Q&A with Public Policy Undergraduate Alli Johnson

Alli Johnson is a Senior double-majoring in Public Policy and Political Science. She spent this past summer as an intern with the Green River Area Development District.

How was the process of getting the internship at GRADD?

I was connected to the internship opportunity through my mentors at the Martin School, specifically my advisor Brooke Kuerzi and Dr. Curl. With their assistance I got in touch with the Executive Director at GRADD, Ms. Joanna Shake. Joanna reviewed my resume and we set up an interview via Zoom. It was a very positive experience and made me excited to work for GRADD!

How were your interactions with the Executive Director and others at GRADD?

I was working directly with the Executive Director, Joanna, daily. Joanna is one of the most positive hardworking, kind, and creative people I have ever worked for. Her constant encouragement and leadership made my job a joy. She entrusted me with more important projects than I thought would be assigned to a college intern, but with the level of trust and communication we had it worked perfectly. Seeing women in leadership roles is so inspirational to me and I think Joanna will be a mentor to me for years to come.

Talk a little about your accomplishments as an intern.

My main project of the summer was writing a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training program for GRADD. Diversity and equity in the workplace are issues I am very passionate about, so I really enjoyed diggining into this project. I built a curriculum that utilized all kinds of resources like book excerpts, scholarly articles, and TED talks, followed by discussion prompts which encouraged employees to tackle difficult questions. Joanna was asked by a Chamber of Commerce Director in the Green River District to use the training for her employees, so it has already extended beyond GRADD!

How did your public policy classes help you in your internship?

The most important thing my public policy classes helped me with in this internship are the values they instilled in me about the importance of local government and public service. The more you learn about public policy the more you understand that change is sparked at the local level, and that helped me see this internship as an opportunity to make a difference in my home state. If my work with the DEI training program made even one person think critically or ask questions about difficult issues like racism and inequity, then I achieved something bigger than myself. That is what public policy is all about for me.

What are your future aspirations/passions following your graduation from UK?

After graduation I hope to pursue a career in policy analysis and recommendation in the field of Education Inequity here in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. I graduated from public schools and believe they are the key to setting Kentuckians up for success and allowing communities to flourish.