October 2020 Alumni Spotlight
Amanda Wallwin, MPA ’12
MPA Alumna and Chief of Staff of Assembly Member Dan Quart at the New York State Assembly, Amanda Wallwin discusses how her focus on policy analysis while at Marxe prepared her, her role at the NYS Assembly, and more.
How do you contend with the overlap of politics and government when working for the office of an elected official?
Obviously, the government work we do is completely separate and totally firewalled from any political work we do. However, it’s impossible to deny that the political landscape informs what we’re able to accomplish in our government work. One of the challenges that I face all the time is trying to alleviate the frustration of our constituents and activists when something they’re advocating for has been stalled. The process can be really opaque, so part of my job is to talk them through the reality, the potential roadblocks they might face. Even with the best strategy, sometimes the power dynamics are too strong, but I do my best to stay optimistic.
How do you feel your Marxe MPA in Policy Analysis prepared you for your career?
The best preparation I got in my time at Marxe was the breadth of our studies. Because of that, I’ve been able to approach issues with a variety of lenses, depending on what a given situation calls for. I have a multitude of strategies in my back pocket, I can make arguments from many different perspectives and most importantly, I can understand and dismantle opposing arguments. I would never be where I am today without my time at Marxe, and I’m so grateful for that.
You were Chief of Staff for the New York State Assembly for over eight years – tell us about the legislative strategy and legislation you oversaw while in that role.
I’ve been Chief of Staff to Assembly Member Dan Quart since he was elected in 2011 (and still am!) In that time, I’ve run an aggressive legislative program that has included bills to protect our air quality, fighting against online harassment, reforming property taxes and reform our elections. The most important thing I’ve learned about passing legislation is how critical it is to have a multi-faceted strategy; big change requires broad buy-in, so it’s imperative to reach out to our colleagues in the legislature as well as community activists and press to demonstrate support.