New Adviser and Program Assistant join LSJ department

In the last month, two people have joined the staff of Law, Societies, and Justice: Alyssa Penner as adviser, and Elizabeth Martin, who will fill the role of program assistant.

Penner is a soon-to-be graduate of the University of Washington’s Master’s in Social Work program. She previously worked at a Seattle nonprofit focused on foster children. While completing her MSW, she worked in Student Life and the Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct. Along with her graduate internship at the Center for Experiential Learning in Mary Gates, she brings a lot of advising experience to the table.

“I did advising, but neither [of my positions] was expressly academically focused,” Penner said. “While I enjoyed them, I found the moments when I was most fulfilled and excited were when I was talking with students about their academics and how those pieces all fit together.”

For her, the LSJ adviser position is a great opportunity; it allows for her to be in a program that fit her values. She is interested in social justice, human rights and equity, so being able to talk to students about practicing those values—and more—professionally and personally is something to which she looks forward.

In her short weeks at the program so far, she has already met with several students.

“I think the intellectual curiosity in LSJ students was one of the reasons why I was attracted to the position. They’re very curious, not just with learning about theories in the classroom, but also about how they can apply those theories for social change within the community and writ large,” she said.

Penner encourages students to think outside of their comfort zone and to expand their horizons. “You’re ultimately going to learn more about your strengths, your skills and even your weaknesses if you try something new,” she said.

Penner steps into an existing position, replacing Mark Weitzenkamp, who is now an adviser in the Department of Political Science. Elizabeth Martin, by contrast, is filling a brand new position as program assistant. Her responsibilities will include alumni outreach, data management, event planning and other forms of program support.

Martin comes to LSJ from a position at the school of nursing. She is eager to start her new job.

“I was really drawn to the program,” Martin said when asked how she came into her position. “I have a brother and sister-in-law who are in law, and the idea of finding the underdog or finding a cause that you can represent and give voice to is really appealing to me.”

At the school of nursing, Martin did a variety of web work. Coming to LSJ, she’s excited to work on a different website and increase her skill set. Since she did some graphic and design work for websites in the past, she is happy to be able to revisit those areas.

But it’s not only the program and website that excite her.

“The position seems like it has a variety of people-oriented things and events. There’s student interaction and professor interaction, along with more cerebral desk work and data. I like that it is a mix,” Martin said.

For LSJ Director Steve Herbert, the new staff members bring a welcome level of invigorating energy to the program.

“While it is always hard to see valued staff leave for new opportunities, it is nice to have a chance to rejuvenate the program with new individuals with new ideas and a high level of enthusiasm,” he said. “It is particularly welcome to have an expanded staff, because this will enable the program to accommodate growth and change more easily.”

If you can, drop by the advising office in Gowen to give Alyssa Penner a warm welcome. Although Elizabeth Martin does not yet have an official office space, be sure to keep an eye out for when she does so you can meet her, as well. Both would love to put faces to names in the LSJ program and expand your opportunities for the best experience you can get in LSJ.


This article was composed by Kristine Kim.