Two from CSSW Tapped for Presidential Fellowships

January 25 @ 8:14 pm

CSSW alum Caitlin McGuire (MSW’18, right) and student Mary Roh have been selected as 2019 finalists for the prestigious Presidential Management Fellowship, which places students and recent graduates in salaried positions with government agencies.

Ms. McGuire and Ms. Roh are two of six social work majors among the 351 finalists chosen from a field of over 4,000 applicants. Their selection underscores the value of social workers in key government positions, as well as CSSW’s ability to prepare students for government work at the national level.

All finalists now have one year to secure an appointment with a participating agency in order to move from finalist status to fellow.

Alum Katie Chiarantona (MS’12), a former Fellow now working for the Department of Defense, praised the program and the opportunities it affords. “The PMF program opens the door to a career in federal government service and fosters the potential for eventual leadership,” she said. “Especially for social workers, the opportunity to serve as a PMF introduces Fellows to the expansive range of federal offices and programs with a social service mission.”

We asked the two finalists how they learned about the fellowship, what inspired them to apply, and what agencies they hope to work for.

As a student, Caitlin McGuire interned at the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, where her supervisor, Mallory Trachtenberg, served as a role model and encouraged Caitlin to apply for the fellowship. Of Ms. Trachtenberg, McGuire said, “She is a social worker too, and seeing what she has done with her MSW in a federal government setting has been really inspiring to me.”

Since graduating, she works as policy and access coordinator at the AccessAbility Center at City College of New York. She says she “would love to return” to the DOL, but “I’m interested in any agency that would allow me to work with the population I am most passionate about: women and girls.”

Mary Roh, who is doing her field work in the Newborn and Maternal Health Unit at UNICEF, hopes to continue working with vulnerable children or to pursue a career in international affairs. She is seeking a post with the Children’s Bureau or the Office of Refugee Resettlement, or a human rights role in the Department of State.

Ms. Roh credits Dr. Jeanette Takamura’s federal policy class as key to her vision of a career. “This class as a whole was really valuable in helping me gain confidence in pursuing federal work,” she said, “and Prof. Takamura and my classmates have helped me grow a lot in my understanding of policy.”

A class visit by alum Emily Ball Jabbour (MS’06), a former Presidential Management Fellow, influenced Mary’s decision to apply. “It was really inspiring to hear … how she shaped her career and affected policy as a student and post-graduation at her appointment and beyond,” Mary says. “She was also very encouraging to our class in pursuing social work within the federal government and the role we can play in the greater mechanism of social policy.”

Reached for comment, Jabbour was delighted to hear about the selection. “This fellowship is an incredible learning experience and leadership opportunity,” she said. “The federal government needs social workers now more than ever to be at the table and take a leadership role in advocating for the policies that support people in need.”

Interim Dean Irwin Garfinkel echoed this sentiment, saying, “We need innovative thinking in government. CSSW’s policy specialization has consistently developed graduates that go on to do great work in the government and nonprofit world.” He congratulated both finalists on their “extraordinary achievement.”

The Presidential Management Fellowship program was established in 1977 by an executive order from President Jimmy Carter to develop a new cadre of leaders and offer sustenance to promising graduates in the first years of their career.

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