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Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce Interns (1997-Present)

The Chamber began the Governmental Affairs internship with UW-Eau Claire in the 1997-98 school year and has now had a total of 30 interns fill this position. While the internship is structured the same for each of us, every year is different because politics never stay the same. And although we all may have participated in similar Eggs & Issues programs or the Chippewa Valley Rally, each of us have taken the experiences we have gained from this position and used them in various careers after graduation.

Emily Johnston Mallory Williams

Emily Johnston

I was not quite sure what my internship with the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce would entail, but it has been so fulfilling. This internship provided me with the opportunity to schedule appointments and meet with members of the state legislature in Madison with the Chippewa Valley Rally. It was incredible to be able to get lobbying experience in college. I have also been pushed out of my comfort zone by learning how to write informative blog posts. I am graduating this May with a double major in Political Science and Psychology. While I am still in the process of job searching, this internship has opened my eyes to all of the ways government and businesses work together on the local level.

Mallory Williams

This year working as the governmental affairs intern with the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce has been very beneficial and taught me a great amount. This internship has taught me more than I could ever have learned within a classroom and has been a great opportunity for me to meet new people and learn more about the area. Throughout this past year I have learned what kind of policies are important to business and how much businesses are impacted by government. This internship has given me hands on experience working with legislatures, planning events and writing informative blog posts. Next year I will continue into my third year of college majoring in Political Science and Journalism, and will be continuing for another year as a Chamber Governmental Affairs Intern.

Where are they Now?

Here is a sample of what past interns are doing now, and how the internship has contributed to their career path.

Brianna Franke (2021-2022)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Talent Acquisition Specialist, Bio-Techne
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Work History/Other Comments: I am continuing my work with another company I have interned for, Bio-Techne, headquartered in Minneapolis. Bio-Techne is a life science company that makes and manufactures products for clinical diagnostic research. I am a talent acquisition specialist, helping with the hiring process and recruiting of new employees. The chamber internship grew my confidence in a professional setting and was truly a great experience!

Danya Morman (2021-2022)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Management Analyst Fellow, City of Eau Claire
Location: Eau Claire, WI
Work History/Other Comments: My role at the City of Eau Claire is as the Management Analyst Fellow working with the city manager on a variety of data related projects and helping out the new Performance Management Team wherever I can. My main work is on the Maternal and Child Health Equity Grant which is funded by a grant through the Eau Claire City-County Health Department where I am analyzing indicators of adult success for gaps or disparities. Through that I have been able to collaborate with folks from ECASD, Boys and Girls Club, EC Health Department, and the Department of Human Services at the County. I have also been working on lot’s of projects relating to Transit, analyzing data collected from the buses and drivers to assess the routes in order to increase ridership and effectiveness. I remember last year saying how I would like to work with state or local governments doing data analysis and that is exactly where I ended up which has been super fun and exciting, I love Eau Claire and I am happy to be in a job where I get to learn about so many aspects of municipal government while figuring out what my next steps are.

Grace Hanson (2020-2021)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Marketing Communications Specialist at WIN Technology
Location: Eau Claire, WI
Work History/Other Comments: My internship with the Chamber is what first introduced me to WIN. I started working at WIN after graduation as their office coordinator. In 2022, I spent a few months as a technical writer and later moved to my current role in Marketing. Interning with the Chamber gave me the opportunity to build connections with members of the community and further develop my communication skills which I now use every day. It also helped me learn more about the Eau Claire area and gave me a greater appreciation for the Chippewa Valley, which is the primary reason I decided to stay here after graduation. 

Amy Oldenburg (2019-2020)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Tourism Marketing Manager at Visit Middleton
Location: Madison, WI
Work History/Other Comments: My time at the Chamber set me up for success in a lot of the interviews I’ve had. I’ve been able to discuss my work in the government affairs industry and in event planning from my experience with the Chippewa Valley Rally. Interning at the Chamber gave me a greater appreciation for public affairs and solidified my desire to work in this field after graduation. At Visit Middleton, I work closely with a lot of different community members (chamber and city employees as well as business owners), which, again, having the role at the Eau Claire Chamber helped prepare me to work with this variety of people. The Chamber internship really helped me understand the inner workings of a city and its businesses, so now when I work with those individuals in Middleton, I have the background knowledge. Overall, the Chamber Internship really gave me the confidence to talk to a diverse range of stakeholders. The internship also gave me valuable experience with talking to local, state and national stakeholders. Scott knew I had an interest in both political science and marketing so he allowed me to write a few different blogs which expanded my writing portfolio.

