Jane Miller's work in Arizona politics preparing her to change criminal justice

The ASU track and field runner has worked for local politicians such as Rep. Ruben Gallego and Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari

ASU track and field graduate student Jane Miller spent four years running at Yale University, where she obtained her bachelor's degree in political science and government. Now, she hopes to incite change for social and racial justice while running at ASU.

While Miller came to ASU to obtain her master's degree in liberal studies and continue to compete in track and field, she hopes to use her experience working for Arizona politicians to eventually put her in a position to push for criminal justice reform.

Miller interned for Rep. Ruben Gallego's office after her sophomore year at Yale, taking on duties such as conducting research for his staff. She also worked as a lead policy fellow and field organizer for Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari's campaign for Phoenix City Council in the 2020 election.

Miller's role on the Ansari campaign was to "spearhead the creation of all the campaign's policies," said Mackenzie Saunders, Ansari's former deputy campaign manager. Miller helped research and write policies pertaining to healthcare, COVID-19 relief, worker's rights, climate and immigration rights.

"The pressure never got to her. A lot of people burn out when things get tough, but she didn’t," Saunders said. "She kept working harder and kept recruiting her friends to help. Jane did so much to contribute to Yassamin’s victory, and we couldn’t be more grateful."

ASU track and field graduate student Jane Miller poses with Laura Pearl during canvassing on Sept. 5, 2020.

After working on Ansari's campaign for Phoenix City Council's District 7 seat, which Ansari eventually won in a runoff in March, Miller said she learned many people tend to underestimate the power of local politics. 

Miller plans to move to Baltimore after she graduates to continue working on criminal justice reform for the formerly incarcerated. She will help with a bail diversion program that will provide job opportunities to those awaiting trial. The program will also help the formerly incarcerated secure jobs and provide those people resources to help maintain their employment.

"I think we have a long way to go ahead of us," Miller said. "Anything I can do, whether it's, you know, talking to other people or posting on social media to show what's going on in your own state."

At Yale, Miller ran cross country and track and field and earned first-team All-Ivy and All-Region honors in cross country in 2019. 

Yale cross country head coach Taryn Sheehan, who coached Miller during her time at the school, described her as "the type of athlete who led by example."

Throughout her college career, Miller continued to focus on her academics while working on becoming a top runner. After graduating from Yale, Miller returned to Phoenix, her hometown, where she got in contact with former ASU cross country head coach Cory Leslie. 

"I thought he was a really good coach," Miller said. "Just the thought of being closer to home for one more year was really exciting."

Having the chance to compete in a Power Five conference was something Miller was excited to be a part of, especially on a team "that is incredibly talented."

Miller officially joined ASU track and field during the 2020-21 indoor season and competed in her first meet at the GCU Outdoor Invitational on Feb. 3, where she ran a personal best in the 1,500 meters.

"I'm excited for what's to come in the next year, and I think there's a lot more to be done," Miller said. 

Reach the reporter at lhertz@asu.edu and follow @laurenrachell_ on Twitter.

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