Sally Duncan, Coordinator

Directing OPAL as it emerges from idea to reality has been an exciting and unique challenge. OPAL is designed to support real-world experience for policy students, and the value of that is immeasurable. Working on OPAL projects, classes, and experiences helps students better understand the differences between theory and practice, and will boost their standing as they begin their job searches. I began my career with a history major after growing up on an Australian sheep and cattle ranch. I added journalism and broadcasting through a Masters degree, then worked part-time while child-raising. My subsequent PhD in environmental sciences led quite naturally into policy analysis. Probably because of that highly applied agricultural childhood, I am most interested in bridging the gap between academic pursuits and applied problems. To this end, I choose not to work on projects that are not transdisciplinary, solution-focused, and collaborative.


Trang Tran

Policy Interests: Energy Policy, Social Policy, Educational Policy

I was born and raised in Danang, a coastal city in central Vietnam. Upon completion of my undergraduate degree in International Studies, I spent a year working as an intermediary between the local government and international organizations, helping conduct community support works. I was thrilled to have the opportunities to interact with colleagues from different cultures who came together to solve contemporary health and education issues in Vietnam. Those experiences shaped my interest in community, education and sustainable development and encouraged me to further my education abroad. Being part of the school of Public Policy and a member of OPAL offers me a good chance to develop my professional skills and to explore how theories in class are applied in real-life projects.


Ivan Kuletz

Policy Interests: Fisheries policy, ocean/coastal policy, food policy, climate change, and environmental policy

Because my mother is a marine biologist and my father is a fisherman, it might seem natural to someone else that I became both for a time, but to me it wasn’t an immediately obvious path. Now, after four years as an ecological field technician and eight as a fisherman, I find myself stepping back and looking at the big picture. One thing about ocean policy jumps out at me as an inescapable truth: we cannot treat oceans as inexhaustible and individual breadbaskets, garbage dumps, and petty fiefs. We need to fundamentally change the way we think about and treat our blue planet so that we might have a meaningful future. I know I’m one person with one lifetime and little influence, but as Archimedes said, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” 


Nathan Davis

Policy Interests: Rural Policy; Environmental Policy

I am from Lewistown, Illinois, a small farm town in the Illinois River Valley. For my undergraduate education I stayed close to home, attending Bradley University where I ran cross country and track. I graduated in May 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with minors in Economics and Sociology. During my undergrad years, I worked with rural towns and villages on community development projects through my job with a local planning commission.  I began to see that rural communities face unique policy problems because of their size and location.  My work with the Sierra Club on their Beyond Coal Campaign taught me the importance of sustainability in economic development.  Further work with rural communities showed me that though some leaders valued sustainable development, many community leaders and citizens valued development regardless of the environmental cost.  My interest in learning how to develop rural communities sustainably is what led me to the OSU Public Policy program.  I am very excited to start my academic journey here and to be a part of a vibrant academic community.    


Stephen Naimoli

Policy Interests: Energy/Environmental Policy

I was born in Frankfurt, Germany, but have spent most of my life in Maryland. I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre at the University of Texas-Austin. Although my undergraduate studies were in the arts, a strong interest in politics and the environment led me to pursue public policy for my graduate studies. My main policy interest is in climate change mitigation policy. Before coming to Oregon, I worked with various environmental non-profits in DC, Maryland, and North Carolina.


OPAL Alumni


Andrew Spaeth

Policy Interests: Rural Policy, Environmental Studies, Collaborative Goverance, Social Network Analysis

My interests in wilderness recreation, education, agriculture, and more broadly the environment led me to Bemidji State University, where I pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental studies and applied public policy. In 2010, I graduated and began working for the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, the flagship environmental nonprofit in the state, advocating on behalf of 80 member organizations and over 400,000 Minnesotans. Concurrently, I served as the State Chair of the Minnesota State University Student Association, which represents over 70,000 students in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. As the chief spokesperson of the association, I advocated for accessible and affordable higher education at the campus, state, and federal levels. In the spring of 2011 I left Minnesota on a series of adventures. First, three friends I paddled canoes from Lake Superior to Hudson's Bay across 1400-miles of connected lakes a rivers. After a brief reprise, I spent six weeks in the Commonwealth of Dominica, where I observed the development of that country's first comprehensive national energy policy and sustainable energy plan. I returned to the states and found myself skiing and working in northern California's Lake Tahoe recreation area. Following a short winter, I moved to the San Juan Islands in Washington State and immersed myself in the local food system.


Elizabeth O'Casey

Policy Interests: Rural Environmental Policy  

Growing up on a Christmas tree farm bordering a national park, I’ve seen instances of both tension and collaboration between rural communities and federal bodies. I hope to work on issues related to rural environmental policy for the purpose of increasing community resilience and park-community relations. Prior to attending OSU, two jobs in particular impacted my current interests. The first was working in several rural Thai schools as a Peace Corps volunteer and the second job was working as an interpretive ranger in North Cascades National Park. In the Northern Thai villages, I encouraged students to grow beyond society’s projections for them and become regional leaders in the rural environmental movement. While at North Cascades, I witnessed tremendous dissonance between the park’s conservation policies and the community’s acceptance of these policies. This experience left me searching for ways to unite community-based resource management with federally-based resource management. I’m thrilled to be a part of the MPP program at OSU. I chose Oregon State University’s MPP program for several reasons. OSU and the MPP program are active in rural communities around the state, working with natural resources management bodies and community stakeholders.


Mariana Amorim

Policy Interests: Social policy; International policy; Gender and Equality Policies

I am Brazilian and I completed my undergraduate studies in Business at Federal University of Pernambuco. During this period, I dedicated myself to research in projects related to social movements, landless movement, cultural organization, meanings of work, and eco-feminism; I was also a volunteer in organizations that worked with oppressed women, theater of the oppressed, micro-credit, and social activism in Brazil. My country, and more specifically my state, presents high rates of violence against women, and this is one of the reasons I want to focus on gender and equality policies during the MPP program.