Forum on Underserved Communities and the Regulatory Process




A multi-day, virtual forum in November 2021 addresses participation by underserved communities and their members in the administrative processes (including rulemaking and adjudication) by which agencies make regulatory policies. This forum addresses Executive Order 13985Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, which requires that federal agencies “pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all,” including communities “that have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.” Panels feature leading governmental policymakers, community advocates, and academic experts. 

Panel 1: Identifying Underserved Communities

A transcript of the event is available here.

November 3, 2021 – 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm ET

To implement Executive Order 13985, agencies must identify what communities may have been historically underserved in regulatory policymaking processes. Agencies also need reliable data and sound assessment tools to measure the degrees to which different communities are involved in and affected by particular regulatory policymaking processes. This panel explored best practices for identifying underserved communities and their representatives.


  • Danielle Y. Conley, Deputy Counsel to the President, Office of the White House Counsel

  • K. Sabeel Rahman, Senior Counsel to the Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

  • Lee Rainie, Director of Internet and Technology Research, Pew Research Center

  • William M. Yeatman, Research Fellow, Cato Institute


  • Adam J. White, Co-Executive Director, The C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State, George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School 

Panel 2: Sources of Reforms to Improve Engagement with Underserved Communities

A transcript of the event is available here.

November 8, 2021 – 1:00 pm to 2:15 pm ET

This panel compared different approaches for developing and implementing strategies for enabling underserved communities to more fully participate in regulatory policymaking processes. Panelists will consider the relative merits of a top-down approach, in which the White House manages reform efforts, and a more decentralized approach, in which agencies have greater discretion to develop and implement reform efforts. Potential roles for the Office of Management and Budget and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in implementing Executive Order 13985 will receive particular attention.


  • Cass R. Sunstein, Senior Counselor, Department of Homeland Security; Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard Law School; Former Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs


  • Boris Bershteyn, Partner, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP; Former General Counsel, Office of Management and Budget, and former Acting Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

  • John D. Graham, Professor, Indiana University O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs; Former Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

  • Bijal Shah, Associate Professor of Law, Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law


  • Sally Katzen, Professor of Practice and Distinguished Scholar in Residence, New York University School of Law; Former Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

Panel 3: Barriers Preventing Underserved Communities from Participating in Regulatory Policymaking

A transcript of the event is available here.

November 10, 2021 – 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm ET

Executive Order 13985 notes that members of underserved communities are often at a disadvantage when it comes to participating in regulatory policymaking processes. This panel explored potential barriers—like burdensome filing requirements, lack of resources, and general uncertainty about how to participate effectively—that members of underserved communities may confront. 


  • Suzanne Anarde, Chief Executive Officer, Rural Community Assistance Corporation

  • Lisa Cylar Barrett, Director of Policy, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund

  • Eric Rodriguez, Senior Vice President, Policy and Advocacy, UnidosUS

  • Susan F. Tierney, Senior Advisor, Analysis Group


  • Bertrall Ross, Justice Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law

Panel 4: Learning from Past and Present Efforts to Engage with Underserved Communities

A transcript of the event is available here.

November 16, 2021 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET

This panel examined federal agencies' past and ongoing efforts to engage underserved communities in regulatory policymaking processes. It featured dialogue between agency personnel and community leaders to identify successful strategies, areas for improvement, and best practices for the future.


  • Andrea Delgado, Government Affairs Director, United Farm Workers Foundation

  • Zach Ducheneaux, Administrator, Farm Service Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture

  • Remington Gregg, Counsel for Civil Justice & Consumer Rights, Public Citizen

  • Charles Lee, Senior Policy Advisor, Environmental Protection Agency Office of Environmental Justice

  • Gerald Wagner, Director of Blackfeet Environmental Program; Executive Committee Chair, Environmental Protection Agency National Tribal Caucus


  • Anna Williams Shavers, Cline Williams Professor of Citizenship Law and Associate Dean for Diversity & Inclusion, University of Nebraska College of Law

Panel 5: Learning from State and Local Agencies’ Efforts to Engage with Underserved Communities

A transcript of the event is available here.

November 22, 2021 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm ET

This panel will investigate past and ongoing efforts by state and local governments to make their regulatory policymaking initiatives more accessible to underserved communities. It will feature contributions from scholars, state and local government officials, and community representatives, with an eye toward identifying potential best practices for federal agencies.


  • Jonathan Collins, Assistant Professor of Education and Political Science, Brown University

  • Linda Roman, Racial Justice Policy Advisor, Oregon Office of the Governor 

  • Lisa Soronen, Executive Director, State and Local Legal Center

  • Dionne Williams, Deputy Executive Director, Colorado Department of Local Affairs

  • Neal Woods, Professor, University of South Carolina


  • Beth Williams, Former Assistant Attorney General, Department of Justice Office of Legal Policy

Panel 6: Expanding on Efforts to Engage with Underserved Communities

A transcript of the event is available here.

Monday, November 29 – 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm ET

Concluding the forum, this panel will consider ways to ensure that community-engagement efforts improve agencies' regulatory policymaking initiatives. Panelists will examine ways agencies can ensure that they incorporate the perspectives of underserved communities, that members of underserved communities feel confident their perspectives are meaningfully considered, and that initial community-engagement efforts function as building blocks for more durable relationships and regular engagement.


  • J. Latrice Hill, Director of Outreach and Deputy Administrator for Field Operations, Farm Service Agency

  • Amit Narang, Regulatory Policy Advocate, Public Citizen

  • Viviana Westbrook, State and Local Advocacy Attorney, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.


  • Sidney A. Shapiro, Frank U. Fletcher Chair in Administrative Law of Professor of Law, Wake Forest University School of Law

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