Clayton Cavanaugh (2019-2020)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: I’m graduating law school in 2 weeks, and have accepted a job as an attorney at the Eau Claire office of the Wisconsin State Public Defender beginning in June. It’ll be nice to be back in town!
Location: Madison, WI
Work History/Other Comments: I learned a lot by spearheading a big project like the Rally, and that experience has helped immensely already. Being able to work in a professional environment like the Chamber really gave me perspective and prepared me for interacting with the legal professionals in my career path.”

Emma Koehn (2018-2019)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Senior Account Executive, Sidecar Drinks (Advertising)
Location: New York, NY
Work History/Other Comments: Working in a government regulated space, spirits, means ensuring you are constantly up-to-date on any laws and restrictions that need to be followed to ensure our clients are not put at risk. My time at the Chamber helped me understand the intricacies of these regulations, as well as helped develop my soft skills such as networking

Nate Kane (2018-2019)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Deputy Director of the WMC Litigation Center
Work History/Other Comments: Currently, I am the Deputy Director of the WMC Litigation Center. Before joining WMC, I was a law clerk for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Grassl Bradley. I earned my law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2022. My internship with the Chamber taught me the importance of getting involved in my community. As an intern, I saw each day just how many great people and great opportunities are out there. This realization has made me a better lawyer and, more importantly, a better person.

Kaylee Tracy (2017-2018)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Account Executive Executive at a public affairs/strategic communications firm (Rapp Strategies)
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Work History/Other Comments: My Legislative & Workforce Development Internship at the Chamber sparked a curiosity for fields where communications and public policy intersect and ultimately led to my pursuit of a career in public affairs. Additionally, I have to say that Scott was and still is a great professional mentor, as my first writing coach and encourager in my career.

Savannah Sepic (2017-2018)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Government Relations Executive, Paladin Consulting Group
Location: Madison, WI
Work History/Other Comments: “The Chamber really taught me how to interact with public officials and legislators with ease. The internship pushed me past my comfort zone and got me familiar with public speaking and showing leadership. The Chamber gave me vital experience early on that I still use every day in my position.

Peter Hienz (2016-2017)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Legislative Aide, Office of State Senator Howard Marklein
Location: Madison, WI
Work History/Other Comments: I am Sen. Marklein’s lead staff person for the Joint Finance Committee, which he Co-Chairs. As it relates to the state budget, I handle a variety of issues including the Department of Transportation, Department of Health Services, the Department of Natural Resources, and the UW System, among others. Outside of the budget, I work on legislation and various research projects.”I interned for former Congressman Erik Paulsen (MN-03) for two summers. During the summer of 2016, I was in his Washington, D.C. Office and spent the summer of 2015 in his district office in Minnesota. I started working in Sen. Marklein’s office after graduating from UWEC. I ran his re-election campaign in 2018 before coming back to his Capitol office. 

This internship helped me learn about some of the key issues in Wisconsin politics and gave me the chance to interact with elected officials and legislative staff. It also helped me get connected to the Capitol in Madison and solidify a job in the building when I graduated.

Peter Hienz and Scott Rogers at the Joint Finance Committee Hearing in Eau Claire Wisconsin

Sam Gullerud (2015-2016)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Senior Risk Examiner in the Large Financial Institutions division of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Location: Madison, WI
Work History/Other Comments: Currently I work as a Senior Risk Examiner in the Large Financial Institutions division of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.  Prior to my promotion I was a Financial Institution Examiner primarly working with community banks under $1 billion in total assets across north eastern Wisconsin and the UP of Michigan.  Now I work as part of a dedicated team responsible for the examination of a $50 billion banking subsidiary of a large international commercial bank based in Toronto, Canada.  I am responsible for the financial analysis of earnings, capital, liquidity, and sensitivity to market risk among other areas.

I have been working closely with legislation ever since my internship and my experience with the Chamber gave me a good foundation to build from.  When working with community banks I was always tracking changes in state and federal regulations that would effect our examination work.  Understanding the process that rules and regulations go through before implementation allowed me to stay one step ahead of the releases and prepare for the changes.  I also had a deeper understanding of the differentiation between supervisory guidance and regulations bound by law, a distinction that is very important when working with thousands of pages of each.

Nicholas Verhaalen (2014-2015)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Attorney, DeMark, Kolbe & Brodek, S.C.
Location: Racine, WI
Work History/Other Comments: Research Assistant for Dean Joseph D. Kearney and as the Symposium Editor for Volume 101 of the Marquette Law Review, Legal intern at American Transmission Company (Summer 2017), Legal intern at Marquette University Office of General Counsel (Fall 2017) The research projects I was assigned to work on at the Chamber prepared me for legal research… [and allowed me to] develop practical analytic skills, which are essential in law school. The people I met and the experiences I had during my time at the Chamber strongly influenced my decision to become a business attorney. During that time, I learned how important a successful business community is to the well-being of a community as a whole and discovered my passion for representing local businesses.

