Allen, Solomon
Policy Interests:
Social Policy
Internship: Office of Representative Dan Rayfield

Born in Washington and living most of my life in Oregon, the Pacific Northwest is my home. I took a long path in completing my undergraduate degree in Political Science, beginning at Oregon State in 2008, taking a long hiatus to work and start a family, and finally returning to school and finishing my degree in June 2017. I am the first person in my family to graduate from college and I owe all of my success to the love and commitment of my family and friends who have, and continue to, support me through my journey.

With my professional life devoted to customer service, I have always been passionate about being attentive and responsive to the needs and concerns of others. With a deep desire to have a greater impact than promoting a company’s interests, the MPP program is the perfect fit to help me fine tune my knowledge and skills to pursue a career in the public sector and work to promote the interests of individuals rather than businesses. I am most interested in health care, education, and sustainability for the benefit of the working class and future generations.

Barker, Ross
Policy Interests:
Social and Environmental Policy
Home State: Oregon

I was born in Connecticut, grew up in Southern California and spent my early adult years in the San Francisco Bay Area - but now having lived in Portland for more than 20 years, I am very proud to call Oregon my home. I have a BS in Business Administration from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Northwestern. My career has taken a series of twists and turns, each bringing a new set of challenges, and has included work as a financial analyst at as night vision goggle manufacturer, public school teaching, and a long stretch as a market researcher. I currently work for Mars Petcare, where I lead a team focused on developing innovations to benefit the health and wellbeing of dogs and cats. 

I am now preparing for the next stage of my professional life. To that end, I am excited to be pursuing a Master's degree in Public Policy through the online program at Oregon State University. The study of public policy is appealing to me because I want to develop skills and expertise that will help me play an active role in creating positive change for our society and communities. My passion is currently strongest in the area of social policy. I hope to gain skills and expertise so that i can help address issues related to access to education, affordable housing and wealth inequality. 

I live in Portland with my wife, three kids, two dogs and four cats. I spent a lot of years coaching youth sports when our children were younger, everything from basketball to soccer to softball. Now I have more time to pursue other activities I love, such as hiking, running, reading and traveling - especially when all five of us cant get away together. 


Bashar, Shahinur
Policy Interests: International and Environmental Policy
Home Country: Bangladesh

I was born and raised in Chittagong, a city of Bangladesh. I completed my undergraduate in the University of Dhaka and Master's in Development Studies in University of Dhaka. Immediately after completing my Master's I joined as a lecturer at Brac University. My research interest lies in International and Environmental policy and development. During my teaching days I grew interest for International politics as well. Apart from that the social issues that has impact on the society we are living also grabbed my attention for future research in different social policy related fields.
I am pursuing my Master's degree in Public Policy at Oregon State University.
In my spare time I like to go travelling, reading and painting.


Blakeman, Harry
Policy Interests: Social and Rural Policy
Home State: Oregon

I was raised on the Oregon Coast, but now live in Vancouver, Washington with my wife and our scrappy terrier. I received my B.A. in History from the University of Portland in 2014, and have since worked in graphic design and marketing both as a freelancer and in a corporate environment. I am currently enrolled in Oregon State's Master of Public Policy program with the goal of becoming a public servant and giving back to my community. I am interested in social and rural policy, and after graduating I hope to find a job where I have a meaningful positive impact. I want to find solutions to my community's complex problems, and make our shared home a better place to live and work. In my spare time I enjoy writing, typeface design, and photography. 

Brandt, Diane
Policy Interests: Sustainability
Home State: Oregon

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, I’ve spent the last couple decades working as a science teacher in the United States and internationally, and then as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. State Department for nearly 13 years.  After living around the world, my family and I have settled in Corvallis for our next adventure.  I completed my undergraduate studies in Zoology and Spanish at the University of Washington in 2000, and now want to look into public policy’s role in sustainability.

Calvo-Leni, Rodrigo
Policy Interest: International and Environmental Policy
Home Country: Chile

I was born in Belgium and had no citizenship until my family returned to Chile 6 months later. I then migrated to the San Francisco Bay Area at the age of 10. I completed a B.A. in Political Science, International Relations at University of California, San Diego. I went on to work as the sole U.S. west coast representative for CORFO (Chilean Economic Development Agency), and later joined the solar industry working for SolarCity and Tesla. My experiences showed me the importance of international and national policy in regards to business, immigration, and the environment, which have led me to further my studies through seeking an MPP at OSU.

