The Policy & Advocacy Summer Fellowship (PASF) helps LEE members gain hands-on experience in policy or advocacy. Fellows are matched with a host organization for an eight-week, full-time fellowship and supported through leadership development programming. The Fellowship is a great way to build your brand and network in the policy and/or advocacy field.
We reached out to Hoang Murphy, a 2016 Policy & Advocacy Summer Fellow and now a full-time Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education, to answer some of the most common questions about the program. Read his answers below!
1. I’ve been a leader in my classroom, but do I have what it takes to lead in a policy or advocacy position?
I asked myself the same question. At first I doubted how the skills I developed while teaching might translate to a different environment. But after the PASF, I now understand that if you can get 30 teenagers to do PARCC assessment prep, you can do anything!
You will find, just as I did, that teaching is the perfect training for a position in policy or advocacy. The analytical skills used in mapping out the ideal seating chart or breaking down reading data for 80 students along eight grade levels are the same ones you will use in a policy office. The communication skills required in advocating for a community of stakeholders is no different than advocating for your student to receive services in an IEP meeting.
Additionally, as a current or former teacher, you are uniquely positioned to lend your voice to education policy and advocacy conversations. You know the issues students, teachers and families face, and your perspective is needed in policy decisions.
You have led a classroom, been a leader in your community, and now you can put these skills to use as a Policy & Advocacy Summer Fellow.
2. Will I be able to do meaningful work?
The simple answer is yes.
I was placed at the Center for American Progress (CAP) in Washington, D.C. From day one, I was treated like a full-time employee. I conducted research on teacher diversity that is being used in a report CAP will publish for legislators and departments of education across the country to inform their policy positions. I was also able to bring aspects of my identity into my work by writing a letter to the U.S. Department of Education on their proposed foster care regulations. It was extremely meaningful to do research and advocacy work that will influence policy decisions, which in turn will impact thousands of families and students.
The people I worked with gave the fellowship even greater meaning. When I was teaching, it felt like I was in a silo and the broader societal issues I saw were not being addressed in other spaces. To see that many of my fellow employees were former educators, and that people are fighting for equity in school buildings all the way to the federal government, gave me a newfound respect and hope for the work we are doing as educators.
3. How will the PASF help further my career?
Whether you want to stay in the classroom or are looking for a position in policy or advocacy, the PASF has something to offer you.
Regional trainings during the fellowship provide the time and space to learn about the policy landscape in your region, as well as policy analysis tools that you can apply to your placement and future work. Individual coaching helps you frame your goals for the summer, but also supports you in clarifying next steps in your career.
The impact I had while in the classroom was meaningful, but I questioned whether I was really making the difference I wanted. I wondered if I was better suited for advocating for my students at scale. This fellowship is the best of both worlds — it gives you hands-on experience to better understand policy and advocacy work at a high level without having to leave the classroom. But if you feel as I did — that you want to explore the impact you can make beyond teaching — there is no better springboard to a career in policy and advocacy than the PASF.
Hoang continues to impact students and families as a full-time policy fellow, placed through LEE, at the U.S. Department of Education.
Find out more about the Policy & Advocacy Summer Fellowship.