Maddie Soskin, Harris MPP Class of 2021
Maddie Soskin, MPP Class of 2021

We reached out to Maddie Soskin, MPP Class of 2021, who works as a consultant with the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund to tell us more about this opportunity and how it is connected with her studies at Harris.

So what originally brought you to Harris?

After spending four years in federal consulting, I realized policy is what creates real, systemic change. Policy can impact those at the local, state, and federal level, and it is the best way to broaden your social impact. In order to make real change, I need to understand the systems and barriers in place to achieve better outcomes: my hope is that Harris will provide me with the tools to be able to do so.

How did you learn about the opportunity to work for the COVID Relief Fund?  

When Institute of Politics (IOP) Director Gretchen Crosby Sims was asked by former Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to lead the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund (ICRF), she needed to hire a consulting team, and Gretchen connected me to the initiative. I had gotten to know Gretchen through time spent at the IOP (I even went to the Iowa Caucus with her!), and I am beyond grateful for her support of my involvement in the ICRF.

What does your role entail?

I support the day-to-day coordination and project management of the fund, lead our strategic communications arm, and work with a team of consultants to design, execute, and report on our strategy for spending our $30 million+ donations to those most burdened by COVID-19 across the state.

 How have your studies at Harris applied to the work you are doing?

First, without Harris and UChicago, I never would have met Gretchen and learned of this incredible opportunity. Second, my work at ICRF is the application of many of the concepts we are learning at Harris—how to solve big public problems and translate data into action and strategic decision making. For example, through the Statistics courses in the Core, I learned how to poke holes, question, and interpret much of the research that we are presented in our decision-making processes. My State & Local Public Finance Course allowed me to better understand how and why philanthropy is needed to supplement where government does not support citizens across the State of Illinois. Finally, Harris has encouraged me to think bigger: What are the systemic challenges that landed us in this position? How do we fix them to leave the world better than we found it?

At Harris, you will work alongside researchers combatting some of the most pressing issues facing society today.

Read a post from Alec MacMillen MSCAPP’20, “Graduating in the Midst of a Global Pandemic” to hear about his supervised research class on COVID-19 with Professor Anthony Fowler and Professor Christopher Berry. Read more about this course here: "COVID-19 pandemic inspires scholars to change course."