B.A Journalism, B.S. Environmental Science, University of Massachusetts Amherst– Commonwealth Honors College, 2014
M.S. in Animals and Public Policy, Tufts University, 2019
Policy Advisor at Animal Welfare Institute
What were you doing before entering the Masters in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) program?
After college, I traveled to Cambodia and worked at a newspaper in Phnom Penh. I backpacked around Southeast Asia and had an incredible experience immersing myself in the different cultures of that region. After returning home and some soul searching, I decided I wanted to be a veterinarian. I worked as a vet tech for a year and a half and realized my role in the animal world may not be as clinical after all. I discovered this program in the midst of this realization, and it was love at first site!
What aspects of MAPP led to your decision to join the program?
I have always been passionate about animals but struggled to find a way to combine my interests of writing, photography, and welfare work into a career. I never felt like I could work directly with the animals I loved while maintaining a creative outlet— I always felt like I had to choose. When I discovered this program, it opened my eyes to the opportunities available in the animal field. MAPP’s dynamic one health approach to animal issues enticed me, as did the opportunity to work on the communication skills that create arguments for effective policy change.
Interests in and experience with animals
I have volunteered at animal shelters periodically throughout my life. After college, I was a Primary Care Attendant at MSPCA, working with a heavy volume of cats and dogs, before I became a Veterinary Technician at a feline specialty hospital. During college, I interned at the National Marine Life Center as both a Communications and Animal Care intern, working to rehabilitate seals and turtles on Cape Cod. My love of photographing animals began when I had the opportunity to travel to Kruger National Park in South Africa and assist in a research project aimed at “cataloging” big cats in the reserve.
In what ways do you use your MAPP degree in your current position?
In my current position I use my MAPP degree every day. I lobby on behalf of animal issues, but also work on creating advocacy alerts, social media, fact sheets and outreach materials. MAPP showed me how strategy and creative thinking come into lobbying—it’s all about framing an issue in ways that can appeal to specific stakeholders and analyzing an issue from all sides. It also prepared me for a career in which opinions are strong and there is never always a “right” answer.
Tell us about your MAPP project or preceptorship, Animal Welfare Institute: Lobbying for Change in Animal Policy. In what ways did it help you form your career goals?
My MAPP externship led me to my new position! Coming into the program, I knew I wanted to explore the legislative side of the animal world versus research or clinical careers. I picked my externship based on that, but never envisioned it would turn into my first post-MAPP job! I’ve been very lucky to work with wonderful people who have built upon my MAPP degree and taught me so much about animal policy. I wrote my final paper analyzing the current issues facing North Atlantic right whales, and the stakeholder interactions within this issue. I’ve taken on the marine portfolio at AWI, so I have continued to work on this issue by focusing on one of our main marine legislative priorities: the SAVE Right Whales Act.
What did you like most about the MAPP program?
As someone who has varied interests, I enjoyed being able to explore all sorts of animal issues, from farm to lab to wildlife. I was able to do a deep dive into different topics, such as ag gag laws, shark finning and cellular meat. It gave me an opportunity to explore topics and get a sense of what I wanted to pursue after MAPP. It was also a way to see how a lot of these topics overlap within bigger issues. Guest speakers from different specialties were another great resource.
Is there anything else you would like to share with prospective MAPP students?
Before MAPP, I always felt my only option in working with animals was to be a vet or a vet tech. When I realized neither of those were for me, I was disheartened and assumed my chance at a career helping animals was gone. What I discovered through MAPP was there are so many ways to incorporate a passion for animal welfare into your career—it sometimes just takes creative thinking and looking at the bigger picture. Policy, law, the plant-based meat sector, the agricultural sector, research, IACUC work, “clean” industries—all things directly, and indirectly helping animals. Be creative and go for it!
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