Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Friday, October 16, 2020

Anna Barry, MPA

Anna Barry Anna Barry

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Brookfield, Wisconsin

Undergraduate education
Bachelor’s degree in political science, certificates in integrated liberal studies and European studies, December 2019

Professional/research interests
Social justice issues, voting, equity, and poverty research

Former U.S. Senate Intern, Wisconsin in Washington Scholar, Big10 Voting Challenge Intern

Expected graduation date
May 2021

Why an MPA?
When I started school at UW–Madison, I was thinking about attending law school after graduation. But after speaking with law students and attending some meet and greets, I realized that it was not the right path for me. I honestly did not know what I was going to do next, but then I had a teaching assistant tell me about the La Follette School. He explained the MPA program and thought I would be a good fit for the La Follette School. After one meeting with (Student Services Coordinator) Mo O’Connor, I was set on attending La Follette. The accelerated program offered a unique opportunity to complete my undergraduate degree while working on my MPA and have only one additional year of grad school. The accelerated program was a perfect fit for me because I was initially excited to enter the job market with my undergraduate degree but unsure of what to do. The La Follette MPA program has offered so many new possibilities and has helped me narrow my path for a future career.

Career goals
I want to run for political office. I have managed several local campaigns and worked on state- and Senate-level campaigns. Along with campaign work, I have a lot of experience organizing students on campus for voting, protests, and events. These experiences along with my work at the La Follette School have shown me how I can be a better policymaker and include my future constituents in the decisions that I make. The La Follette School has shown me the importance of informed policymaking and data-driven policy decisions, both commonly overlooked in our current political space. Also, the staff’s experience has been a major asset, as I plan to run for elected office in my home state of Wisconsin. I will one day be the candidate with my own policies, passions, and goals for my Wisconsin community.

Project Assistantship
I am a project assistant at the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) on campus. I was initially drawn to this position because it was policy related and I would have the opportunity to work with heads of state agencies. Another added bonus was the tuition waiver that came with the position. Honestly, without a graduate position, I was unsure I could afford grad school, but one La Follette School email message about position vacancies changed everything. IRP received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to promote the use of Integrated Data Systems (IDS) on a state level. Right now, Wisconsin is a leader in using IDS for policymaking and cross-referencing data from numerous agencies to target populations that need the most assistance. My team at IRP is working to establish a State Advisory Council for our shared data practices, along with creating a roadmap for other states to follow in our footsteps. I love my campus job because I feel like I am contributing to positive change right here in Wisconsin, while working with a team of experts in their respective fields.

Last summer, I worked as a legislative intern in the US Senate for Sen. Tammy Baldwin. It was a great experience. I was assigned the policy areas of banking and LGBTQ+ issues, but I also had the opportunity to attend hearings on issues that interested me. I took phone calls from constituents, read and sorted mail for Sen. Baldwin, and made frequent runs to the Senate floor to deliver bills. Sen. Baldwin also takes the time to get to know her interns and is always a friendly face in the office. My favorite part of the position was giving tours of the Capitol to Wisconsin constituents. I would always find some connection to the constituents or the area that they were from, and children would always have a great time on the Senate tram.

Client-Based Projects
For Public Management (PA 878), I worked on a group project for the Wisconsin Women’s Network (WWN). I previously participated in WWN’s mentorship program and found the group’s work to be extremely valuable to women in the workplace. My group worked to evaluate WWN’s leadership structure, develop an internship, and give overall suggestions on how the organization could improve efficiencies.

In Cost-Benefit Analysis (PA 881), I am working on a group project for UW–Madison’s Office of Sustainability. We are creating a cost-benefit analysis of the University’s renewable energy usage to find effective solutions for making campus more sustainable. This project has given me great experience in the energy policy world and will make our campus a better place for future students.

Most challenging La Follette School experience
My most challenging experience was PA 818 (Statistical Methods for Public Policy Analysis). This course was part of my first semester as an accelerated student and gave me a bit of imposter syndrome. The course itself has a LOT of material and also has a coding component. As someone who had never coded before and was not great at statistics, this was by far the most difficult course. But the best way to get through it was to remind myself that I belonged here and that other students were struggling, too. The students created study groups and worked through coding together, which definitely put my mind at ease.

La Follette School Diversity & Inclusion Task Force involvement
As a bisexual woman and an advocate in my community, I wanted to leave the La Follette School better than I found it. I did a lot of advocacy work in my undergraduate career, and I wanted to find a way to continue that work. This task force aims to target issues like equity and racial justice from staffing to the curriculum. I have personally experienced sexism and homophobia, and I am excited to leave a lasting impact for future students.

Volunteer activities
I volunteer with the La Follette School Student Association (LSSA), and we recently helped out at a monkey sanctuary! I have also served as a Student Council member for Associated Students of Madison, president of the Political Science Students Association, a housefellow in the dorms, and the Big10 Voting Challenge Intern. I also volunteer for the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin during the summer.

Anything else?
I have an adorable chunky black cat named Zorro! He makes frequent appearances in my online class meetings and work meetings. Zorro also behaves like a dog and does tricks for treats!

Favorite restaurant
Mickies Dairy Bar! Mickies is a Madison classic that still has the 1950s diner look. Fun fact: The morning after the 2018 gubernatorial election, the new governor and lieutenant governor started their day at Mickies to celebrate. I highly recommend Mickies’ pancakes or a scrambler!