As we transition from summer internships to fall courses, Matt and Bridget, this year’s FLSN Engagement Chairs, want to welcome you back to school and to our FLSN community. 

Law School Finals GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

We also would like to share a few changes to the Network. Last year, the FLSN board voted to change the structure of our leadership: combining the Student Organizations Chair positions with the Projects Chairs into new Engagement Chair roles. We also created four Regional Representative positions, with the goal of having the Network facilitate more community-based relationships among law students interested in food & agriculture. 

We’re excited about the changes and are looking forward to getting to know our food law community better this year. Along those lines, we wanted to introduce ourselves, the new positions and our goals for the upcoming year. 

Engagement Chairs

As Engagement Chairs, Matt and Bridget are focused on creating connections between students, professors and professionals interested in food law, while inspiring law students to get involved in the larger food community. We’ll be planning a variety of ways to engage with the Network–from virtual lectures and conversations to programs and ongoing initiatives that you can volunteer to be a part of. We hope that through these events, we can continue to grow the food law community and elevate law students’ voices in national food law and policy conversations. 

Freedom Grow GIF by ADWEEK - Find & Share on GIPHY

Matt Watson

Matt is currently a 3L at Pace University, where he is a member of the Pace Food and Beverage Law Clinic. Prior to law school, Matt worked as a digital marketer for food & food-tech start-up businesses in Boston, MA. During that time, he spent a year helping one of the world’s largest vertical farming companies develop its branding, which got him interested in the regulatory state that cutting-edge food businesses must navigate. This ultimately led him to pursue a legal education to engage with food law and policy matters. As one of FLSN’s Engagement Co-Chairs, Matt wants to expand opportunities for law students to get involved with substantive, actionable projects and dialogue within the national food law landscape. This focus will build on the Network’s ability to offer valuable support to leading food-policy organizations and university programs, as well as further legitimize the Network’s own platform in this space.

Bridget Eklund

Prior to law school, Bridget served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia, working with smallholder farmers to diversify crops, increase climate resiliency and improve food security. Bridget also volunteered at community gardens while working in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her passion for international development and sustainable agriculture led her to law school, where she is focusing on legal aspects of sustainable food systems, equitable management of land, and climate change. At Duke, Bridget is the founder and president of the Food Law Society. She also conducts research concerning policies and funding mechanisms to promote regenerative grazing practices in North Carolina. Bridget aspires to use her law degree to advance systemic change in agricultural systems and develop resilient communities, both domestically and abroad. As a FLSN board member, Bridget hopes to provide opportunities for students to connect with professionals, faculty, and other students interested in food and agriculture law.

Regional Representatives

Our four regional representatives will be supporting us to facilitate those goals and connect with law students on a more interpersonal level. Each representative is the liaison for a specific region. They’ll be helping us with outreach and connecting students to food law opportunities. 

Caitlion O’Neill 

Caitlion is the FLSN Regional Representative for the South. They are currently a 2L at Loyola New Orleans College of Law. Caitlion worked in food and hospitality for 10 years before law school (rising from dishwasher to chef to restaurant consultant), eventually starting Louisiana’s first vegan cheese company V I R I D I A (which just began online sales! Their curated plant-based charcuterie ships nationally). They volunteered as a worker on small, family-owned organic farms in Japan and Europe through the WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) program and hosted WWOOFers from around the world here in New Orleans. After seeing that their own personal advocacy had a limited spread, Caitlion decided to attend law school to amplify unheard voices and have access to policy decision making. In law school, Caitlion is the president of the Environmental Law Society and is active with the National Lawyers Guild, Lambda (LGBTQ+ Law Society), and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Caitlion enjoys working to make the law a vehicle of social change and is grateful that their law school has a focus on social justice. Their summer internship with the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy has them producing several podcasts on climate justice and the Green New Deal for the South. As a future attorney, Caitlion is deeply committed to honoring the people and places of their home, the Gulf Coast. As the Southern rep for FLSN, Caitlion hopes to use their passion and experiences in food and farming to bring a pragmatic voice to the food law/policy discussion. Pre-pandemic, Caitlion enjoyed hosting friends for dinner parties, yoga classes, New Orleans’ neighborhood bar scene, and international travel. Nowadays, they’re reading back issues of Mother Earth News, looking for land in the Cajun Country, and spending time with their partner and rescue cat, Snorlene.

Courtney Gately

Courtney is the FLSN Regional Representative for the West. She is currently attending Texas A&M University School of Law. Before law school, she received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from Kansas State University and a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management from Northeastern University. She spent the majority of her short career in nonprofit management working with organizations whose missions focused on education, economic self-sufficiency, and supporting post 9/11 combat wounded service members. At law school, Courtney is a research assistant with work focusing on water quantity, water infrastructure, and freshwater alternatives. Her personal research interests include the relationship between agricultural and environmental issues. Additionally, She is the president of the ENRG student organization which has a broad focus on environmental, energy, and natural resources law. In addition to her passion for the intersection between food, agricultural, and environmental law, Courtney hopes to bring her experience in community-based organizations and board service to help increase engagement and awareness of FLSN. 

Sabrina Bey

Sabrina is the FLSN Regional Representative for the East. She currently attends the Howard University School of Law. Her interest in food law began after witnessing first-hand the dangers of unsafe food. As a child, Sabrina had an unfortunate incident eating at a fast-food restaurant and then spending a week in the hospital with E.coli. Sabrina often wonders what could have been done to prevent other children, like herself, from contracting dangerous foodborne illnesses. While in law school, Sabrina had the opportunity to work in the food law group at a big law firm. Her areas of interest in food law grew as she learned more about food safety, labeling issues, and FDA regulations. As a regional representative, Sabrina hopes to build a bigger network with other food law interests and get more students interested in the food law practice.

Hammons Hepner

Hammons is the FLSN Regional Representative for the Midwest. He is a student at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Hammons grew up as the fifth-generation of a family farm in Freedom, Oklahoma. He graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in agricultural economics and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in finance, along with a leadership minor. Prior to law school, Hammons worked in government affairs with a lobbying principal, where he advocated for agriculture, energy, water, and non-profit interests during the 2018 Regular Session in Oklahoma. Hammons has clerked for Gungoll, Jackson, Box & Devoll P.C. in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Office of the Attorney General. Hammons currently interns with Sharp Law LLP of Prairie Village, Kansas and is a Research Fellow for the National Agricultural Law Center. Hammons is a co-founder, and current president, of OU Law’s Agricultural Law Association, and is an active member of the American Agricultural Law Association, the Oklahoma State University Alumni Association, and the Sirloin Club of Oklahoma.

We encourage any interested students to reach out to us throughout the year! We’d love to be a resource for anyone who’d like to get more involved in the food law community. As the fall semester begins, we’ll be holding virtual “Get to Know Your Regional Rep” events for each respective region. Stay tuned for more details. In the meantime, feel free to contact Bridget, Matt or any of the Regional Reps for more details, ways to get involved, or just to chat about all things food-related!

Parks And Recreation Talk GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY