Rachel Sowray (J.D. ’09) founded the non-profit Politisit in April 2017. This new non-profit reimburses childcare costs to caregivers participating in civic engagement meetings or activities.
Rachel formed the idea for Politisit after last November’s election. As the parent of a young son, she recognizes barriers to participation in civic matters, including caring for children. Politisit seemed like one way to answer the question, “How do we get more voices to the table so our government provides what our community wants and needs?”
Politisit is currently run by volunteers, but began providing services to applicants very shortly after it was up and running. They have paid for childcare for individuals to attend meetings with legislators, school budget committee meetings, and meetings about running for office.
When Rachel is not managing and growing Politisit, she will begin work as a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Social Security Administration, prosecuting the SSA's fraud cases within the US Attorney's Office. Previously she worked as a Deputy District Attorney for Washington County and as an Assistant Counsel for Homeland Security.
Will Fisher (JD ’09) is running for Congress in Texas. He is one of four Democrats who have filed to run for Congressional District 26, even though the general election is not until November 2018.
Will moved to Texas in 2013 after working at Miller Nash. In Texas, he has worked as corporate counsel, currently with Commercial Metals Company. Will has always paid close attention to politics, but the 2016 general election spurred him to take the step to run for office.
Will became more involved in his local Democratic Party. He participated in efforts to grow the membership and to support projects, including park cleanups in his area and candidate support in local elections. Through his involvement, he realized that his party needed people of his generation and background to step forward to lead.
Through his campaign, he has found many people in his district share an interest in key issues, like health care. Will is also working on expanding improvement in the country’s infrastructure and the good jobs that come with such efforts.
Anna Braun works as the Legislative Director for Oregon State Senate President Peter Courtney. No stranger to Salem, Anna landed this key role three years ago after having worked in the legislative process for 12 years serving as committee administrator for the Senate Commerce Committee, Counsel for the House and Senate Judiciary committees, and the Legislative Director for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI).
Anna’s work includes the complex task of coordinating the work of Senate committees, including the assignment of bills and ensuring the Committee process functions smoothly. Her portfolio also covers all policy bills in the Senate. She loves the fast-paced work that puts her in the middle of negotiations requiring bipartisan solutions. Examples from the 2017 session include the pay equity bill (HB 2005), suction dredge mining (SB 3), and the predictive scheduling bill (SB 828).
Her law degree often serves as an asset in these discussions. Legal training honed her often-used mediation and negotiation skills. Anna also finds that her ability to explain the legal ramifications allows her to move some conversations forward when there is disagreement.
While the challenges can be daunting, Anna has come to appreciate the energy of the legislative cycle. As she recovers from a session and begins the calendaring the next, she looks forward to continuing to work with the people and issues that shape life in Oregon.
Richard serves as the Director for Environment at the Wallace Global Fund (WGF). In his position, Richard has the opportunity to oversee projects that combat climate change and support community rights to self-determination as they relate to the environment. He thinks much of the work strives to rebalance individuals’ power with those of corporations and governments.
Richard describes the WGF as a small foundation that “punches above its weight.” WGF's work includes supporting colleges and universities fossil fuel divestment efforts and litigation against the fossil fuel industry. WGF also funds innovative research including a current study at Harvard on the effects of pollution on global mortality.
Environmental law, a relatively new discipline in the 1980s, brought Richard to Oregon after he studied plant ecology at Tulane University. After graduating and serving as a U.S. Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit clerk, Richard directed the Atmospheric Pollution Program at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, DC. He then worked as the vice president for international policy at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
When discussing his own career path and the next generation of public interest lawyers, Richard notes that law school provides individuals with a flexible set of credentials that can be used in a variety of contexts. He hopes that students will see the broad landscape of possible ways that lawyers can contribute to the public interest and act on their idealism.