Adzima, Chris
Policy Interests: Social Policy

I'm Chris Adzima. Born in New Britain, CT, I have lived in 10 different states, moving nearly 30 times. Nine years ago, I embraced Oregon as my home, which has held my heart since. Before delving into public policy and local governance, I proudly served as a Linguist and Public Affairs Specialist in the US Army. This experience instilled a deep sense of duty and understanding, qualities I carry into my daily work. After my service, I dedicated seven years to the tech department of a local sheriff's office. Now, I manage client services for Portland Public Schools, ensuring we consistently meet the needs of our community. Outside of my professional realm, I cherish moments with my family, immerse myself in the intricate art of painting figurines, and unwind with engaging TV shows.

Andrews, Kathleen
Policy Interests: 
Energy Policy

I was born in New York, grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania, and now live in Newport Beach, California. I work for California's state agency that regulates oil, gas and geothermal resources - the agency was renamed in January 2020 to California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) to reflect the agency's revised mission in the transition away from petroleum and to include regulation of geologic capture of CO2. I have a Master's degree in Geology from San Diego State University, and an undergraduate degree in geology from Oberlin College. My agency employs mostly geologists and various flavors of engineers, mostly petroleum engineers and mechanical engineers. My interest in public policy is in energy policy. I'm excited to develop the skills and expertise during the process of obtaining a Master's Degree in Public Policy at OSU to help write regulations, evaluate options, and design and guide the energy transition. 

Before joining CalGEM eleven years ago, I worked in the environmental consulting industry for a couple of small- to medium-sized companies in southern California. I'm interested in a lot of subjects, and have been interested in systems for a long time. 

I have two daughters in their mid-twenties, and live with Lance, my partner of about ten years, my dog and constant companion Cleo, and a cat. In my spare time I like to jog, cycle, travel, read, and the art form I've gravitated to is called Zentangle.  


Annar-Brady, Morgan

Policy Interests: Cultural Policy and Soft Power International Relations

Home State: New York

I grew up in the various suburbs around NYC. I spent much of my childhood admiring the abundance of arts & culture the city has to offer, while actually spending most of my time far from the bustle; up a tree with a book. When I began my undergraduate studies I seized the opportunity to fully dive headlong into Manhattan. Initially I began at CUNY Baruch for international business but soon realized that the goals of business didn't align with my own. From there I transferred to Anthropology at CUNY Hunter where I completed my undergraduate studies with honors, earning me an award for Excellence in Anthropology. I then took a brief pause to work as an Environmental Educator at a CT museum. After which, I drove across the country in order to pursue my MPP here at OSU.

Bartell, Mira
Policy interests: Social Policy
Home state: Colorado

Born and raised in Northern Colorado, I decided to move out west to Corvallis to be closer to the ocean and to experience the PNW. I earned my Bachelor's degrees in Music and Social Work alongside a minor in Political Science from Colorado State University in 2022. After completing my social work internship in Ghana where I worked with both a NGO and a government welfare agency, I realized my passions lied with understanding and working with non profit organizations, their interactions with the government, and related policies.

I love getting out and experiencing everything that nature has to offer and feeling connected with our planet and other people. Most other times, you can find me working on one of my crochet projects.

Canete, Michaela (she/her)

Policy Interests: Collaborative Governance, International and Environmental Policy

I was born in the Philippines and immigrated to the United States at a young age where I moved frequently, eventually settling down and growing up in Hillsboro, Oregon. I attended Oregon State University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science with an International Affairs focus and minor degrees in Communication and French. I now work as a Policy Analyst for the City of Hillsboro and am pursuing a master’s in public policy.

A recent work study in the Philippines inspired me to look into higher education in order to learn more about connecting city jurisdictions and how to continue the work of engaging in interdisciplinary programs to advance diplomacy and global sustainability efforts. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, I learned that communities today are still recovering and that there is great opportunity to use a collaborative governance approach to work together. I am interested in how collaborative governance can be used to effectively to build trust between communities and government institutions to improve organizational processes to achieve goals of development and prosperity.

