Extending Our Mission

In this week’s blog, McCarthy Fellows in Sacramento alum, Caleb Smith ’16, reflects on how their experience with the Center prepared them for their current work in the Oakland Mayor’s Office, serving as a constituent liaison to City Council District Supervisors, Noel Gallo representing district 5, Loren Taylor representing District 6, and Treva Reid representing District 7.

Working in local government, especially in the Oakland Mayor’s Office, has been the ideal opportunity to maintain the practice of service for and with the community. While my role means that I represent the most direct form of power and authority in people’s daily lives, it also means I have the responsibility to invite them into power. This looks like providing interpretation, translation, and culturally competent information, accessibility to the Mayor outside of City Hall, education on City processes, promoting boards and commissions opportunities, and building partnerships with community-based organizations.

One particularly fulfilling method of inviting people into civic life and claiming their power as constituents has been recruiting interns. When I took over outreach for the Mayor’s Office Internship program, I quickly recognized we weren’t only providing career exploration, but also nurturing students’  sense of political efficacy and belonging. The greater understanding we provide about municipal government processes, the more students can galvanize change.

Spring 2020 Mayor’s Office Interns having a socially distanced team building session

I want interns at the Mayor’s Office to have an experience like I had at the California Workforce Development Board (CWDB), my placement in the McCarthy Fellows in Sacramento program. Working collaboratively, producing report analyses,  taking a leadership role in convening CWDB’s grantees and expanding my technical skills helped make me more adaptable and opened  up new realms of possibility. As a fellow, we also were provided with various networking opportunities that led to a multitude of learning experiences.

 Similarly, our interns develop proficiency in communicating across departments, engaging community stakeholders, and learning new technologies to disseminate key information throughout the stay-at-home order. For example, to conduct Oakland’s first Great Oakland Check In, an effort that connected thousands of isolated seniors to fellow Oaklanders, to food security resources, and to social services, interns lead volunteer training, help develop the scripts, and learn how to use PDI software. 

My experience as a McCarthy Fellow reinforced the right professional strengths and values so that I could springboard the careers of others. Alumni from our internship have gone on to sit on City commissions, matriculate into their top choice universities, and work for the likes of the Human Rights Campaign and the Democratic National Party. Seeking out the abundant talent in Oakland and encouraging passionate youth to lead through service, is one of many ways I will answered the call to “change the world from here.”

Read more about our McCarthy Fellows in San Francisco and Sacramento, and USF in DC here.

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civic lifeDemocracylocal governmentMcCarthy Fellows in SacramentoOakland Mayorstudent leaders

Leo T. McCarthy Center • March 11, 2021

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