Zach Ruppel

#LwC2021 Fellow

What is your current work?

My work within criminal justice reform takes shape for me in my roles as a policy and data analyst both for Franklin County, Ohio and for several grassroots advocacy groups. Both of these roles allow me to examine current and proposed policies, consider intended and unintended consequences, and craft values-based narratives (VPSA!) to help shape outcomes.

Biggest Accomplishment and Challenge of 2021:

This last year has brought a number of new opportunities and considerations with it. Earlier this year I was released early from post-release control which has greatly allowed me to “spread my wings” and explore new career options in addition to moving beyond the hypervigilance and trauma responses that come with any form of community supervision. Additionally, I was INCREDIBLY grateful to become a recent graduate of Leading with Conviction’s 2021 Cohort! There’s a reason our cohort’s year ends with #1 😉

The continued challenge with all of these blessings, however, is a fair amount of imposter syndrome and the need to continue ensuring I work on self-care as hard as I work on public policy and reform. As a dear friend and mentor reminds me frequently, I have to “put my own oxygen mask on first” before I can be of any use to a cause.

What have you gained from your LwC training:

Leading with Conviction gave me an opportunity to think critically about how and why I lead. As someone who prides himself on being analytical and a critical thinker, it is sometimes easy to lose the “why” and “how” in the midst of focusing on the other larger questions. Leadership elements like encouraging the heart and inspiring a shared vision are equally critical to a well-rounded approach to leadership and putting a greater focus on those approaches has been incredibly helpful to increasing effectiveness and a creating a more sincere connection among any team of which I am a part.

Additionally, LwC connected me with members of an incredible society who share common passion and purpose for equity and reform. Being able to work hand in hand with these individuals has not only helped me to develop in my career as a policy professional, but also has impacted me personally and encouraged MY heart that I belong, I am enough, and my voice matters. The work is tough, the journey is long, but every day, the fight goes on!

Any final message to the JLUSA community?

I am sincerely grateful to be a part of this family and look forward to serving with you in more direct ways in the coming year. JLUSA Rocks!