A Summer in the Beltway Half Way Done

As my fourth week interning at the Coalition on Human Needs comes to an end, I am pleased to report that my summer in Washington, D.C. has been informative both inside and outside of the office.
While I am proud to see each week’s Sequester Impact Report that I have written posted on the CHN website, what I am most enthusiastic about is the active role I have played in the office. Each week, my supervisor, Danica, and I meet to touch base on the status of my assignments. We also discuss potential projects and ideas. Last week, Danica and I spoke about the possibility of creating a CHN Blog. In order to attract writers for the blog and to underline – and not undermine – the central mission of the coalition, however, we must creatively pinpoint a precise theme and purpose for the blog. Danica and I brainstormed possibilities and ultimately agreed that the blog should serve as a tool for individuals not involved directly in human needs advocacy to help the efforts of CHN. In order for the blog to appeal to this crowd, an informal writing style for the blog entries may be best. However, this more casual approach deviates from the standard formal writing style of the text that CHN publishes and disseminates. We plan to begin working on the blog once Debbie Weinstein, the Executive Director of CHN, approves the proposal Danica is now working on. I am eager to begin the CHN Blog project, but I am excited also about the process through which we defined the potential blog’s purpose. Rather than Danica’s telling me what the blog would entail, she involved me in the decision process.
It is through brainstorming and interaction that I have learned the most during my time at CHN. While I understood the fundamental objectives and basic infrastructure of CHN when I began my internship in June, it was not until I spoke with staff members directly that I fully recognized the fluidity of the office’s day-to-day nature. While each staff member has a distinct title, collaboration is essential in their work. After speaking separately with both Richelle Friedman, the Director of Public Policy, and Angie Evans, the Director of Outreach and Field Activity (http://www.chn.org/about-chn/contact/), the overlap in the staff members’ responsibilities became more visible to me.
While a considerable amount of my learning has stemmed from direct interaction with the CHN staff, another portion has been independent. When I compile articles for the weekly Sequester Impact Reports (http://www.chn.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/SequesterImpacts7-13-7-19.pdf), I am able to do a lot of reading. Of course, I read the articles relating to sequestration cuts, but I also read articles tangentially related to the cuts and on the current hot policy issues. Not only have I learned more about the policy issues (immigration, food and nutrition, minimum wage), but I have been able to see the unique overlap of these issues that makes the collaboration of the coalition’s member organizations so natural.
I am also doing a lot of writing, which was one of my main priorities when outlining my goals for the summer. I believe that the most important way to improve one’s writing is to write, for practice makes writing more succinct and natural. My long term project is to write an article about student loans for the Human Needs Report, CHN’s newsletter, which will be published on July 22. Because my work involves interaction with staff members and writing, I am honing my communicative and writing skills considerably.
It is difficult to monitor my growth quantitatively, but I do know for sure that I am learning. I feel that the world of non-profit advocacy has become clearer for me. In addition, I am coming to see both the basic and complex connections among policy issues.

– Zoe Richman ’15

One thought on “A Summer in the Beltway Half Way Done”

  1. Its great that you are trying to create a blog for a new audience with a difference approach. I’m a public policy intern at the National Consumers League, and definitely agree with you that collaboration is essential in a lot of the work non-profits do. A lot of the projects I have been working on were also very collaborative.

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