College of Education and Human Development

School of Social Work

SSW Faculty Member, Dr. Jessica Toft, Takes Three PhD Students to Capitol

Johara Suleiman and 3 PhD Students at the Capital

Johara Suleiman — PhD advisee of School of Social Work faculty member, Dr. Jessica Toft — recently participated in a unique workshop at the Minnesota Capitol.

The workshop was organized by Dr. Toft, who served as a Legislative Policy Advocate for Family & Children’s Service (now known as Family Partnership) from 1994 to 1996.

“I offered to take Johara to the MN Capitol to provide a ‘workshop’ related to policy advocacy,” said Dr. Toft. “And she invited other PhD students, both of whom are my GRAs for the MN Social Worker Working Conditions Project.”

Johara Suleiman, currently a CSWE (Council on Social Work Education) Policy Fellow, was joined by fellow SSW PhD students: Channel Lowery, and Elin Amundson.

On Friday, June 16th, the group toured the Capitol and its associated state buildings, as they learned about the legislative, executive/rule-making, and judicial branches of government.

Students met with various public servants working in the Senate Clerk’s Office, the Secretary of State’s office, and the Legislative Library as they considered how to effectively engage with lawmakers.

Said Dr. Toft of the experience: “We had in-depth discussions about the how-to’s of legislative advocacy, (and I provided) materials and stories from my days as an advocate,” adding she believes the students “learned quite a bit from the experience — most importantly, how to influence policy as emerging public intellectuals.”