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Morgan Gratz-Weiser BA’13 takes on vital role in the Governor’s office

by Linda Lenhoff,

Head shot of Morgan Gratz-Weiser

Last January, Morgan Gratz-Weiser BA’13 became the Deputy Legislative Director in the Office of Oregon Governor Tina Kotek. The former Environmental Science major plays an important role advancing legislation on her passions — climate and environmental policy — among other key issues affecting Oregonians.

In her role, Gratz-Weiser navigates the complex world of public policy and serves as a bridge between agencies and advocates. In other words, Gratz-Weiser says, her office gets pulled in “when conversations get to a sticky point.”

Although her new position is a step away from the direct environmental policy work she’d done as a natural resources and climate policy advisor for former Governor Kate Brown, “I’m still able to have a touch point with it on key budget and policy issues.” During the 2023 legislative session, the state legislature compiled a climate investment package, as well as a drought and water resource package.

Gratz-Weiser is thrilled to work for Governor Kotek. “She is one of the smartest and most capable, savvy people I’ve ever worked for,” she said.

It may be her concerns about the environment that connected Gratz-Weiser to Willamette, which she felt on her first visit to campus. “I could really feel a sense of community, which was important to me.” And once she began her studies here, she realized, “You’re going to have professors you connect with and you’re going to find kindred people.”

Gratz-Weiser especially appreciated how Professor Sammy Basu’s first-year colloquium class pushed her to think creatively. She also credits Professor Joe Bowersox for fostering her interest in environmental policy and the nexus of science, policy, and politics.

“I found the professors really willing to be there to help me learn new pathways for problem solving,” Gratz-Weiser said.

Coming out of Willamette, Gratz-Weiser began working with nonprofits on environmental policy. “I wanted to explore a range of issue areas, including water, biodiversity and forestry,” she said. Following these positions, she went on to earn a master’s in Environmental and Natural Resource Law. She also served on Willamette’s Alumni Board of Directors for six years.

Her advice for current students? Explore your options and stay open to opportunities.

“There’s so many different environmental issue areas that you can engage in,” she said. “And, there’s enough time and space and latitude to work in one area, and then transition and work in a different issue area. Just keep meeting people.”

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