Current Students

The Master of Arts in Policy Studies program defines itself as a community of people who believe policy can make a difference. Students engage in the academic pursuit of policy solutions in arenas, such as: environment, labor, education, health, human rights, technology, and local and state government.

Read about some of our dynamic Policy Studies graduate students, their educational backgrounds, and research interests.

2015 Cohort

Ashley Brandon

Undergraduate Institution: University of Washington Bothell
Undergraduate Degree: Environmental Studies, with a minor in Ecological Restoration

Research Interests: Domestic and international policy approaches and framework for addressing global climate change, sustainable development of energy resources, biodiversity conservation

Snapshot: Ashley was born and raised in the Seattle area, discovering her love for the environment during her undergraduate studies at UWB.  She didn’t feel her journey at UWB was complete upon graduation, and is ecstatic to continue her education within her home she has found within the community of UWB. Her ultimate goal is to work with a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the mitigation of global climate change. In her time not spent at school she works as a bartender, loves to spend time with her fiancĂ© and kitty and enjoys reading.

Paul Hanson

Undergraduate Institution: University of Washington Tacoma
Undergraduate Degree: Politics, Philosophy and Economics

Research Interests: Economic illiteracy’s effect on public policy, the illegitimacy of using intentions to justify policy over real world effects, unaccountability and short sightedness of political action in modern liberal democratic states, or the mechanical design in policies that allows and leads to corruption in the modern state

Snapshot: Paul was born in Hawaii and spent years moving in a military family, that retired to the south sound area. Completed high school in Auburn Washington. After which, Paul was employed as a landscaper, HVAC construction, and spent years as a licensed massage practitioner (LMP). For multiple reasons he joined the US Army and became an intelligence analyst. In this role he did a deployment to Iraq and after four years in the Army he ETS out of the serves. After which, he spent a year contracting with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in Afghanistan. Within his past job experiences while working as a contractor for the Defense Intelligence Agency and the US Army as a governmental analyst, he reviewed foreign country policies and identifying corruption within their bureaucracies. He has a strong interest to keep developing his ability to analyze policies and to understand second and third order effects that policies will have on the world. To this end, he started his higher education after his time in Afghanistan and just finished a politics, philosophy and economics interdisciplinary studies bachelor's degree from UW Tacoma. He now wishes to pursue graduate studies in order to better evaluate political actions and their effects.

Deborah Hopkins

Undergraduate/Graduate Institution: University of New Hampshire/University of Connecticut
Undergraduate/Graduate Degree: BS in Pre-Veterinary Medicine/MS in Cell Biology

Research Interests: Intersection of environmental and health policy, specifically how policies can address global climate change and its detrimental effects on health and disease in the developing world

Snapshot: Deborah was born and raised in New England and moved to the Pacific Northwest after graduate school, in 1995.  She fell in love with the natural beauty and community of this region and hopes never to leave. She has spent the last 20 years working as a Scientist in the biotechnology industry researching Oncology and Inflammatory disease, at the same time raising two children with her husband. As her work in science comes to an end and the kids are becoming more independent, she is thrilled to embark on this new opportunity through the UWB MAPS program. Deborah is passionate about the environment and as she looks to the future she is concerned about the impact of climate change on the worlds’ most vulnerable in every community. She hopes to learn how to evaluate policy successes and failures and build new initiatives to enact change where it is needed at the intersection of health and environmental policy. Outside of work, Deborah spends a lot of time at track and swim meets and dance recitals (cheering) and enjoys running, biking, supporting the arts and horseback riding when she can find time.

Michelle Jacobson

Undergraduate Institution: University of Washington Bothell
Undergraduate Degree: Global Studies, minor in Human Rights

Research Interests: Environmental policy and climate change

Snapshot: Michellehas lived in Washington for the past 11 years. She is married and has one daughter who is completing her doctorate in Chiropractic medicine. She has had the opportunity to travel around the world several times, visiting over 35 different countries. She lived in Mexico and Thailand and spent several months in Turkey. Michelle is a "change of life student" and recently graduated from UW Bothell with honors. Her traveling experience has complemented her UW undergraduate degree in Global Studies and minor in Human Rights. Her passion in life is nature. Michelle loves the outdoors, the ocean, and animals. It is her desire to affect policy change in the environment because a healthy environment is a human right we all deserve. Especially water, as it is our greatest resource. The ecosystems of our oceans, rivers, lakes, and the rest of our water resources are being destroyed. It is her goal to help change current policies that lack the necessary regulations to protect our planet's water. She is honored and excited to be a part of the UW Bothell MAPS program!

