guminski headshot

Sarah Guminski, MPP '17


Lemont, IL


Manager of Customer Success, BallotReady


Bachelor’s of Science in Economics, Minor in Mathematics, DePaul University


Research Data Analyst and Project Coordinator for the Institute of Policy Research, Northwestern University

Why public policy?

I chose public policy because I enjoyed studying economics and I wanted a career where I could apply that work to make an impact. 

What was the moment you realized you wanted to go to graduate school for an MPP?

Towards the end of my undergrad, I started to think that I might want to be an economist. I was particularly interested in education research and the causal inference work being done to understand the impact of social programs. But I knew that I needed more research experience, so a Master’s program seemed like a good place to start. 

Why Harris?

I can’t think of a better school if you’re interested in social science, both within Harris and more broadly across UChicago. Building research experience was the most important part of a Master’s program for me at the time, and I was able to do that as a research assistant for Urban Labs and the Center for Survey Methodology.

Once at Harris, I started to see that there were lots of fulfilling paths within the policy world. I had the chance to work in local government, at a think tank, and for a foundation, all while taking inspiring classes and building lasting friendships with my classmates. After graduating, I secured a position with a policy research lab at Northwestern. I left Harris with a broader understanding of the interconnected layers of public policy.

In your current role, how has Harris’ curriculum and/or your Harris experience been most beneficial?

When I decided last summer that I wanted to make a career pivot, the Harris community was invaluable. I met with Adam McGriffin, and after an hour of brainstorming in his office, I walked out with a list of ideas. A few weeks later, I sent a LinkedIn message to Aviva Rosman, the COO of BallotReady (and a Harris alum), asking her to please consider me for their Electoral Fellowship. I got the job, and the Fellowship turned into my current role on the Customer Success team where I interface with people from all corners of that interconnected policy space. From political campaigns to social media companies, I get to work with organizations that want to help people make informed voting decisions. 

Is there any advice you would give to a prospective student who is just starting the graduate school application process?

The application process is a two-way exchange. It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to be accepted, but the school and the program should also feel like the right fit. 

What big ideas motivate you daily?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this concept of a Minimum Viable Product, which I learned about while working at BallotReady. It essentially means that the best way to build a useful product or service is to start with the most basic version possible. Then, you ask end users to tell you how to make it better instead of prescribing the product that you think they need. What would happen if we designed public policies like this?