Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, February 15, 2021

William Keenan, MPA

William Keenan, MPA

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Tinley Park, IL

Undergraduate education
Bachelor’s degree in political science, certificates in environmental studies, public policy, and Russian, Eastern European, and Central Asian Affairs, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 2020.

Professional/research interests
Energy policy, water policy, climate change policy

Expected graduation date
May 22

Why the La Follette School?
As an undergraduate student at UW–Madison, I was part of the first graduating class of Undergraduate Certificate in Public Policy students, which allowed me to take classes from La Follette faculty, including Lindsay Jacobs and Geoffrey Wallace, and get to know La Follette staff, including Marie Koko and Mo O’Connor. Developing these relationships, as well as the small cohort size drew me to the La Follette School. Another reason I decided to stay in Madison was because the state capitol is in Madison, giving me the opportunity to intern with elected officials and see policymaking up close. Lastly, as someone interested in environmental policy, I was drawn to the research and work of Greg Nemet and Manuel Teodoro. As you can see, there are a ton of selling points to the La Follette School!

Career goals
Post-graduation, I hope to work for a government agency/department (such as the US Environmental Protection Agency or Department of Energy) as a policy analyst. My long-term career goal is to run for elected office.

How have your La Follette School courses and/or experiences set you on the path to meeting your career goals?
As a La Follette School student, I already have been able to talk to and learn from government officials and graduates about what employers look for, what skills I should develop, and recommended courses to take. Policy Analysis and Global Environmental Governance courses have given me an opportunity to start exploring and learning about topics that are relevant to my career goals.

Summer internship
Sierra Club of Wisconsin, Madison , project aide

Primary responsibilities?
I conducted research and created policy briefs, memos, and talking points on topics including renewable energies, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change policies for elected officials, Sierra Club employees, and the Sierra Club members. I also helped promote Sierra Club events, meetings, and policies on social media, Sierra Club websites, and community calendars throughout Wisconsin.

Internship project example
One of my larger projects was tracking the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change. I attended most of the task force’s hearings and meetings and took detailed notes on what policy solutions they were debating, what impacts Wisconsin would see, and who supported/opposed certain legislation. I would then transfer my notes into social media posts and brief memos that kept Wisconsinites and Sierra Club staff up-to-date on the task force.

Advice for prospective La Follette School students
It’s OK if you do not yet know your specific policy interest areas. The La Follette School offers courses on fiscal policy, healthcare policy, environmental policy, education policy, social policy, and so many other areas. You will find what you are passionate about during your time here.

Most rewarding La Follette School experience
The friendships I have already made while a student here. I am a first-year MPA student taking Zoom classes during a global pandemic(!!) My friends have kept me sane, supported me, answered any and all questions I have, and always make me laugh.

Anything else?
When not in class, I love playing basketball with my friends, exploring Madison’s trails and local hiking spots, and finding some of the best food places in town (Paul's Pel'meni has fueled many late study nights). I am a huge classic rock fan and enjoy Styx, Zeppelin, and Boston.