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2021 Fair Labor Association Fellows

Lena Hoppe
BA Public Policy; minor, German ‘22
Sustainable Food Procurement Internship

Fair Labor Association

“The DHRC/PACLSHR/FLA sustainable food procurement internship was an incredibly rewarding experience, through which I strengthened my knowledge of sustainability issues and food policy and

enhanced my research skills. I am deeply grateful for the funding and support provided by the Donia Human Rights Center (DHRC), the University of Michigan President's Advisory Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights (PACLSHR), and the Fair Labor Association (FLA). I am also thankful for the guidance provided by my supervisors Ravi Anupindi (Colonel William G. and Ann C. Svetlich Professor of Operations Research and Management at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and Chair of the PACLSHR), Steve Mangan (Senior Director of Michigan Dining), and Michiko Shima (Technical Director for Supply Chain Innovation and Agriculture at the Fair Labor Association).”

I began my internship by researching environmental and social sustainability issues within the food industry and familiarizing myself with various organizations making strides towards more sustainable and equitable food systems. This preliminary research laid the groundwork for the development of a survey on sustainable food procurement. With the support of my supervisors, I formulated and refined a list of survey questions, which were sent to roughly 300 contacts at over 180 different academic institutions. I then analyzed the responses and wrote a report detailing the findings of the survey. This project allowed me to apply the data analysis skills I learned through my coursework and helped me to strengthen my data collection, analysis, visualization, and reporting skills. 

I also assisted with projects for Michigan Dining. I appreciated having the opportunity to work in-person in Michigan Dining’s Office space and benefited from the support of Michigan Dining’s Director of Sustainability, Student, and Community Engagement Keith Soster. My work, which included reviewing a sustainability benchmarking tool, helping to revise RFP language, and generating research project ideas, provided me with an inside perspective of the process and barriers to advancing sustainability issues in school dining service programs.

The DHRC/PACLSHR/FLA internship ultimately solidified my interest in sustainability and food policy. Connecting with students, faculty, and staff within the U-M community, who are dedicated to addressing food and sustainability issues has inspired me to continue to pursue projects related to food and sustainability.”

Allison Kelly
Master of Social Work ‘22
Fair Compensation Program FLA Internship

Fair Labor Association

“This summer, I completed a virtual internship with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) in Washington, D.C. with support from the Donia Human Rights Center (DHRC) and the U-M President’s Advisory Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights (PACLSHR). This internship was a rewarding experience that complimented my learning in the Master’s of Social Work program, allowed me to explore the field of corporate social responsibility and fair labor, and expanded my research and evaluation skills. Even in the virtual setting, I was given a warm welcome by the FLA and felt like a  valued team member. I worked with the Fair Compensation team on a variety of projects related to measuring living wages in apparel factories. 

One of my main goals for this internship was to learn more about how organizations use data to support social justice efforts. At the FLA, I practiced working with data from all angles: collection, analysis, and reporting findings tailored to various audiences. For instance, I participated in a brainstorming session on how the FLA can collect data on equal pay for equal work at the factory level. This process showed me that creating a tool that can collect the right data, yet also be straightforward to use, is an intricate process that requires trial and error. Also, I learned about presenting analysis findings in purposeful ways for various audiences. Lastly, I gained a new perspective on social activism. The FLA was created largely as a response to fair labor activism. Continued outcry from the public for sustainability and fair labor pressures companies to push this work forward. Working with the FLA has made me feel more optimistic about the impact that activism can have.  

I am very thankful for the Donia Human Rights Center (DHRC) and the U-M President’s Advisory Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights (PACLSHR) for funding this 10-week internship. I’m also grateful for the FLA for their guidance, and for funding an additional 4 weeks so that I could continue working with them in August. I’m glad to have contributed to the FLA and I will take what I learned during this experience with me on the next steps in my MSW program and career development.”