An Inside Look at Science Policy at the Federal and State Level with Donna Gerardi Riordan

This week’s episode features Donna Gerardi Riordan, a nonprofit leader and innovator with more than three decades of experience bridging the gap between science and policy at the national and state levels. 

Donna’s most recent role is as Executive Director of the Washington State Academy of Sciences (WSAS). She previously served in similar roles in California at the California Council on Science & Technology, where she was the co-architect of the first state-level Science & Technology Fellows Program, and at the US National Academy of Sciences, where she founded and directed its Office of Public Understanding of Science. 

Donna also has consulted with national and state level organizations on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, she founded Research Northwest, a non-profit organization devoted to generating the best available science for policy decisions. 

Donna is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and lives in Seattle.

On this week’s episode, Donna shares insights about similarities and differences between working in science policy at the state and federal levels. We discuss topics such as:

– How Donna recommends people interested in science policy approach opportunities at the state and federal level

– Donna’s role and responsibilities at the WSAS well as the organization’s mission and goals

– What Donna means by the “pull” and “push” modes the WSAS employs in its interactions within the policymaking process in Washington State

– How scientists and engineers can have an impact at the state level and a specific example of how Donna and the WSAS operated within a particular policymaking process

– How scientists can remain objective when it comes to the science while still advising elected officials on policy issues involving scientific topics

– Donna’s approach to storytelling as a tool for communicating complex information to policymakers