Becky D. Rafter

Ph.D. Student

Member Of:
  • School of Public Policy
Office Location: Coda S1289, CULC 457
Office Hours: M/F (coda), T/W/R (culc)
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Becky D. Rafter is a Ph.D. student studying energy and environmental policy. She specializes in policy theory and policy processes related to nuclear energy, energy equity, energy efficiency, environment justice, the rural/urban divide, the U.S. and global south, severe weather impacts, and nuclear harm reduction. As a researcher, she uses advanced mixed methodologies, works with cross-disciplinary teams, and follows the lead of communities directly affected by systemic and historic policy discrimination. As a graduate student instructor, she follows evidence-based practices of learner-centered teaching to help students develop their own analyses and move quickly to mastery. Becky is affiliated with several labs and projects across the Institute, including the Data Science and Policy Lab under Dr. Omar I. Asensio; the Social Equity and Environmental Engineering Lab, under Dr. Joe Bozeman; the Center for Teaching and Learning, under Dr. Tammy McCoy; and the Provost’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, under Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Steve McLaughlin.

She is a seasoned nonprofit leader with demonstrated success in advancing equity, co-designing community-based research, working across political divides, and amassing and mobilizing resources. As the executive director of Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions (Georgia WAND), she designed and executed a Just Leadership Transition to ensure the organization be 100% led and staffed by people living in communities directly affected by the racial, economic, systemic violence, and nuclear injustices addressed by the organization. She is a member of the 2017-2018 cohort of Rockwood’s Leading from the Inside Out yearlong leadership program.

In 2017, Becky was honored as a local clean energy “superhero” by Mark Ruffalo and the Solutions Project for advancing community-driven solutions to nuclear contamination. During her tenure, Georgia WAND received the 2017 Smith W. Bagley Advocacy Award from the Sapelo Foundation; the League of Women Voters of Georgia 2016 Empowerment Award for work at the intersection of environmental justice and nuclear harm reduction; and the 2014 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Environmental Justice Award by Ben Hill United Methodist Church. Before stepping back, Becky served on the executive committees of Partnership for Southern Equity’s Just Energy Circle (JEC) and the design team of Advancing Equity and Opportunity in the U.S. South (AEO). She brought Georgia WAND into coalition with and leadership in the U.S. Climate Action Network, the Southern Climate and Environmental Network, the Southern Movement Alliance, and the NPU-V Community Coalition. She also served as a board member of ProGeorgia and as an elected member of Southern Partners Fund, which provides diverse opportunities for donors to give to support social justice organizing in the rural South.

Additionally, Becky worked in social justice philanthropy at the Funding Exchange in New York City and the Fund for Southern Communities in Atlanta, where she raised funds, ran grant programs, and organized donors and foundations to invest more resources in community-led, grassroots organizations in the South. During graduate school, she worked at NYU Wagner’s Research Center for Leadership in Action, using innovative research methodologies to illuminate the specific leadership practices that social justice organizations use to build leadership capital and create social change. Earlier in her career, as Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Georgia (c3, c4, and PAC), she worked to advance reproductive justice strategies; advocate for reproductive health policy; and elect candidates friendly to a broad range of community health, centered around women’s bodily autonomy.

Prior to beginning the SPP Ph.D. program at GA Tech, she received an MPA in International Policy and Nonprofit Management from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, a Masters in Sustainable Energy and Environmental Management (MSEEM) from GA Tech, and a BA in International Relations and Spanish from Agnes Scott College. As part of Agnes Scott’s Global Awareness Program, she conducted research in Ghana, West Africa, looking at the effects of Structural Adjustment Programs on women's health and education. More recently, in 2017, she traveled to Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, as part of the U.S. Department of State’s YSEALI executive leadership exchange program. She recently took up gardening and serves on the landscape committee in her co-housing community in Decatur, GA.

Faculty Advisor:
Juan Rogers
  • MPA, International Policy and Nonprofit Management
  • MS, Sustainable Energy and Environmental Management
  • BA, International Relations and Spanish


  • PUBP-4211: Urban Policy
  • PUBP-6606: Urban Development Policy