Settling In

This post was featured on the Northwestern EPICS Blog on July 30. I have been blogging for them, the HRC blog and Both Eyes on the Suen, so please forgive the crossover!

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Things have certainly calmed down since standing in front of the Supreme Court when DOMA and Prop 8 were repealed. I’ve gotten used to the daily routines of work, felt more like a local in DC and become closer to my new friends. I’ve seen my projects come to fruition and realized that my work is benefiting an organization I care about.

I’ve spent a significant amount of my time here recruiting interns for the fall and creating a comprehensive guide on intern recruiting. The guide has reached 25 pages (granted, a lot of it is contact information)! I’ve contacted dozens of university “intern in DC” programs asking them to send our information to their students. I’ve sent hundreds of Facebook messages and emails to campus LGBT groups and resource centers. I’ve also mastered job posting on LinkedIn, Idealist and university-specific career services websites.

The most fun part of the intern recruiting process has been social media advertising, which allowed me to create posts for the HRC Facebook page (liked by nearly 1.5 million people), Twitter and Instagram. I was able to direct an intern photo-shoot that was used on the Instagram – and of course dozens of profile pictures. 

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I was also able to attend Generation Progress’s Make Progress National Summit 2013 with the rest of the interns, which was fun and empowering. We heard from some awesome speakers there, my favorites including (but not limited to) Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, senior adviser to president Obama, David Simas and openly gay Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin.

Warren gave a riveting speech on the student debt crisis, as student interest rates recently doubled due to inaction by Congress. This year, the government is expected to make $51 billion in profit from student loans.

“The government should not be making profit on the backs of our students,” said Warren.

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Simas spoke about the importance of the Affordable Care Act and its implications for those who max out their healthcare plans, those with preexisting conditions and young people. He urged us to fully support the act and to encourage people to enroll for these protections on October 1, when open enrollment begins.

Baldwin finished the summit with empowering words on the importance of youth in the progressive movement. The day really got me excited about a career in progressive politics, whether that’s through nonprofit work, working for a politician or maybe even running for office one day. Like this summer as a whole, the summit has opened my eyes to careers that I had never thought about before – ones that I plan on pursuing.

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After the summit, I was able to post my first post on the official HRC blog about the interns’ experience at the summit. You can read the full post here.

The other new project I have been working on is planning and advertising the HRC “Networking with GenEQ” event. The event will bring together progressive youth from around DC to take part in a networking activity led by facilitators from the HRC staff and enjoy a light reception afterwards. It will be a great way to meet other young professionals in the area and talk about ideas and goals as members of the progressive movement. You can find the Facebook event and RSVP form for the event here.

Encouraged by my new “professional” lifestyle and staff at the HRC, I also bought my own domain name for my website, www.brennansuen.com and ordered business cards. This internship has really made me feel like I’m entering adulthood, but also that I am entering it passionate and excited. 

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The Make Progress National Summit 2013

This post was featured on the HRC Blog.

Last Wednesday, myself and 24 other HRC interns attended Generation Progress’s Make Progress National Summit 2013 at the JW Marriott Hotel in Washington, D.C. It was an exciting day filled with influential speakers and nearly 1,000 young people from across the nation.

The day started off with an empowering speech from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the current student debt crisis.

Student interest rates recently doubled to 6.8% due to inaction from Congress, while the government lends to major banks at less than 1%. In addition, the government will make a $51 billion profit from students this year. This has caused many students to live with their parents after graduation when they could be buying real estate and take jobs unrelated to their studies to begin paying off loans immediately.

Warren called for a major decrease in the interest rates as an investment in students, who can in turn use their education to benefit society and stimulate our economy.

“The government should not be making profit on the backs of our students,” said Warren.

Additional speakers included Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook and young CEO of The New Republic and Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison, who gave the HRC a special shout-out for co-sponsoring the event.

David Simas talks about the importance of the Affordable Care Act.

David Simas, a senior advisor to President Obama, spoke about the Affordable Care Act and its implications for those who cannot afford healthcare, those who max out their healthcare plans, those with preexisting conditions and young people.

Later, a panel featuring Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard, MSNBC’s Alex Wagner and Emily’s List Executive Director of Amy Dacey addressed what it takes to be a woman in politics or the political spotlight and the importance of female representation in politics.

The summit also included breakout policy sessions in gun control, immigration, the court system, student debt and voting rights led by experts in each field from various organizations.  HRC Chief Foundation Officer Jeff Krehely also joined a panel on the judicial system. He discussed the implications of the recent repeal of DOMA and Prop 8 as well as the future of the battle for LGBT equality, including high rates of homeless LGBT youth and workplace discrimination. Additional panelists addressed the importance of appointing fair-minded, diverse judges in a court system that has a desperate shortage of them.

The media and messaging workshop taught shared values between progressives and conservatives as a conversation tool.

HRC interns also attended training sessions on media and messaging, leadership and teamwork, policy creation, making “asks” in grassroots organizing and lobbying. The day ended on a high note with a speech by openly gay Senator Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin, who gave an inspiring talk on creating change, electing the right officials and empowering youth.

HRC interns left feeling impassioned and excited about our country’s future while also motivated to put in the hard work it will take to turn these ideas into reality.

Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin addressed conference attendees.