PUBLISHED:October 22, 2021

Okoh '09 receives award from American Public Health Association


Michele Okoh, a senior lecturing fellow in the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, was recognized by the APHA Environment Section as an "emerging leader from environmental health."

Michele Okoh '09 Michele Okoh '09

Michele Okoh ’09, a senior lecturing fellow in the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, has won the Rebecca A. Head Award from the Environment section of the American Public Health Association.

Okoh will be the sixth recipient of the award, which “recognizes an outstanding emerging leader from environmental health working at the nexus of science, policy, and environmental justice.” It was presented at a luncheon on Oct. 25 during the group’s annual meeting.

“I supervised Michele’s student work in our clinic more than a decade ago and followed her career after graduation from Duke Law,” said Clinical Professor Ryke Longest, the clinic's co-director and director of clinical programs. “As a fellow, Michele has led litigation teams and engaged environmental health issues with dedication and solid commitment to her students and clients. This honor recognizes her interdisciplinary work between public health and environmental justice. I am very proud we have been able to have her work as a fellow here.”

Added Clinical Professor Michelle Nowlin JD/MA '92, co-director of the clinic: “Michele has shown incredible drive and leadership in making links between environmental exposures and adverse health outcomes.  We’re excited for her to receive this recognition.”

Okoh’s work focuses primarily on environmental justice, administrative law, and public health law. In the clinic, she supervises students on environmental law cases and teaches sessions on environmental justice and administrative law. She has also taught a readings course on environmental justice that is open to all law students and has served as a pro bono project supervisor and Public Interest and Public Service Certificate mentor.

Prior to joining the clinic in 2019, Okoh practiced disability law and also served as a defense attorney. She was previously a prosecutor and attorney with the N.C. Department of Justice and a fellow with the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Businesses and Entrepreneurship. She serves as the section councilor for the APHA Environment section and is on the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources Section Council for the North Carolina Bar Association.

Okoh is a graduate of Duke Law School and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She will receive a master’s degree in public health from George Washington University in December.


Andrew Park is associate dean for communications, marketing, and events at Duke Law School. Reach him at