Caroline Swaller – National Partnership for Women & Families

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Caroline Swaller, at the United State of Women Summit, 2016

Hi there! My name is Caroline Swaller. I am a dual Master’s of Public Policy/Master’s of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies candidate for graduation in May of 2017 (such a long title). I am currently the Social Chair of the MPPSA and most of my free time is devoted to Title IX and being a hardcore advocate for better sexual assault policies on college campuses.

I am currently interning at the National Partnership for Women & Families as the Workplace Policy and Research Intern (another long title) in Washington D.C.. Most of my summer activities have been devoted to researching and lobbying for paid leave at the federal level. There are multiple tactics at play to get Congressional sign on for paid leave and paid sick days. The National Partnership has helped to draft and is now lobbying for three bills: The Healthy Families Act, The Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act (FAMILY Act), and the Fair Scheduling Act. We also devote a significant portion of our research and time advocating for SAFE days so victim/survivors of domestic violence can take necessary time off work to attend to court hearings, mental health needs, and other necessary emotional support needs.

At the National Partnership we tackle these issues through a multifaceted approach involving research, advocacy/lobbying, and legal work. As a part of the research team I have spent my summer researching the Racial Wealth Gap and International Paid Leave policies among OECD countries similar to the United States in an effort to determine what needs to shift politically in the US and where does new research need to occur in order for the United States to finally approve paid leave.  I have lobbied on the Hill with our Government Affairs Manager and acted as a handler during the Workplace and Policy Research Conference academic meetings with Hill members. I’ve helped prep for and provided research and data for multiple congressional briefings and I’ve contributed to several fact sheets, literature reviews, and original research happening at the National Partnership.

So how did I get this awesome internship? A stroke of luck coupled with a solid resume. I had missed the original deadline for the National Partnership for Women & Families because I was being a disorganized graduate student. But lucky for me the National Partnership reached back to Tam Emerson to see if anyone was interested and thanks to the email introduction between our lovely Editor-in-Chief and blog founder Brie McLemore the stars aligned and this internship happened. Aside from that, I feel incredibly lucky to be working with the National Partnership as they have been a leader in advancing social justice for women since the 1960s. The National Partnership is the reason the Family and Medical Leave Act exists, and what makes me love them even more is that they admit letting it get passed unpaid was a mistake and now they work even harder to rectify it.

My time at Heller over the course of my first year taught me to read quickly and selectively and also gave me the necessary knowledge base to be able to succeed in my internship. Understanding the complex way bills are passed through Congress has directed my research eyes to know what it is important what should be put aside for another project. Furthermore, the collaborative work with my cohort has made me a better team player and more importantly a better listener, which when you’re an intern is probably the best skill to have.

Overall, the National Partnership for Women & Families has shown me what my ultimate career goal might be: Government Affairs Manager. I love the atmosphere of the Hill, but I love even more to be there with a purpose and a cause that promotes social justice. I’ve learned here that given the current makeup of Congress our job  will never be done so I’m pretty confident I’ll always have job security (unless Paul Ryan magically wakes up a feminist—doubtful I know). Moving forward at Heller my ability to focus in has increased so much over my time here. My first year I spent a lot of time getting lost in the weeds of policy and now I feel like I have a better grip on how this whole crazy federalism thing really works.

Interning with the National Partnership for Women & Families has been incredible beyond words and I really really really don’t’ want to leave, but I have two degrees to finish and one year to do it in. Here we go!

P.S. the picture is from the United State of Women Summit because I am the luckiest feminist in the whole wide world.

Caroline Swaller
MPP/MA Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Candidate ’17
Heller School for Social Policy and Management

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Nicholas Croce – Government Accountability Office (GAO)

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(Nicholas Croce, far right, 2nd year M.P.P student at Heller)

GAO — The Congressional Watchdog

 It’s 3 A.M. A Congressional staffer wakes up in a cold sweat. There’s a policy question swirling in their head, and they can’t shake it — “but what to do? Who to call?” Have no fear, Congress — The Watchdog is here!

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has been around since the 1920’s, advising Congress on pressing matters facing the Nation. GAO is the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) of the United States, and it performs policy analysis and program audits on federal agencies and issues like the federal debt, on behalf of Congress. Its organization is structured into twelve mission teams, including Financial Markets and Community Investment, Natural Resources and the Environment, and Homeland Security and Justice.

I’ve been working as a GAO Student Trainee for a few months and have been impressed by the organization’s high level of professionalism, and its commitment to non-partisanship and fact-based analysis, commitments built upon three core values: Accountability, Integrity, and Reliability. GAO’s workforce is spread out among 11 field offices and Washington, D.C.  My engagement team has been putting into action GAO’s core values through our work on Diversity in the Technology Sector. The engagement — part of the Education, Workforce, and Income Security (EWIS) mission team — is examining the levels of diversity in technology industries, and the federal role in promoting and ensuring such diversity.

All in all, it has been a great experience to learn a bit about how Congress monitors federal programs. As a citizen, it is reassuring to learn that such an agency exists. And, its results speak for themselves. GAO recommendations saved the Government over $74.7 billion in FY2015. The agency’s budget totaled $551 million — a return of $134 on every dollar allocated to GAO. In my opinion, that’s fiscal responsibility at its finest, and we as a nation should continue investing in impactful and measured policy analysis and audits.

Nicholas Croce
MPP Candidate ’17
Heller School for Social Policy and Management
Concentration: Poverty Alleviation

Now Introducing: Dispatches from the Field

Greetings from the Masters in Public Policy Student Association Heller Blog!

After a brief hiatus, we are back with a new segment entitled “Dispatches from the Field.” This summer, many of the Heller MPP students embarked on exciting internships in Boston, New York City, and Washington D.C. We worked for a variety of organizations addressing a multitude of issues, ranging from healthcare, to the gender wage gap, to mass incarceration. During this series, many of the Heller MPP students will discuss their internship projects, what they learned, and how their internships will shape their work at Heller and beyond. Stay tuned!

Sincerely,
Brie McLemore, the MPPSA Publications Committee Chair