Tell us about your Public Policy Fellowship placement.
I am placed at the U.S. Department of Education. I work in the Office of Program and Grantee Support Services, which is in the Office of Discretionary Grants and Support Services. Essentially, we provide technical assistance to our grantees as a resource to support the implementation of their statewide or nationwide projects. All implemented projects support State Education Agencies (SEAs), Local Education Agencies (LEAs), and school districts to address systemic challenges in order to ensure all students receive a quality education.
What has been most valuable about your Public Policy Fellowship?
I have most enjoyed the opportunity to learn a variety of topics. Some days I work on projects dealing with federal regulation and guidance and other days I could be designing a webinar for our grantees. The amount of exposure I have received is exciting, and, I’m convinced, it will ultimately benefit me in whatever field I happen upon in the future.
What is your biggest takeaway from the fellowship?
The biggest takeaway I have is to be teachable. I’ll caveat that idea by saying, it’s not only important to be teachable, but one must be curious as well. I’ve gathered that (at 32) I’m the best version of my professional self when I can tap into those mindsets, among other things.
Tell us about your vision for educational equity.
My vision for educational equity is one where students can be taught in environments that are multicultural, inclusive and engaging. I want to actualize a future in education where our kids receive academic rigor equally, whether at their neighborhood public school or a private institution. Ultimately, my vision for educational equity is one where inequities for students, with an emphasis on our most vulnerable populations, cease to exist, or if they do exist, are identified and addressed swiftly.
What do you see as your role in achieving this vision?
I see my role as being a connector. Having worked as a teacher, and at the state and federal level, I realize that uniquely places me in a position to offer valuable insights to encourage meaningful change.
How has LEE supported you in achieving this vision?
I think the webinars, trainings, and coaching sessions have been phenomenal in helping myself and others to refine our vision. I also think LEE’s reflective leadership style often challenges me to be more thoughtful in how I approach my work, and has made a huge difference in the work I produce and the relationships I build.
Why is it important to have opportunities like the Public Policy Fellowship accessible?
I think, particularly as a person of color, the Public Policy Fellowship gives access. I’d like to believe that talent or drive alone will make the difference in the opportunities that people of color have access to, but the truth is we haven’t made it there yet. So, when I decided I wanted to leave the classroom to be an advocate for my students, their families and their community in education policy, LEE has made the difference. The access I’ve gotten not only from the Public Policy Fellowship, but other trainings and workshops, has positioned me to be a valued team member in any place I’ve worked. For the policy world, when people value what you have to say and what you can contribute, that ultimately gives you latitude for impact. And, when we think about actualizing education equity, human capital, or having the right people at the table is essential. Programs like PPF help to cultivate the right people and that is invaluable.
What would you tell those who are thinking about or are interested in applying to the Public Policy Fellowship?
I would say if you are looking to grow your leadership, develop new skills and learn from leaders in the field, then you should absolutely apply.
*The above interview has been transcribed and is in subjects' own words, with minor edits for clarity or brevity.
Accelerate your policy or advocacy career while making a real impact on the country’s education landscape. Apply for the paid, full-time Public Policy Fellowship by April 12.