Karina Wocial, Fall 2015 UELIP


This fall I worked in the Office of the Chancellor’s Chief of Staff on the Intergovernmental Affairs Team. My supervisor was Deputy Chief Fonda Sutton. I am very grateful for Fonda. She is staunch, acutely analytical, charmingly boisterous, and of course, vastly knowledgeable. I valued our thoughtful discussions about education policy as well as a slew of social issues (spurred by Washington Post headlines).

My day to day work included attending City Council hearings, writing briefs and researching for DCPS testimony. During my first week here, I was tasked with doing research for pending city council legislation on Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) and Cardiopulmonary Respiration (CPR) requirements for schools. The exciting moment for me was when a portion of my memo ended up in the actual hearing testimony of the Chief of Schools. It was exciting to see that I was genuinely a part of the policy process and a part of the team.

I also completed a project, which was an exercise in learning about how the theory and practice of policy interact. My culminating presentation was an examination of implementation challenges and opportunities for DCPS associated with recent City Council legislation, including the Youth Bullying Prevention Act of 2012, the South Capitol Street Memorial Amendment Act of 2012, the Attendance Accountability Amendment Act of 2013, and the Special Education Student Rights Act of 2014.

During my time here, I have also learned a few important lessons:

  • There’s no such thing as an isolated issue. No one person or one issue is one-dimensional.
  • In an office, being respectful includes being concise; everyone’s time is valuable.
  • Being able to identify and respect the sensitivity of certain topics is an essential skill; “how does this work for you and what would make it work better?” instead of “what’s going wrong?”

I have had an incredible time at DCPS. Thank you, Fonda! And thank you to the 2015 UELIP cohort.