Summer Centered: Claire Mao ’20 Focuses on Local Politics at the Committee of Seventy
The political science major is building on her interest in Philadelphia politics as an intern at the city’s only nonpartisan, good-government organization.
For political science major and Seattle native Claire Mao ’20, experiencing Philadelphia’s local politics and governmental affairs has given her a completely different view of the field than in her hometown.
"Philadelphia and Seattle have completely different political agendas and sets of issues,” she said. “It’s been fascinating to compare and contrast Philadelphia and Seattle politics.”
There is no better way for Mao to apply her interest in comparative and local politics than through a Center for Peace and Global Citizenship-sponsored internship at the Committee of Seventy, a 114-year-old nonprofit organization dedicated to honesty, transparency, and inclusivity in all aspects of the political process. (Current president, David Thornburgh, also happens to be a fellow Ford, Class of 1980.)
"I'm learning about the inner workings of Philadelphia politics,” said Mao. “Though a lot of the courses I've taken so far have focused on comparative politics, I've always had a vested interest in American politics. I think this internship is rounding out a lot of what I've learned at Haverford; I've studied international, comparative, and national politics, but haven’t had too much exposure to local government. This internship is an excellent way to get hands-on experience.”
Mao is particularly grateful for the opportunity to explore Philadelphia to a greater extent than she has been able to during the academic year.
"It felt wrong to me that I had been at Haverford for two years with very little connection to the city of Philadelphia and its politics, especially as a political science major,” she said. “I didn't feel comfortable constantly staying on campus. I wanted to pursue this internship because it was a way to get connected to the city that is just a short train ride away from Haverford.”
At her internship, Mao spends her time researching policy issues that are relevant to the Philadelphia community and meeting with political officials around the city to discuss the policy goals of the Committee of Seventy. This summer, she is working with other interns to support the Committee's efforts for constitutional redistricting reform in Pennsylvania.
"I'm hoping to impact Committee of Seventy's policy recommendations with my research, and become more in touch with local politics,” she said. “I'm also learning about the disenfranchisement and other voting difficulties that impact communities of color, and how certain Americans are excluded from the political process. I also hope to gain the resources and knowledge that would be valuable for my coursework and extracurriculars for the rest of my time at Haverford.”
As a rising junior, Mao looks forward to applying her experience at the Committee of Seventy as a guiding factor in her future career path.
"I'm definitely thinking about continuing in nonpartisan, good-governance work,” said Mao. “The people I've met at the Committee of Seventy are really passionate about the work they do, and strive to make politics more accessible for all Philadelphians and Pennsylvanians.”
"Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ Center-funded summer work.