2020 Congressional Research Fellowsip Program: a big leap towards a career in public policy

23 December 2019

Crawford student Lisa Butson is one of two 2020 Congressional Research Fellows who will go to the United States from January to March 2020 to work in a US Senator’s office in Washington to help with their policy work.

As outstanding ANU students, Lisa and her study colleague Will Palmer will have an opportunity to get incredible insights into the world of foreign relations and policy, and gain valuable experience and understanding of policy-making from a US perspective.

In this interview prior to their departure, Lisa told us more about her background, interest in public policy, and her expectations of the forthcoming exciting journey to Washington DC.

Tell us about your background.

I’m from Caves Beach, about 40 minutes south of Newcastle in New South Wales. I have a Bachelor of Development Studies with a major in globalisation and economic development, and my academic and professional interests are predominantly focused on poverty reduction.

What are you studying at Crawford School of Public Policy, and what made you decide to join Crawford?

I study the Graduate Certificate in Public Policy. When I decided that this will be the next step in my development, I found out that Crawford School offers a highly regarded course that suits my needs.

What sparked your interest in studying public policy?

I have previously worked in policy-like roles and wanted to gain an understanding of theoretical aspects of public policy and apply these to real-life situations.

What do you like most about Crawford School?

The opportunity to meet students from all over the world is definitely one of the best experiences one can have.

Have you ever been to the US, and what makes the Congressional Research Fellowship Program so exciting for you?

I have never been to the US before. The most exciting part of the journey will be working in the Congress and learning about the differences between Australia’s and America’s political and parliamentary systems. I also expect to gain a wealth of experience in US public policy.

What does this fellowship opportunity mean to you as a future policy professional?

It is a great opportunity to further my career in public policy. Understanding the US Congress will be a valuable experience to further my skills, particularly about learning how foreign policy is made and the US and global processes involved.

Have you previously worked in a policy-facing role?

Yes, I have worked for two Federal Members of Parliament in the House of Representatives. This role involved advocating for constituents, advising the member on policy issues and consulting with an array of federal government agencies. I have also interned with the National Economic and Development Authority in the Philippines in the water resources management sector and with the Asia Foundation in disaster risk reduction and management.

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