Gillian Giglierano, MPA

Profile photo of Gillian GiglieranoContact Gillian


Normal, IL

Undergraduate education

Bachelor’s degree in music education and viola performance, Illinois State University

Professional or research interests

Education policy, health policy

Expected graduation date

May 2023

Why a Master of Public Affairs (MPA)?

My decision to pursue an MPA was primarily shaped by my experiences as a teacher. Running an orchestra program gave me a deep appreciation for how policy decisions shape the lives of communities and impact health and education outcomes.

Why the La Follette School?

I was particularly drawn to the customizable nature of the MPA and the ability to take courses throughout such a large, well-known university. Having the flexibility to dig into topics that interest me as I grow each semester has been very rewarding.

How has the La Follette School set you on the path to meeting your career goals?

The access to resources and connections you receive when you’re a La Follette student is incredible! I didn’t block out enough time to explore and take advantage of opportunities that interested me in my first semester and that’s something I’ll be doing more in the future.


I hold a project assistant position supporting What Works for Health at County Health Rankings and Roadmaps. What Works for Health is a knowledge base tool that summarizes evidence for policy strategies that impact health. [spoiler alert: almost everything impacts health!]


Jan O’Neill, a La Follette alumna, was a big positive influence for me in thinking about going back to school to study policy. Mary Michaud, who teaches the fabulous systems-oriented health policy course, PA 974: Health Systems and Policy, has been a great sounding board as I’ve grown throughout my first year and Professor Jason Fletcher, my faculty advisor, has been a great source of information and advice as well.

Most challenging La Follette School experience

The most challenging experience has been re-forming my understanding of myself. I used to think of myself as “bad at math,” but while taking PA 818: Intro to Statistical Methods for Public Policy Analysis and PA 819: Advanced Statistical Methods for Public Policy Analysis, I realized that I actually deeply enjoy quantitative thinking and tools and have developed fluency using those skills.

Most rewarding La Follette School experience

The most rewarding experience at the La Follette school has been connecting with like-minded students who care about the same ‘big ideas’ as I do.

Before the La Follette School

I worked as an orchestra teacher for six years. I also worked for UW–Madison in the Division of Continuing Studies developing and implementing professional development classes while I was developing my post-teaching next steps.

Anything else?

I am a huge Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fan. I also am an avid reader and read at least 100 books per year. The author I always recommend, hands down, no reservations is N.K. Jemisin. Read her books – they are incredible!