Public Law and Policy Program connects students with Policy Influencers

2020 Public Law and Policy Fellows

Public Law & Policy Fellows at the start of the academic year. Left to Right: McKenna Rackleff, Gareth Ford, Zach Metzger, Victoria Nguyen, Meghan Gross, and Taylor Kinch.

This year, six Oregon Law students were selected as Public Law & Policy fellows with funding from an endowment honoring former Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Kenneth O’Connell. Throughout the course of the academic year, the first- and second-year student fellows met to discuss policy issues and networked with prominent leaders, attorneys, and policy makers. They conducted research on current, self-selected policy issues and developed policy papers.  

Due to COVID-19, the program’s usual end-of-year “Policy Roundtable” to present policy papers with community leaders was canceled. However, the move to remote learning and consequent campus closure, opened up the opportunity for students to work directly with leaders in a position to influence the policies the students researched.  

“This ended up being a great opportunity for students to speak one-on-one with state and local policy influencers, and law school administrators,” said Jennifer Geller, managing director of the Public Law and Policy Program. “Not only did students receive insight on the strengths and weaknesses of their policy proposals from those in the sphere of influence, but they were able to network and make connections with key people in the state.”  

Geller says that even if students are able to return to campus next year for the traditional “roundtable,” individual meetings with policy makers is a new aspect of the program is worth continuing. 

Students, policy influencers, and project titles 

Gareth Ford, JD ‘22 
Policy Influencer: Eugene City Councilor Claire Syrett 
Project: Revise the Definition of “Family” in Eugene’s City Code 

Meghan Gross, JD ‘21 
Policy Influencer: Eugene City Councilor Chris Pryor 
Project: Implement a Daywork Program for Eugene 

Taylor Kinch, JD ‘21 
Policy Influencer: State Rep. Julie Fahey 
Project: Oregon’s Disappearing Manufactured Home Parks and the Right of First Refusal 

Zach Metzger, JD ‘21 
Policy Influencer: Associate Dean Nicole Commissiong, University of Oregon Law 
Project: Implement a Civil Discourse Program to Support UO Law’s Learning Outcomes 

Victoria Nguyen, JD ‘21 
Policy Influencer: State Senator Floyd Prozanski 
Project: Voter Participation in Oregon: Remove the twenty-day voter registration deadline from Oregon’s Constitution 

McKenna Rackleff, JD ‘22 
Policy Influencer: State Rep. (and Oregon Law alum) Marshall Wilde 
Project: Increasing Access to Addiction Treatment in Oregon through support of Initiative Petition 44 

School of Law Communications