Amber Monson

Undergraduate Institution: University of Washington Tacoma
Undergraduate Degree: Psychology, and Criminal Justice

Research Interests: Those with mental illness within the criminal justice system, public education and the criminal justice system as a whole

Snapshot: Amber is a single mother of three teenagers and works part-time as a substitute para educator and hopefully soon as an emergency substitute teacher. Mental illness, drug addiction, poverty and the criminal justice system have played large roles in the lives of those she loves and cares about and have influenced her life both directly and indirectly. Her life experiences thus far have left her with the desire to learn more about why things are the way they are. Even with multiple different life stories, she is far from an expert on any of it and still finds herself constantly learning new ways to see things. She knows that change is needed, but if you ask her how they need to change or what exactly needs to change, she would not be able to articulate an answer. This is why Amber has chosen to continue her education. It is her hope that her undergraduate degrees have helped point down the educational path that will aid her in her search for answers and solutions.

Caitlin Moore

Undergraduate Institution: Evergreen State College
Undergraduate Degree: Plant Biology and Genetics

Research Interests: Agriculture (especially seeds and GMOs), biological patents

Snapshot: Caitlin grew up in rural Western Washington on an organic farm. After high school she moved to the city and pursued performance and dramatic arts before returning to school to study agricultural systems. She is equally fascinated by the biological and social/political/economic forces that affect our food system. During college she founded one of the country’s first seed lending libraries, and now owns an organic seed company called Root and Radicle and is an intern with the Organic Seed Alliance.

Isaias Nieto

Undergraduate Institution: University of Washington Bothell
Undergraduate Degree: Environmental Studies

Research Interests: Continuing research on roosting behavior of the UW Bothell crows, avian habitat conservation

Snapshot: Isaias is a non-traditional student who decided to go to college in his late 30's. Even though he started college later than most people, he feels that this was his time to have the college experience. He originally wanted to earn a degree in paleontology because of his love for birds and dinosaurs, but he changed his major after learning about the environmental crisis that the world faces trying to battle climate change. To Isaias, being environmentally conscious and learning to live a sustainable life is one of the most important things a person can do. He knows that the skills he learned at the University of Washington can help me make the world better place for future generations.

Watson.jpgJames Watson

Undergraduate Institution: University of Washington Bothell
Undergraduate Degree: Environmental Studies with a focus in Conservation Science and Management

Research Interests: invasive species management, critical habitat, and endangered species

Snapshot: James decided to come back to school and finish his bachelor's degree after taking time to work in the field of habitat restoration, in which he worked locally for about two years. He grew up in Western Washington, and has developed a serious passion for all things fishy and fungal. When he has spare time he’s usually in the woods or on the water. James wants to focus on environmental policy while in the MAPS program, and has a strong interest in working with policy regarding invasive species management, critical habitat, and endangered species.

Cassidy Watt

Undergraduate Institution: University of Washington Bothell
Undergraduate Degree: Community Psychology

Research Interests: Food policy around food deserts, school lunch programs and nutrition education

Snapshot: Cassidy moved to Seattle from the Washington D.C. area 4 years ago and quickly made Seattle her home. She found her interest in food policy through volunteering with Teen Feed as a Meal Team Advocate and Street Outreach Advocate and with the MAPS degree hopes to influence policy in ways that work to end hunger. When she’s not in school you can find her hiking, teaching yoga or churning ice cream at a local, small batch ice cream shop.

Kate Young

Undergraduate Institution: University of Washington Seattle
Undergraduate Degree: Sociology

Research Interests: Legal policy, especially as it relates to criminal justice, civil rights, and court administration; conflict resolution and reconciliation; and alternative access to justice

Snapshot: Kate is from Federal Way, Washington. She started her college career on time, but took a few years off to wander through life before finishing. She has had some truly unique experiences along the way that have shaped her interest in policy, but it is an ever evolving vision. She loves being outside, camping, swimming, laying on the grass, you name it. She likes almost anything that gets you dirty. Kate's background is in the legal field. While it is an amazing vehicle for settling disputes, it is only one method. She feels there is so much to learn within our system and aside from it that can establish policy that truly ensures justice.

2014 Cohort

James Campbell

Undergraduate Institution: University of Washington Bothell
Undergraduate Degree: Law, Economics and Public Policy

Research Interests: As it currently stands, our government, the mainstream media and multinational corporations (especially the banking system) have become so intertwined as to be indistinguishable from each other.  Lobbyists incessantly preach the virtues of free market economy to our politicians while decrying wealth redistribution as a socialist ill. However, wealth is primarily being redistributed upward to the “Capitol Club” members, not to the unrepresented citizenry outside the Beltway. James' research interests primarily focus on how public policies in the U.S. are influenced, and often corrupted, by wealthy individuals and corporations; and the resulting social impacts of economic inequality.

