Jenni Owen

Director, NC Office of Strategic Partnerships

Jenni Owen is the Director of the NC Office of Strategic Partnerships. She was appointed by Governor Roy Cooper to this position in 2018 after serving as the Governor’s Policy Director. In this role, Owen identifies and launches strategic partnerships between and among state government, universities/colleges, philanthropy, and other entities. 

The Strategic Partnerships team works with state officials and non-governmental partners on priority policy issues, develops and convenes public sector and research experts, and provides a range of learning opportunities for stakeholders across sectors. These efforts help the state deepen connections with external research expertise and increase internal agency capacity to conduct and use evidence to improve policy. 

Owen was previously Policy Director for Governor Cooper, working closely with cabinet agencies and other state, local, and non-governmental partners to inform and act on the Governor’s policy priorities. Prior to joining the Cooper administration in January 2017, she was the Director of Policy Engagement and on the faculty of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. She co-directed the Duke University School Research Partnership, was the principal investigator for multiple foundation-funded projects, and served as director of the University-Based Child and Family Policy Consortium. In 2007, Owen was awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship to South Africa and in 2010 launched DukeEngage Durban (South Africa).

Before Duke, Owen was a senior policy advisor to Governor James B. Hunt Jr. and then the planning director for the Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy. Among other civic roles, she was a commissioner on the North Carolina Indigent Defense Services Commission, is a board member of El Futuro and the Durham Children’s Initiative, on the Policy Council of the Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management, was a member of the National Conference of State Legislatures Evidence-Informed Policymaking work group, and serves on the Pew Results First Advisory Group.