My hobbies include playing the trumpet and roller-skating. I am an active player of rink hockey (roller hockey on roller skates), where I am a member of the national rink hockey committee, and have participated as a player on Team USA during the 2017 World Roller Games in Nanjing, China, 2018 Pan American Games in Bogota, Colombia, and most recently in the 2019 World Roller Games in Barcelona, Spain. I was also elected to be the Under 19 Team USA Manager during the 2018 Pan American Games and the 2019 World Roller Games. I moonlight as a roller derby trainer for Corvallis' Sick Town Roller Derby Dames.  

Consedine, Meagan
Policy Interests: Social Policy

I am from Virginia, but have lived across the country, from Seattle to Alabama. I graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in government and international relations. Upon graduation, I served as a US Army logistics officer. After the Army, I worked in business operations and proposal management. Most recently I was a proposal manager for a large IT company, delivering services in support of state and local healthcare projects (Medicaid, CHIP, Immunization Registry). Public policy has had a very real and direct impact on my life – from my professional background as a leader in the United States Army for two deployments to Iraq, to my experience as a proposal manager for State Medicaid proposals, and including the intersection with my role as a mother and military spouse. I am excited for this opportunity to pursue a MPP at OSU. My goal is to develop knowledge in policy research, design, and implementation – and ultimately return to a career of public service.

My hobbies include cooking and enjoying the beautiful outdoors Oregon has to offer. I love spending time with my family (husband and two children) – which is where you will usually find me in my free time.


James, Alexis
Policy Interests: Environmental Policy
Home State: North Carolina

I am from North Carolina, where I have also spent most of my life.  My college experience started at UNC Asheville but I transferred to North Carolina State where I graduated with a BS in Civil Engineering.  After spending a year working as a transportation engineer for a private company I attempted to focus my engineering career in a more environmental direction; and I earned a MS degree from North Carolina State in Biological & Agricultural Engineering.  My graduate work focused mainly in stream restoration and water quality issues; and my thesis was about a prototype instrument I designed, tested and evaluated for surveying cross-sections in streams.  I moved to Alaska for a while after earning my MS degree where I worked for a different company doing water resources and transportation engineering work.  After some time in Alaska I moved back to North Carolina where I performed similar work for several years and earned my professional engineering licenses in North Carolina and Virginia.  
Green infrastructure was the intended career direction with my earlier MS degree but I was very limited by cultural and political barriers, especially in North Carolina.  I want to focus on how to overcome cultural and political barriers to green infrastructure development.

Dermody, Lori Slane
Policy Interests: Water and Environmental Policy

I have always had a love for the outdoors and an interest in environmental science. I was born and raised in the Midwest but moved to the Pacific Northwest for my first graduate degree at Oregon State University (OSU) twenty years ago. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Environmental Science from Kansas State University and a Master of Science degree in Natural Resources/Biogeography from OSU with emphasis in wetlands and riparian ecology. 

I now have worked in the biological and water resources field in the public sector in California for 18 years, 17 of which are for the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Aqueduct Division. In my present position as a Watershed Resources Supervisor, I manage many broad ranging environmental mitigation projects and compliance monitoring programs that result from the City's past and present water exports from the Eastern Sierra. This work includes wetland and stream restoration, habitat enhancement, and native revegetation projects. I have also overseen LADWP's Land Management and Environmental Permitting Programs for the Aqueduct Division. Throughout my career I have developed a keen interest in environmental policy, water rights, and water law as well as sustainable management of water resources in the American West. Although continuing to work full time, I am currently a student in OSU's Executive Master of Public Policy Program where I intend to concentrate my study in Water and Environmental Policy. 

Outside of work and school, I am a busy mother of two and love to spend time with my husband (also OSU alumni) and kids hiking, kayaking, and skiing in the Eastern Sierra. 

