Summer 2013 White Interns Share Their Experiences

John Hazen White, Sr. Interns 2013John Hazen White, Sr. Interns 2013


Michael D’Ortenzio Jr. PPAI '15

• Rhode Island Public Defender, Providence, Rhode Island;
• Professor Ross Cheit, Brown University
Favorite PPAI course: Good Government with Professor Cheit
Dream job: Representative in government

Each of my internships gave me a valuable perspective on public policy. I researched Congress' Keating Five scandal of the early ’90s for Professor Cheit. At the Public Defender’s office I assisted its intake division processing individuals accused of civil and/or criminal offenses. To have to opportunity to understand two intertwined yet divergent worlds of justice -- white collar prosecution at the highest levels versus criminal defense in a district court -- has been very valuable as I seek a career in government and the law after Brown.

Jasmine Fuller PPAI '15
• Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights, Providence, Rhode Island
Favorite PPAI course: Criminal Justice System with Ross Cheit
Dream job: climate change policy maker, or leader of an organization that makes it possible for inner city families to experience the outdoors

The majority of my internship entailed research for a study on prison peer programming and reentry services. I reviewed current literature on peer health education programs in prisons worldwide and explored the reasons why some facilities offer these programs while others do not. Among prison populations, incarceration is frequently deemed a prime opportunity to provide the kind of basic health care and educational services that an inmate might never encounter within the greater community. I learned that it is not that rare for female inmates in Texas -- wary of the dangers they might face post-release and thus preferring prison to greater society -- to assault correctional officers upon release. Interning with the Center this past summer proved to be a valuable starting point for coursework during the fall semester through which I was able to further explore the ways in which a variety of institutions, players, and policies interact to affect and address crime.

Kyle Giddon PPAI '15
• New York City Department of Small Business Services
Favorite PPAI course: State and Local Government with Erik Godwin
Dream job: Constitutional lawyer

I spent the summer performing statistical analysis on workforce development policy, locating areas where the City should be providing more assistance to unemployed job seekers. I compared internal agency data with data on underlying neighborhood characteristics to look for discrepancies -- that is, where the city should be reaching the unemployed versus where they actually did. During my internship, I was fortunate to have colleagues who were generous with their time, advice, and guidance. Their instruction -- and, especially, their criticism -- was invaluable in my personal and professional development. Most importantly, however, they showed me that I have much to learn. I came to understand that there is only one antidote to inexperience, and it cannot be concocted by passing long hours in the library.

Shane Grannum PPAI/Latin American and Caribbean Studies '15
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Washington, D.C.
Favorite PPAI course:
Economics of Education I with John Tyler
Your dream job: Civil rights litigator

My summer experience was an intellectually stimulating and eye-opening insight into the workings of Washington that has guided my interests in more ways than I could have imagined. I worked on specific issues of interest, drafting everything from policy memos to congressional letters, and planning an event with fellow interns at the end of the summer. The senior counsel on voting rights took me under her wing, taking me to meetings with high-level staff in the Department of Justice and members of Congress as they coordinated responses to the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder. I got to see first-hand how an influential civil rights coalition like The Leadership Conference goes into crisis mode when Washington doesn’t act in its favor. I had an incredible summer and it wouldn’t have been possible without the White Internship.

Marina Hernandez PPAI '15
Office of Senator Barbara Boxer, Washington D.C.
Favorite PPAI course:
Social Welfare Policy with Terri Devine
Dream job: Working for a major think tank, like the Brookings Institute on social issues like early childhood development or income inequality

Spending the summer in the Capitol was awesome, and running into famous senators and representatives in the hallways and on the underground Congressional subway never got old. I gave Capitol tours to Senator Boxer’s constituents and tended to constituent needs over the phone. I also attended Senate committee hearings and wrote memos for the Senator’s legislative staff. Because Congress works on a vast array of policy issues, the experience broadened my interests which has definitely influenced the focus of my remaining semesters at Brown. I aspire to work in D.C. someday, therefore interning on the Hill was a great way to meet people from all different backgrounds and interest areas, as well as get a taste of the fast-paced D.C. lifestyle.