In my spare time, I enjoy making new memories with my friends and family. Whether it be traveling, volunteering, or enjoying a new activity, I enjoy life’s adventures!

DeFrieze, Lara

Policy Interests: Social Policy
Home State: Iowa

An Iowa native, I moved to Portland, Oregon, in 2014 by way of Illinois, seeking a better variety academic, recreational, and professional opportunities for myself and future family. I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in political science, also from OSU. I was selected as one of the Distinguished Seniors in Political Science and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. I am currently studying for the MPP with an emphasis in social policy, as well as the data analytics graduate certificate. I thoroughly enjoy inferential statistics, socioeconomics, and social policy research and analysis. After graduate school, I hope to work at the federal level as a policy or intellectual analyst for one of several agencies under the DoD umbrella, such as DHS, DIA, NSA, or CIA. I am a current member of Women in Policy, Pi Sigma Alpha (the National Political Science Honor Society) and researched under Dr. Rorie Solberg and Dr. Christopher Stout in the American Policy Research Group, where we presented at the Western Political Science Association.

Aside from school, I still reside in Portland with my husband and our two lovely daughters. My husband practices bonsai and runs his own pottery studio, while both our daughters attend dual language immersion (Spanish) primary school. We love to travel to the coast, central Oregon, and western Washington state, enjoying all the beauty the PNW has to offer.

Foley, Alexandra
Policy Interests: Environmental Policy

I was born and raised in east Texas and joined the United Stated Air Force right after high school graduation. I’m an air traffic controller and have been in leadership positions for the last 8 years. I have lived in Mississippi, Georgia, Oklahoma, Germany, South Korea, Jordan, and am currently stationed in California. I have a Bachelor’s from Oregon State in Wildlife Science and am working toward my Master’s in Public Policy with the hope of leveraging both skills in the environmental arena. I hope to one day work with a government agency to create, improve, and drive sensible environmental policies across the country. My specific interest lies in protecting sensitive ecosystems and bringing nature back into cities.

I’m married with two dogs, Otto and Vera, and spend most of my free time with my family outside hiking and exploring. I love travel and have been to 33 countries. I also collect vintage fiction books and “oddities,” my favorite of which is a preserved bat from Romania.

Fratello, Ryan
Policy Interests: Environment and Climate Change
Home State: New York

My name is Ryan Fratello, and I live in Marine Park, Brooklyn, New York. I graduated from Brooklyn College in 2022, engaging in a research university education, and ultimately earning four different bachelor’s degrees in Political Science, Psychology, Anthropology, and Sociology, with minors in Health and Nutrition Science, Thanatology, and Law and Society. I worked in the New York State Senate as a constituent liaison and scheduler, and I currently work as a Brooklyn Benefits Counselor at New York Connects, and as a data entry and outreach specialist at an adoption agency called You Gotta Believe.

What interests me in public policy is the environment and climate change. The reality of climate change is that severe weather events are happening more often, and the goal needs to focus on preparation and resiliency in order to prevent the loss of life and property. In New York, we once again endured heavy rain that our drainage systems were not prepared for. We endured a similar occurrence in August of 2021, and in those two years, not enough has been done to fix our century old drainage systems and ensure that basement apartments do not flood, and that streets do not flood enough to the point where cars float away.

My favorite places to visit include Tarpon Springs, Florida, where my late father’s family lives, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where I grew up visiting in order to get a break from the city. I enjoy spending time in  Times Square eating delicious meals, and learning real world lessons from Broadway musicals.

Harlan, Ryan

Policy Interests: Environmental Policy

Home State: Virginia

I grew up in Manassas Park, Virginia before moving here to Corvallis in November 2021. I came to Oregon State for my undergraduate degree in 2019 and just recently just earned my B.S. in Natural Resources with an option in policy and management in June 2023. I am currently enrolled in the Master of Public Policy program here at Oregon State and my main interests are in environmental policy,

specifically relating to forestry and wildfire, and energy policy as well. In my spare time, I work as a sportswriter and columnist for the Daily Barometer, broadcast OSU athletics games on KBVR-FM, and play guitar.