Eilers, Michael
Policy Interests: International Policy and Environmental Policy
Home State: Southern California

I was born in Los Angeles, California, and grew up in the Antelope Valley. I enlisted in the Army after high school and attended Hawaii Pacific University while stationed in Oahu, HI. I graduated with a B.A. in International Studies with a concentration on Security Studies. While working in the Indo-Pacific, I was able to travel around the region and begin to acquire a real appreciation for how interconnected the world is and just how many organizations exist to help others. I am studying at OSU to broaden my knowledge of policy creation, and how particular policies affect the world around us. 

When not engaged in work, I enjoy golfing, hiking, and lifting heavy objects off the ground or over my head (depending on the day). 

Fatuma, Ali
Policy Interests: Social Policy
Home Country: Kenya

I was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. After completing high school in Kenya, I attended a community college in Seattle, Washington and transferred to Oregon State University where I graduated with a BS in Public Health focusing on health promotion and health behavior. I decided to switch from public health which is heavily based upon advocacy, education and active groundwork within the community to public policy where I will get a better understanding on how policies impact individuals at a community level and I believe that I will be able to make greater organizational changes through Public Policy. My primary focus is Social Policy particularly focusing on youth education of drug use and how immigration policy affects refugees in regards to low income housing, youth gang membership and high crime rates in areas with section 8 housing.

During my free time, I love to cook. Born and raised in a city, I had to adjust to being outdoors and I absolutely love it! Crater Lake and painted hills are my favorite places in Oregon.

Francis, Michelle
Policy Interest:
Rural and Health Policy

I was born in Louisiana; however, I really consider myself an Oregonian since I have been here for 30 years, with a few other states mixed in. I graduated from Portland State University with a BS in Public Health; and have stayed in Portland, Oregon to work with non-profits. My focus in my professional life has been on health issues concerning the elderly, homelessness, and underserved communities; as well as working to eliminate the stigma around mental health and HIV/AIDS diagnosis. My MPP path will hopefully take me into a career of creating and co-creating policy to better serve people who have very little voice regarding their healthcare.

The picture attached is me climbing Mt Saint Helens, and that’s why I call the PNW my home, you can’t get this in Louisiana.

Garrett, John
Policy Interests: Social and Environmental Policy
Home State: Maryland

My interests within environmental sociology have their roots in my family's small farm in central Maryland. Here I first became aware of the persistent challenges that land managers face in pursuit of balancing human and ecological needs, and came to love working wildernesses.

Throughout my undergraduate studies at Colgate University, I focused on ecology and geography. These interests culminated in two large projects: 1. Designing riparian buffer zones for the streams of my family's farm using GIS (which were later implemented) and 2. A yearlong thesis study of the impacts of anthropogenic acidification of streams in the Adirondacks, NY.

After some fascinating studies and research in Nepal, Costa Rica and Trinidad, I found the inspiration to study environmental sociology at the MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center (MAERC) in south central Florida. I worked to fulfill MAERC's advisory role in the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and to vet and monitor two large-scale payment for environmental services programs designed to improve statewide water quality. I developed an appreciation for the formidable challenges of collaboration between stakeholders with conflicting interests and unequal power, and a keen awareness of the complex ramifications of environmental policy.

As a masters student at OSU, I hope to build a foundation in social science research methods in preparation for a career studying collaborative conservation, whether in the food, water and/or energy realms.

Gentilcore Ryan, Ava
Policy Interest: Social Policy, Rural Policy
Home State: New York

I grew up in Brooklyn, NY where I developed a love for all things food related. I pursued this passion by studying Sustainable Agriculture at Cornell University.

Throughout college and in my work experience afterward, I dabbled in various sectors of the food system to determine
what interested me the most and where my skill set was most needed. In doing so, I gained experience with agroecological field research, retail food service and
waste management, garden-based education, small-scale vegetable farming and, most recently, non-profit community
development, alleviation of food insecurity and local food access. I have come to the conclusion that a career in food systems policy would be a perfect fit as it would allow me to
address all of these topics and help leverage community voices to change the policies that don’t support small, local agriculture, beginning farmers, the food insecure, the community at large or the environment.

In my spare time, I am an avid outdoor enthusiast and regularly spend time backpacking, skiing, climbing, mountaineering and mushroom foraging with my partner. We are excited to call Oregon home and explore all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer!

