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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.

The Chamber currently has two University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, Governmental Affairs Interns for the 2023-2024 year; Leah Brawdy and Mallory Williams. Leah Brawdy is a 3rd year Senior Political Science - Legal Studies Major and Mallory Williams is a 3rd year Junior Political Science and Journalism major.

Leah1 copyMallory2

Leah Brawdy                                                                                                                                                                           Mallory Williams

Leah Brawdy

This past year of working at the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce as one of their Governmental Affairs interns has taught me so much. I knew that government had a great role in everything the city, state, county etc. does, but I did not realize to what extent. The Chippewa Valley Rally was an amazing experience getting to meet with State Legislators and thank them personally for what they have done for our community. I have loved being involved with the community and how we can grow from challenges and hardships. l am currently a third year Political Science - Legal Studies major with plans to graduate this December of 2024.

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 fourth year of college majoring in Political Science and Journalism.

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.

Emily Johnston (2022-2023)

Information current as of spring 2024

Current Position: Alumni Relations Specialist - Annual Giving at UW - Stevens Point
Location: Stevens Point, WI
Work History/Other Comments: After graduation, I moved back home to Stevens Point and started my job at UW-Stevens Point. My current job involves both engaging with alumni to help connect them to the university and supporting fundraising efforts. One of my favorite parts of my internship was being able to see how local businesses and organizations come together to support the local community. I really enjoy and am really grateful that my role still allows me to be involved in my community.

Brianna Franke (2021-2022)

Information current as of spring 2024

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 2024

Current Position: Associate Analyst - City of Eau Claire. Soon to begin Ph.D in Political Science at the University of Michigan
Location: Eau Claire, WI
Work History/Other Comments: My internship with the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce provided an opportunity to learn about government beyond the classroom. This has tremendously helped in my current role and developing my research interests for graduate school

Grace Hanson (2020-2021)

Information current as of spring 2024

Current Position: 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 and have held a few different roles within the company since then. 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.

Clayton Cavanaugh (2019-2020)

Information current as of spring 2024

Current Position: Attorney at the Wisconsin State Public Defender, Eau Claire Trial Division
Location: Eau Claire, 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. Organizing the Chippewa Valley Rally legislature meetings really prepared me for my job, organizing and planning are such important skills. I even met an SPD attorney when I was taking notes for the young professionals meeting.

Emma Koehn (2018-2019)

Information current as of spring 2024

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 2024

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 2024

Current Position: Community Relations Specialist for the City of Minneapolis
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 2024

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 2024

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 2024

Nicholas Verhaalen (2014-2015)

Information current as of spring 2024

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 2024

Current Position: Manager, Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Interconnection Operations, Xcel Energy
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 2024

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 2024

Current Position: Senior Strategic Account Executive at Jamf Software
Location: Minneapolis, 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 2024

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.

Eric Platt (2008-2009)

Information current as of spring 2024

Current Position: Associate General Counsel at Michels Corporation
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Work History/Other Comments: Very beneficial!

Emily Cooper (2007-2008)

Information current as of spring 2024

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.

Eric Ristau (2004-2005)

Information current as of spring 2024

Current Position: Shareholder at Laffey, Sebranek, Auby & Ristau, S.C and Attorney
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 2024

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.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time and experience as a legislative intern with the Eau Claire Area Chamber. I was able to do it for two consecutive years and the experience helped me greatly with jobs post college"

James Hanke (2000-2001)

Information current as of spring 2024

Current Position: Vice President Wisconsin Operations - CEDA
Location: Eau Claire, WI
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 2024

Current Position: Department of State - Political Officer, Embassy Jerusalem
Location: Tel Aviv
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 2024

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.”

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