"Every day I have to effectively boil down complex policy topics into something brief and digestible...We spent a lot of time at Brown learning how to write impactful policy papers in as few pages as possible, and I have definitely carried that skill into my work."
Benjamin Lopez, MPA ’22 discusses his experience in the Brown MPA program and how it prepared him for his current role as the Digital Communications Manager / Press Assistant for the Washington office of Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernández.
Tell us about your job:
I work in the Washington office of Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernández as the Digital Communications Manager / Press Assistant. I work with our Communications Director to write and edit press releases, speeches, and quotes for media outlets. I also script and edit videos of the Congresswoman, and manage all of her official social media pages. I translate complex policy issues into direct and effective messaging for our constituents and the press. Our office prides itself on serving the people of New Mexico, many of whom are working-class, Indigenous, impoverished, and unheard in national policy conversations.
What has been the most impactful project you’ve worked on at your job so far?
I took the lead on a project to advocate for equal pay for Latina women, contacting other Democratic Latinas in the House and editing together a video for Latina Equal Pay Day, which was picked up by MSNBC. Getting a dozen lawmakers to come together on a single messaging project was no easy task, but it was really rewarding to see the final product make a splash.
What skills from the MPA program do you use in your work?
Writing, writing, writing! Every day I have to effectively boil down complex policy topics into something brief and digestible. In our office, we call it the “tía test” - could your aunt understand what you’re talking about if she read your work? We spent a lot of time at Brown learning how to write impactful policy papers in as few pages as possible, and I have definitely carried that skill into my work.
What was the highlight of your experience at Brown?
The other MPA students, and the sense of community I developed. Everyone in our program was earnestly trying to make the world a better place, and everyone brought their own experience and expertise. Once everyone disperses into their careers, there are so many ways we can help one another achieve our goals. I also gained a sense of purpose and belonging from the relatively small size of the MPA cohort, and the fact that we were all in the same boat - it led to a lot of bonding!
What advice would you give to young professionals entering the MPA program?
Always advocate for what you want. Make connections with the other students and the faculty. I met some of the smartest and most insightful people during my time in the MPA program. Brown has so many resources for its students, like the Center for Students of Color, resume writing workshops, study series with national politicians, and all the social events! Go to as many events as you can and make friends. If you see a problem or something you think could be improved or changed, don’t hesitate to start talking about it to see what can be done. There are countless people at Brown to help you, including the ones you’re in class with every day.