William Dahlin ’18 has spent the last few months talking to elected officials and public affairs professionals at various public-service agencies across Southern California. “Every conversation is like reading a book,” says Dahlin. “I’m learning from people who have been working in their fields for decades.”
Dahlin, whose bachelor’s degree from the University of Redlands is in public policy with a minor in sociology and anthropology, was selected a fellow for the graduate-level Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs, a nine-month immersive experience. Coro fellows participate full-time and rotate through a number of placements in business, the public sector, nonprofit, labor organizations, and electoral politics. They work with and interview officials in varying professions as they become familiar with important issues. An emphasis currently is homelessness and mental health in Los Angeles.
Since August, Dahlin has explored these and other topics with civic leaders, such as former Los Angeles City Council Member Wendy Greuel; former Speaker of the California Assembly John Pérez; and Bob Schoonover, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 721.
“This experience is transformational, because I get to see how everything works,” says Dahlin. “I am in contact with fascinating people all over the Los Angeles area.” His current rotation assignment is with the SEIU Local 721, which represents people working in public sector jobs in health care, sanitation, social services, and other fields. His first two fellowship placements were with the City of Santa Monica and the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles.
Coro fellows work with an agency four days a week, and participate in an all-day seminar one day a week. “There are also multiple meetings throughout the month and periods I worked seven days straight on a particular project,” says Dahlin, who plans to pursue a career in public policy, education, and research. “It’s tough and very long hours … but it’s a beautiful balance where you get work experience and learn.”
The nonprofit Coro Fellowship was launched in 1947 and operates in Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and St. Louis. Among its alumni are U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, and the late film critic Gene Siskel. Currently, Willow Higgins ’19 is also a Coro fellow.
“I love reading about theories and ideas,” says Dahlin. “But, there’s nothing like learning about the world first-hand.”