Jennifer Morgan PPAI '14
Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Washington, D.C.
Favorite PPAI course: Congressional Leadership, Parties, and Public Policy with Richard Arenberg
Dream job: Chief of Staff for an elected official

I spent most of my time preparing research on countries or industry sectors where the agency was looking to invest. I helped prepare a briefing book for the CEO’s trip to Pakistan, which involved researching U.S.-Pakistan policy and the general development climate in Karachi and Islamabad. As part of this project, I met the Pakistani Chargé d’Affaires in Washington, and met the Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad -- such incredible experiences! I  spent a good portion of August researching the Kenyan banking sector, and reading how a lack of access to banking in rural communities has hindered development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Before this internship, I knew nothing about development finance, but now I am considering opportunities in international policy after graduation.

Asia Nelson PPAI '15
United Way of Greater Los Angeles
Favorite PPAI course: Politics, Markets, and States in Developing Countries with Professor Richard Snyder
Dream job: CEO of a non-profit organization

The United Way of Greater Los Angeles focuses on promoting education and financial stability by fighting chronic and veteran homelessness. I worked in the volunteer services division, which gave me a first-hand look into the hardships faced by the LA community. I worked on UWGLA’s campaign to end chronic and veteran homelessness by 2016. This was a very eye-opening experience -- I had not realized how shocking the current statistics are for homelessness in Los Angeles -- and UWGLA’s leadership and innovative ideas in tackling such a critical issue inspired me. My internship supported my passion to pursue a career in the public sector or at a nonprofit. As I travel during my time abroad in Hong Kong, I have become attuned to the fact that homelessness, financial stability, and education are global issues. I am inspired to continue my research from an international rather than domestic perspective and to understand the needs of people across cultures, countries, and backgrounds.

Alvina Pillai PPAI/Economics '14
Office of Congressman David Cicilline, Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Favorite PPAI course: Criminal Justice System with Professor Cheit 
Dream job: A job where I could help people and still make a living
I began working at the Congressman's office in February and continued through the summer. I connected constituents with relevant resources, advocated on their behalf with federal agencies, and documented their experiences. I also designed publicity material for a series of town halls where constituents could voice their concerns. The internship was an excellent way to connect my coursework with real-world applications. In one class, we learned about one rule of congressional ethics stating that campaign matters could not be handled or discussed on office premises. I didn't realize how serious this stipulation was until I walked into the office and there was a sticky note next to the intern phone saying "Don't take calls about the campaign!"

Daniel Sack PPAI/Classics: Latin '14
Research Assistant for Professor Ross Cheit, Brown University
Favorite PPAI course: Law and Public Policy with Shana Judge
Dream job: Judge

I worked with Professor Cheit to study a ring of child sexual abuse cases from the mid-1980s in Jordan, Minnesota. I analyzed more than 300 primary documents associated with these cases, including police reports, interview transcripts, and legal documents. The aim was to establish a more concrete timeline including a) when a suspect was named, b) by how many children, and c) at what point in the interview process this occurred.  In this way, we could assess the weight of certain allegations. This internship opened my eyes to the complex nature of these types of cases and taught me to critically challenge everything I read. It also allowed me to experience the research process firsthand and to engage in a large project as part of a team.

Luke Taylor PPAI '13.5
Alameda County Probation, San Leandro, California
Favorite PPAI course: My PPAI courses all have equally snug spots in my heart (and brain)
Dream Job: Still figuring this out

I’ve been interested in the juvenile justice system since I took Valerie Cooley’s class. I worked with kids in juvenile hall to develop transitional independent living plans. The plans help sixteen-and-over kids develop a framework for organizing their long-term goals, including the incremental steps toward those goals, and identifying people and resources they can work with to accomplish these steps. My supervisor and the liaison with Social Services were both extremely dedicated workers who inspired me, and I’m grateful for all their help in answering my questions. The internship affirmed my expectation that I will likely pursue further training in social work, but also helped me see that I would want a job in which I could develop a longer-term working relationship with a given kid. Perhaps a school guidance counselor, or working for some program in which I could serve in that capacity.