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Robert M. La Follette
School of Public Affairs
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Madison, WI 53706

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Last updated:
September 26, 2013


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Alumni and Friends: La Follette Notes: Fall 2005

Student projects inform policy

La Follette School students shared their analytical skills with state and federal agencies, businesses and non-profits around the world this past summer.

Jeff Sartin worked in the Economic and Commercial Section of the U.S. Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He prepared reports on the public financial structure of Sri Lanka’s local governments and designed a campaign advocating enforcement of intellectual property rights. He promoted U.S. government tsunami reconstruction recommendations to Sri Lanka’s government. He says the best part of his experience was “being involved in the formation of public policy and working with the government of Sri Lanka on their long-term disaster management plans.”

La Follette School students (standing, from left) Katie Maguire, Amy Whitehead and Melody Sakazaki stop with Hillary Rodham Clinton at the annual Wisconsin Women in Government banquet in April.
Students hear Hillary Rodham Clinton
La Follette School students (standing, from left) Katie Maguire, Amy Whitehead and Melody Sakazaki stop with Hillary Rodham Clinton at the annual Wisconsin Women in Government banquet in April. The three heard Rodham Clinton speak at Wisconsin Women in Government’s 18th annual scholarship recognition dinner, thanks to North-western Mutual Life Insurance Co. sharing its table. La Follette School student Melissa Schmidt was among those being recognized. The Wisconsin Legislative Council selected her to receive the Bonnie Reese internship this year. Schmidt just completed her third year of earning a dual degree in public affairs and law.

A second student in Sri Lanka, Melissa Miller, focused on humanitarian issues, dealing with child recruitment by the Liberation Tamil Tigers Eelam, human rights supreme court cases and tsunami relief. During a trip to southern provinces, Miller analyzed the political and economic impact of the tsunami at the post six-month mark and the status of nongovernment and government rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts.

Roberto Dall’Asta interned with the U.S. Embassy in Panama. He worked in the Public Affairs Section for the Information Office and
the Cultural Affairs Office. “My duties included analyzing the Panamanian press and reviewing existing linkages between the academic communities in Panama and the U.S.,” he says.

Chris Meeks interned with Kenya’s National Council for Law Reporting, a branch of the judiciary charged with increasing the system’s efficiency. He worked “directly with a group of lawyers and judges from Kenya’s highest courts as we developed a new web site designed to give all Kenyans access to the laws of Kenya and other important court judgments,” Meeks says.

A little closer to Madison, Bai Linh Hoang worked with the Department of Human Services in Salem, Ore. She helped implement policy procedures for the department’s Child, Adult and Family Services Unit. She researched and analyzed child welfare-related issues by comparing state policies on child welfare, examining training
curricula for social workers and compiling survey information. “This internship refined and improved my research skills, which is important
to conducting good policy analysis,” Hoang says. “The internship also provided me with the opportunity to explore the area of human
services, particularly social welfare policy, which is my concentration at La Follette.”

Hope Siler worked in Seattle, Wash., at a non-profit organization called Program for Early Parent Support. She spent half of her time leading education and support groups for first-time parents. She also reviewed literature on parent education and support research, curriculum development and best practices. “I gained firsthand experience with non-profit management, organizational change, and program implementation and evaluation,” she says. “It was an enlightening summer!”

Out east, Camille Salas served as planning and initiatives intern with the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Va. She developed a white paper on the organization’s federal funding, researched federal funding opportunities, participated in meetings, wrote a grant for the release of state funds, invited officials to performances and helped draft the organization’s annual state report. Outside her internship, Salas started a letter-writing campaign to Urban Outfitters Inc. to request removal of a shirt that is discriminatory to Latinos. The shirt reads, “New Mexico—Cleaner than Regular Mexico.” “The shirt’s slogan conjures up negative stereotypes of Mexico and Mexicans as ‘dirty,’” Salas says.

Laura Antuono interned at the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. She monitored the implementation and progress of government-funded anti-trafficking programs in the Western hemisphere. “I have observed how careful cooperation among U.S. government agencies as well as international diplomacy and negotiation between governments can lead to significant results in combating modern-day slavery,” she says. “I learned quite a bit about government service, international programming and analysis (and of course, the nature of a bureaucracy).”

Several La Follette students worked for state agencies in Wisconsin.

The Office of Wisconsin Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton employed Brenda Mayrack and Jennifer Gulig Klippel as interim policy directors. Their duties included traveling with Lawton to assist at events across the state, tracking policy issues and contributing research for public remarks. Mayrack helped to plan a fall conference to encourage communities to invest in quality early childhood care and education to spur economic growth. Klippel assisted the Task Force on Women and Depression and the Study of Women and Corrections.

Jamie Aulik worked at the Wisconsin Senate’s sergeant at arms, attending to the Joint Committee on Finance and general state of Wisconsin budget issues. He spent two weeks with the Army Reserve at extended combat training
in Fort Gordon, Ga.

John J. Vander Meer’s summer internship with the Wisconsin Department of Justice turned into a limited-term employment position as the communications and public policy coordinator. He writes news releases, crafts messages, organizes events and responds to media requests.

Erin Rushmer worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA associate in Madison, helping low-income 4- and 5-year-olds improve their literacy and math skills, and generally get ready for kindergarten. “It was incredibly rewarding,” she says, “and it has offered me a firsthand look at education policy.”

In the private sector, Richard Barajas worked at the Wisconsin Coordinating Council on Nicaragua in Madison. He focused on microcredit work, which involves making very small loans to people who usually are poor and lack collateral.

Mary Regan worked on fund raising as a development assistant with the Atwood Community Center in Madison. She helped with the center’s $9 million capital campaign to purchase and renovate a former ironworks. Regan helped plan and manage the campaign, which included researching grants and foundations, working with software and putting together a calendar to manage deadlines, projects, meetings and tasks.

Jenna Griffin interned with Alliant Energy’s Public Affairs Department, learning about the energy industry and campaign finance. “With Alliant’s help, I have met several state and national level politicians (and a few La Follette alumni) at various legislative hearings, fund-raisers and conferences,” she reports. “This internship supplements my classroom knowledge with firsthand exposure to the political process.”

Index to La Follette Notes fall 2005