Each year, City & State identifies 40 members of the next generation—all under the age of 40—who are already leaders in elected office and in state offices, in labor and in business, in advocacy and in academia, in government affairs, and in journalism.
As a child, Jordan Lesser spent a lot of time in Europe with his professor father, inspiring his love of history. After graduating from Cornell University with a degree in medieval history, Lesser combined that love with his passion for the environment and became a park ranger at a national park before attending law school. “It was great to go and educate visitors and educate the public about concerns we were seeing,” Lesser said. “Anything from water rights issues out West and impending droughts.”
Lesser felt that by attending law school and focusing on environmental law, he could do even more, make a difference through policy. “You really have a hand in developing direct bill language,” Lesser said. “You don’t need to necessarily operate as an advocate and be out there trying to convince someone of your idea.”
For Lesser, this has allowed him to tackle issues close to home like hydraulic fracturing and climate change initiatives. But he has also been able to broaden his reach to international environmental law. “That all comes about as a result of people having an interest in the legislative process in New York . . . and the flexibility to pursue your own initiatives off-session.”
Those initiatives include co-chairing the International Law Committee and chairing the Water Law Subcommittee at the American Bar Association Section of State & Local Government Law as well as being involved with the New Leaders Council in Albany.