Tyler Will (2013-2014)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Xcel Energy, CO Solar Programs Team Lead
Location: Denver, CO
Work History/Other Comments: Throughout my career with Xcel Energy I have had a sustained passion to pursue roles that allow me to work with communities. That passion started back in college through my experiences at the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce. While I no longer reside in Wisconsin, I now work with numerous communities in Colorado. The legislative internship also developed fundamental skills such as communication, organization, and document analysis that I use every day in my current role at Xcel Energy.

Tyrel Zich (2012-2013)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Regional Vice President, Regulatory Policy
Location: Eau Claire, WI
Work History/Other Comments: “Previously a Rate Analyst with Xcel Energy and Rate Analyst with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. Graduated in 2015 with a Master’s in Public Affairs with a focus in Energy Policy and Finance from UW-Madison. During graduate school, interned for with Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, and the Hamilton Consulting Group.

Graduated in 2013 with a BA in Political Science from UW-Eau Claire. During undergraduate school, also interned for Xcel Energy and was the Chief of Staff, Treasurer, and Academic Affairs Director for Student Senate. “The ECC internship led me towards a career in politics with future internships at GMCC, WMC and, ultimately, Hamilton. Hamilton is a government relations consulting firm with 30+ clients in energy, economic development, transportation, health care, etc. I focused most of my time working on energy and economic development policy ultimately leading me to my positions at the PSCW and Xcel Energy.

Jaimie (Chapek) Smith (2011-2012)

Information current as of spring 2022

Current Position: Strategic Account Executive at Jamf Software covering the Southeast
Location: Brooklyn Park, MN
Work History/Other Comments: “My internship with the Chamber shares many similarities with the career path I have chosen in sales. I thrive under pressure and there is always more to do. I’m gearing up for upcoming quarters while trying to close out the current one. I always knew I was interested in business and commercial sales provides the environment that I excel in. I have the ability to travel and meet my customer’s face to face, conduct an extensive amount of research on companies I’m prospecting, and prepare materials for meetings and product demos.

Bobby Hamill (2009-2010)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Senior Director, Environmental Policy,  National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)
Location: Washington, D.C.
Work History/Other Comments: “Works as a federal lobbyist and environmental policy director for rural electric cooperatives. During my time in Capitol Hill, I got an opportunity to work closely with electric cooperatives in Wisconsin-and other energy industries as well-which sparked my interest in working in this field. Previously worked as a Legislative Director for Representative H. Morgan Griffith (VA-09), and for Rep. Sean Duffy (WI-07) from 2011-2015, and Dan Kapanke for Congress (WI-03) in 2010. “The internship with the Chamber and the engagement with the membership really helped me develop the interpersonal skills that are critical to my job as a lobbyist.

Emily Cooper (2007-2008)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Supervising Attorney with the Office of Public Advocacy in Alaska. I represent indigent clients in criminal manners. Previously represented parents in child in need of aid cases.
Location: Anchorage, AK
Work History/Other Comments: “After my internship I graduated from UWEC and headed to law school at the University of Iowa. During my internship I started gaining the confidence I have now to walk into a courtroom almost every day of the week to protect my clients’ constitutional rights. My experience also taught me how important local politics are. Decisions made at the state and local level affect our everyday lives, families, and the community as a whole, whether it is a decision about funding roads and schools or changes to the criminal justice system.

Jessica Vanyo (Sager) (2006-2007)

Information current as of spring 2022

Current Position: Pediatric Certified Orthotist Prosthetist
Location: Twin Cities
Work History/Other Comments: I valued the internship I had with the Chamber of Commerce and feel that it prepared me well to be more active and aware of the legislation that affects my profession both locally and nationally.

Eric Ristau (2004-2005)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Shareholder at Laffey, Sebranek, Auby & Ristau, S.C
Location: Madison and Sun Prairie, WI
Work History/Other Comments: Our firm is a general practice law firm with offices in Madison and Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. I practice in a number of practice areas, including creditor’s rights, business, estate planning, and real estate. My internship had an immense effect on my career path. Through the internship and Chamber I was able to meet attorneys at Weld Riley, S.C. who provided me with additional work experience during college, showed me what the day-to-day life of an attorney was like, and encouraged me to pursue law school. Once at the UW Law School, those same individuals put me in contact with my current firm.  In addition, the internship allowed me experiences at organizing and presenting material, writing, marketing, and developing several other skills.

