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Center for Women in Government Fellows Fill Policy Pipelines of Leadership 

March 2, 2009

UAlbany graduate student Trina Scalza

Trina Scalza is driven by the conviction that young people must be given access to educational opportunities. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

On the job for only two months working for Assemblywoman Barbara Clark of Queens, UAlbany graduate student Trina Scalza is exploring the links between public policy and the issues of inequality and social mobility. Scalza is driven by a conviction that young people must be given access to educational opportunities that empower them to reach their full potential.  At Clark's office, Scalza is analyzing and evaluating education and child welfare policies which will strengthen the educational system and close the disparity gap.

Scalza has realized this opportunity through the Center for Women in Government and Civil Society's Fellowship on Women and Public Policy, which placed her in Clark's office.  Since one of her long-term goals is to use the core principles of social work in the public policy arena to impact as many children and families as possible, it was a perfect fit.

"The fellowship's emphasis on public policy and state government offered a learning opportunity that was, for the most part, wholly different than anything else I'd come across during my education," said Scalza, a May MSW candidate for graduation and one of six fellowship winners. She works 30 hours a week at Clark's office at the Legislative Office Building.

Scalza chose to study at UAlbany because of the School of Social Welfare's academic reputation, its location, and UAlbany's affordability.

Raised in Warwick, N.Y., Scalza graduated summa cum laude from Union College as a sociology major. Through her fellowship experience, she hopes to clarify and direct her future career aspirations.

"The fellowship is a wonderfully unique opportunity for a number of reasons," she noted. In addition to developing leadership skills, it has helped her network with alumni and individuals in the community who have a strong connection with UAlbany's CWG. "Personally, the fellowship has exposed me to individuals, academic coursework, and a work environment that I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to experience," she said.

group photo of 2009 Fellowship on Women and Public Policy recipients

From left, Women and Public Policy Fellows Mary Olushoga, Jillian Faison, Elizabeth Becker, Trina Scalza, Christina Hansen, and Laura Ibaņez. (Photo Mark Schmidt) 

"For the last 25 years, the Fellowship on Women and Public Policy at the Center for Women in Government and Civil Society has been filling the pipelines of women's leadership," said Fellowship Director Dina Refki. "Alumnae fellows form a 268-strong member community that mentors those who come behind them. Many alumnae fellows hold influential policy positions in government and civil society and continue to lead lives of activism and political and civic engagement." The center is part of the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy.

Asked what her hobbies are, Scalza joked, "You mean I'm supposed to have time for other things?" In her limited spare time she enjoys the outdoors, jogging and hiking. She enjoys baking and relishes the opportunity to read for pleasure.

Another of this year's six fellows, Jillian Faison, is conducting a research project on human trafficking. Faison graduated from UAlbany in 2001 and is a research and outreach associate with the Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance in Albany. She is researching and evaluating different awareness campaigns that are going on across the nation. She is also formulating training materials for professionals who identify and deliver services to victims.  

"The combination of my interest in politics and the law, yearning for social change, and drive to challenge myself pushed me to law school, and through law school at that. I passed the July 2008 New York bar exam and currently I am hoping to garner an immigration, refugee, or human rights position through my ties with the fellowship," said Faison.

In addition to Scalza and Faison, other 2009 Fellows on Women and Public Policy are: Elizabeth Becker, Christina Hansen, Laura Ibaņez, and Mary Olushoga.  The fellows receive a $9,000 stipend and tuition assistance for coursework.

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