CSB Student Selected to Participate in Public Policy Leadership Conference at Harvard

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February 10, 2006


Vanessa Williams, a student at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn., has been selected to participate in the sixth annual Public Policy Leadership Conference Feb. 23-26 at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Williams is one of 50 students from around the country to be selected for the conference from a pool of nearly 200 applicants. She was the only student selected from a Minnesota college or university.

The conference will provide an introduction to the field of public policy, a series of distinguished speakers, engage participants in policy workshops and explore possible public service careers. Among the speakers or presenters are former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen (1997-2001) Barbara Bodine, and David Gergen, who has served as an advisor to four U.S. presidents: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

“I’m really looking forward to the different workshops that they have (at the conference),” Williams said. “I think the one I’ll be most interested in is one about negotiation and communication. I really believe that a lot of the world’s problems could be solved quicker if people were more skilled in communicating and negotiating effectively.”

Williams is a sophomore political science major from Maplewood, Minn., and participates in several activities at CSB and Saint John’s University, Collegeville. She is the activity director for the College Democrats, and co-chair of United Students Against Sweatshops. Williams serves on the executive committee of the Student Coalition for Global Solidarity and co-hosts a radio show.

She also works for the Public Policy Learning Community at CSB/SJU, as well as the Saint John’s Greenhouse.

Williams was recommended to attend the conference by Matt Lindstrom, an associate professor of political science at CSB/SJU. Besides Lindstrom’s recommendation, Williams had to send a resume, a personal statement and an academic transcript.

“Getting accepted to this conference is a clear recognition of Vanessa’s academic achievements and service to her community,” Lindstrom said. “The conference affords her the opportunity to network with senior policy makers, elite graduate school representatives, as well as exceptional students from around the world who are interested in public policy.”

“As a political science major, I am quite interested in public policy and public sector work,” Williams said. “Since this conference will focus on public policy, it will help me develop my skills relating to those areas of work and study. I think that this experience will help me as a person because it will force me out of my comfort zone a little bit in that I’ve never traveled by myself, and I won’t know any of the other people attending the conference. I’ve also never been to Massachusetts before, so it will be a completely new experience for me.”