Harwicke, Natalie
Policy Interests: Social Policy
Home State: Illinois

I grew up outside Chicago and moved to Eugene, Oregon, to study Journalism and Environmental Studies. Surrounded by the overwhelming beauty of the Willamette Valley, my curiosity in the environment and the lives governed by natural resources was sparked. After graduating, I had the opportunity to document stories about agriculture, environmental, energy, and rural policy issues across the western United States. While working on this project, I realized I wanted to further my education in public policy to gain the skills to analyze policy and advocate for resilient rural communities and food systems. I’m pursuing my Executive Master of Public Policy and am interested in environmental, agricultural and rural policy.

I enjoy gardening, hiking, reading, camping, and spending time with friends and family in my spare time!

Kolojejchick-Kotch, Lauren
Policy Interests: Energy Policy and Rural Policy
Home State: Idaho

I am originally from Twin Falls, Idaho and have lived in rural communities in Northern Italy and Nebraska before moving to the Columbia River Gorge. I graduated with a B.A. in Economics and International Studies from Seattle University. For the past decade, I have enjoyed applying that background and a strong interest in the vitality of rural places through professional roles in rural economic development, network management, policy advocacy, civic engagement capacity building and international logistics.

In my positions with Center for Rural Affairs, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, RARE-AmeriCorps and Rural Development Initiatives, I have worked closely with a range of agencies, communities, tribes, stakeholders and community members, and fostered research interests in energy policy, rural policy, and the intersection of those spaces. Rural and Tribal communities–like the community I call home–are living the energy, water and rural policy decisions of the past, so I’m excited to continue to build a professional career at a time when practitioners globally are thinking about policy through more holistic, inclusive frameworks.

In my free time, you can find me trail running, spending time with friends and family, gardening, beekeeping, or raising chickens, ducks and turkeys for sustenance.

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.

Levai, Erika 
Policy Interests: Environmental and International Policy

I was raised having to move every three years, so I’ve been to almost anywhere in the United States (my favorite place I’ve lived at is Hawaii). I currently call Washington my home and have been here for about 5 years. I received my B.A. in Environmental Policy from Western Washington University in 2021. As an MPP student, I am very interested in researching environmental justice policies and developing policies meant to bring equity to those affected by environmental racism.

In my free time, I am often reading books, playing board games with my family, hiking around the Pacific Northwest, or working on my minimal French skills that I’ve developed.

Lowe, Meagan

Policy Interests: Law, Crime & Policy

Home State:  California

I am from Clovis, California, but I have lived in Oregon for the past 4 years. I completed my undergrad here at Oregon State, with a B.S. in psychology and sociology with an emphasis on crime and justice in 2023. I started the MPP program right out of undergrad, where I have a concentration in law, crime, and policy. I have a strong interest in either victim or mental health advocacy within the criminal justice system. I have internship experiences as a victim advocate, which also deepened my interest in this field of work. It allows me to use my background in psychology and sociology along with policy work to help others.

I am also a member of the Cross Country and Track teams at Oregon State. I have been on the team for the past 4 years, and I am able to continue to compete throughout my MPP program as well. When I’m not in school or running, I enjoy knitting, going to the beach, painting, and spending time with friends.

McElhaney, Julian
Policy Interests: Energy Policy
Home State: Georgia

I was born and raised in a suburb just outside of Atlanta. I graduated from the University of Georgia with a B.A. in Economics. I am currently in the Master of Public Policy program here at Oregon State to learn more about renewable energy, fossil fuels, and the effects the two have on energy efficiency, affordability, grid reliability, and other such effects.

Whenever I get time, I enjoy exercising, attending sports events, reading, and learning new skills and tidbits about the world.

McLaughlin, Brodie

Policy Interests: Environmental & Energy Policy
Home Country: Canada

Brodie is a first year MPP student from Alberta, Canada. He grew up on the traditional territories of the Tsuut'ina, Siksika, Kainai, Piikani, and Stoney Nations - also referred to as Treaty 7 Territory. His goal is to be a proponent in furthering non-profit and ENGO work in Canada in the renewable energy and conservation policy sectors. As such, he is seeking an Environmental Policy  concentration. Alberta is the hub for oil and natural gas extraction within Canada and is also the home to the veritable oil or "tar" sands. Renewable energy infrastructure installation there is a relatively fledgling industry when compared to Oregon, so he aims to learn a lot about what has spurred the implementation here, and how he can bring that understanding to Canada.

