In The People's Blog, Updates from Jo

All year long, our team benefits immeasurably from the skilled, dedicated, and passionate work of interns and fellows. We welcome interns in the fall, spring, and summer. This summer’s crew, amid all the uncertainty and strife of COVID-19, were particularly good-willed, tenacious, and inspiring.

I wanted to take a moment to celebrate these rising stars, while also giving you a sense of the issues they took up on behalf of our district. As you read this, please also know that many of these incredible humans also logged and helped respond to 5,539 constituent emails during their summer weeks, helped research dozens of constituent cases, and much more.

This summer, since the interns didn’t have access to state-sponsored forums, our team created weekly seminars where they explored constituent engagement, legislation, the legislative process, running for office, and their aspirations around public service. In the end, the interns taught us a great deal more than we were able to impart to them.

Please meet the team:

Shannon McAndrew

Shannon McAndrew is from the Connecticut River Valley. She received a dual degree in Government and Philosophy from Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina and is currently working toward a master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration at UMass Amherst. She has several policy interests, ranging from social, environmental, and Internet/privacy policy, though she is most passionate about helping and advocating for other people.

Shannon dug into  amendments that had been filed to the Student Opportunity Act, fiscal year budgets and supplemental budgets. She also represented our team on a number of briefings and took on a big piece of website updates, as well as social media outreach.

Seth McKenzie

Seth is from Sunderland, Massachusetts. He is currently attending St. Paul’s School, a boarding high school in Concord, NH. He is interested in many political issues, in particular climate change, voter registration, and the misinformation that plagues our society. Seth aspires to pursue a career in business, and eventually switch into politics.

Seth called us all to action in a blog focused on Gen Z. He also led the communications around An Act relative to voting options in response to COVID-19.

Caroline Horrow

Caroline is a third-year law student at Harvard Law School. Before moving to Massachusetts, she conducted bioethics research at Mayo Clinic and studied biomedical engineering at Duke University. She has previously worked on Medicaid law at the Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation and on clinical research policy at the National Institutes of Health. When she’s not researching the ethical, legal, and social implications of health technologies, you can find her backpacking or arranging music for her a cappella group

Caroline led extensive legal research and analysis of legislation before the Senate and the Joint Committee on Public Health. She drafted testimony on bills like those concerning housing stability and safe drinking water. Her major project was researching and developing a proposal for the state to advance health equity in all policies.

Isabella (Izi) Epshtein

Izi is a current Masters of Public Policy student at UMass Amherst and will be finishing her degree in August. Her interest in policy evolved from her involvement in activism and advocacy through her role as a student organizer in undergrad. Her specific policy interests are immigration, reproductive rights, health care, and environmental.

Izi took on MCAS research, the impact of state grant funding on the district, and was part of a team dedicated to documenting all the roll call votes I took this session for publication.

Savannah Gillis

Savannah Gillis is a rising junior at UMass Amherst pursuing a double major in political science and public health. Originally from Andover, she wanted to learn more about the complex issues facing the Western MA community, especially those related to health, healthcare, and regional development. Savannah hopes to pursue a career in public service.

Savannah led work around farms and farmers, drafted letters of support for businesses and nonprofits, created a grant tracking system, and dug into issues like Medicaid estate recovery and rape kits.

Hannah Graves

Hannah Graves is a current undergraduate student from western Massachusetts. Hannah holds a degree in Gender and Women’s Studies from Greenfield Community College, and is underway on completing her B.A. in sociology through Suffolk University’s Honors Program. She is excited to apply her interests during her time on the team, especially in learning about and advocating for civil and human rights and for funding in higher education.

Hannah led work to determine the election dates and candidates for 21 municipal elections, emailed and called town clerks to update our records, helped draft congratulatory letters, and contributed greatly to our social media outreach and communications management.

Noah Kassis

Noah is a rising senior at Northampton High School. He is the Chair of the Northampton Youth Commission, a member of the Vote16 Youth Advisory Board, a founding board member of the Jewish Youth Climate Movement, and a member of the Sunrise Movement Western Mass core team. His interests include climate/energy policy, K-12 public education, and protecting voting rights.

Noah led work around committee and joint committee rules focused on transparency. He also led on forest conservation research, and drafted letters of support and testimony.


Amanda Lorenzo

Amanda Lorenzo is a recent graduate of UMass Amherst, and holds a BA in History and Legal Studies. This was Amanda’s second term of work for the office. She hopes to continue work in the Legislature. (And we hope so too!) She has a particular interest in human rights, and believes that even the “smallest” work can result in better realization of human rights at every level. In her free time, she enjoys painting, traveling, and writing.

Amanda focused on the impact of RTA service cuts. She also created social media graphics for legislation passed by the Senate which were used by fellow senators.

Tim Scalona

Tim is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Policy at UMass Amherst and is studying for law school. He is also currently interning at the MA Coalition for the Homeless as a Public Policy Intern, using his experiences in homelessness to advocate for more humane housing policy. Tim is a recent graduate of UMass, Amherst, where he received degrees in Political Science and Policy, Journalism, & Storytelling as well as a minor in Spanish. He is an activist, with a particular interest in housing and education policy. In his free time, he loves hanging out with friends, reading, running, watching television shows, and playing video games.

Tim took on higher education, all summer long. He compared the way other states fund public higher education with a special focus on infrastructure spending, which is the way colleges and universities repair their buildings and build new ones.

Eli Christopher

Eli is a rising Junior at Connecticut College. He is a Government major, a film minor, and has a focus in Rhetoric, Media and Communication. Eli has a passion for writing, and spends part of his time at school as an editor for the school Newspaper “The College Voice.”

This summer, Eli focused on helping farmers and farm employees access free COVID-19 testing. He also led communication around the police reform legislation, helping to ensure we had the most up-to-date information for our regions first responders.

Cheers for Shannon, Seth, Izi, Savannah, Hannah, Noah, Caroline, Amanda, Tim, and Eli!

Sending our love and thanks to you as you head off on your next adventure.

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