Kristi Ryman (2002-2004)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: I am the Director of the Northwest Alliance and work jointly for both Allina Health and HealthPartners. In the spring of 2019 I left performance improvement after serving as the interim director for Performance Improvement for several months. I took a new role, I am dual-employed by both Allina and HealthPartners and am in charge of the Northwest Metro Alliance.
Location: Andover, MN
Work History/Other Comments: “Worked in the Health Policy and Government Affairs Department at Allina Health for about 7 years before going back to school for a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration. While in school, worked in the operations area at a local hospital. When first hired at Allina, “Allina Health was still doing Day at the Capitol events and helping coordinate one was the first responsibility I was given after being hired. The next year we decided to lead an industry-wide, multi-organizational, single-issue day at the capitol to help set the stage that legislative session about a priority issue. I managed the entire process for the Smoke Free Minnesota Day at the Capital in 2007, which set the stage for legislation to pass later that session. I know my experience at the EC Chamber helped provide me the background and experience to pull off an event with more than 500 participants.

I would say this role [director of the Northwest Alliance] plays heavily into my past experience in government affairs since one of the things I am responsible for is managing our contract with MN Department of Human Services around our Medicaid population. We have a value contract with the state and there is risk on the line.”

Emily Austin (Burris) (2001-2002)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Stay at home mother for a little over two years now
Location: Sun Prairie, WI
Work History/Other Comments: I was the Housing Compliance Specialist at WHEDA, the state housing authority.  I helped to administer the Section 8 housing program via HUD around the State of Wisconsin.  I focused on renewing contracts with property owners and setting Section 8 rents for project based Section 8 units. I was there for 10 years. Before [WHEDA] I worked on two campaigns. The first out of college was for the State Democratic Party – a state Assembly campaign in the Kaukauna/Green Bay area.  After that I moved to Madison and worked on Russ Feingold’s 2004 US Senate campaign for a few years. I had a part time job this winter/spring helping at our tax accountant’s office.

James Hanke (2000-2001)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Business Development at Market & Johnson
Location: Stillwater, MN
Work History/Other Comments: Previously: Manager, Economic Development and Community Services for Xcel Energy. My Chamber internship was directly responsible for my first job out of college. The opportunity to meet and work with business and government leaders throughout the Chippewa Valley is the primary reason I decided to stay in the area and accept a position with the City of Chippewa Falls.

Marlin Hardinger (1999-2000)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Political Officer, Embassy Islamabad
Location: Pakistan
Work History/Other Comments: After the internship I worked in Madison as a legislative assistant for 2 years for Rep Sykora. At about the same time I took the U.S. Foreign Service Exam and entered the Department of State in May 2002 as a Foreign Service Officer. My assignments have included Turkmenistan, Moldova, Afghanistan, Washington, D.C., South Sudan.  Nigeria, Ft Leavenworth, Kansas for a Masters Degree. In Kabul from 2018/19 I established a Peace and Reconciliation Section that coordinated negotiations with the Taliban. I returned to Washington and worked 2 years in the State Department’s Counter Terrorism Bureau and since August of 2021 I have worked in Doha and Islamabad on the Afghan Relocation effort, which coordinates the movement of Afghans  through relocation platforms for their onward movement to the United States.

Melanie Hubbard (1998-1999)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Finance Director for the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee
Location: New Glarus, WI
Work History/Other Comments: I enjoy fundraising for our legislative campaign committee and work with the Assembly Speaker to raise funds for Assembly Republicans. Although, I work in the political side of state government now, my prior work experience was in the Assembly Republican Caucus, and then in the capitol offices of Speaker Jensen, Speaker Huebsch and Rep. Dan Vrakas […] I valued my time at the EC area chamber and thought the experience was very informative.”

Sam Surface (1997-1998)

Information current as of spring 2023

Current Position: Attorney
Location: Stillwater, MN
Work History/Other Comments: I’m self-employed and have had my own law practice since 2006 or so.  I very much enjoy being my own boss (except the days when it’s brutal, but those are few and far between).  I live and work in Stillwater, MN which is a fantastic town east of St. Paul on the MN/WI border. I do a lot of litigation work, with the largest percentage of my practice as criminal defense, but also do civil, family and probate litigation as well. The internship was absolutely helpful for me as part of my law school application. Plus, there’s certainly some philosophical and entrepreneurial overlap when I decided to leave a firm and go out on my own, and many of the Chamber members I met as well.

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