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Meridian Institute

Meridian Institute Ruckelshaus Fellowship


From left to right: Fellows Cassidy Gasteiger, Annika Freudenberger, Lena Octavio, Isabella Soparkar, Kiera Givens, and Fellowship Program Director Barbara Stinson. 

Description of the Meridian Fellowship

Since 2011, the Meridian Fellowship Program has provided opportunities for recent college graduates to work on varied and highly complex public policy issues, learn about the field of multi-party collaborative problem solving, and engage with leaders from a variety of sectors and interest groups. As part of the two-year position, Fellows work in an active, exciting, and dynamic professional environment that enhances their ability to think critically about complex issues and analyze participant interests and process dynamics,  identify and learn to respond appropriately to concerns and problems that can arise in complex and challenging collaborative processes, actively manage numerous tasks toward the final completion of a project, and improve their writing, research, and communication skills.


Current Fellows

Kiera Givens, 2017 Meridian Fellow

Isabella Soparkar, 2017 Meridian Fellow

Marielena Octavio, 2017 Meridian Fellow

Annika Freudenberger, 2018 Meridian Fellow

Cassidy Gasteiger, 2018 Meridian Fellow


After Meridian

Fellows go on to a variety of graduate schools and careers upon completing the fellowship. Below is a list of examples to provide a sense of opportunities after Meridian:

Many fellows apply for graduate school during the second year of their fellowship.
Examples include:

  • Master of Environmental Management, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
  • Master of Public Administration, University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Governance
  • Master of Science in Water Resources Policy and Management and Water Conflict Management and Transformation Graduate Certificate, Oregon State University,
  • JD Candidate, University of Denver, Sturm College of Law
  • Master in City Planning, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT

Fellows also pursue careers in the non-profit, foundation and government sectors:

  • Coastal Resilience Specialist, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Coastal Program
  • Programs and Grants Manager, El-Hibri Foundation
  • Fellow, Senate Agriculture Committee
  • Policy Analyst, National Young Farmers Coalition 

Former Fellow Spotlight

Justin Hencecroth
Luce Scholarship and Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, Risk and Resilience

Fellows Spotlight: Justin Hencecroth - An urban resilience shared vision planning workshop in Udon Thani.

Caption: An urban resilience shared vision planning workshop in Udon Thani that utilized multi-sector modeling tools developed by the US Army Corps of Engineers to support multi-sector dialogue and planning.

“After I finished the Meridian Fellowship, I was awarded a Luce Scholarship to work with a local NGO on urban climate resilience projects in Bangkok, Thailand on urban climate resilience projects. Our projects worked with cities throughout Southeast Asia to identify key vulnerabilities that emerge at the intersection of urbanization and climate change. Throughout my work, I benefited in so many ways from the skills I gained at Meridian. Certainly, the ways that Meridian taught me to understand interdisciplinary challenges and to foster collaboration across sectors was critical to helping urban areas pursue successful resilience building efforts. However, perhaps the skills that proved most valuable to my time in Asia were the ways that Meridian taught me to listen, understand, and empathize with people from different walks of life. After three years in Bangkok, I have moved onto new challenges. I returned to the US to study Risk and Resilience at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and I am currently leading a start-up in Kathmandu, Nepal to develop a new platform to use mobile technologies and remote monitoring to ensure quality in disaster reconstruction.”