By: Rachel Gordon, 2017-2018 Work First Fellow
Last month, the 2017-2018 Work First Foundation Fellowship class had the opportunity to travel to the nation’s capital for a weekend of professional development and sightseeing activities. This was a weekend greatly anticipated by all, as it was the first time since the fellowship year began in July that Fellows from each of the offices, spread nationwide, were able to reunite in one place.
Upon arriving in Washington on Friday, Fellows immediately began to experience all of the culture and history the city has to offer by taking a tour of the White House. Everyone was thrilled and grateful to have such a unique and rare opportunity to learn about one of the nation’s most significant and historical buildings and witness its beauty, while standing directly within its walls.
After the tour, the Fellows continued the day with a visit to the American Policy Institute (AEI), a public policy research institute dedicated to issues largely within government, politics, economics, and social welfare. Fellows were invited to a policy discussion with Robert Doar, a former commissioner of the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) and currently the Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies within AEI. Mr. Doar has an extensive background in both researching and administering anti-poverty policies and programs, with the goal of increasing opportunities for low-income individuals throughout the country. After learning about his expertise surrounding public assistance, employment requirements, and current policy revisions being made on major federal public assistance programs, Fellows briefly shared and discussed the research projects they have been working on throughout the year. Fellows were grateful to gain valuable insight, feedback, and suggestions from Mr. Doar related to their research, in order to further guide their work within the final stages of their projects.
The Fellows concluded their day on Friday with a professional development session led by one of the America Works trainers based out of the New York region. As their service year is coming to a close, the 2017-2018 class had a chance to reflect on and discuss a variety of aspects of their fellowship experience. Fellows spent most of the session considering how the lessons learned and experiences gained throughout the year have shaped them both personally and professionally. They focused on how their work within the Work First Foundation may inform future policy solutions and guide their subsequent career paths and aspirations, wherever each fellows’ individual journey may lead them next.
Before departing on Sunday, the Fellows had plenty of time to continue experiencing the rich culture and history of Washington, D.C, while enjoying each other’s company along the way. They are all greatly looking forward to reuniting one last time at the end of next month, where they will each have the opportunity to share and present the findings from the research projects they have been so dedicated to throughout the year at the 2018 Work First Fellowship Symposium.