Nellie Condee, AUNE Congressional Progressive Caucus Fellow, Awes Her Teammates

Nellie Condee, AUNE’s 2013 Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Fellow, who finished up her fellowship in Washington, D.C., last summer, impressed her colleagues.

Nellie was just such a gigantic help to us, said Brad Bauman, CPC director.  We threw her into some deep waters, specifically on a project with a bunch of outside groups working on trade deals.  She was able to bring together people from the environmental, labor, civil rights, and farming movements.  She organized the perfect group of folks who are committed to ending this bad trade deal.

This is the seventh year for the CPC Fellowship, begun in 2007 by the Advocacy for Social Justice and Sustainability (ASJS) concentration in AUNE’s Department of Environmental Studies and the 80-plus member US Congressional Progressive Caucus.  Through the Fellowship, at least one ASJS student or alum works in Washington, D.C., for the Caucus and its members each summer. AUNE is the only academic institution in the country to host this type of learning and professional development program with the CPC.

CPC co-chair and Representative Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), ranking member of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, said he is pleased to see the partnership continue.  Antioch University New England’s Advocacy for Social Justice and Sustainability program Fellow will help caucus members address a wide variety of urgent public policy challenges, from the local to the international levels, he said.

Nellie is an amazing change agent, and she will really go far, said Haley Stewart, the 2012 CPC Fellow, who worked as Senior Legislative Fellow for the CPC last summer and now has a new job as California program associate for Defenders of Wildlife.

Bauman said he wishes the program were larger. There has got to be a way to work together to expand this program. I am just enamored with it.

Keep sending me organizers, Bauman said. You send people who have a deep abiding understanding of organizing tactics.  The greatest value they are getting is to see how to use organizational tools to change the system from the inside.  They come out of here understanding how Congress works, which is a big value-added to their organizing work. I am amazingly grateful for this program.

What Nellie Has to Say

This summer has been an amazing growth experience for me. I had the opportunity to engage with policy about which I care deeply and to organize actions on these policies. I learned to be confident with my own voice;I’ve always known what my beliefs are, but I have at times struggled with voicing them when in a room full of people that I deem ‘more knowledgeable’ than I for sometimes completely misguided reasons. I know my stuff, and I shouldn’t let anyone make me doubt that. This summer has helped me realize that.

It was also amazing to organize several really important events. During my last several weeks on the Hill, I organized a summit between members of Congress and labor, environmental, and human rights group principals for devising strategy for defeating a new free trade agreement that is starting to make waves;the Trans Pacific Partnership. I managed to get twenty international organizations and eight members of Congress into the same room together to talk about an important issue, and everyone was happy to be there, and expressed sincere interest in coming back in September to hold a second summit.

Really, the only complaint I have about this fellowship is that it’s not long enough. When immersed in Hill culture, you realize how different it is from anywhere else that you’ve worked, and it takes some time to get acquainted with this culture. That being said, it is learnable, and an amazing experience regardless. I wouldn’t have traded this for anything.

AUNE’s Department of Environmental Studies (ES), the oldest graduate program in environmental studies in the country, is celebrating its fortieth year. Whole Terrain, AUNE’s journal of reflective practice, which is housed in the ES Department, is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year.

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