Katie Steen will join SPARC as Manager of Public Policy and Advocacy, effective February 1. In this newly established position, Katie will be responsible for promoting SPARC’s policy and coalition activities to advance SPARC’s commitment to making Open the default for research and education.
Katie comes to SPARC from the Association of American Universities (AAU), where she has been serving as federal relations officer. She led the organization’s advocacy on policy issues ranging from humanities funding to agriculture research, and was active in AAU’s effort to accelerate public access to research data. She brings a solid grounding in both Congressional and Executive branch advocacy, as well as a deep familiarity with the higher education environment to this new role.
Katie also has a long connection with SPARC, beginning with her participation in OpenCon in 2014. As a graduate student, she was involved in advocacy on Capitol Hill, promoting Open Access and Open Educational Resources. In 2017, she became a full-time consultant for SPARC as an open education policy manager and helped secure the first appropriation for an Open Textbook Pilot Grant Program in the U.S. Department of Education.
“Throughout my work, open has been woven into every job,” says Katie. “Since that first OpenCon, this has been the issue that has captured my passion the most. I enjoy the community and the issue itself.”
In this new full-time position dedicated to policy at SPARC, Katie says she’s looking forward to working with staff to help build the organization’s in-house lobbying capacity. The pandemic has focused attention on science and created an opening to engage lawmakers and the public in discussions about the need to disseminate research results quickly, she says.
“I’m committed to the democratization of knowledge,” Katie says. “When I think about the opportunities and challenges that come with SPARC’s policy work, it excites me to think through the strategy of what’s possible.”
Katie is a graduate of the University of Missouri where she earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and her master’s degree in public affairs with an emphasis in public policy.
Katie and her fiancé live in Washington, D.C. with their cat, Hank, who has his on Instagram account. She enjoys music of all kinds and is a baseball fan, cheering for Washington Nationals and her hometown favorite Kansas City Royals.