Alumni Spotlight: Evan Westrup
Evan Westrup (LA Fellow ’07) was appointed as Press Secretary for Governor Brown four years ago this March. Prior to his current role he served as Deputy Press Secretary in the Governor’s office, on the 2010 gubernatorial campaign and in Attorney General Brown’s office.
Reflecting on his time as a Fellow, Evan (pictured left above) shared these Coro reflections with us.
Coro: How do you bring your Coro experience into your day-to-day navigation of politics and public service as the Press Secretary for Governor Brown?
Evan Westrup: On a practical level, after every major bill signing event, press conference or speech, I lead a Coro-style debrief with my team to reflect on what went well and how we can improve the next time around. On a more philosophical level, I try to recognize and challenge my own assumptions and preconceptions and work hard to ground what I say and write in fact every single day.
When it comes to tackling bigger public policy challenges and driving change, Coro has helped me recognize varying perspectives and interests across sectors and the political spectrum, better understand what drives these differences and ultimately, find ways to work together, build stronger coalitions and get stuff done.
Coro: What critical moment from your time as a Coro Fellow do you think back to most often?
EW: It’s more a series of moments that I reflect on. Most importantly, I think about the strong and lasting friendships our Fellows class built through countless conference room debates, brutally honest feedback sessions, carpooling treks across Los Angeles, long dinners and late night dance parties.
I also think about some of the big challenges from those nine months that tested my limits, including navigating thorny work environments and inter-office conflicts. These experiences have helped me focus on how to be a better boss and create a productive, engaging work environment.
Coro: If you could go back and give advice to pre-Coro Evan, what would you say?
It’s okay to not know what’s next.
Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.
Listen more; talk less.
Take even more time to get to know your fellows class.
Schedule as many coffees with the interesting people you meet through Coro as you can.
Keep a journal and write more about your experiences.
Think of Coro as your career laboratory. Don’t be afraid to experiment, test your ideas and challenge yourself.
Coro: How does inquiry play a role in your life?
EW: The Governor expects everyone on his team to “live in the inquiry.” This means having a natural curiosity, constantly questioning ideas (including your own), teasing out every side of an argument or position and paying close attention to what’s happening outside of the bubble in Sacramento. A key to my success in this role has been continuing to recognize how much I don’t know (i.e. lots of Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know “DKDK” moments) and using the tools I learned in Coro to ask the right questions, get and distill information quickly and build consensus.