Born and raised in Tacoma, Washington, Joel graduated with college honors from Washington University in St. Louis in 2020 with a major in anthropology: global health and environment and a minor in sociology. Before leaving home, he developed a deeply-rooted passion for advocacy while providing in-home medical care for his terminally-ill father. During his time at WashU, Joel was a member of the John B. Ervin Scholars Program, supported first-year students as a Resident Advisor, served as a student representative to the university’s Board of Trustees, and volunteered with a community mentoring program called City Faces in the St. Louis area. Over multiple summers, he built off of these experiences by resettling refugees and asylees with World Relief Seattle, lobbying for various anti-poverty programs as a REAL Change and Advocacy Fellow with RESULTS, and working on Capitol Hill for Rep. Derek Kilmer (WA-06).
Field placement: Indigenous Food & Agriculture Initiative
Joel worked with the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative (IFAI), a practical legal research action center dedicated to advancing healthy food systems, diversified economic development and cultural food traditions in Indian Country. In this role, he researched the continuing impacts of COVID-19 on Native American food and agriculture while creating educational materials for Tribal governments that explore potential policy interventions and support policy implementation. Additionally, Joel developed resources based on IFAI's Model Tribal Food and Agriculture Code that provide Tribal governments with information on keeping food local, improving food access, and resolving food systems supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Policy placement: American Public Human Services Association
Joel worked with the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA), a bipartisan national membership association representing state and local health and human services agencies and the subject matter experts that help execute their mission to improve outcomes for people nationwide. In this role, he supported APHSA's facilitation of "Coordinating SNAP and Nutrition Supports to Reduce Child Hunger"—a grant program sponsored by Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign—by documenting efforts in six states to combat child hunger via improved SNAP agency innovation and interagency coordination. As part of this work, Joel facilitated focus groups with human services administrators from each state and developed case studies about their projects for dissemination to APHSA and Share Our Strength's key stakeholders and partners in nutrition and anti-hunger spaces.