Haro, Alfredo
Policy Interests:  Science and Technology Policy
Home State: Colorado

Hablo Español. My higher education journey began at a community college and I then transferred to the University of Northern Colorado to earn a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics. From 2013 to 2019 I was an Academic Advisor with a federal TRIO Student Support Services STEM program. Our program provided intensive academic support to STEM majors who identify as first generation, low income, and/or have a documented disability. In the professional role, I began to understand how local, state, and federal policies shape the experiences of underserved populations. I would like to contribute to the removal of barriers that underserved populations have towards accessing science and technology to improve their communities.

Apart from my role as a student, I enjoy dancing including Latin and Hip-Hop styles. I enjoy solo international travel and endurance sports like running and cycling.

Horton, Robert
Policy Interests:  Collaborative Governance, Economic and Social Policy

I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada and moved to the Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon in the Summer of 2017.   I have worked in the fire service my entire adult life serving in various roles, ranks, and responsibilities over my 18 year career.  I earned a bachelor of public administration degree from Nevada State College with a minor in business management.  I have a master of public administration degree from the University of Oklahoma with a concentration in public management.  I am excited to return to graduate school to hone in on specific work related to public policy.  My research interests include taking a behaviorally informed approach to the implementation of public policy particularly in the domain of community engagement, preparedness, and resiliency in regards to emergencies and disasters.  I am excited to join the great students and faculty at Oregon State University.  Ultimately, my goal is to earn a PhD to further the body of knowledge in public policy and contribute to community well being in a much different manner than I do today.

Hui, Deeann
Policy Interests:
Technology, Data Analytics

Originally from Omaha, NE, my educational background is in Sports Sciences and Adapted Physical Education.  For the past 18 years, I have been planning activities at two senior living communities.  I have worked with a wide range of seniors, from independent to late-stage dementia.  Despite my love of working with seniors, I am also motivated by a passion for public service and a desire to learn about the policy process---what it takes to develop, to advocate for, and to implement good policy. Currently living in the Silicon Valley, where technological advances (everything from social media to artificial intelligence to autonomous vehicles) develop faster than policy, I am focusing on “technology and policy” through a concentration in data analytics.

Cassy Inman

Inman, Cassy
Policy Interests: Health Policy, Social Policy
Internship: Wilson Elementary School, Corvallis, Oregon

I was raised in Santa Cruz, a seaside town on the central coast of California where I received my BA in comparative politics from the University of California.

After university, a personal passion for nutrition and well-being led me to a career in marketing for the Natural Products Industry.  I took a deep dive into the function of food and supplementation for balancing wellness, working in public relations and communications for some of America’s leading nutrition companies.  I relocated to Corvallis, Oregon in 2009.

I hope to parlay my customer care and advocacy skills into successful health and nutrition policy. When I am not on campus you’ll likely find me in the fitness studio practicing the Nia Technique, (a barefoot cardio fusion dance), or watching sci-fi with my husband and young son. 

Irwin, Shelley
Policy Interests:
Social and Rural policy

I was born and raised in the city and suburbs of Salt Lake City, Utah. I completed my Bachelor’s degree from OSU-Cascades in 2006 in Human Development and Family Sciences: Human Services, after taking a 10 year break from school upon completion of my Associate’s degree in 1995.  My main focus area in human development was education and early childhood supports.  I began my new career in service to children and families after I was hired at one of my practicum sites. I spent the better part of the following 10 years providing health and development screenings to children 0-5.  In 2016, I started in my current role at a collective impact backbone organization called Better Together. The systems change work I am immersed in at Better Together was the catalyst to my desire to learn more about policy and to learn and understand the systems in play in order to develop ways to support systems change (specifically in education) to a more equitable model. I live in and work with rural areas and am also interested in the intersection of social and rural policy.

Currently, I manage a 10 member multiple site AmeriCorps VISTA project in Central Oregon, focused on improving education outcomes for families living in poverty.  I am also a facilitator for a consortium of youth serving non-profits and am the manager for Central Oregon’s regional volunteer connector-Volunteer Central Oregon.

In my free time, I am exploring the back roads and forests of the northwest with my husband Jeff and my daughter Cydnee, or floating the river in Bend.

