The Betty Jane Narver Policy Fellowship

A unique opportunity for future policy leaders

Jillian Pennyman, our 2013-2014 Betty Jane Narver Fellow, shared her thoughts on her time as a fellow. 

She received her master's degree in education policy this past summer.  


What did you learn from your experience at B & PC?

I felt I learned a multitude of different things. Last year I moved here from the South, I wasn’t aware of how regressive Washington state’s tax system is. Frankly, I was shocked at that. I learned about how that impacts all areas of the budget, particularly education funding which is very important to me. 

I also learned how to collaborate on research projects and other tasks. I came in planning to do a lot of individual tasks, but I was always working with others.

It taught me that crafting policy and doing research and analysis is a collaborative process. No one can do it on their own.

I really enjoyed worked with Kim (Senior Budget Analyst) on education funding. I also worked with the data visualization contractor Nathan to visually represent my work, which was really interesting. 

I learned a lot from working with Tara (Communications Director) on messaging, including how to make the analysis clear, concise, and engaging. The messaging piece was really new to me, coming from an academic background. It was so helpful to learn how to reshape and reframe my writing to make it more accessible and less academic.

What are some of your favorite things from your Fellowship?

Far and away, it was having the direct mentorship with Remy (Executive Director). That was phenomenal. He gave me a lot of insight on how policy is developed and implemented. I’d say having Remy as a mentor provided me with a lot of opportunities and allowed me to meet with legislators and leaders throughout the state.

During the legislative session, I shadowed Rep. Reuven Carlyle, Rep. Eric Pettigrew, and lobbyist Frank Ordway from the League of Education Voters.

I loved the days where I was shadowing in Olympia as it gave me the opportunity to see the policy process from different perspectives. 

One big takeaway is that you need comfortable shoes to keep up in Olympia. The pace is rigorous; as they are running from meeting to meeting. You need comfortable shoes to make it through the day! 

I also really enjoyed attending the State Fiscal Policy Conference in Washington D.C. It gave me the opportunity to get to know B & PC staff and meet with other organizations, and listen to national speakers. It was one of the largest and most interesting conferences I’d ever attended. 

Did anything surprise you from your time with B & PC?

I was surprised by the size of the staff. Before I applied for the Fellowship, I looked over the website and different publications. I thought that the staff must be exceptionally large to pull all that off.  When I realized that it is fewer than 10 people, I was amazed.

It really is a credit to the staff how much gets done, and the impact they have with a relatively small staff. It made me realize that you don’t have to have a massive staff to make a real impact in the policy world, and will influence how I think of work output in future organizations! 

Any advice for future Narver fellows? 

You aren’t expected to be an expert. You are here to learn. You need to remember that. Don’t place pressure on yourself to know everything right away. I have learned to take a step back and not always feel like I have to have all the answers. Sometimes it is good to observe and listen.

I can’t stress this enough: don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Everyone at B & PC is very supportive and really wants to see the Narver Fellow (and everyone else) succeed.

Use any project or task as a learning experience. When Andy (Senior Fiscal Analyst) would ask me to work with him on tax policy, I felt nervous or anxious because I didn’t know anything about it. But he was really great and I learned a lot from him. It allowed me to enrich my knowledge in area that I had no background in. 

I encourage future Narver Fellows to take risks. Go ahead and jump in as you will learn something. 

Also, network, network, network. Ask Remy or other staff to connect you with people in the policy world. They will do it, as they have the relationships. 

Don’t let the opportunities pass you by. The staff is great, but the Narver Fellowship is essentially what you make it. This has been a life changing experience for me. 


The application period for our 2014-2015 fellowship is now closed. 

Thank you to those that applied.  Stay tuned for the 2015-2016 fellowship application in summer 2015.

Up to the Challenge? A standout candidate would have:

  • a commitment to social justice,
  • facility with quantitative analysis,
  • an understanding or a desire to understand policy making, 
  • a desire to receive mentorship, and
  • a strong interest in pursuing a career involving policy analysis.

"This is a great opportunity for someone interested in a career in public policy to learn from the inside. When I was in school, I would have loved to have had the experience in being mentored by the leading progressive think tank in our state. I’m confident that this fellowship will result in more diversity in our public policy discussions.”
Gordon McHenry Jr.
President and Chief Executive Officer of Solid Ground

The Budget & Policy Center is committed to fostering diversity within our organization and our communities. To us, diversity means differing life experiences and backgrounds, and may include gender, race, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation, disability, marital status and age.

Document Actions
Betty Jane Narver

Betty Jane Right Column

Generous support from The Seattle Foundation’s Strategies to Eliminate Poverty Project and individual donors has made the inaugural phase of our fellowship possible. But we’ll need your support to continue the fellowship as a lasting tribute to Betty Jane Narver.

Our vision is for the fellowship to become a permanent rotating staff position with the Budget & Policy Center, greatly enhancing the diversity of voices in public policy.

Please consider supporting the Betty Jane Narver Policy Fellowship by emailing us.

Betty Jane Narver


The Washington State Budget & Policy Center is proud to announce the inaugural Betty Jane Narver Policy Fellowship, in honor of one of the most admired and productive figures in recent civic life.

As Director of the University of Washington Institute for Public Policy and Management, she led research on various education reform programs, welfare systems, and fiscal policy. She was appointed by three governors to serve as Chair of the Washington State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board. In addition, she was a founding member of the Board of Trustees of the Seattle Public Library Foundation and past president of the Municipal League of King County.

Betty Jane is remembered for her unique ability to bring people together. Her kitchen was often the scene of debates between policy makers. Her most enduring impact, though, may have been her mentorship of a generation of civic leaders. Above all, she was kind and she was giving to countless individuals.

This fellowship is our way of passing on her legacy.