Distinguished Alumni Awards Rising Star: Ryan Harrison, MS ’11 (Criminal Justice)
labor and employment Swiss Army knife.” That’s how Ryan Harrison, MS ’11 (Criminal Justice) describes his role as principal human resources consultant for the California Senate Rules Committee.
“I address all employment issues, including employee misconduct, discipline, worker’s compensation, reasonable accommodations and investigations,” says Harrison. “It really draws upon my background of being a law enforcement officer and an attorney specializing in labor and employment law.”
In fact, Harrison draws upon an impressive list of educational and professional experience. Harrison received his bachelor’s degree from UC Davis, graduate degree from Sacramento State and his juris doctor from UC Hastings College of the Law. He also is a senior fellow of the Sacramento Nehemiah Emerging Leaders Program and most recently, a recipient of Sacramento State’s Distinguished Alumni Rising Star Award.
In his spare time, Harrison serves on the Board of Directors for Cottage Housing, a non-profit that provides housing and treatment for addiction for the homeless. He also volunteers as a mentor in the McClatchy High School Law and Public Policy Academy.
“Sac State is where I actually gained confidence,” shares Harrison. “It was like an incubator for me to develop new skills. Professors told me that they believed in me and that they had high expectations for me. And I felt like I rose to the occasion.”
While attending Sac State, Harrison partnered with faculty as a graduate student instructor, served on the Graduate Studies Policies Committee and as ASI Director of Graduate Studies, all while working steadily toward a career as an FBI or CIA agent.
But Harrison remembers clearly the moment those plans changed.
“I was working as a sergeant-at-arms for the California State Senate and often drove for (now mayor) Darrell Steinberg,” says Harrison. “He said, ‘Ryan, you are really smart. You should consider law school.’ That was in response to one of our conversations as we always talked about policy. That’s about when I decided to change my position at Sac State and instead of looking at law enforcement careers, I looked at law school.” After graduating from UC Hastings, Harrison became a law clerk for Hanson Bridgett LLP where he spent his last few months on special assignment with the Golden State Warriors working on contract negotiations, sponsorship agreements and on their new San Francisco arena project.
But it’s his pro-bono and volunteer work that make Ryan most proud.
“I like to be involved in my community. I helped a team of attorneys secure refugee asylum for a woman from the middle east who was a victim of domestic violence,” says Harrison. “Sac State created that spirit of leadership in my community and made me believe I could be effective at it.”