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Alumni & FriendsA smiling Emily Drennen stands in front of a colorful mural featuring a busy street and pedestrians at a sidewalk running along side it.

 

Right of Way

For Emily Drennen (M.P.A., '04), news of any pedestrian death in San Francisco is difficult to hear. The fatalities, 14 just last year, could have been avoided, she says. "That's what fuels the work I do."

As executive director of Walk SF, a pedestrian advocacy group, Drennen secures funding for crosswalk improvements, educates the public on road safety and encourages traffic enforcement. She's found an ally in San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong (B.A., '82; M.A., '88), who has overseen "ped stings," collaborations with Walk SF that cite drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.

The work requires an intricate knowledge of government policy, much of which Drennen learned as an intern at San Francisco City Hall, where she worked closely with Supervisor Tom Ammiano (M.A., '65). He recommended her for the Master of Public Administration Program at SF State.

Drennen stood out as "extremely bright, articulate, thoughtful," Assistant Professor Corey Cook says.

Her master's project, which proved that bicycle lanes had a positive effect on small businesses in the city, won the 2004 California State University Student Research Competition. Professor Genie Stowers, director of the public administration program, describes it as "a high-quality, very useful research project that was a great example of the kind of balance between theory and practice that our program tries to do."

Drennen plans to run for a position on the BART Board of Directors in the fall.

-- Lisa Rau

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