Law Spotlight: Adam Roberts

Working in the public interest

This fall, Adam Roberts (J.D. / M.A. in International Studies, '16) will begin a two-year appointment as a Presidential Management Fellow at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  Roberts, a graduate teaching fellow in the department of international studies and a law clerk with the Oregon Army National Guard JAG, accepted the appointment on May 22.

"USAID's overall mission of providing economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world is one that I strongly believe in and I couldn't be more excited to begin," Roberts shared of his upcoming appointment. 

Through the Presidential Management Fellowship, Roberts will be working in the Office of the Inspector General for USAID to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse within programs and operations of USAID's client agencies. Much of his work will be housed in Washington, D.C., with short stints abroad. At the end of the two-year fellowship, the position will convert to a career position with the U.S. Foreign Service, and Roberts will be stationed at various U.S. embassies abroad.

"The School of Law has worked with several students over the years who have earned Presidential Management Fellowships, and then have gone on to great careers in public service," said Michelle McKinley, the Bernard B. Kliks Professor in the School of Law. "Adam showed an affinity for this kind of opportunity early on in his career, and I am very excited to have helped guide him."

A diplomat-in-residence recruiting event at the Mills International Center at the University of Oregon convinced Roberts that his future career lay in the Foreign Service. "What attracted me to the Foreign Service was both my desire to work in public service and a passion for engaging with new and different cultural environments," said Roberts, who had earned his undergraduate degree as a Duck while serving in the ROTC. "Over the last two summers, I interned with the Portland Immigration Court, and most recently participated in a work-study program with the International Rescue Committee and the Milano School of International Affairs in New York, experiences which helped prepare me for my new role with USAID."

Roberts is quick to credit the support of his faculty mentors and career center staff in obtaining this fellowship, including Prof. Anita Weiss in the department of international studies, and from the School of Law, Professors Susan Gary, Ibrahim Gassama, and McKinley. "I wouldn't have made past all of the fellowship hurdles without their help, and the help of the staff at the Oregon Law career center and Rhonda Smith in the department of planning, public policy, and management's career center. ‘Thank you' barely covers it."

His academic advisors offered praise for Roberts' accomplishments. "Adam has consistently had a very high level of commitment to his work and to his long-term goal of working in the international human rights arena," said Dr. Anita M. Weiss, professor in the department of international studies.

"Adam combines the qualities of our very best students: strategic thinking, high level of preparedness as he planned for his future, clear communication skills, excellent ability to work with people of many backgrounds and abilities, and high ethical values," shared Susan N. Gary, Orlando J. and Marian H. Hollis Professor of Law. 

Roberts, who grew up in Eugene, Ore. earned his bachelor's degree in history, and graduated this spring with a J.D./M.A. in international studies, all from the University of Oregon. He likes watching movies at the Bijou Theater in downtown Eugene, trying out new foods, and exploring old bookstores. To learn more about applying to be a Presidential Management Fellow, visit

This story first appeared in the news section of this website in June 2016.