This summer Arnold Ventures welcomed five interns from the EMERGE Fellowship program to spend their summer working closely with our Research, Criminal Justice, Advocacy, and Finance & Accounting teams.
The interns have been paired with project managers and mentors for the entirety of their 10 weeks at Arnold Ventures. These project managers lead the interns' project development across all stages, establishing productive workplace dynamics and promoting collaboration and relationship-building. The goal of the mentorship relationship is to offer interns additional support as they navigate a professional setting for the first time and to help them develop skills that fall outside of their discrete projects.
“Our EMERGE summer internship brings AV’s mission to life. These students have persevered through many of the systems we seek to transform and are incredibly driven. They are the embodiment of what is possible when you have organizations like EMERGE to empower them to create a better future for themselves,” said Karla Sainz, Director of Organizational Initiatives.
We can’t wait for you to meet them!
Editor's note: This story was written by Arnold Ventures' summer Communications Intern Rachel Racicot, a Texas A&M University senior pursuing a bachelor of science in telecommunication media studies and a minor in English. Rachel has spent her summer curating a daily news roundup, writing for the website and Intranet, producing and packaging content for the web, creating videos and social media content, and researching best practices in communications. "Rachel is a self-starter who has demonstrated the most initiative and enthusiasm I have ever seen in an intern," says her supervisor, Director and Managing Editor Stephanie DiCapua Getman. "She is smart, driven, and thoughtful, and with her varied skillset will go far in this industry. She is an asset to our team and to Arnold Ventures."
Meet the Summer 2020 AV Interns
Because the internship is fully remote this year, the interns were given the chance to introduce themselves virtually. Take a deeper dive into their work below. (Click on their names to view LinkedIn profiles)
Focus: Accounting/ Finance
Supervisor: Ruchi Agrawal, Finance Manager
Mentor: Chris Hensman, Director of New Programs
Interests: Badminton, volunteering, film, and television
Arnold attends Georgetown University and intends to major in international business at the McDonough School of Business. He's working with several exciting projects on the Finance & Accounting team.
"Arnold is assisting Finance with overall tracking and analysis of third-party exposure through active grants," says his supervisor, Agrawal. "He is also helping to lay the groundwork for the development of comparable metrics across various project budgets to help Finance assess cost-reasonableness of budget components relative to similar expense items and activities."
Arnold is also helping the Accounting team identify and analyze spending patterns across philanthropic entities that are similar to AV, and testing and improving a new expense management system that will be rolled out to AV employees.
"Arnold has been a great asset to the Finance & Accounting team by helping us gather and analyze data to inform our understanding of active grant budgets and spending patterns of comparable foundations," says Agrawal. "He is very pleasant to work with and brings a positive, friendly attitude to his internship even while being remote! We are grateful for his dedication to our team this summer and enjoy having his fresh perspective."
Focus: Criminal Justice
Supervisor: Sebastian Johnson, Criminal Justice Manager
Mentor: Catie Bialick, Criminal Justice Manager
Interests: Debate, reading, drawing, photography
Faiza attends Colby College and is pursuing a bachelor of arts in government and psychology with a pre-med focus.
This summer, Faiza is helping to draft a memorandum on Arnold Ventures' 2020 advocacy strategy for the criminal justice portfolio. "She’s interviewing our grantees on how we can better coordinate our efforts and will also produce a PowerPoint presentation for our team leadership," says Johnson.
Faiza is conducting background research to develop "state snapshots," which include AV's policy priorities for selected states, bills the philanthropy has supported, legislative champions, and a brief overview of what has happened in the state so far this year, said Bialick. Her work will help inform broader strategy efforts.
"Faiza is incredibly bright and talented," says Bialick. "Her contributions, ability to meet deadlines and innate instincts for asking all the right questions are so appreciated. We were lucky to snag her for the summer, and it has been a pleasure acting as her mentor."
Cesar Lara, Yale University
Supervisor: Sam Mar, Vice President, Office of the Co-Chairs
Mentor: Michelle Welch, Director of Public Finance
Interests: Coding, basketball, entrepreneurship, watching "Shark Tank," and working out outside
Cesar attends Yale University and intends to major in computer science and economics. Cesar has been working on learning about ranked-choice voting, an electoral reform that Arnold Ventures supports through our democracy program.
"Throughout this summer, Cesar has read numerous research reports on the need for reform, practiced videotaping himself explaining ranked-choice voting to friends, delivered a presentation to fellow interns, and he has been working with a local grantee to advance ranked-choice voting here in Texas," says Mar.
The grantee Cesar is working with has assigned him outreach tasks to increase the number of supporters for ranked-choice voting in the hopes that they can turn even more people into advocates.
"Cesar has been a joy to work with, and I’m excited about how quickly he has learned about a complex issue and been able to communicate it effectively with his peers," says Mar.
Madison attends Tulane University and is pursuing a bachelor of arts in political economy.
"Working Madison has been absolutely wonderful," says Smith-Kea.
This is Smith-Kea's second time supervising an intern, and she still mentors her intern from last summer. "My intern last year said I was the first woman of color she ever had in a mentor role, and for Madison, I wanted to give a diverse intern a diverse mentor."
The goal is for Madison to collaborate with colleagues across the team: She's worked with Criminal Justice Analyst Harrison Crist on a tracking document to determine the vision and mission for the team, and is working with Criminal Justice Manager Lindsey Lovel Heidrich on Salesforce on an Open Science Foundation. With proper upkeep, this space becomes a databank where grantees, researchers, scholars, and others can easily access information from projects Arnold Ventures has funded.
"I wanted her to own a project from beginning to end," says Smith-Kea. "Madison's projects involve grantmaking with a social justice lens, a racial justice lens, and doing a deep dive into how foundations are or are not doing work in racial justice. "
Madison was given the subject of racial justice and told to run with it, said Smith-Kea. "She will present it and will have an annotated bibliography and a brief documentation. Background information on how foundations approach racial justice could be of a great help to Arnold Ventures in establishing our own course of action for racial justice advocacy."
For Smith-Kea, the purpose of an internship "is not about right or wrong, and experiences like this allow you to grow and learn about operating in this space."
Focus: Criminal Justice (Pretrial)
Supervisor: Kristin Bechtel, Director of Criminal Justice Research
Mentor: Kim Cassel, Director of Evidence-Based Policy
Interests: Data analysis, hip hop culture, creating floral arrangements, walking dogs, learning about markets
Derrick attends Harvard University where he is pursuing a major in economics. Bechtel said she didn't want Arnold Ventures' move to remote work to negatively impact Derrick's internship.
"It is difficult to be working remotely, and we are typically a very collaborative team. However, we are successfully working remotely. The pretrial team has welcomed Derrick in as a colleague — the goal is to make the intern feel part of the pretrial team."
This summer, Derrick is working on a public safety assessment to help the team improve functionality and uncover data. In addition to the assessment, Derrick has updated the research agenda tracker, the team's way to understand the focus of their research.
Derrick is also summarizing the main findings and deliverables of various grants and assisting with research by attending webinars to help keep the pretrial and policing teams informed. He sits in on all of the criminal justice and pretrial meetings and joins in on conversations with grantees to see how AV works to foster productive relationships.
"Derrick produces work so efficiently and takes feedback really well. We hope to stay in touch with him after his internship," Bechtel says.