Kanzig, Erin
Policy Interests:
Environmental and Social Policy
Internship: Our Climate

I grew up in the beautiful little town of Sisters, OR, then attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA, where I graduated with a BA in Sociology and Environmental Studies. After graduating I moved to Detroit, MI for a year long volunteer program, where I worked at a homeless shelter for young women. Falling in love with Detroit, I became involved in the social organizing community and lived through some tremendously controversial policy decisions that heightened my desire to increase my skills to effectively shape equitable policies. After six years of living in the Midwest, I decided to move closer to home and pursue an MPP. I am particularly interested in environmental justice and the relationship between government agencies/policies and community-based organizing.

Beyond school, my interests include backpacking, biking, handwork of all sorts, reading, and baking.

King, Jasmine
Policy Interests: Environmental Policy, Health Policy, Social Policy

I was born and raised in San Diego, CA and have not lived anywhere other than southern California, until now! I quickly fell in love with nature and all things environment from an early age through all of my exploration around San Diego, especially the beaches. Hiking, being outdoors, and exploring new places is one of my biggest passions. It took a while, but I cultivated this in my undergraduate education. After stumbling through & failing the pre-med track for 1.5 years, I focused my studies on Environmental Science and Sociology, and graduated with the two degrees in June 2017 from UC Irvine. Throughout my undergraduate career, I held multiple positions on campus centered on diversity and empowering students. And, in my post-graduate employment, I worked as a resource counselor for adults with developmental disabilities. Given my experience working with minority and disadvantaged populations, I became very passionate about Environmental Justice. I applied to graduate school for Environmental Science, but was encouraged to pursue Public Policy in the midst of the process. In retrospect, it made a lot of sense to study public policy to affect these issues, so here I am! I'm excited to continue the work to bring more justice into the Environmental Science/Environmental Health field. In my spare free time, I'll probably be at home being a homebody & watching tv/movies, cooking/baking something new, or exploring Oregon as much as I can!

  Koutnik, Charles Zachary
Policy Interests: Environmental Policy
Internship: Oregon Department of Forestry

Kuschel, Bethany
Policy Interests:
Social and Health Care Policy

I was born in Florida but moved to Oregon in my teens. Currently I live in Bend, Oregon with my husband and our two daughters.

My early work experience in the Restaurant & Hospitality industry allowed me to realize early on that I wanted to work with people.

Later, my experience as a Life Enrichment Director at an Assisted Living Facility brought an awareness of my desire to work with seniors and help them reduce the barriers that they face accessing the services they need for improved quality of life.

I received my BS from OSU Cascades Campus in Bend, Oregon. An internship during my undergrad introduced me to policy analysis, which lit my path on fire.

I hope to use my passion for working with people and my education in public policy to actualize a career where I can improve and enact policy that not only increases access to programs for seniors but improves the quality of their life as well.

McCollister, Malia
Policy Interests: Environmental Policy

Since living in Oregon from the age of 5, I consider myself a native Oregonian. I grew up in the Willamette Valley in the middle of wine country before relocating to Portland to attend Reed College where I graduated with the first interdisciplinary Environmental Studies/History degree. My thesis was about the Klamath River Basin and how white settlers impacted the native ecology and Native American communities in the region. Becoming really passionate about environmental issues led me to pursuing a BS from Portland State University in Environmental Science and Management. Learning more about the management side sparked my interest in environmental policy as a way for me to bring my knowledge of history and science together to help shape more comprehensive policy. I am especially interested in marine policy as it relates to climate change and Native American communities, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. When I'm not studying I like to read, bake things, and garden.

Monyhan, Jordan
Policy Interests:
International Policy, Energy Policy

I was born in Colorado but spent most of my childhood in rural Pennsylvania and Maryland. I graduated from Clemson University in 2010 with a BA in Political Science, and immediately began a career as an officer in the US Navy. After serving the last ten years in the military, I’ve been fortunate to live all over the world and visit over 40 countries before I was 30. Through this, I saw the importance and impact of policy at all levels from local to international. I am now in the process of making a career change because I want to have the opportunity to be more directly involved in the policymaking process. I am interested in how to develop effective energy policy at an international level, specifically with green house gas emissions and the advancement of environmentally friendly technology.

