B.A. in Journalism, Michigan State University, 2004
M.S. in Animals and Public Policy, Tufts University, 2016
New Hampshire State Director at The Humane Society of the United States
What were you doing before entering the Masters in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) program?
For nearly ten years I have obtained project management, campaign development and account service experience in the Metro Detroit advertising industry. My goal to utilize this work experience to pursue a career in animal welfare advocacy is what led me to discover the Masters in Animals and Public Policy program. Among the many unique aspects of the MAPP program, I was especially impressed by its concentrated and career-driven curriculum that prepares students to navigate the challenging issues facing animals today.
My work with animals began when I joined the Michigan Humane Society as a volunteer adoption counselor. This life-changing experience inspired me to participate in other advocacy opportunities, such as the Keep Wolves Protected campaign and Lansing Humane Lobby Day, while affirming my decision to move my career in a new direction.
Tell us about your MAPP externship
I interned with the ASPCA Government Relations Team in Washington, DC. My work was focused on the ASPCA’s grassroots advocacy initiatives, including the development of the District Captain Volunteer Program and the launch of an Ohio campaign to oppose a bill that supports the puppy mill industry. I also traveled to Massachusetts to collect signatures for a farm animal ballot measure and participated in two ASPCA-sponsored events: the Taking Action for Animals 2016 conference and the Paws For Celebration pet adoption event. For my final project, I wrote a research paper on volunteer engagement and I developed a District Captain Volunteer Guide that the ASPCA will use to train the volunteer team members. My experience with the ASPCA has helped me gain insights into the animal welfare community, build my professional network, expand my communication skills, and prepare me for my new job at Alley Cat Allies.
How did the MAPP program help you land your externship?
There are several ways in which the MAPP program helped me land my summer externship as an ASPCA Government Relations Intern in Washington, DC. First, I acquired communications, research, and presentation skills that were necessary to complete the wide variety of tasks that are expected of ASPCA interns. Such tasks included creating campaign materials, researching state policies, and networking with advocates. Second, I learned how state and federal policies impact companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife. Understanding the nuances between these groups of animals was critical to obtaining an internship with the ASPCA. As one of the largest animal welfare organizations in the country, the ASPCA advocates for many different types of animals and animal-related issues. Third, I developed relationships with past students, fellow advocates, and established professionals. Over the past 20 years, the MAPP program has earned a reputation for launching animal advocates into leadership positions in the animal protection industry. Since the ASPCA became North America’s first animal welfare organization 150 years ago, it has earned a reputation for being at the forefront of the animal protection movement. As two well-known institutions, the ASPCA and the MAPP program have a history of collaboration and mutual respect.
How did what you learned in MAPP help you during your externship?
I learned several important skills in the MAPP program that helped me during my summer externship as an ASPCA Government Relations Intern in Washington, DC. First, I learned the importance of being both compassionate to animals and to people. The MAPP program challenges students to consider different ways of thinking about animals. Understanding how unique backgrounds and experiences shape opinions about animals is vital to having constructive dialogue with the public. Second, I learned how to present arguments in a logical and factual manner. The MAPP program trains students to effectively speak about animal issues without letting emotions distract from their key messages. Third, I learned how to critically evaluate published scientific studies and statistical analyses. Identifying potential bias and misrepresentation in research is important when advocating for animals since many opposition groups use science as a basis for their arguments.
In what ways do you use your Masters in Animals and Public Policy degree in your first position after MAPP at Alley Cat Allies?
Both the MAPP program and my externship as an ASPCA Government Relations Intern helped prepare me for my new position as Senior Programs Associate at Alley Cat Allies. As a member of the Community Programs and Support team, I develop strategies to support local and state campaigns, collaborate with advocates, nonprofit organizations, and government officials to create humane policies and procedures, and research opportunities to promote and protect cat-friendly communities across the country. In this role, I utilize the communication, research, presentation, and critical thinking skills I’ve developed over the past 12 months as a MAPP student and ASPCA Intern. I highly recommend the MAPP program and the ASPCA Government Relations Internship program to anyone who wants to turn his/her passion for animals into an exciting and meaningful animal advocacy career.