Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, October 13, 2016

Alumni give back as speed-networking partners

Alumni give back as speed-networking partners

Serving others is a high priority for students at the La Follette School of Public Affairs. So it should come as no surprise that alumni eagerly volunteer with their alma mater.

They came through again Tuesday evening, when nearly two dozen alumni and other public policy professionals participated in a speed-networking event with first-year La Follette School students.

“As a La Follette alumna, I am honored to have the opportunity to help give back and support young, talented students who are devoted to public service – a noble profession,” said Sara Barry (MPA ’01), executive director of the Customers First Coalition.

The event, organized by Senior Outreach Specialist Bridget Pirsch, is one aspect of the Professional Development Workshop course (PA 800), a requirement for first-semester students. La Follette School Associate Director Hilary Shager (MPA ’05, PhD ’12) teaches the course.

“This fast-paced activity helps students learn about and explore a variety of public policy career options and practice networking,” Shager said. “It’s also a wonderful opportunity to connect with our alumni and friends in the field.”

Before the speed-networking event, students create “elevator speeches” that help them introduce themselves. Their follow-up assignment is to conduct an informational interview with a person in their field of interest.

“I volunteer for and enjoy the speed-networking event because it provides me an opportunity to meet several highly intelligent people in a short period of time,” said Josh Bindl (MPA ’04), chief executive officer of National CooperativeRx. “As we have staffing needs, the people I meet at these events could be people I call upon when we have internships or employment opportunities.”

Speed-networking is a structured and fast-paced activity that allows students to meet and exchange information with alumni and other professionals in a short amount of time. All participants are encouraged to share business cards and schedule informational meetings.

The students also have the opportunity to practice articulating their career goals and interests, said Shager. “This exercise is a valuable and fun way for students to learn about the various employment sectors and career options,” she said.

It’s beneficial for the alumni and other professionals as well. “Now that I have some more experience under my belt, I think I’ve become better at contextualizing what I’m telling students,” said H.J. Waukau (MIPA ’12), a policy and population health specialist for the Wisconsin Medical Society.

“As an alumnus, I enjoy sharing my experiences and developing relationships with current students who will soon become my peers and colleagues,” he said. “And, if I can help some people along way by sharing my stories and experiences, then that is a wonderful bonus that helps everyone.”

The alumni and other professionals who volunteered their time and talents were:
• Virginia Andersen (MPA ’15), Legislative Audit Bureau, Performance Evaluation Division
• Ruth Anderson (MPA, University of Illinois), University of Wisconsin System, associate vice president of administrative services
• Sarah Barry (MPA ’01), Customers First Coalition, executive director
• Brian Bell (MPA ’10), Wisconsin Ethics Commission, administrator
• Josh Bindl, National CooperativeRx, chief executive officer
• Sasha Bong (MIPA ’12), Wisconsin Department of Administration, policy and budget analyst
• William (Bill) Cosh, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, agency spokesperson
• Tom Hinds (MIPA ’09), Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, home visiting performance planner
• Rachel Howard (MIPA ’06), CET Academic Programs, communications manager and data analyst
• Rachel Janke (MPA ’12), Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, fiscal analyst
• Adam Johnson (MPA ’16), UW–Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, Carbone Cancer Center, project manager
• Nick Lardinois (MPA ’16), Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau, performance evaluator
• Ron Luskin (MPP ’79), retiree, consultant, community volunteer
• Teague Mawer (MPA ’12), UW Colleges, director of budget and planning
• Bo McCready (MPA ’10), Madison Metropolitan School District, quantitative research supervisor
• Katherine Mitchell (MIPA ’13), Wisconsin Focus on Energy, business program lead
• Ben Nerad (MPA ’13), Wisconsin Department of Health Services, budget and policy analyst
Heidi Normandin (MPA ‘98), La Follette School of Public Affairs, associate director, Wisconsin Family Impact Seminars and Committee Connect
• Sam Shannon (MPA ’13), Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, rate and policy analyst
• Grant Sim (MPA ’08), Wisconsin Center for Education Research, policy and research analyst, and associate researcher
• Alex Straka (MIPA ’15), UW–Madison Law School, student
• Jean-René Watchou (MIPA ’06), Christ Presbyterian Church, director of international outreach
• H.J. Waukau (MIPA ’12), Wisconsin Medical Society, policy and population health specialist