Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Liz Duffie, MPA

Liz Duffie Liz Duffie

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Portland, Maine

Undergraduate education
Bachelor’s degree in psychology, Dartmouth College, 2010

Professional/research interests
Homelessness, housing insecurity, and other social welfare policy topics

Expected graduation date

Why an MPA?
Working in homeless services in Seattle, I had an ability to impact the specific policies of the program I managed, but I often felt constrained by a larger system of regulations and grant requirements. I also worked with clients who had been repeatedly disadvantaged by circumstances beyond their control. I wanted to better understand how policies that shape community welfare are developed and to have a hand in trying to shape thoughtful, effective, and equitable policies.

Career goals?
I’m not sure. I have enjoyed working in nonprofit organizations, but I think the capacity to impact policy on a larger scale is more limited in that sector than in government. I want to stay in Wisconsin, so I would consider working in city or state government. I would also be interested in working for a policy/research organization.

Alumni & other mentors
I am fortunate to be married to a La Follette School alumnus. My husband completed the program the year before I started it (he didn’t scare me away), and although he hasn’t really provided course-specific support, it is great to be able to talk to him about the program—especially about being a returning student.

Advice for prospective La Follette School students
It can be intimidating to consider returning to the academy after taking time off in the workforce. So far, it feels like the right decision. Jokes from my classmates about me not knowing what Tik Tok is aside (OK, they aren’t jokes, I don’t really get it), it is an environment where everyone is diving into the content together and returning to school provides an opportunity to sit back and think in a way that wasn’t possible when I was working.

People would be surprised if they knew that I …
… was a baker in a pie shop when I first moved to Seattle. Early shift started at 4 a.m. I am not really a morning person, but I wish I was. The worst part of the job was mixing pie fillings made with frozen ingredients (frozen berries, for example). So cold. The best part of the job was that I got a free espresso drink every day when the baristas got on duty at around 6:30.