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.



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.