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Emerson Fellow

Hayleigh Rockenback

29th Class, 2022-2023

Hayleigh is a recent graduate of the University of Notre Dame where she majored in Sociology and minored in both public policy and Italian. During her time at Notre Dame, Hayleigh was a student affiliate at the Klau Center for Civil and Human Rights and a member of the Alpha Kappa Delta Sociology Honors Society. Her interest in sustainability and public policy also led her to write her senior capstone, a policy memo on water conservation in Arizona. Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Hayleigh’s passion for social justice stemmed from her culturally diverse upbringing and lived experience, leading her to a summer of service work in Camden, New Jersey. Her experience working at a nonprofit dedicated to environmental transformation through sustainability in food insecure neighborhoods, as well as her commitment to those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction ultimately became the catalyst for her dedication to breaking the cycle of injustice in the United States. Following the Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship, Hayleigh hopes to advocate for those on the margins and create meaningful change throughout the world.

Field placement: Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council

Field placement: South Shore Community Action Council

Plymouth and Quincy, Massachusetts

Hayleigh is working with the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council and the South Shore Community Action Council on the intersection between adults with developmental disabilities and nutrition. She began the needs assessment process by interviewing a variety of community stakeholders to determine the various gaps to accessing healthy food options for disabled people within the south shore of Massachusetts. Through this process she zeroed in on how group home services for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities balance the mission of independence and nutrition in 24/7 residential services. Hayleigh's work looks at the cause and effect of policies that perpetuate these practices and ways in which state agencies can improve.

Policy placement: National Conference of State Legislatures

Washington, D.C.

Hayleigh Rockenback is working with the National Conference of State Legislatures on bipartisan nutrition and food insecurity policy objectives. Through completing research requests for state legislators and NCSL members, Hayleigh is actively working to inform states on the most recent pending and enacted legislation in an effort to reduce hunger. In addition, Hayleigh is completing online content for NCSL regarding federal hunger relief programs across the United States.

Publications & Blog Posts