a lot of coming up to speed in my new line of work,” said Wright. “But I’m very excited to be learning the different areas that I get to delve into and the different subject matters that I get to work on now.”

stephanie Wright
Snohomish County Councilwoman Stephanie Wright delivering an update on the COVID pandemic. SOURCE: Snohomish County Government.

Transitioning from Executive Policy Officer for Snohomish County into her new role was natural for her. Much of the work Wright was doing at the county-level already involved federal relations such as grants, earmarks, appropriations, and that is exactly what she’s going to be doing with Strategies 360 for counties and cities across Washington.

“It’s a direct translation, it’s just an expansion of what I was doing for the county,” said Wright.

Since working for Snohomish County, Wright has been building a federal program and forming relationships with several federal partners, helping the county’s different departments become well-versed in what options exist at the federal level. In turn, she ensured the county’s federal partners were well-versed in the county’s many departments to holistically support the county’s needs as far as transportation, economic development, and environmental projects.

“Getting that scope and that understanding to our federal team and then again having our departments really know where the opportunities are, where we fit in, and how we can plan ahead for, especially these congressional, direct, spending opportunities (also called earmarks),” said Wright.

Just one of the many things Wright is looking forward to in her new role is assisting the small towns Hawaii to access federal resources for infrastructure, transportation, and climate conservation. Wright told the Lynnwood Times it gives her “goosebumps” when she thinks about everything these entities are capable of when they’re matched up with federal money.

stephanie Wright
Snohomish County Executive Policy Officer Stephanie Wright at Naval Station Everett. SOURCE: Stephanie Wright.

“This is community building, this is grassroots, this is infrastructure, roads, highways, culverts, economic development, all of those things that really help rebuild communities – I get to work on all the good stuff,” said Wright. “I’m so excited to help entities match up with these funds. These projects really help communities. Being able to help on that front is my fuel every day.”

Though a Seattle-based company, Wright’s position is based out of Washington, D.C., with monthly trips back to Washington.

Wright told the Lynnwood Times she wasn’t necessarily looking for a new job when the opportunity at Strategies 360 arose. She had known the founder, Ron Dotzauer, since 2000 and when an opportunity at his company surfaced, that aligned with her skillset and goals, she threw her name in the bucket believing that it was everything she loved about her former positions but more expanded.

Ron Dotzauer
Ron Dotzauer

“I am so thrilled that Stephanie has joined our team,” said Ron Dotzauer, Founder and CEO of Strategies 360. “She is a phenom who can bring people together to tackle complex issues, gain confidence, and build momentum to execute large, mission-critical projects that benefit both public and private interests.”

Prior to joining the world of politics, Wright was a High School teacher and High School librarian. It was through working in education that drew her into politics to begin with, she told the Lynnwood Times. What started as standing up for teacher’s rights and education-based issues led to a career on the Lynnwood City Council, then to Chair of the County Council, and then an Executive Policy Officer.

Beginning her career as a teacher helped “frame” Wight’s approach to several political issues, she continued, such as understanding that various people have various viewpoints on things, but all need the necessary tools to do the best that they can.

“I’ve never framed myself as a politician but more of a public servant. I became an accidental politician just because I started showing up to town hall meetings advocating for things like class sizes and teacher’s pay,” said Wright. “Giving people the tools to advocate so that we can all make our case and better our situations, be it a personal situation, or a city situation, or a community situation it’s really understanding the playing field and the tools…and then a whole lot of patience.”

As opportunities presented themselves to Wright, she could not help but try and expand the scope of what she wished to accomplish. Her newest role with Strategies 360 is just the latest example of this.

Wright told the Lynnwood Times that there is no better feeling than working hard on projects that finally materialize and becomes successful. She used the example of the Meadowdale Project which she was initially told was not possible because of the different jurisdictions and the railroads 12 years ago when it was first introduced.

“It takes a decade sometimes and you’re in it going no one’s going to know we did this, and we might not be possible, but when it happens, and you see people out and enjoying your project. If you go to Meadowdale Beach nobody knows Steph Wright worked on that, well maybe my friends and family because they heard me talk about it,” said Wright. “Whenever I go to a park with my family, I always think somebody made this happen. Somewhere in this park is a plaque of somebody we don’t remember but I’m so glad that this is here. It’s so exciting to realize that you’ve left something for the future. Nobody will know it was you but there’s a whole beach here, a whole estuary, because your team didn’t let you give up.”

Wright continued that she believes it’s better to try and fail than to fail because one didn’t even try.

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