His background is a BCom in Marketing and Sustainability from the University of British Columbia. Outside of academia, you can find Brodie ski touring, mountain biking, bikepacking, learning to sew and garden, and occasionally competing in ultra cycling events.

Mooney, Emiy

Policy Interests: Social and Rural policy

I was born in Portland, Oregon and have spent most of my life in Oregon besides a brief stint in Tracy, California, where I went to high school. I attended the University of Oregon and received my  undergraduate degree in Political Science, graduating in 2019. Currently, I am pursuing my Executive Masters in Public Policy.

I have worked in the Oregon Capitol since 2019 and on political campaigns across Oregon since 2016. Currently, I am the Deputy Legislative Director for the Oregon Senate President’s office. My policy portfolio includes: health care, human services, behavioral health, emergency management, finance and revenue, veterans, education, and transportation. Before this job, I served as Chief of Staff for State Senator Deb Patterson and then as her Campaign Manager during the 2022 election cycle. 

I also served as Chair of the Young Democrats of Oregon from 2019 - 2021 and as Vice Chair of the Sierra Club Many Chapter from 2019 - 2022. In my free time, I enjoy playing with my cat, going on hikes, and playing board games.

Najam, BIbi Atifa

Policy Interests: Social Policy

Home Country: Afganistan

My name is Bibi Atifa Najam. I am from Afghanistan. Starting my MPP journey at Oregon State University (OSU). 

I have done my undergraduate studies in Business Administration at Gawharshad University, Kabul-Afghanistan. During my undergrad studies I did internship, which provided me the opportunity to understand how Afghan women start and run small businesses with focus on agricultural products and the resources they utilize to overcome the challenges they encounter.
After completing my degree, I have worked with Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC) as a Gender Responsive Budgeting officer. In this position, I worked closely with several departments within the MoIC to analyze their policies and strategic plans and recommend templates as a guide to draft gender-responsive policies and strategies, that are in alignment with gender equity and inclusivity policies of the international community. Lately I worked as a researcher with the Afghanistan Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Activity-MSI Tetra Tech Company, where I conducted interviews with women lead civil organizations and business companies to discover their challenges and opportunities under the Taliban regime for designing new projects. 

I believe that my personal and professional experiences prepared me to undertake my graduate studies in Public Policy. I aim to increase a comprehensive understanding of the complex connections between policy frameworks and the economics landscape, particularly concerning women-owned businesses. This program will provide me with the necessary skills to evaluate and realize the fundamental role that supportive policies play in fostering the growth of women-owned businesses. Additionally, I seek to explore the detrimental effects that barriers and discouraging policies have on both economic growth and societal well-being of the society specially women.   

Nelson, Danielle
Policy Interests: Social & food policy
Home State: Colorado
I grew up near Denver and always planned on going out of state for college, but OSU was never on my radar. My aunt asked me to come out and tour colleges and when I came to the OSU campus I truly fell in love with the school and have been here ever since. I love Oregon and everything it has to offer and am so glad I chose OSU and Corvallis.

I am a current senior studying Sociology, but recently got admitted to the AMP program to get my Master’s in Public Policy. My first year here I did research relating to older adult SNAP use (or lack thereof) and really enjoyed learning more about food insecurity, but didn’t know how to incorporate it into my studies which were focused more in crime and justice. This last spring I got involved on a research project having to deal with firearm suicide prevention and knew research and policy was where I wanted to end up. I learned about the AMP program shortly after and am excited to widen my knowledge and learn more about public policy as a whole.

In my free time I enjoy getting outside, going on hikes with friends and running when I can. I also love playing with my bunny Pretzel, a 2 and a half year old who is full of energy and never fails to put a smile on everyone’s face she comes across.

Current Students | Master of Public Policy, Students | College of Liberal Arts | Oregon State ...

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.


