From Local Advocacy to Federal Regulations

Hello! My name is Maureen Hartwell and I am a rising senior studying Political Science with a minor in Philosophy. I am originally from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I love to run, hike, and ski or just sit on Flagstaff Hill! During quarantine I have also developed my cooking and baking skills, so I love to make scones, quiches, and other treats! 

While at Pitt I have been involved with Residence Life and Pitt Serves—working on Get Out The Vote efforts in the latter. In the spring of 2020, I was the campus coordinator for the Jerry Dickinson for Congress campaign. In this role, I met constituents who strengthened my conviction and dedication for environmental justice efforts. I have also worked for the local nonprofit, Women for a Healthy Environment for almost two years now. In this role I have researched air and water quality in Allegheny County. Through WHE, I really got my start in the environmental health and environmental justice space. 

Beyond my time with WHE, I have also worked for Councilperson Erika Strassburger where I assisted in the research and rollout of the plastic bag ban which was recently introduced to City Council. Finally, I have worked for the Office of the Mayor as the Sustainability intern where I assisted in developing the Residential Deconstruction plan this year and advanced some waste and recycling initiatives. Through all of these local experiences I have developed a passion for environmental health and environmental justice in the region. 

Next year (2022), I plan to attend law school with a focus on environmental law. I ultimately want to work as an attorney for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doing Environmental Justice (EJ) work. My hope is to first take on a clerkship and then spend some time with national nonprofits such as the NRDC or Sierra Club. 

This summer I am working for the EPA’s Region 8 Office as their EJ intern. In this capacity, I will assist in executing projects to mitigate environmental inequities through the Denver office. Though I will be working remotely, I’m excited to learn more about how to develop EJ programs for more rural populations. In particular, I am hoping to learn more about how to advocate for the environmental health of indigenous populations.

I chose this internship because I plan to attend law school in the Pacific Northwest or the Southwest part of the country. As such, I want to build a better understanding of how environmental issues arise outside the rust belt and develop a professional network to build off of in the future. I hope that this internship will be a stepping stone to future opportunities with the EPA’s offices out west. Through this internship, I also hope to gain a better understanding of the intersection between bureaucracy and advocacy and how the two may work together to improve the quality of life for vulnerable populations

I’m looking forward to working with the staff in the Denver EJ office and meeting more environmental law professionals.

One Comment Add yours

  1. staciedow says:

    It’s great to learn about your interest in pursuing school out west – I am interested in how this internship will shape your future decisions!

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