In my free time, I love traveling, playing sports, cooking, studying languages, and spending time exploring new places with my partner.

Mooney, Rachel
Policy Interests: Environmental and Energy Policy
Home State: Wisconsin

I was born in Canada, but I grew up in Wisconsin. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire with my B.Sc. in Chemistry and minor in Environment, Society, and Culture. I enjoyed using my scientific background to analyze a variety of environmental issues in multiple disciplines, as well as its application to policy in my university's Student Office of Sustainability. I chose to pursue my Master's in Public Policy in order to bridge the gap between scientists and policymakers. When I am not studying, I enjoy spending time outdoors, drawing, and watch documentaries.

Miller, Jade
Policy Interest: Social Policy
Home State: Maryland

I was born in Colorado but spent most of my childhood in rural Pennsylvania and Maryland. I graduated from Clemson University in 2010 with a BA in Political Science, and immediately began a career as an officer in the US Navy. After serving the last ten years in the military, I was fortunate enough to live all over the world and visit over 40 countries before I was 30. I recently made a big career change and I now live in Sacramento and work for the State of California on a program that finances permanent supportive housing projects for homeless veterans. My policy interests include affordable housing, zoning/land use, and supportive social services for marginalized populations. I am excited to be more involved in the policymaking process and have the opportunity to help people all over California.

In my free time, I love traveling, playing sports, cooking, studying languages, and spending time exploring new places with my partner. 

Najam, Rafiuddin
Policy Interest: Social Policy, Higher Education Policy
Award: Fulbright Scholarship
Home Country: Afghanistan

I was born in eastern Afghanistan, an area known for its green landscape. I completed my undergrad study in Public Administration and Policy at Kabul University and was actively involved in youth-lead programs and events. I was recently working with the Administrative Office of the President (AOP)-Afghanistan. I had a chance to contribute to presidential tasks and lead the Gender Responsive Budget project. I am pursuing my Master's studies in Public Policy with a particular focus on quantitative analysis and higher education finance.   

Noone, Harry
Policy Interest: International Policy, Crime and Policy

I was born and raised on the island of Kauai in Hawaii, before moving to Ashland, OR while in high school. I attended Southern Oregon University where I earned a degree in Political Science in 2016. I gained experience conducting research as an undergraduate when I designed and implemented a study which measures public attitudes towards whistleblowers in government. I aim to pursue this area of scholarship further as I find it can help us understand the ethics, objectives, and impacts of public policy in a variety of contexts in a meaningful and concise way. I’m also interested in US foreign policy, globalization, American criminal justice, and conflict resolution. Prior to enrolling at Oregon State, I worked in numerous national parks and forests in California building and maintaining hiking trails and completed a full term of AmeriCorps national service. I am a big fan of baseball and hockey, classic films, and reading political history.

Ojha, Kanchan
Home Country: Nepal
Policy Interests: Environmental and International Policy

I am Kanchan from Nepal, born in the Far Western province of the country which is  supposedly considered as an underdeveloped region. Despite being endowed with immense natural beauty and tranquility, women and minorities face a vast share of struggle and violence in my region. After completing my Undergraduate studies in Environmental Science and my simultaneous teaching job, I shifted to Kathmandu to pursue my further studies. I completed my Graduate degree in Environmental Science from Tribhuwan University in 2012.  The interest about environment and the conservation issues inoculated during my early childhood in my hometown got quadrupled when I got chance to be the disciple of Late Dr. Pralad Yonzon (Noted South Asian Conservationist from Nepal) in my Graduate classes. I was a major in Wildlife and very enthralled in conservation science; his teachings furthermore escalated my interest. I worked under his supervision as a Student Coordinator for a Graduate unit named Environmental Graduates in Himalaya in late 2010. I joined Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) Program of WWF Nepal in the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit from late 2011 and worked till the beginning of 2015. The TAL program is a joint initiative of Government of Nepal and WWF Nepal. It was during those times I worked directly with the community and District forest offices. I was based in Dhangadhi and moved frequently across the Terai (lowlands of Nepal) in the National Parks and Biological corridors. The realization on community involvement through community forests while raising people's voice and making policy impact in the ground level was an eye-opener for me. Community forestry of Nepal is indeed one of the successful advent of community involvement in the world and has been widely recognized. Also the theoretical aspects of what I had studied during my Graduate days helped me correlate it with the ground reality.

