In 2018, I was honored to be selected as a fellow in the Health and Aging Policy Fellows (HAPF) program and the American Political Science Association (APSA) Congressional Fellowship Program.
These programs offer fellows an in-depth, year-long immersion in federal policy. The HAPF program aims to create a cadre of leaders focused on creating and implementing policies that affect older Americans. The APSA program aims to enhance public understanding and engagement in the policymaking process.
As part of this policy training, I participated in lectures, seminars, and talks from a range of experts, including congressional scholars, congressional staff, policy experts (including health and aging policy experts), and health care advocates. Topics included:
Key issues in health and aging policy
Understanding Congressional oversight
Bicameralism: House and Senate Procedural Differences
Introductions to the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Budget Office
The highlight of these policy fellowships is a nine-month long placement in a federal or state governmental agency. I was honored to be accepted as a fellow in the Senate Special Committee on Aging, working for ranking member Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). As a fellow in the Committee, I was tasked with everything from writing legislation to meeting with advocacy groups to working across the aisle on the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act.
Together, these policy fellowships have led me to have a rich understanding of how Congress works. Viewing this experience through my research translation lens, I understand how academic researchers and advocates can better work to influence policy and engage with policymakers in a meaningful and substantive way.
Upon completion of these policy fellowships, I was eager to continue to work with policymakers to translate research to evidence and was thrilled to be invited to serve on the Advisory Board for the Missouri Science and Technology (MOST) Policy Initiative Fellows Program. MOST policy fellows provide much needed resources for Missouri General Assembly. Fellows assist in scientific, rather than legal, research before bills are written, and also help to inform senators and representatives on benefits and consequences of pending statutes and regulations. Outside of the short legislative session, fellows assist with building evidence-based research capacity and training workshops for legislators and staff, giving them confidence to address issues about which they feel passionate and better address the needs of their constituents. As a member of the Advisory Board, I work with leadership and other board members to select fellows, develop the fellows' training curricula and experiences, and mentor fellows. I am also one of two board members working with the MOST executive director to evaluate the fellows program and assess its impact on legislators' opinions and utilization of research and science during the policymaking process.