How I Got There: Policy Management | Queen Adesuyi (COL ‘16)
Posted in Student & Alumni Stories
Queen Adesuyi studied American Studies & Women and Gender Studies in the College and is now a policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance. Learn how Georgetown shaped her path, what led her to her current position, and more insights regarding her company and the broader advocacy industry:
What activities at Georgetown did you find the most valuable and why?
I was a deeply involved student leader. I co-founded the Minority Pre-Law Association as well as the Intersectional Feminism Magis Row House. I was one of the first research assistants for GU Prisons and Justice Initiative. I was a GSP Mentor. I interned with Congressman Jose Serrano, with Mic.com, and with the New York Times as a student. I volunteered with the Reentry Network for Returning Citizens. I also was one of the lead student activists around #GU272 and getting the building names changed. All of these experiences were a really valuable part of my leadership development as I learned how to build a coalition, I learned how to lead and to foster leadership in others, and I learned how effective organizing can be.
How did you find your current position?
I was an American Studies major and my senior thesis focused on both DC’s pro- and anti-marijuana legalization campaigns and evaluated the ways that supporters from both sides of the aisles sought to empower the District’s African American community through language/messaging, different models of racial justice, and different relationships to drug use. While conducting research, I attended the Drug Policy Alliance’s 2015 International Drug Policy Reform Conference, which single handedly changed my life. I met so many incredible, dynamic leaders– many of whom are now my colleagues and mentors. I interviewed a lot of people while at the conference. Months after attending, I applied for a Policy Associate position within DPA’s Office of National Affairs. I accepted an offer from DPA a few months after graduating!
What does a typical day look like for you?
There is no typical day when you do advocacy work. I work on the federal level, so I track Congressional bills related to our priorities. I work with members across the aisle from both Chambers to advance our policy goals. I also am a part of coalitions and have launched a coalition around varying policy goals- which means I work with allies that work for different organizations but have similar goals/principles in order to leverage our strength in numbers to influence policymakers and other stakeholders. I do a lot of speaking engagements around varying issue areas, in addition to working with the media strategically. I also recruit for and coordinate the Office of National Affairs’ Legislative Affairs Internship program.
What surprised you the most when you started working?
I was surprised to know some of the inner workings of politics, which can be troubling at times. I also was surprised to see how often the people who are either drafting policies or pushing for policies on behalf of vulnerable communities were not directly impacted by the policies they worked on.
What skills are most needed in your role?
People skills are needed as the work that I do relies a great deal on relationship building and authenticity. Strong writing skills, flexibility, attention to detail, strong communication skills, a deep interest in reforming failed policies, interest in politics, and empathy are also key.
What are the best ways for students to learn more about your industry?
Being in Washington, DC provides students a wealth of ways to get involved and/or learn more about advocacy work, no matter the issue area. Intern with an organization that does advocacy work around issue area(s) of interest. Find ways to attend conferences as students, especially when they are in our backyard.
If you could go back and change one thing, what would that be?
Not everyone has the experience of loving their first job, but I, fortunately, found work that aligns with my principles and provides ample opportunity for growth and leadership. I would not change a thing.