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Michael Kern, MPA

Director of Special Projects

With over 30 years of experience in helping groups of diverse interests reach common ground on a wide range of public policy issues, Michael helps the Puget Sound Institute conduct projects that foster collaborative approaches to addressing policy challenges in Puget Sound. Michael is also a Distinguished Practitioner at the UW Evans School of Public Policy and Governance; Adjunct Associate Professor at Washington State University (WSU) Extension; Adjunct Professor at Seattle University’s Institute of Public Service; and Principal at Michael Kern Consulting, LLC.


In addition to a Master of Public Administration degree, Michael has a fine arts background, which helps him bring a creative mindset to policy challenges. He specializes in finding innovative approaches, and getting groups “unstuck.” He has a strong regional, national, and international reputation in the field of collaborative governance.

From 2010-21, Michael was Director of the William D. Ruckelshaus Center at WSU and the University of Washington UW, which has conducted many important collaborative policy projects as an independent convener at the state’s flagship universities, helping create lasting, consensus solutions. Prior to leading the Ruckelshaus Center, Michael was a Senior Associate at Triangle Associates Inc., providing facilitation, mediation, strategic planning, project management, and other services. He has also provided these services at nonprofit and academic institutions for the North Cascades Initiative, Hatchery Reform Project, Hanford Openness Workshops, Tribal Risk Roundtable, and other projects.

Michael has led and been part of projects on a wide range of topics such as natural resource management, land use, emergency response, clean energy, agriculture, organizational development, strategic planning, solid waste, housing, health care, and many others for private, non-governmental, and public organizations at all levels including federal, tribal, state, and local governments.