As Seen on TV?

Mackenzie Sleeman, COL ’25, Pound Ridge, NY

I am beyond grateful for the support and generosity of Penn Career Services, in providing me the opportunity to work for the Government Affairs & Community Relations (GA-CR) department of Stamford Health; a non-profit, independent healthcare system operating in Stamford, Connecticut. My work with the GA-CR team was twofold: assisting in Stamford Health’s efforts with the Connecticut State Government, and executing initiatives delineated by the Community Health Improvement Plan.

In terms of government affairs, I was inspired to work for Stamford Health after learning about lobbying in my Public Policy Process class last spring. Ostensibly, many people see lobbyists as inherently corrupt – a transactional profession bound to quid-pro-quo exchanges (House of Cards anyone?). Rather, this class explored favorable ways that lobbyists exert agenda control in persuading a governmental body to take a specific stance on certain issues. For example, informational lobbying is when lobbyists use their subject-expertise to educate lawmakers on existing or pending policy, to influence alternative solutions that align with industry or business goals.

As such, I enjoyed meeting and observing government officials who are passionate about addressing the state of healthcare in Connecticut, with the support of industry and community leaders. I had an amazing experience attending the annual behavioral health symposium at Stamford Health, the wellness fair by the Bipartisan Women’s Caucus, and the Office of Health Strategy’s Cost Growth Benchmark Public Hearing. Concurrently, my work included tracking, analyzing, and synthesizing healthcare-related content, from the legislature and state agencies, to update our team on current proposals and legislation.

In terms of community relations, I helped Stamford Health execute its Community Health Improvement Plan, required by the Affordable Care Act, to respond to the community needs of Lower Fairfield County residents. I was very grateful to be a part of the Stamford Health event titled, “When Rarity becomes a Reality: A Discussion on Multiple Myeloma.” By collaborating with the Wilton, Connecticut, Library, this was one way in which Stamford Health extended its influence beyond a healthcare setting, such as to be the impetus to engage residents in preventative care measures. Additionally, I had a remarkable day at The Community Fund of Darien, learning how different organizations – with different missions – all come together to make a collective, positive impact on Lower Fairfield County residents.

Despite their public image, I learned from my internship the invaluable work that lobbyists conduct; bringing together community partners, industry leaders, and government officials to organize a unified front to solve problems facing their neighbors, consumers, and constituents. I had an enriching experience being part of the GA-CR team, and I hope to apply my newfound knowledge to my future career.  

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2023 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

By Career Services
Career Services