Snapshot: James was born and raised on the East Coast along with seven brothers and sisters.  After graduating from high school (Long Island) and community college (Tampa), he moved to Washington State with his wife (married 30 years). They started Storybook Homes Inc., a homebuilding business, in 1984. Meanwhile, they raised two sons who both graduated from the University of Washington. In 2008, at the beginning of the Great Recession, he retired from homebuilding. As the recession wore on, and the causes of it were exposed, he took a particular interest in how virtually none of the white collar financial crimes were prosecuted. He also began to take notice of how our prisons are disproportionally burgeoning with people of color; many of whom were convicted of crimes far less serious than the multi-billion dollar offenses on Wall Street. When he learned of the LEPP program at UWB, James found it was necessary to step out of retirement and refocus his life on these issues. They are too important to ignore because America, in his opinion, has become an aristocracy in grave danger of self-destructing. 

Sarah Domondon

Undergraduate Institution: Washington State University
Undergraduate Degree: Political Science, Global Option

Research Interests: International development and diplomacy, conflict resolution and gender policy

Snapshot: Seattle native, but avid traveler and global citizen. Sarah's background is in the health care field, working as a medical assistant, interning with the Washington Health Foundation and partaking in several medical missions to the Philippines. She wanted to take from this the spirit of helping others, but on a much different level as a policy actor. Her long-term trajectory includes working in international policy, focusing on women's roles in economic development. She currently serves as a Mentor and Facilitator for Young-Women Empowered and loves to work with other inspiring youth and women in the community. Her interests include travel, surf, being an avid foodie and living an active lifestyle.

David Gordon

Undergraduate Institution: University of Washington Bothell
Undergraduate Degree: Law, Economics and Public Policy

Research Interests: Effects of marijuana legalization locally and worldwide, economics of drug trafficking

Snapshot: David likes to spend his free time in his sandbox or riding his trike. He recently built a treehouse in front of his house, so that's where he can be found these days.

Lisa Maynard

Undergraduate Institution: University of Washington Bothell
Undergraduate Degree: Global Studies

Research Interests: Social justice, human rights, international development, cultural studies, underprivileged children’s access to education, international non-profit, structural growth in connection and relation to social growth

Snapshot: Lisa tries to travel as often as she can, but she was born and raised in the Seattle area and she's grateful for it. Because her undergraduate education was such a great experience, she is excited to return to the UWB campus for graduate school. Her goal is to work with both local and international nonprofit organizations to ensure social needs are continuously developing and met. She is excited for the new opportunities and endless possibilities to come.Lisa hopes to visit Europe and more of Latin America in the next few years. She enjoys photography, traveling, movies, and keeping busy.

Richard Meyer

Undergraduate Institution: University of Washington Bothell
Undergraduate Degree: Society, Ethics and Human Behavior

Research Interests: Agricultural policy, environmental policy, food production/distribution, human rights, labor rights

Snapshot: Richard was born and raised in the Seattle area. During his time as an undergraduate student at UWB, Richard developed interests in policy, environmental issues, and human rights. He feels very fortunate to have the opportunity to continue his studies at UWB as a graduate student in the MAPS program. Richard is a big Seattle sports fan. He loves spending time with friends and family, and enjoys all kinds of outdoor activities.

Oscar Meza-Garcia

Undergraduate Institution: University of Washington Seattle
Undergraduate Degree: Business Administration, options in Marketing and Information Systems

Research Interests: Healthcare, education and immigration policy

Snapshot: Oscar currently work as a Regulatory Compliance and Business Development Analyst for a company in the healthcare field.  he is not sure if he wants to remain in this field but he plans on learning as much as he can about healthcare and other fields throughout his time in this program. He grew up in the Seattle area and looks forward to making a positive impact in this community in the near future.  In his free time he spends time with friends and family, tries new bars and restaurants and plays baseball in the summer. 

Michael Richmond

Undergraduate Institution: Renton Technical College, Western Governors University
Undergraduate Degree: Automotive Technology, Business Management

Research Interests: Higher education, public education, and international/domestic business

Snapshot: Michael worked as an ASE Master Automotive Repair Technician for Puget Sound area Ford dealers for 13 years. In 2006 he was granted the opportunity to become an instructor for Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWIT). He teaches in the Automotive Repair Technician program at LWIT where he instructs in the areas of Brakes, Steering/Suspension, Engines, Heating & A/C, and Automatic/Manual transmissions. While at LWIT, Michael has participated in such committees as Strategic Planning and Accreditation.

Maia Williams

Undergraduate Institution: University of Washington Seattle
Undergraduate Degree: Comparative History of Ideas, with a minor in Education, Learning, and Society

Research Interests: Education system, prison industrial complex, economic policy, and other areas related to social equity and justice

Snapshot: Born and raised in Seattle, Maia is passionate about creating and maintaining a city and region that allow everyone to grow and thrive. While excited by many aspects of the area, such as the strong tradition in alternative education, Maia wants to improve existing systems and create new ones to give everyone access to the resources, opportunities, and outcomes needed to lead healthy, fulfilling lives.


Contact a Student Ambassador

Connect with current Policy Studies students, ask questions, arrange a campus tour, and learn about the student experience from our Student Ambassadors.