Meet Allison Carter: Operations Director of the Center for Effective Lawmaking
Allison Carter is the Operations Director for the Center for Effective Lawmaking. As Operations Director, she is responsible for growing and overseeing the programs and activities of the Center. Her primary focus is on cultivating awareness, building relationships, securing funding, and strategic planning. Allison is a UVA alumnae and joined the Center last June.
Her addition to the CEL, Batten, and UVA community has been wonderful! She is also my boss, so I had the pleasure of catching up with her, and, in a quick role reversal, got to be the one doing the interviewing!
Read below to see what Allison had to say about her journey to the CEL and the experiences she has had since becoming Operations Director.
Q: How did you become involved with the CEL?
A: I was living in North Carolina less than a year ago, and I was feeling ready to move from freelancing and contract consulting work to something more full-time. I had been staying at home with my children (two young boys) for a while and picking up work in marketing, media relations, publicity, journalism, and as a freelance magazine editor. I thought, ‘If I were to go back full time, what would that look like?’
I’ve always loved the public policy space and politics, so I started thinking through a place I would want to work. I maintain a belief that working on something you’re passionate about or for a place that you believe in is very important to happiness and wholeness. Then, I stumbled upon this ad for the CEL position. I thought it was perfect as it combines my love of writing, journalism, student engagement, mentorship, politics, and public policy all into one job for an institution that I believe in.
I’m a graduate of UVA (I received a Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in English with a minor in government) so this was like coming home. I applied for the job and Professors Volden and Wiseman reached out and interviewed me; it seemed like such a perfect fit.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about the CEL?
A: I believe in the importance of all the research, but my favorite thing is how we move to impact. We have sound research with strong academic and scholarly work, but once the research comes out, we move to identify: “What can we do with this research?”, “Who needs to know it?”, and “How can we make a difference in the world?”
And it is starting to make a difference! Lawmakers are noticing our scores, and they want to know how and why lawmakers are effective. They want to know how they, themselves, can be more effective. Think tanks are also finding our research.
To have numbers and data to back up positions of how we move government forward and help Congress move on policies and legislation is extremely important and unique.
Ultimately, what excites me most about the Center is the “research to impact” work.
Q: Is there one aspect of the job that you like most?
A: I love connecting practitioners with our research with students. Practitioners are the people involved in the policy space from think tanks to politicians to nonprofits to press. I love seeing what students who get involved observe from their perspective. Creating that circular arrangement, where we’re all engaged in a conversation around the same matters, to hear all of the different sides, and to listen to and communicate with each other from different environments is rewarding.
Q: Based off of your experiences with the CEL, what advice would you give to voters?
A: Look up your representative and become educated about the candidates on the ballot before voting. I would also add that I have been encouraging voters to be part of the solution they want to see. It certainly starts with showing up to the polls and casting a vote for what they believe is the solution. I think it’s easy nowadays to identify problems and things we are not happy about, but it’s a lot harder to move to understanding what we can do to be part of the solution through informed voting.
Q: Do you have anything else you’d like to add about the CEL or your experiences so far with it?
A: I’m so excited to be part of the CEL! It hasn’t been a year yet, but I feel I’ve been warmly welcomed here at the CEL, Batten, UVA, and Vanderbilt. It’s motivating and inspirational to see two institutions work together toward the common goal of advancing the research on effective lawmaking.