Now living in Santa Cruz, California, Kelly Damewood is pursuing her passion for sustainable agriculture as the Policy Director for California Certified Organic Farmers.
Kelly Damewood has been working for several years to support sustainable farming. After she graduated from the University of Portland, she ran a small, organic farm on Sauvie’s Island, which inspired her to enter law school. She realized that to truly support a sustainable agricultural system in the U.S., farmers need policy and legal support. Since she knew that Crag was working on important cases for the Pacific Northwest, including some agriculture-related cases, she became an intern at Crag in 2012 where she worked on several projects on the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Interning with Crag helped Kelly focus her interests and challenged her to recognize her strengths and weaknesses. The most rewarding project for her was writing public comments on offshore oil drilling impacts on subsistence tribal communities in Alaska. It was incredibly rewarding to navigate lengthy NEPA documents and submit concise, meaningful comments on behalf of this community. For Kelly, public comments are an opportunity to educate public officials, tell a story, and make positive recommendations.
Based on this experience, she started to think more about policy work rather than traditional legal work. Moreover, she worked on an agriculture case, and immediately recognized that she felt excited to think, talk, and write about the case more than any other project. That level of excitement made it clear to her that, within the larger context of environmental law, her career was destined for food and agriculture law and policy.
After finishing her JD degree at Vermont Law School, she wrote for Food Safety News and enrolled in an LLM program in Food and Agriculture Law and Policy at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She is admitted to practice law in Oregon; however, she lives and works in Santa Cruz, CA.
She is now the Policy Director for California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). CCOF is a nonprofit certification agency, advocacy organization, and charitable foundation. CCOF certifies and advocates on behalf of over 2900 certified organic operations throughout North America. A workday for Kelly could be writing a public comment on GMO regulations, fielding emails about water or compost regulations, attending a stakeholder meeting on California’s climate change cap and trade framework, hopping on a conference call with folks in D.C. to discuss Farm Bill programs, signing on a support letter for a bill passing through the California state legislature, calling a farmer-member about an invasive pest issue, planning for an upcoming focus group on organic transition, and editing a report on state organic regulations.
Kelly is all about getting outside, getting lost, and challenging herself to take on new adventures. On the weekends, she may head to the Redwoods, meet a friend at a brewery, upkeep her container garden, or cook an elaborate meal. She loves and misses Oregon, so she tries to go back as much as possible to see friends, visit Mount Hood and Gifford Pinchot National Forests, and eat at all her favorite spots. She loves Santa Cruz too, but it’s just no match for Portland brunches.
McKenna Ganz is a pre-law junior at Duke University. She interned with the Crag Law Center in the summer of 2015 as part of the DukeEngage Portland program. She is majoring in Global Culture, Media, and Political Conflict with minors in Economics and Global Health.