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2020 Ohio Public Interest Environmental Justice Writing Competition Articles

The OEC Law Center is proud to present the work of our finalists to the inaugural Environmental Justice Writing Competition. Chris Tavenor, our Staff Attorney, worked closely with the students to finalize their papers. You can now read them all!

Read the articles!

Let’s Meet Our Authors

Marissa Lazaroff
Author of “The Crossroads of Environmental Racism and Public Housing”

Marissa Lazaroff is a Master of Science candidate at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, concentrating in Environmental Policy and Planning. For her master’s research, Marissa and her research team are consulting with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to study the climate smart agricultural transition in the Kavango and Zambezi regions of Namibia. Marissa has also conducted research with the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility on nature-based solutions and payments for ecosystem services. Additionally, she is a graduate student instructor for a graduate level course on American environmental policy, politics and organizations.

Prior to graduate school, Marissa was an intern and team coordinator for the Environmental Protection Agency Region 1 Integrated Chemical Management team and a senior intern at the Ohio Environmental Council. Marissa holds a certification in Permaculture Design from The Center for Creative Ecology at Kibbutz Lotan and a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Brandeis University.

Marissa received the grand prize for the writing competition, a $750 scholarship. You can listen to her present her work here:


Juliana Discher
Author of “Environmental Injustice Leads to Disproportionate Number of COVID-19 cases in Black Ohioans”

Juliana Discher is a senior at the Ohio State University, studying political science and Spanish. Previously, she has interned at the Ohio Environmental Council, for a nonprofit called the iBELIEVE Foundation, and at the Ohio Statehouse in the Senate Democratic Caucus. On Ohio State’s campus, she works as a Resident Advisor where she supports first year residents and as a University Ambassador where she leads 90 minute walking tours to prospective students. In her free time, Juliana enjoys volunteering for the Ohio Association of Student Leaders which aims to foster leadership skills in high school students. She also enjoys hiking, playing soccer, and advocating for the environment. After she graduates from OSU in December 2020, she will be joining AmeriCorps to work with students at Columbus City Schools.

Juliana received the runner-up prize for the writing competition, a $250 scholarship. You can listen to her present her work here:

Youngjo “John” Lee
Author of “Ohioan Solutions to the Climate Crisis”

Youngjo “John” Lee is a second-year law student at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. As of November 2020, he is currently working as a Grassbaugh Veterans Project Fellow and a Non-voting Member of the Real Property Law Section Council at Ohio State Bar Association. Also, he is doing an Energy Policy Study supervised by Dean Lincoln L. Davies. John worked as a legal intern of the Ohio Environmental Council, a U.S. Bureau Correspondent for Korea Energy Agency’s New & Renewable Energy Center, and a Published Reporter for Korea Racing Authority.

John’s honors and awards include winning several English essay contests and receiving an Honorary Mention in the first Ohio Public Interest Environmental Justice Writing Competition in 2020, the 2020 Real Property Law Student Scholarship of the Ohio State Bar Association’s Real Property Law Section, the Silver Prize in the 2013 Donghwa East Meets West International Essay Competition, a Division Commander’s Award for contribution to the local community and the Army Reserve training, full tuition merit-based scholarships for four years from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, and a Diversity Enrichment Scholarship from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law for three years. John is a published author of the 2016 edition of the University of Delaware English Language Institute’s Anthology of Student Writing.

John holds a B.A. with Highest Honors in English Literature and Translation from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. He has a wealth of experience in fire service, military service, and working for South Korean companies.

Matthew Kline
Author of “Bribing Injustice”

Matt Kline is a third-year law student at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Originally from Orrville, Ohio; Matt grew up in a rural setting before graduating from Miami University (OH) in the spring of 2018 with a degree in Political Science & History. In addition to his law school studies, Matt is a non-voting board member with the Ohio Energy Project, a member of the Bodega Running Club, and a graduate advisor with OSU’s alternative break program Buck-I-SERV. In his free time Matt enjoys working out, cooking, and keeping up to date with the latest political news.

We’re incredibly proud of the work of these four students, and we will watch their future careers with great interest. Please dive into their words and consider their thoughtful analysis of the environmental injustices facing Ohio.

Read the articles!

Interested in the work of the OEC Law Center, its annual Ohio Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, and future renditions of the Environmental Justice Writing Competition? Join our mailing list to receive updates!