Patrick, Emily

Policy Interests: Energy Policy

I was born and raised in California but now live with my husband, Kyle, in Pensacola, Florida. I graduated from Oregon State University in 2022 with my B.A. in political science and then took the year off to travel.

I am now enrolled in Oregon State's Master of Public Policy program and the Graduate Certifica te Energy Policy program in the hopes of adequately preparing myself for law school and one day becoming an environmental lawyer.

Outside of school, I enjoy reading, crocheting, traveling, hanging out with my friends and family, and the beach. Currently, my husband and I live on the Gulf and enjoy its beautiful beaches as much as possible.


Schepps, Natasha
Policy Interests:
Social Policy
Home State: Colorado

I was born and raised in Houston, Texas and recently moved back to Houston from Fort Collins, Colorado. While living in Colorado, I was studying at Colorado State University and earned my Bachelor of Social Work in 2019. Upon graduation, I have been working as a social worker mostly with people experiencing homelessness, but I have recently transitioned to working with vulnerable youth. During my time working in social work, my passion for making systemic change has continuously increased as I firsthand have seen the effects systems of oppression have on marginalized people. That is what drew me to a Master of Public Policy. I want to help create and improve preventive approaches, so everyone can have equitable opportunities and access to resources.
Outside of school, I enjoy cuddling with my cat, spending time outdoors, hiking, learning Spanish, running, and playing soccer.


Sepulveda, Cristal 

Policy Interests: Environmental and Energy Policy

Home State: Nevada 

Born and raised in the state of Nevada, I acquired my bachelors in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of NV, Reno. I’ve worked in a variety of sectors including medicine, research, nonprofit, and biotech. I am currently working as a Histology Technologist in a pathology lab in Seattle WA, and I am also a part of the Army National Guard, where I currently hold the MOS-aka job title- of a military police officer. My background knowledge in medicine and science and work experience, galvanized me to transition into a career in Public Policy. My interests include housing, energy/environmental, and social policies. In my free time I like to try new restaurants with my fiancé, and take my puppy Bo on walks. I also enjoy trail running, trying new fitness classes, and learning new things/reading books

Tamplin, Sydney

Policy Interests: Environmental and Social Policy

Home State: California

I grew up in Northern California, outside of Sacramento. I did my undergrad at University of Oregon and took a year after graduating to do an Americorps fellowship with the City of Oakland, called the California Climate Action Corps. I am now pursuing my Master of Public Policy with a concentration in Environmental Policy at the Oregon State campus. I am very interested in research around mycology, climate change, environmental justice, and the phase-out of plastics. In my free time I enjoy hiking, photographing mushrooms, making collages, and scuba diving!

Tapia, Rubi
Policy Interests: Social Policy
Home State: Oregon

I’m a first-generation college graduate and am now the first in my family to attend graduate school. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Western Oregon University and I am currently working towards my Master’s in Public Policy here at Oregon State University. My program concentration is social policy, which I hope to utilize in working with disadvantaged and marginalized communities. Specifically, I’m interested in working to address inequalities in education, healthcare, and the criminal justice system among low-income and BIPOC communities.

In my free time, I enjoy watching movies, reading, listening to music, and baking.

Taylor, Hayley
Policy interests: Social policy

I am from San Luis Obispo, which is a small town on the Central Coast of California. I graduated Cum Laude from San Diego State University with my Bachelor’s in Public Administration. Before and during my undergraduate studies I worked as a paralegal primarily in business litigation, but also worked in estate planning, civil litigation, and spent some time in criminal law interning for the San Diego Public Defender’s Collaborative Courts. I currently work for a non-profit as a case manager for a housing program for disabled and previously unhoused individuals. My concentration is in social policy, and my specific policy interests include housing and homelessness policy as well as criminal justice policy. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, cooking, and exploring the nature that San Luis Obispo has to offer. 

Thompson, Christine

Policy Interests: Social Policy

Owing to a military family, I moved around the U.S. south often, but I now call Orlando “home”. I completed my undergraduate degree at Florida State University in exercise science and completed a graduate certificate in public administration at the University of Virginia during the onset of the pandemic. In the years following, I worked in South Korea and China for four years, immersing myself in the culture  and language. Upon returning to the U.S., I shifted my interest to education while volunteering with a local nonprofit whose mission is to teach English and basic skills to native and non-native speakers throughout Central Florida.

