2020 LESN Recognition Award


The Legislative Education Staff Network is pleased to present Mary Kenfield, Senior Education Policy Analyst and Staff Director for the Washington State House Democratic Caucus, with the 2020 LESN Recognition Award. Mary was nominated by his colleague, Alice MacLean, Policy Analyst, House Democratic Caucus and Heather Lewis-Lechner, Senior Education Policy Counsel.

Mary’s long career in education policy began in her local Parent Teacher Association in Federal Way, Washington. After joining the PTA as a parent, Mary served the Washington State PTA as a Program Director and later as the Director of Government Affairs. In 2003, she received the WSPTA Outstanding Service Award for her statewide service to children. In 2007, Mary joined the Washington State House Democratic Caucus as a Policy Analyst for the House Education Committee. Her counsel helped guide legislators through a decade-long overhaul of the state’s education funding system, advising members and working with stakeholders to devise a robust, equitable, and accountable funding plan to better serve the children of the state.

Mary has been a prominent member of several national organizations shaping education policy, including the LESN Steering Committee; the National Conference for State Legislators Educator Effectiveness Partnership; and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Over the years, she has also presented at many conferences, panels, and work groups about professional development and other aspects of K-12 education policy.

In addition to her leadership on the national education policy stage, Mary has been a phenomenal mentor to legislative staff in her home state. For the past five years, Mary has served as the Policy Director for the House Democratic Caucus. I have had the incredible opportunity to learn from Mary as her successor as caucus staff for the House Education Committee. Beyond her subject area expertise, she has a deep sense of compassion rooted in her own challenging life experiences and a desire to see young legislative staff thrive in a demanding environment.

But above all else, Mary deserves recognition for her unwavering commitment to children and young people. While navigating an inherently political environment, Mary never forgets the goal: that all children in Washington State have access to a high-quality education. As a result, she has dedicated herself to meaningfully improving our education system by improving educator effectiveness; expanding the use of mastery-based learning; reducing the impact of racial bias in schools; and emphasizing social-emotional learning. Mary has extraordinary heart for every single student in our K-12 system, and it has been the guiding light during her many years of public service.

We are proud to have Mary on our LESN team. Her experience and leadership provide great value and insight to our network. Thank you, Mary!