I have been working with Operation Restoration, a nonprofit based in New Orleans that is dedicated to helping formerly incarcerated women and girls access higher education and tools to help them with reentry. Because there is no office space I have been working over the city and from home, meeting with Syrita Steib-Martin, the executive director, in her office at Touro medical center, and in Baton Rouge when we are working on legislation.
I first met Syrita at an event on Tulane’s campus about women in the prison system when we hosted Piper Kerman, writer of Orange is the New Black, and then followed up with Syrita at a Newcomb Prison Project meeting. From here she and I talked about my goals and interest in this kind of work, and she invited me to work with her. From the internships I have had I have found that it is very important to follow up with people and to show up to events that interest you. Meeting people and organically talking about your interests helps them remember you when you say that you are looking for an internship later on.
I had initially been working on background information and data collection for our bill HB688 that has since passed and become law in Louisiana! This bill makes it illegal to discriminate against individuals with a criminal history when applying to public institutions of higher education in Louisiana and makes Louisiana the first state in the nation to do this. I was able to be in the room when this bill was discussed in senate and house committee meetings, and watch as it was signed into law.
I have worked with a number of other community organizations and have made connections with V.O,T.E. , LAPEC, The National Council for Formerly Incarcerated Women, and have worked with a number of state representatives and their offices. This internship has provided me with freedom to take my interests to the next level as well as learn about the working of a nonprofit.