Most recently, I lived in Washington D.C. where I served as a program manager for a higher education nonprofit; I continue this work remotely from OR. I also work as a graduate research assistant on an NSF grant funded project designed to increase climate resiliency among historically underrepresented groups (HUGs). I am interested in the social and international policy as there is an abundance of successful social policy examples beyond U.S. borders. My research interests lie in engaging underrepresented communities in state and local policy processes; methods to diversify public organizations; and using an intersectional lens to craft social policies. I am currently a public servant and will continue my lifelong pursuit of removing institutional barriers marginalized individuals experience every day and establishing sustainable and equitable social policies domestically and internationally.

I like to spend my outdoor time on hikes and recreational sports (kickball, volleyball); with my indoor time spent doing yoga and puzzles or reading. I also have an adorable cat named Hina who I rescued at the beginning of the pandemic.

Tomlinson, Jordan 
Policy Interests: Public Health Policy
Home State: California

I am a SNAP-Ed nutrition educator through Oregon State University Extension, in Multnomah County. I work with the African Heritage communities of the Portland Metro area, on health and wellness initiatives, through the Relational Worldview Model. In this model, health is life in balance, and the quadrants of life include: Mind, Body, Spirit and Context. This model was developed by Terry Cross, the founder of a local organization called NICWA ~ the National Indian Child Welfare Association. 

I mention all of this because we are in a time where oftentimes, concepts are "borrowed" from other cultures, without appropriately citing the source. Part of the work that I am interested in doing through my participation in the EMPP program is building appropriate and respectful relationships between diverse communities and institutions, and this is one of the ways I do that.

I am originally from Santa Cruz, California and have my B.A in Politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, although I have traveled quite a bit and have spent significant time in San Diego and Seattle. 

I am a bike commuter, which is great in Portland, thanks to amazing bike highways and I strongly recommend exploring those to anyone who hasn't yet. In my free time I garden, do art, look for mushrooms in the woods and dance. 


Van Daalen, Christopher
Policy Interests: Building Codes and Regs, Climate Change

I am a 55 year old environmentalist and community development professional. I started my environmental career while in college at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (BA, English 1994) by co-founding a national organization with an office on Capitol Hill (Washington DC) lobbying congress to protect National Forests from clearcutting (1991 94). Then In 1995 moved to Washington State to help dislocated timber workers transition to jobs in watershed restoration. In 2005, I started working as a “green building” advocate and educator with a non profit called the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild based in Seattle. I launched a website called the Buildings Innovation Database which led to the formation of a statewide alliance called Shift Zero, a zero-carbon building alliance that has successfully pushed to keep Washington on track to have a net-zero energy code by 2030.

Recently, I moved to Florida to be near family and overcome a health issue. I started grad school at OSU eCampus to return to my work through a group Capstone project to revisit the Building Innovations Database with an eye toward making net-zero building codes available nationwide. The research project will engage building officials, builders and other stakeholders to determine the best path to break the “rigidity cycle” in building departments and transform codes to push buildings to zero or negative carbon emissions as quickly as possible. I am much more interested in incentives and innovation than mandatory requirements to meet this goal. I will be working with OPAL to recruit other grad and undergrad students to participate in this research starting Winter Quarter 2024. Please contact me if you are interested!

Vicario, Alyssa
Policy Interests: Social Policy, Health Care Policy
Home State: California

I am a health policy consultant based in Sacramento, California. I graduated from the University of California, Davis in 2017 with a degree in political science and professional writing and have since been working as a policy consultant to local and state health care agencies in California with a focus on Medicaid mental health and substance use disorder policy. I am pursuing my Master of Public Policy to enhance my knowledge and skills for designing, implementing, and evaluating social policies aimed at expanding and improving the social safety net for individuals and families. Outside of work and school I love gardening, trying new recipes, and spending time with my family, especially my one-year-old niece.

