Keeping Up With the Interns

interns 5-21 illustration
Rohini Chokkalingam, Sophia Kerievsky, Ava Clason, and Mattias Hoz

LWVBAE’s internship program has been going strong throughout the spring, with four high school students helping out with the League’s many efforts. From criminal justice to the climate crisis, interns have taken action on different areas of local public policy during their time with the League. 

Over the past few months, interns met regularly to learn about each other’s progress, the League’s objectives, and the workings of local government. At these meetings, interns got the chance to learn about political and electoral issues from those directly involved in government. In May, interns spoke with Emma Ishii, a Social Services Policy Associate for District 5 in Alameda County. Ishii discussed the nature of her work, as well as the influential role that county-level government plays in supporting a community’s most vulnerable members. 

Interns also pursued projects of their own. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Intern Rohini Chokkalingam worked to create a set of guiding questions and examples for how to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion during League events. 

“I have enjoyed learning more about the work already being done near us,” Rohini said. “For example, there’s SURJ Bay Area (Standing Up for Racial Justice), which helps people become up-standers when they witness racism. It’s really inspiring to see established groups already working in this area.” 

Action and Criminal Justice Intern Sophia Kerievsky focused her efforts on policy reform, attending criminal justice-related commission meetings in Berkeley, Albany, and Emeryville. Sophia updated the League on local policy changes, especially those concerning policing practices and alternatives. 

“I’ve gotten a first-hand look at how changes are made through the work of the commissions and subcommittees,” Sophia said. “It has been incredible to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of this work and the individuals behind it.” 

Action Intern Ava Clason focused largely on climate issues, attending multiple Albany Climate Committee meetings and writing articles on energy sustainability and California’s water crisis. Ava also pointed to the internship’s experiential learning opportunities as a rewarding aspect of her time with the League. 

“Before this internship, my knowledge of both local government and environmental concerns came from what I learned in school through abstract things like case studies and texts,” Ava said. “Being able to immerse myself in the structure and issues of my local community has allowed for a more concrete understanding of these two areas and has been such a special opportunity.” 

Communications Intern Mattias Hoz took a broader approach to local political issues, covering various topics by producing articles for LWVBAE. Mattias reported on the pandemic’s impact on Bay Area city budgets, the dangers of social media shaping political discourse, and homeland security. Mattias and Sophia also collaborated on a write-up of an Albany Social and Economic Justice Commission meeting. 

As summer approaches and a new group of interns prepares to join the League, the spring interns provided some tips on how to succeed in the program. One suggestion was to attend as many city-level meetings as possible. 

“My biggest piece of advice is just to communicate,” Ava said. “Kandea and the rest of the League are truly there to support your growth and learning, not to mention they are also just a delightful group of people. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.” 

–Mattias Hoz

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