Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Friday, September 30, 2016

Max Pardo, MPA

Max Pardo, MPA

Long Grove, Illinois

Undergraduate education
Bachelor of art degree in global studies, minor in sustainability, certificate in religion and conflict, Arizona State University

Professional/research interests
Refugee and immigration Issues; conflict resolution; sustainable energy, technology, and transportation; science policy and communication; education and social policy

National Merit Scholar, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, La Follette Fellow

Expected graduation date
Spring 2017

Why an MPA?
Working on the front line in a number of nonprofit or government-funded programs, from teaching in Turkey to working in a residential facility for undocumented minors, I was struck by how little critical, evidence-based evaluation of policy happens. I saw talented, competent, caring coworkers doing their best to serve others often struggling within a system that failed to support them at best and actively hindered them at worst. I also saw the life-altering effects that policies can have for those on the receiving end, for better or worse. I realized the best way for me to have the largest positive potential impact was to move up the chain to help develop policy that empowers front-line workers, considers the daily realities of policy recipients, and moves society toward justice, fairness, and compassion.

Why the La Follette School?
I chose the La Follette School because it was highly ranked (particularly in social policy), affordable (particularly with the fellowship), practitioner-focused, and evidence-based. Moreover, I liked the small, community feel of the program set within the larger context of the university and all of its resources. And, though I didn’t know it when I applied, Madison is a lovely city that would have been enough of a draw on its own.

Summer internship
As a summer research intern for the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Research and Program Evaluation Office (RPEO), I analyzed survey data from parents who participated in MMSD’s pilot parent-teacher team program. I produced a report on the data for the department of Family, Youth, and Community Engagement (FYCE) which included recommendations for future data collection. My report is now being used internally by FYCE, RPEO, and the school board as they decide how to move forward with the program.

Which experiences and skills helped you get the internship?
Because I was directed to the internship by a classmate and my supervisors both were La Follette alumni, I’d probably call this one a win for networking. Also, though I didn’t get the chance to use any STATA in the internship, I’m sure having those skills and PA 818 and 819 on my resume helped.

Project assistantship
I have a PAship with Jason Fletcher. Right now, I am tracking down data used in previous policy research and preparing it for replication and re-analysis projects. I’m excited to get more familiar with the kinds of large datasets used in policy research and to get practice treating data with statistical programs like STATA.

Advice to prospective La Follette School students
Make the most of all the resources the university has to offer – lectures, professors, research, etc. – but also balance your schedule enough to enjoy Madison with your fellow Bobs.