Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, December 23, 2021

Mitchell Running (MPA ’17, MPH ’18)

Running Mitchell portrait web 200pxUndergraduate education
Bachelor’s degree in archaeology, minor in anthropology, UW–La Crosse 

Hometown
Eau Claire, WI 

Honors
Stephen F. Brenton Health Policy Scholar; Delta Omega Honorary Society of Public Health; UniverCity Year: Dane County – Distinguished Poster Prize

Employer
La Follette School of Public Affairs

Job title
Legislative Liaison

Primary job responsibilities
Translating research for policymakers, stakeholder engagement, legislative outreach, strategic planning, program implementation

Project example
I am responsible for the implementation of the Wisconsin Family Impact Seminar. As part of that process, we work directly with state legislators to identify a policy topic that is of particular interest to them in the current year. We work to gather high-quality research on that topic, identify national experts to speak at the State Capitol, and work with researchers to ensure that the information is presented in a manner that is accessible for policymakers.

How do you use what you learned at La Follette on the job?
The La Follette School curriculum prepared me well for my work post-graduation, both as a policy analyst at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and now as the School’s legislative liaison. The single most important thing I learned at the La Follette School was the process of working through complex policy questions. When you are tasked with an important project with little concrete direction from supervisors, how do you go about developing a work product that is useful and impactful? My coursework and experiences at the La Follette School prepared me to succeed in this kind of environment.

Which experiences and skills helped you get your job?
Without question, the ability to bridge the gap between academia and practitioners. The La Follette School’s coursework prepared me to understand how to incorporate academic research into concrete policy recommendations. This skill is instrumental in my current position, where I work with both researchers and legislators.

Why an MPA/MPH?
Assisting my undergraduate anthropology professor on an evaluation of the La Crosse County Farm2School program, I realized that I wanted to work on big, complex policy issues that are important to the state of Wisconsin and our local communities.

Why the La Follette School?
Wisconsin is my home state, and I care greatly about the well-being of my fellow Wisconsinites. The La Follette School’s commitment to the Wisconsin Idea was the primary reason I chose to attend. Additionally, the small class sizes and high degree of interaction between students and professors were important factors in my decision. I also considered the University of Minnesota, Indiana University, and the University of Chicago.

Project assistantship
I was a project assistant for Associate Professor Yang Wang, a health economist. My experience with her was a tremendous help in my current and previous positions. Working with her, I honed my research and writing skills and broadened my knowledge on policy topics that were relevant to my job. For example, her work regarding long commute times during pregnancy directly informed aspects of my position as a managed care policy analyst at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS).

Impact of client-based projects
They were extremely helpful for resume building and providing a good sense of what types of projects I would be asked to do post-graduation.

Most rewarding La Follette School experience
There are many, but planning our class’s graduation ceremony as a member of the La Follette School Student Association (LSSA) is probably at the top. The ceremony and reception went really well, and it was great to directly contribute to an event that was so meaningful for all of my colleagues.

La Follette School recommendation for prospective student
The La Follette School will give you the tools necessary to be successful in a career in public policy, regardless of the sector or level of government you are interested in. And better still, it will provide you those tools in an environment that is welcoming and conducive to developing and sustaining relationships with mentors and colleagues.

La Follette School mentors
Rebecca McAtee (MIPA ’10) advocated for me in my first position as a limited-term employeeat DHS. I ended up spending nearly five years there and worked on several high-profile projects within the Division of Medicaid Services. I may not have ended up on the same career path had it not been for her support.

Favorite Madison restaurant
Having moved out of Madison to Edgerton, we definitely miss Graft and its amazing views of the Capitol Building.