Bachelor’s degree in biology, Bowdoin College
International environmental policy and administrative law
La Follette School Fellowship
Why a MIPA/JD?
I was first drawn to public policy as a solution to the environmental challenges I learned to document and measure as an undergraduate biology major. I worked for several years on natural resources and public lands policy as part of the Obama Administration in Washington, DC, and later moved to an international nonprofit organization working on conservation issues. I decided to study international public affairs and law at the University of Wisconsin to add to the tools I can bring to this work.
Why the La Follette School?
In looking at graduate schools, I first and foremost wanted a school that would keep me on the path of public service. With several programs I considered and ultimately declined, the debt required would have made staying in the public and nonprofit sectors very difficult. In contrast, the funding opportunities I have found at UW–Madison have been outstanding. In the La Follette School, I found a program committed in word and deed to supporting students who want to make a career of public service. That made all the difference for me.
I am greatly interested in how governments design laws and policies to protect the environmental benefits their citizens need and enjoy. After graduation, I hope to work with governments – whether here in the United States or abroad – to design and implement effective conservation programs tailored to their particular local priorities and challenges. I intend to work again for a public agency or nonprofit organization focused on this work.
How have your La Follette School courses and/or experiences set you on the path to meeting your career goals?
My La Follette School courses have given me tools to quantitatively analyze and understand environmental problems and the social context in which they exist. One particularly impactful course was my International Program Evaluation course with Christopher McKelvey. In that course, I gained a critical perspective into how governments and nonprofit organizations measure and direct development funds around the world. In so many countries, conservation cannot happen without economic development, and this course gave critical insight into that world.
In my second year, I worked with Professor Mark Copelovitch as a project assistant reviewing and compiling peer-reviewed literature in international political economy, a discipline focused on the interaction of politics and economics in the international sphere. Working with Professor Copelovitch has been a wonderful opportunity to delve more deeply into a specialized corner of policy and see how leading researchers advance their discipline through thoughtful analysis and criticism.
During the summer of 2019, I worked as an assistant to a leading environmental attorney in Lima, Peru. My primary project analyzed the feasibility of using a tax program in Peru to incentivize companies to invest in forest conservation projects. My experience provided a valuable view into the pragmatic work of designing conservation programs around political and institutional limitations and working with existing programs to achieve new aims.
Advice for prospective La Follette School students
The La Follette School has connections across UW–Madison. My advice to prospective students would be to learn about the excellent departments and schools that you will have access to as a La Follette School student and to use these resources to shape your policy degree in the direction that is most relevant to you. Combining specialized subject-matter coursework from across the university with the core La Follette School curriculum has been a powerful combination for me.
The city of Madison, Wisconsin, is a wonderfully livable community and an excellent place to be a graduate student. Coming from Washington, DC, I have found Madison to be mercifully affordable, easy to navigate, and enriching in ways I did not imagine. As I planned and re-planned my graduate studies, Wisconsin was