Barbara Lee Fellowship

Barbara Lee, an alumna of Simmons University, heads the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, whose mission is to move women into the political sphere. The Foundation has provided money to Simmons for increasing awareness of politics as a vocation for women.

The Barbara Lee Family Foundation Intern Fellowship Program, developed in the spring semester 2004, was based on the interest of three groups: a political science department that wanted to increase the scope and success of its already-established internship program, a donor whose philanthropic foundation commits itself to putting more women in positions of political power, and state legislators who wanted to mentor young women in the political process.

The result of this intersection of demands has been the Barbara Lee Family Foundation Intern Fellowship Program. Since 2004, young women have benefited from this mentor-based internship program. The program gives young women exposure to and education in the nuts and bolts of Massachusetts political leadership through practical experience, thereby increasing the number of young women who enter the pipeline of political leadership. The grant makes possible a number of paid internships, open to undergraduate students across the University, from all majors. Selected students, who register for an eight credit internship through the Department of Political Science and International Relations, receive a stipend and a placement with a female state legislator.

Kristina Pechulis is the coordinator of the program.

Criteria for application:

  • Seniors preferred, juniors considered.
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Resume
  • Simmons Transcript 
  • Letter of Recommendation from a faculty member
  • Writing sample (2-3 pages)

Please note: Students who are participating in the Fellows program should take POLS 212: Politics Unplugged: How Things Work in Massachusetts, offered in the fall semester. The goal of the course is to prepare students for direct involvement in the political process, whether it be with legislators (state representatives, federal representatives, governor's office) or non-government organizations involved in policy formation (non-profits, interest groups, lobbying groups).

The course gives an overview of the Massachusetts political system and organizes speakers and site visits throughout the semester. Students are required to give mock oral presentations to legislators and heads of NGOs and to use the internet as a research tool for tracking bills and laws. The class will focus on developing writing skills, including memo writing, advocacy writing, public policy briefing memos, and one major policy analysis paper, depending on the type of internship in which the student wishes to participate. 

The call for applications occurs in October and students are notified of their placements by the first week of December.

Graduates from the Barbara Lee Fellowship Program have gone on to do a wide variety of things. A few examples include:

  • Law School/ Graduate School
  • Americorps
  • Working at the Massachusetts State House in various capacities, including Chief of Staff
  • Campaign Field Work Director
  • Legislative Aide with a member of Congress
  • Teaching and working in academia
  • Non-profit work