Policy Issues

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  • Meet a Student

    Kate Samuelson

    As someone who is very interested in community revitalization and economic mobility work, Kate says that it has been “fascinating to experience interagency collaboration in practice and to learn about the partnership structure needed to truly transform high-poverty communities.”

    Rising sophomore Kate Samuelson of Houston, Texas did not let her freshman status define her freshman year. From the Civic House PennCORP pre-orientation program last fall to her current public policy internship in Washington, D.C., Kate has made the most of her first year at Penn, joining several campus groups, starting one of her own, and enjoying life as a new Quaker and Philadelphian.

    Kate SamuelsonRecruited to Penn by the Kelly Writers House, Kate arrived on campus early last fall for PennCORP, a pre-orientation program offered by Civic House through which incoming freshmen do service work in West Philadelphia and gain “historical, social and political perspectives on the community.” She serves as advocacy liaison for the Civic House Associates Coalition, where she supports Penn service and advocacy organizations, and is part of the Civic Scholars program, which provides undergraduates with “a sustained four-year experience in civic engagement and scholarship.” Civic Scholars attend proseminars on civic engagement as underclassmen and complete a capstone service project – “an in-depth research experience focusing on a social issue of interest to the scholar which results in public, social, or organizational policy recommendations” – during junior and senior year. Kate plans to focus her capstone project on the West Philadelphia Promise Zone.

    Throughout her freshman year, Kate joined and took on leadership roles in several campus groups, including Penn Women’s Political League, where she’ll continue her term as vice president in the fall, and the Secretariat Board of the International Affairs Association. She also works as a research assistant at the Penn School of Social Policy and Practice and will serve on the board for Penn Hillel’s Reform Jewish Community. But perhaps most important of all, Kate created the Penn Childhood Cancer Coalition, a community service and advocacy group that aims to raise awareness of childhood cancer, serve the needs of children undergoing treatment in Philadelphia, and advocate for national legislation to improve the lives of children with cancer. Kate is very passionate about this issue, having started Rainbows and Roses, a nonprofit organization benefiting pediatric cancer patients and their families in Texas, when she was 12 years old. This summer, she has served as co-chair of the marketing committee for CureFest D.C., an event taking place September 21st on the National Mall that will unite over 1,000 individuals – including government officials and childhood cancer researchers, advocates, patients, survivors, and relatives – as one voice against childhood cancer.

    Kate plans to major in political science and is pursuing minors in international development and journalistic writing. She’s able to explore her interests in politics and urban affairs both through her ABCS (academically-based community service) courses and through her current internship with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which she discovered through the Penn Wharton PPI Job Board. At HUD, she works on the interagency Promise Zones Initiative, a part of President Obama’s plan to create a better bargain for the middle-class. As Kate reported, the initiative designates a number of high-poverty urban, rural, and tribal communities as Promise Zones, where the federal government will partner with and invest in communities to create jobs, leverage private investment, increase economic activity, expand educational opportunities, and improve public safety.

    West Philadelphia is home to one of the first five Promise Zones, which has, among other goals, prioritized reducing crime and increasing educational opportunity. Working at the HUD headquarters in D.C., Kate helps to implement the initiative at the federal level, working with the first five Promise Zone designees and many of the initiative’s stakeholders. Since the Promise Zones Initiative is at a relatively early stage of implementation, there have been many exciting developments, including proposed legislation for a Promise Zones tax credit. As someone who is very interested in community revitalization and economic mobility work, Kate says that it has been “fascinating to experience interagency collaboration in practice and to learn about the partnership structure needed to truly transform high-poverty communities.” She plans to volunteer her service for efforts in the West Philadelphia Promise Zone, coordinated by the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO).

    After such an eventful first year, Kate believes that the sky is the limit as far as what she can accomplish at Penn. Whether law school, an MPA program, or something else entirely is on the horizon after graduation, Kate is committed to the initiatives she has worked on or started. When asked what advice she would give to incoming freshman, Kate offered, “I’d encourage them to find what they are passionate about and just run with it. Pursue leadership opportunities early on and don’t be discouraged because you’re a freshman.” She certainly was not.

    *Penn Wharton PPI is pleased to be funding Kate’s internship experience at HUD this summer.

     

  • Events on Campus

    Image preview Sep5 Coffee Chat with Professor Olivia S. Mitchell of BEPP 3:00pm - 4:00pm
    Location: Steinberg-Dietrich Hall 217
    Financial literacy and planning for retirement
  • Image previewAugust 27Reducing World-Wide Dependence on Fossil Fuels

    Author: Isidoro Tapia, WG’15

    In his 2006 State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush coined the term “addiction to oil” to describe America’s reliance on fossil fuel-based technologies: “Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.”

  • Image previewAugust 25The Danger of Crowding Out the Crowd in Equity Crowdfunding

    With regard to equity crowdfunding, too many policymakers and regulators are focusing their attention on the “funding” piece of crowdfunding, overlooking the fact that the true revolutionary power of crowdfunding lies instead in the crowd.

  • Faculty Affiliate

    Joni Finney Joni Finney

    Dr. Finney is Professor of Practice at the University of Pennsylvania and Director of the Institute for Research in Higher Education (IRHE). She teaches graduate courses in the public finance of higher education and public policies and higher education. Prior to that she was vice-president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education from 1997-2007. She has also held senior policy positions at the California Higher Education Policy Center and the Education Commission of the States. For over 25 years Dr. Finney has worked with state and national leaders on improving public policy for higher education.

    Finney pioneered the development of the nation’s first report card on higher education, Measuring Up. She currently researches state policy and its relationship to state performance; she also assists states in developing public policies to increase educational attainment and reduce gaps in performance. Most recently, working with colleagues across the nation, Finney co-authored Financing American Higher Education in The Era of Globalization (2012) published by Harvard Education Press. She has also written two other books: Public and Private Finance of Higher Education: Shaping Public Policy for the Future and Designing State Higher Education Systems for a New Century.

  • Image previewAugust 19Expert Panel Calls for Public Health Research on Natural Gas Drilling

    Trevor M. Penning, the Thelma Brown and Henry Charles Molinoff Professor of Pharmacology, director of the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET), and Faculty Affiliate, along with a group of environmental health researchers, published his findings regarding groundwater and air quality testing before, during, and after natural gas drilling. The findings, published this month in Environmental Health Perspectives, discusses “public health research needs associated with unconventional natural gas drilling operations (UNGDO).” “The working group was convened following presentations on the potential of natural gas drilling to adversely affect public health at the 2012 Annual Environmental Health Sciences Core Centers [EHSCC] meeting at Harvard School of Public Health,” stated Penning.

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