The Betty Jane Narver Policy Fellowship
A unique opportunity for future policy leaders
Elena Hernandez, our 2012-2013 Betty Jane Narver Fellow, recently ended her time with us, and shared her thoughts.
She is currently a graduate student in the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington. Elena anticipates graduating with a master’s degree June of 2014.
What did you learn from your experience at B & PC?
On a personal level, I learned to have more confidence in my abilities, how to ask questions, and really immerse myself in the work. Remy was a really great mentor in that way and played a really important role in helping me to really identify and see myself as a key player in the field.
What are some of your favorite things from your fellowship?
I am so grateful to have been able to work with all the policy analysts at B & PC. They encouraged me to ask questions, built my confidence and let me be part of larger projects. Coming in, I didn’t expect this fellowship to be as hands-on as it was. I had not had that experience before, but all the staff here really encouraged and supported me in my work.
I really loved working with Lori (Pfingst, Senior Policy Analyst) on research for the Women’s Funding Alliance. It was great to take some ownership of a product and to start from scratch, dig for the data, analyze it, and see it through to the end product.
Working on the tax break research with Andy Nicholas and Mike Mitchell as well as the Working Families Tax Rebate bill with Kim Justice were also highlights of my experience. Tax break reform is such an important topic right now, and I see how B & PC’s research is contributing to the ongoing conversation.
I also had the opportunity to “shadow” a partner—Kate Baber, lobbyist with Poverty Action Network. I spent a couple days with her at the Capitol in Olympia. It was really awesome to see how B & PC’s research is taken to the next level: how it is used by legislators, lobbyists, and legislative staff to influence bills and decisions. It also illustrated for me how B & PC works in partnership with other organizations.
I was able to see firsthand a “day in the life” of a legislator when I shadowed Senator David Frockt. I was surprised by the sheer number of different issues he had to work through and how difficult it must be to try and filter through all the competing priorities.
Did anything surprise you from your time with B & PC?
Going into the fellowship, I didn’t know what to expect. I really didn’t think I would have such a hands-on experience with the actual policy analysis, which was really great. All of the staff was so open to teaching me and showing me the ropes.
Like Mike for example; he was always there as a sounding board for ideas, to point me in the right direction, and of course teach me how to make amazing info graphics! That really empowered me to learn even more and take it a little farther and I am really grateful to all of them.
As I mentioned earlier, the biggest thing that I took for granted before coming to B & PC was the importance of messaging. You can have great research, but without the messaging it doesn’t mean anything. Without the proper messaging, you can’t convince anyone that what you are saying is important, they can’t relate and you can’t move your issues.
Any advice for future Narver fellows?
I would say, first thing: don’t be afraid to ask questions. Since I didn’t have a strong background in policy analysis, there was a lot I needed to learn. The policy analysts all told me- ask questions, you aren’t wasting our time, we are here to support you. I really appreciated that and it impacted my experience greatly. Be open to it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or take initiative.
What’s next for you?
I have a summer internship with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington D.C. working with the State Fiscal Policy Division. Then I will come back to Seattle and I have one more year left in my graduate program at the University of Washington.
After that, I would love to do policy analysis for an organization like B & PC.
Before this opportunity, I never thought I would be the type of person that would be interested in fiscal policy. But I am!
This fellowship was really a life changing experience for me in that it helped me find my niche. I always wanted a job that was different every day, not monotonous, and at the same time incorporated my interests in research, social justice, education policy, and racial equity.
Fiscal policy work combines all those interests so I don’t have to choose just one!
I had tremendous support from everyone at B & PC – from Remy, to the communications and outreach team, and the policy analysts –- everyone was great and this opportunity has given motivation to continue in this field.
Please check back Summer 2013 for information on the 2013 -2014 Fellowship.
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