The Next Generation in Environmental Justice: Meet the Inaugural Glennon Scholar

April 19, 2022

In a year of firsts, Taylor Macy was also the first to be awarded the Professor Robert Glennon Endowed Scholarship.

Taylor Macy had never considered law school. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental and Plant Biology, she pursued roles focused on community building and environmental issues. It wasn’t until she took a position at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that she learned more about the law’s influence on land use regulations, a series of rules governing land development that can have a significant impact on air and water quality as well as public health.  

“During a lot of those conversations, I saw how the law was one of the more effective ways to create change and to give power back to the community. That's when I started looking into law school,” explains Macy.  

Macy is now on the verge of finishing her first year at University of Arizona Law, where her passion for environmental advocacy continues to inform her professional goals. Among the other firsts she has experienced this year, Macy was also the first to be awarded the Professor Robert Glennon Endowed Scholarship, named for Robert Glennon, Regents Professor Emeritus and Morris K. Udall Professor of Law & Public Policy. The scholarship was created by Glennon and his wife Hon. Karen Adam (’76) Superior Court Judge (Ret.), as a final act of service before he retired in 2021 after 36 years at Arizona

“Karen and I created this scholarship to help a prospective student choose to become a lawyer and to attend University of Arizona Law,” says Glennon. “University of Arizona Law occupies a very unusual position in American legal education. It’s a small school that has the benefits of students who are bright, curious, friendly, and diverse; of faculty who are top scholars, gifted teachers, accessible and collegial; of a university that is world class; and of supportive legal and court communities that welcome law students.”

One of the nation's preeminent experts on water policy and law, Glennon has served as an advisor to governments, corporations, and NGOs looking to solve serious challenges around water sustainability and planning. He is the author of the books “Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do About It” and “Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America’s Fresh Waters.”

“Professor Glennon is such a monumental figure,” says Macy. “I’m honored to have been selected for this scholarship and encouraged to pursue more environmental law opportunities over the next two years at University Arizona Law.”

Motivated to Do More

Macy is a fitting first recipient of an award with such a prolific environmental advocate as its namesake. An Ohio native, she grew up spending much of her time outdoors. It was there she began noticing the environmental issues affecting the areas around her. At her local lake, algae blooms caused by runoff from industrial farming were frequent, and in her college town in Southeast Ohio, surface mining had deep economic and ecological impacts on the residents. For members of certain communities, the damage seemed inevitable and the consequences inescapable, a sentiment that motivated Macy to do more.

Following her undergraduate education, she joined the Peace Corps, where she was an urban agriculture specialist designing seminars on climate change and working with farmers in Senegal on ways to adapt to new environmental conditions. From there she got a position with the EPA and assisted as a tribal and environmental justice coordinator, eventually helping to analyze the impact of power plants on nearby communities. 

The Future of the Legal Profession

In her short time at University of Arizona Law, Macy has volunteered with several organizations including the National Lawyers Guild, where she assisted with marijuana expungement clinics and planned events for the Week Against Mass Incarceration. Most recently she was elected as president of the Environmental Law Society and has already begun brainstorming ideas for fall programming. 

Through the JD program, Macy has been able to marry her interest in the environment with her passion for community advocacy, and she credits her previous experiences with helping to prepare and inform her time in law school. For Glennon and Adam, to support students like Macy is to support the next generation of environmental advocates. 

“It is very satisfying to see Taylor Macy become the first Glennon Scholar,” says Glennon. “Ms. Macy’s commitment to social and environmental justice gives us confidence about the future of the legal profession.”