Waggener, Allyse (she/her/hers)
Policy Interests: Social and Gender Policy
Home State: Idaho

My rural hometown of Orofino in northern Idaho provided diverse individual ideologies growing up, driving my interest in political polarization. I graduated with a B.S. in Sociology with minors in Political Psychology, Justice Studies, and Behavioral Science from Lewis-Clark State College. In the summer of 2023, I had the opportunity to conduct cultural anthropology research in three distinct regions of Ecuador on comparative access experiences of Ecuadorian women seeking reproductive healthcare and contraception, continuing with knowledge from my capstone thesis on restrictive abortion policy implications in the United States. I am currently involved with a continuous project studying intersectionality within social movements, concerning perceptions of specific actors in political communication. I look forward to applying my background in gender politics, justice system advocacy, and health focused sociology to further research at Oregon State. Analyzing and developing policy to address gender, class, and race-based inequality serves as a motivator to expand my passion for data and enter a career in public policy.

Oregon has proven to be an amazing change for myself, my partner of eight years, and our little orange cat. I love traveling to the ocean and beyond, reading cheesy rom-com books to give my brain a break, and visiting family whenever we can.

Weber, Elizabeth
Policy Interests: Social Policy, Health Care Policy
Home State: Oregon

I was born in New Jersey but moved to Oregon when I was young and have considered it home ever since. I currently live in Portland with my husband and two children.

I graduated from Oregon State University with my bachelors in Biology in 2005. Following that I completed a Masters in genetic epidemiology from the University of Washington. Since that time I have been working as a researcher focused on epidemiology, genomics, and preventive medicine.

Over time my work in health research has led me to realize that my true interest is getting involved in health care policy. In particular, I am interested in increasing access to quality reproductive health care for all birthing people.


Westman, Ryan
Policy Interests: Social Policy, Energy Policy, Technology Policy
Home State: Oregon

I was raised in central Nebraska and spent most of life there until moving to Southern Oregon to pursue a second degree. I graduated from Oregon Institute of Technology in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Renewable Energy Engineering. Fall of 2020 is my first term in the Executive Master of Public Policy program. 

I've spent the last six years working various engineering roles for state and local governments and public utilities. I'm currently working as an Engineering Technician for a municipally owned electric utility. 

I live in northeastern Oregon with my wife and young kids. We enjoy spending time in the outdoors camping and hiking, traveling, and experiencing new things. 

Wright, Sharon
Policy Interests: Environmental Policy
Home State: Alabama

I developed a deep connection with the natural world early in life as I explored the woods and waterways near my home in Alabama. I moved to Arizona for my undergraduate and graduate degrees - both in English - eventually settling into an environmental consulting career during which I attended numerous publi hearings on federal and local projects. This experience reinforced my interest in how environmental policies and government decisions directly affect local communities. Now as an MPP program student based in Portland, I plan to focus on environmental justice and collaborative governance. 

Yazicioglu, Betul
Policy Interests: Social Policy
Home Country: Turkey

I was born and raised in Elazig, a city in Turkey. I completed my undergraduate studies at Firat University and graduated in 2012. Right after that, I completed an internship in the guidance and counseling department of the Istanbul Private Teaching Institute in Elazig. I provided academic counseling for students preparing for university. Between 2015 and 2017, I worked in the Elazig Yöntemim Schools providing both psychological and academic counseling for students. In the two years I spent there, I worked toward helping students to get to know themselves, discover hidden talents, and making sure they were informed about the university exam system in Turkey as well as helping them choose the university majors that suited them. In 2017, I focused on improving myself academically by actively and passively participating in different conferences, seminars, and academic events. 

I got accepted into Oregon State University's Master of Public Policy program. My major is sociology. My field of study is social inclusion and working with disadvantaged groups. After my Master's program, I plan on returning to my country to work as a sociologist in the Ministry of Family. And because I am deeply interested in social policy, I aim to improve myself in this field and gain sufficient knowledge and skills to contribute to creating effective policies that will help in the integration and protection of disadvantaged groups excluded by society in my country. 

In my leisure time, I enjoy cooking different types of food, writing, walking while listening to music, and watching movies.