Life takes you on unexpected journeys. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in biology and research experience in plant genetics, I spent time abroad in Finland and Cost Rica before pursuing an M.Sc. in natural resource management and environmental studies at the University of British Columbia. Research on microchip manufacturing and water pollution policy in Taiwan completed for the M.Sc. pushed me to pursue a J.D. and LL.M. in Asian and comparative law at the University of Washington. A generous fellowship from the Blakemore and Freeman Foundations funded Chinese language study at Tsinghua University in Beijing and enabled me to conduct research on historical development of water law in China. I then spent a few years in private practice in water law and municipal law before becoming an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. I now teach courses in global water issues, environmental law, natural resource law, and business law.
I have called the Finger Lakes region of New York home since 2008. Like many rural regions, communities here are in an ongoing quest to strike a balance between promoting an economy based on tourism and services versus one based on industrial development such as gas storage and solid waste landfills. Their success often depends on innovative creation and implementation of local laws and coordination of state, local, and regional initiatives. My current research interests include changes in water resource law in response to pressures on water resources from competing uses, and the impact of access to data and technical expertise on municipal land use and natural resource management decision-making processes.
I am also passionate about promoting science education. For over two decades I have been involved with the National Youth Science Foundation (NYSF), a nonprofit headquartered in Charleston, West Virginia. The NYSF connects high-achieving high school students from the United States and abroad with world-class scientists in a month-long residential program, and provides enrichment programming for West Virginia junior high school students.
I expect editing State & Local Law News will bring together many of the interests I have nurtured over the years, and look forward to playing a more active role in this Section of the ABA.
I became involved with the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law in 2015 when I joined the faculty of the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Law. I teach courses in property, real estate transactions, and housing law. Along with my position on the faculty, I also became the associate editor of The Urban Lawyer, the scholarly journal published quarterly by the Section.
I remember having an interest in urban issues as early as middle school. I grew up in New Orleans—a city that is steeped in history and that is fiercely proud of its culture. That culture is expressed, through music, dance and food, but also through the city’s unique architecture and public spaces. This aspect of the city’s culture is so important that it is taught as part of the middle school curriculum. These early lessons about our architectural heritage and historic preservation eventually led me to an interest in other aspects of urban development. By the time I was a senior in college at Harvard, I had coupled this interest with my interest in African American history. As a result, I decided to write my senior honors thesis on my city and the free women of color whose early real property ownership helped to shape the landscape of New Orleans. I have maintained an interest in this issue and recently had the opportunity to revisit it while writing about New Orleans’s post-Katrina rebuilding and the preservation of the city’s African American culture via the strengthening of historic preservation laws.
My involvement with the Section has been instrumental in the exploration of another of my interests: the sharing economy. Recently, the Section formed a Sharing Economy Committee, and I am honored to serve as one of its founding members. I have written extensively about the short-term rental (STR) segment of the sharing economy and have provided commentary about the legal issues surrounding discrimination on STR platforms to media outlets, including the New York Times, the Guardian, and Al Jazeera.
Along with my fellow Sharing Economy Committee member Professor Stephen Miller of the University of Idaho School of Law, I am the co-author of The State & Local Government Sharing Economy Manual: Strategies for Regulating and Managing On-Demand Services (ABA 2017) (forthcoming). This book will be the “go to” guide to understanding what the sharing economy means for state and local government officials and professionals. The book treats important emerging trends in the sharing economy, such as how to address discrimination and disabilities. I look forward to highlighting and previewing some of these issues in upcoming editions of State & Local Law News.