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Empowering Tomorrow's Leaders: IYT's Public Policy Internship Program Shapes Visionaries of Change

September 8, 2023

Policymakers alongside aspiring community leaders and their families gathered inside IYT's HQ on a recent Friday afternoon to celebrate 15 young men in high school and college who had just completed the organizations 10-week Public Policy Internship Program (PPIP). As attendees filled the light-filled room, a large mural on the wall displayed the previous internship cohorts going back nearly 10 years. Jaleel Baker, the program's coordinator, welcomed families as his team prepped a large monitor which would soon feature the culmination of ten weeks of policy research from each intern.

This most recent cohort were placed within key offices including the State Capitol, Sacramento City Council, Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, and even a Congressional District Office. Placement offices are committed to providing our interns with a meaningful professional development experience, challenging our interns like they would any other staff member. Interns in the Capitol often worked on drafting press releases for important updates on the member's legislation, or prepared talking points for the member to utilize when presenting their bills! Interns at City Hall focused on addressing constituent concerns via email and phone, and supporting special events like town halls, neighborhood clean-ups, and a youth policy convenings. At times, the assignments may seem small, but our intern's work helps to manage communication with constituents, stakeholders, and other government officials, providing valuable information and feedback that can influence decision-making and policy formulation.

IYT Members Edgerrin Marshall (left) and Quitze Reguerin Plaza (right) stand with members of their placement office
IYT Members Edgerrin Marshall (left) and Quitze Reguerin Plaza (right)

Reflecting on his experience in Assembly Member Mike Gipson's Office, long time IYT member, Edgerrin Marshall said, "I never thought I'd have the chance to work within the Capitol, but IYT granted me an experience that was once only a dream." He continued, "Among my most cherished moments was on my first day, witnessing a floor session... Witnessing the inner workings of government, its daily affairs, was beyond my imagination. Seeing Assembly Members passionately address critical issues, that's what ignited my determination to be part of this."

IYT's commitment extends beyond placement, devoting significant time and effort providing professional development and coaching on topics such as workplace etiquette, effective communication via email and phone, adhering to a professional dress code, and fundamental guidance on navigating policy interactions. Given IYT's focus on young men of color, the program not only provides its members a highly competitive, paid, and rewarding careering building experience but is seeding the next generation of diverse public leaders.

Mr. Emmanuel Aguayo, Chief of Staff for Assembly Member Gipson, praised IYT's internship program, noting its pivotal role in providing opportunities to individuals who often don't envision a seat at the decision-making table. He emphasized the transformative effect of welcoming young talent into the Capitol environment, acknowledging their potential to excel. He concluded by saying" I will always remember this, having the job of mentoring someone and bringing them into a room with folks with more experience, it is very critical to creating diversity in this type of work, and one of the benefits of IYT's internship program."

At the start of the program, each intern selects a research subject that aligns with their respective office's focus. Upon the culmination of their internship, these interns undertake the responsibility of presenting their chosen policy topic to the public. These presentations are multi-faceted, encompassing a concise policy overview, an articulation of the issue the policy seeks to address, an examination of the proponents and opponents surrounding the policy, and a comprehensive analysis culminating in recommendations for IYT's potential support of the policy.

A notable addition to this year's presentations was Sacramento City Council Member Mai Vang, who not only extended her support to the three interns placed in her office but also provided certificates from her office in recognition of their endeavors.

Councilmember Mai Vang presents special awards to her IYT interns (from left to right) Juan Reyes, Jordan Peterson, and Ducatii Phommavongxay

Integral to the interns' growth and understanding of public policy are our partners who graciously host them. The presentations spotlighted the interns' dedication and expertise, leaving a lasting impression on the audience with their adept handling of intricate policy subjects. For many of these interns, this program marked their inaugural foray into the policy landscape.

Their successful completion underscores our pride in showcasing that young individuals, particularly young men of color, possess the capability to contribute significantly to the pivotal policy work within government offices.

We are currently looking for more placement offices to host our Public Policy Interns, if you'd like to partner with us, please send a brief email to PPIP Coordinator, Jaleel Baker at

IYT's Newest Public Policy Graduates pose for a group picture.



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