Allison Carlson – Alumni in the Spotlight

Allison Carlson (MPA ’05) is the executive director at Wisconsin Local Government Climate Coalition, where she works to break downHeadshot of Allison Carlson barriers to decarbonization for local governments in Wisconsin and offers resources and peer to peer information sharing for members. The organization’s 22 (and counting) members across the state are setting their own clean energy and climate goals, making plans to implement climate solutions that also incorporate equity and ensure thriving communities into the future.

Carlson and her team advocate for change using strength in numbers. “Using our collective voice to weigh in on policy and program issues means that all members are stronger together than they would be alone, even the larger communities,” she says. Last year, the WLGCC was involved in two utility rate cases and successfully convinced the commission to reject net metering policy proposals that would have far reaching consequences. Along with other stakeholders, they also encouraged the commission to convene a statewide process rather than a utility-by-utility approach. “To me, the most meaningful result was that we showed that when you bring together a diversity of groups all aligning towards the same goal, your efforts are that much more impactful,” Carlson says.

After receiving her MPA from the La Follette School, Carlson knew she wanted to stay in Wisconsin. “Wisconsin is such a huge part of who I am,” she says. “Call it loyalty or wanting to pay it forward, but I remember having the distinct thought after graduation that I wanted to invest myself and my time in the place where I came from–to build on what makes this state great, and make sure everyone can lead a good life here.”

Carlson says her time at La Follette opened her mind to a wide array of policy areas, taught her skills in critical thinking, and gave her awareness of the policy and political landscape in Wisconsin and the U.S. She leans on the policy toolkit she acquired while at La Follette making decisions in her work today. “When I’m looking at a new policy or program that affects my work, these skills help me to slow down to better understand the history and impacts – what are the potential outcomes and who will feel them?” Carlson says. “I do my best to look at the data and information with an unbiased lens, and then make an informed decision or recommendation.”

Carlson says that studying public policy is beneficial because it is applicable to many areas of work regardless of where you are in your career. “I’ve had roles in state government, in the private sector, and now for a nonprofit serving local governments, and my degree from La Follette has proven very versatile,” she says.

Alumni in the Spotlight

To celebrate La Follette’s 40th anniversary, each month in 2024 we are highlighting alumni who influence policymaking at the highest levels in government, nonprofit, and private-sector organizations across the country and abroad.

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