In the realm of public policy and leadership, Washington, D.C. can take on an almost mythic quality. It’s home to countless government institutions, as well as to a plethora of monuments that memorialize some of the most important figures and events from our country’s history. For these reasons and more, it’s easy to view D.C. as the romanticized metropolis depicted in Hollywood flicks like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington—the ultimate destination for anyone with policy-related ambitions.
But the capital is far from the only place where policy is made and proposed. While the Hill can hold a strong allure, positions in state governments offer a special opportunity, one that many Batten students and alums are discovering allows them to have a particularly deep impact. In Virginia and across the country, they’re making their mark in an arena many refer to as “the sweet spot.”
“It’s this beautiful middle ground between federal and local government,” says Emily Wilcox (MPP ’17). “I worked as a high school teacher in New Orleans prior to Batten but always wanted to work in education policy. Now I work for the Tennessee Department of Education, and I can see some of the policies we put forward beginning to make a tangible difference.”
Similarly, Ellie Rigsby (MPP ’17) and Danielle Childress (MPP ’17) feel that working at the state level has allowed them to create transformational change. Both Batten graduates work as legislative analysts for the Virginia General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC).