Making D.C. Connections at Women in Public Policy 2021

Aaliyah Ford is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

My name is Aaliyah Ford, and I attended the 2021 Women in Public Policy Seminar. Currently, I
am a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and I have a bachelor’s degree
in social work and will be graduating with my master’s in social work this May!
Unfortunately, due to the global pandemic, the seminar had to be virtual, however, it was still
very impactful! Through speakers brought in to talk, the members just like me, and the
resources shared, I feel like I was given a new lens into how to approach my passion for public policy and a variety of ways that I could involve myself both locally and nationally.
From this seminar, I have gained about 50+ people who are now in the same boat that I am in
career/student wise who can share my journey into the workforce. Women in these seminars
come from a variety of locations and the diversity of the members are so vast. It is truly a
welcoming space. To this day, I still have strong connections with a few of the members where
we have just become internet friends and can check-in on each other every once in a while.
These connections are a rarity, specifically for women. Within this group, I have never felt so
validated in my career aspirations and the motivation of the other members also drives me to
want to keep challenging and bettering myself.

The speakers brought to this seminar all had a variety of different backgrounds, as well, that
really made my PLEN experience unique. We kicked things off with a networking event that was much needed for many of the seminar members. We were provided with skills needed to reach out and make a lasting impression on people to further our career opportunities. As someone from the Midwest, I came in with the mindset that I lacked the ability to network myself into positions in DC or other major areas. Fortunately for me, PLEN proved me wrong! PLEN is the perfect place to really start building your network and figuring out areas of policy you may be interested in. Thanks to this seminar, I now have connections all over the country, including in DC.

Aaliyah's PLEN from home outfit!

Personally, I am now in close contact with multiple people from the Aspen Institute and am
scheduling multiple meetings to learn, connect, and market myself professionally. I am forever
grateful for the opportunity to be in PLEN. For anyone thinking about joining, I highly
recommend! I was thinking about doing it for about 2.5 years before actually committing to applying and I have never been more satisfied with a seminar’s content and resources provided.

For anyone thinking about whether or not this opportunity is for them, please contact me! I
would love to dive deeper into my experiences and thought process around applying. You can
find me on LinkedIn, if you wish, at

I wish you all the best of luck!

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