After working in TAL for 3 years, I joined WWF Nepal office in Kathmandu in 2015. I worked in the Monitoring and Evaluation unit and dealt with the conservation issues of WWF Nepal working sphere. From the National Parks and Conservation areas of Terai to the Mountains, my working area broadened.  And the following 3 years taught me different aspects of work; policy making by the government and its implementation via public and private sector involvement. While the targeted communities who had troubles, needed their voices heard and aspirations fulfilled. This was the time when I wanted a people centric approach. I felt my work should benefit people and be their voice in some ways thus leading the want to know more about Public Policy. In 2018, I left my job at WWF Nepal to give time to my baby and hunt for further studies. I was a stay at home mom for 15 months before coming to the United States. I believe this time has taught me the most in my life. My patience, resilience and vulnerability turned out to be the greatest strength in this long process.

I love traveling, spending time with my 23 months (soon to be 2 year on November 2019) young son Aarvik and trying every other thing in the world with my husband Ankit.

Ostapiej, Julia
Policy Interests: Environmental Policy, Energy Policy
Internship: Oregon Water Resources Department

I received my undergraduate degree from UC Davis in International Relations. After receiving my bachelor’s degree, I accepted a position with AmeriCorps VISTA and dedicated a year of full-time national service to help a low-income community in Cedar Falls, Iowa. I worked at the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education as a liaison between environmental student groups and the campus staff. After completing my AmeriCorps service, I accepted a five-month fellowship position with the Partnership for Public Service in Washington, D.C. The organization works closely with the federal government to develop strong leaders, modernize management systems, and inspire talented individuals to enter federal service. I assisted the education and outreach team with special projects that included research, development, and implementation. After completing the fellowship, I was offered a position at the International Baccalaureate with their research department. I assisted the IB research department for 3 years before deciding to pursue a graduate degree in Public Policy.

I’m pursuing the Master of Public Policy as the next step in my career to improve my analytical skills and develop greater expertise in data collection, analysis, and program evaluation. My research interests focus on environmental policy and how governments plan to combat climate change.

Pennon, Matthew
Policy Interests:  Social Policy

Husband and father of three, my home is where my family is. i was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California and currently live in a small town just North of Santa Barbara called Los Alamos. I recently graduated from Oregon State University with a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Psychology. I am a consultant with Santa Barbara County Child Welfare Services and I currently work for the Pacific Pride Foundation, where I am the North County Manager of Programs and Services. 

The Pacific Pride Foundation is the largest LGBTQ+ center between Los Angeles and San Francisco, serving all of Santa Barbara County, and partnering with more than 60 other educational and nonprofit agencies to create a thriving and visible LGBTQ+ community. We are working to prevent the transmission of HIV and HEP-C. In my role I over see all of our Health and Prevention Services, which include our Syringe Exchange Program, which helps to save more than 500 people annually from potentially fatal overdoses. 

As a consultant with Santa Barbara County child Welfare Services I advise, facilitate and implement policy, programs and trainings that educate resource parents, social workers and community partners. In my time as a consultant I have been able to develop and train hundreds of families that have become safe loving homes that help protect and mentor our children in care. 

In the time that I reclaim for myself and family, we are passionate about the area that we live in and can often be found at one of our many beaches, camping or enjoying the great outdoors. My husband and i created our family by becoming resource parents through Santa Barbara County Child Welfare Services. Our experience as a resource family has been a driving force in my professional life, as well as in my education. My hope is that the knowledge that I gain in the EMPP program will allow me to better influence change within social policy throughout California and abroad. 


St. John, Mark
Policy Interests: Public Finance, Rural Development, and Housing

I am an Oregon native and have spent my life based in the Pacific Northwest. I spent over two decades in technology, starting in retail information systems and then moving to hardware and software development for underserved international markets. In those latter years, I spent a significant portion on the ground in the target market area throughout Asia, Africa, Europe and South America. Upon leaving the technology arena, I have spent the last decade split between financial compliance consulting and now owning a small pet supplies manufacturing company.

