Senior-level Human Services Research Analyst
Mathematica Policy Research
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Bachelor’s degrees in history and Spanish, Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, 2002
How have your La Follette School courses and/or experiences contributed to meeting your career goals?
Coursework on public budgeting, microeconomics, statistics, and public administration gave me a very well-rounded public policy education. La Follette courses work together to form a strong foundation for understanding the legislative and rule-making processes and public program design, implementation, and evaluation. The courses provide this foundation, but they go further to cover the dynamics between the public policy components I listed above. It is extremely important for someone working in public policy to understand these dynamics. If one is seeking to improve the effectiveness of public policies, understanding these dynamics helps one explore where and how to target improvements.
Most challenging experience at the La Follette School
My most challenging experience was working as a research assistant at the Population Health Institute. I was part of a team that was analyzing a statewide survey of Wisconsin physicians and writing up the conclusions for publication in a medical journal. I had to draw upon a new skillset, including statistical analysis and technical writing, that I had never used in practice, but that I was developing at La Follette.
Most rewarding experience at the La Follette School
My most rewarding experience at La Follette was working with the Wisconsin Legislature on a special taskforce to address childhood obesity. La Follette helped me connect to this project through the Wisconsin Legislative Council and this experience ignited an interest in nutrition policy that has held ever since. It was a particularly rewarding experience because I developed great relationships with the staff I worked with. They became mentors and also gave me the freedom to explore research topics that I was interested in. My work helped lead to an increase in the state’s investment in school meals, particularly around farm-to-school programming.
Why would you recommend the La Follette School to a prospective student?
La Follette is a small program. I think there were about 25 students in my class. If you think about all of the resources you can access through the UW-Madison system, yet still be among a small class, it’s really a great balance. You can get to know your peers and professors, yet still seek opportunities beyond La Follette.
Why the La Follette School?
There were two major factors in my decision: Madison is a great city to live and Madison is home to a great university as well as the capital city. It’s the perfect place to study public policy. I also found La Follette’s building to be very charming.
Marlia Moore was a great mentor to me. She graduated several years ahead of me. We both grew up in Eau Claire, so when I visited La Follette, I contacted her and she shared her experience at La Follette.
I volunteer with Common Threads, a national nonprofit that started in Chicago. Common Threads teaches nutrition and cooking skills to schoolchildren. I have been helping them evaluate their programs to learn about their potential impact on diet and academic performance.
I was selected for the German Chancellor Fellowship in Berlin, Germany, during 2013 and 2014 to study nutrition policy and programming in Europe.