Acting Intake Branch Chief and Equal Opportunity Specialist (former Presidential Management Fellow), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
International Relations Major
I took a class with Mary Summers my senior year. It was an academically based community service class, and I worked in West Philadelphia with an organization that was called National Student Partnerships at the time. It was an all-purpose social service provider. So it wasn’t that we had any particular issue area expertise. It was, “I’m bright and I know how to use the internet, and I have spare time. Come in and we’ll solve your problem together however we can, or figure out who can solve it for you.” Up until that point, I had been a very hard-line, bootstraps libertarian. I thought, “Your problems are your own fault. You must be able to figure this out, and if you can’t figure it out, that’s your own issue.” Doing that work out there and meeting the people that I met, it became painfully apparent that, in the vast majority of cases, it’s a matter of education and resource access.
In government, nobody wants to be wrong and misstep. But there are so many opportunities, especially in the kind of civil rights work that we do, where we can really reach out much further than we think we can. We just have to be willing to do the outreach, or make the claim, or work with people to figure out how it is that we can advance equity while preserving business interests. You have to go out and have the conversation in order to figure a potential path. — October 3, 2018 • Photo by Alex Schein