I received a B.S. in Economics and a B.S. in Sociology from Oregon State in 2017. I am currently enrolled in the M.S. in Applied Economics and the Master of Public Policy programs at Oregon State. I am primarily focused on rural development, particularly its intersections with public finance, health and housing.

Steinhebel, Michelle
Policy Interests:
Social policy, rural policy

I am from Lebanon, Oregon, where I was also elected to serve on City Council in November 2018. I have my associate’s degree from Linn-Benton Community College, and I earned my BA in Liberal Arts (Political Science) from Oregon State University in 2009. I started back at OSU in 2018 in pursuit of my master’s in public policy. I have worked for a graduate health professions university since 2011, where I am now the public affairs manager for the Oregon campus. I also work on the university’s government relations team. I hope to pair my master’s degree with my career, in addition to my volunteer work as a city councilor.

Outside of school and work, I have two young children who I am raising with my husband, Jon. They keep us pretty busy. We enjoy camping and discovering new-to-us places throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Venable, Victoria
Policy Interests: Energy and Food Policy
Home State: Maryland

I am from a small town in rural, western Maryland. After graduating from Washington College with a BA in Political Science and Economics, I worked in the Maryland Generally Assembly as the chief of staff for the chair of the Public Utilities Committee, where my interests in environmental economics and community-based policymaking intersected. Working with legislation like the Clean Energy Jobs Act, a bill to increase Maryland's commitment to renewable energy sources, motivated me to pursue a Masters in Public Policy with a focus on sustainability. I came to Oregon to learn more about the role state and local governments can play in combatting climate change and addressing societal issues like energy production, food security, and waste management by building sustainable communities.

In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, cooking and baking, and exploring wine country.

Ward, Alicia
Policy Interests:
Social Policy, Health Policy

I was born and raised on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. After high school, I moved to Monterey, California to complete my Bachelor's degree in Human Communication with a concentration in Pre-Law. I spent one semester of my undergraduate education studying international politics and learning Spanish in San Sebastian, Spain. Upon returning to California, I began interning in the district office of Senator William Monning and honed my passion for policy and local government. After graduating from California State University, Monterey Bay Summa Cum Laude, I came straight to Oregon State to continue my pursuit of education and make my goals of changing the world possible. In addition to studying policy, my hobbies include sailing, snowboarding, hiking and spending time with my two dogs.


Williams, Victoria
Policy Interests: Marine and Environmental Policy
Home State: Maryland

I was born and raised in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, which was in proximity of many estuaries and access points of the Chesapeake Bay. While growing up, I loved being on or in the water. Swimming, kayaking or exploring were activities I loved to participate in.
As I continued to move throughout life, I carried those passions with me. While attending the University of Richmond, where I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies, with a minor in Anthropology in May 2019, I made sure to integrate my interest in marine ecosystems to my academic career. Between snorkeling trips to Belize and working with nonprofits such as The James River Association and Virginia Interfaith Power and Light, I was able to expand my knowledge on marine and coastal ecosystems. Additionally, through these experiences, I grew to understand how human dimensions were intertwined with marine ecosystems.
Learning about the cultural, economic, and social dependence that communities have on marine and coastal ecosystems, I found my academic and research calls. The awareness allowed me to research Bocas del Toro, Panama where I analyzed the relationships between marine protected area management and the effect of tourism on the health of the coral reefs. Additionally, the passion for bridging the gap between ecological studies and cultural and political needs allowed me to complete a Research Experience Undergraduates with Maryland Sea Grants, where I worked on a deployable and autonomous CO2 sensor, that would increase the needed spatial and temporal data of ocean acidifications effect on estuaries in the Chesapeake Bay.
These experiences and many more I had throughout my undergraduate career, spurred my desire to continue research in an academic setting. Now I am beginning the next chapter of my life as a graduate student at Oregon State University, as I will have the opportunity to continue developing my research abilities and exploring my interests in marine ecology and policy. I hope with my time here, I can develop the skills to become a better scholar and researcher, so I can best prepare myself to pursue a Ph.D. or a career in marine conservation policy in the future.
In my spare time, I'll probably be exploring Oregon or other parts of the world, watching TV, or playing with animals!