Jordan Metoyer is a senior economics and urban studies double major. She is pursuing two BDP certificates, one in Social Entrepreneurship & Non-profits and the other in Social Inequality, Health & Policy. Jordan is a Rapoport Scholar, a Truman Scholar, and a Bill Archer Fellow. This summer, Jordan interned with Public Advocates, Inc., a non-profit law firm and advocacy organization based in San Francisco, CA.
“Each day presented a new opportunity to connect my projects to my experience in community activism, academic foundation in urban theory, professional curiosity in non-profit public interest advocacy, and personal interest in sustainable community development.”
What kind of work does Public Advocates do?
Public Advocates, Inc. is a non-profit law firm and advocacy organization focused on fighting the systemic causes of racial discrimination and poverty by empowering community voices and achieving tangible legal victories. Public Advocates’ commitment to advancing education, housing, and transit equity has resulted in its reputation as “the small but noisy law firm.”
How did you find your internship with Public Advocates?
While visiting family in the San Francisco Bay Area last winter, I connected with Parisa Fatehi-Weeks, a UT alumna with a long track record of advocacy. She was student body president during her undergraduate years and went on to receive a master’s degree from the LBJ School, a law degree from UT Law, and an Equal Justice Works Fellowship before joining Public Advocates. After discussing our mutual interest in securing affordable housing for low-income families, she encouraged me to look into summer internship opportunities with the organization.
What was the most rewarding aspect of your Connecting Experience internship?
Each day presented a new opportunity to connect my projects to my experience in community activism, academic foundation in urban theory, professional curiosity in non-profit public interest advocacy, and personal interest in sustainable community development.
In Public Advocates’ small office, I gained an intimate look across program areas and completed substantive internship assignments—from capturing key moments at a heated Bay Area redevelopment public hearing to witnessing Public Advocates staff testify at an Education Committee meeting in the halls of the California State Capitol and recommending ways that the organization could improve its website.
Describe the work that you did as an intern.
My day-to-day tasks included performing key development and communications tasks to help support the sustainability of the organization. I honed my skills in event planning, website revamping, strategic planning, social media advocacy, and donor outreach, all while gaining insight in the public interest law arena.
What did you learn through this experience about Social Entrepreneurship & Non-profits, and more specifically Community Welfare & Social Justice?
I learned that there are two critical components to any successful non-profit or social enterprise organization: 1) a team of talented individuals dedicated to the overall mission; and 2) strategic, meaningful partnerships with other organizations—or in Public Advocates’ case specifically, grassroots community organizations.
In what ways has this Connecting Experience shaped your plans for the future?
I now understand the important role that law has in community development. I once thought that lawyers were separated from grassroots organizations and community members by stacks of memos, briefs, and research. Public Advocates showed me firsthand how public interest lawyers can work alongside community organizers on the front lines of social justice—paperwork and all.
As a future policy-maker, I take comfort in knowing that organizations like Public Advocates exist to hold public servants accountable.
Discuss the impact that a BDP scholarship had on your ability to complete this Connecting Experience.
The BDP scholarship was an incredible blessing. I traveled to San Francisco without the burden of financial worries, which can mar exciting opportunities. To current BDP students: If you are thinking about taking on a Connecting Experience, go for it. Don’t let financial worries hold you back. With a set of UT-honed skills at your disposal and dedicated Bridging Disciplines Programs staff by your side, there is little room for doubt—the world is waiting!
Jordan’s profile was featured in the September issue of The Bridge. Read more articles from The Bridge.