Alumni Changemakers: Cara Claflin

Alumni Changemakers: Cara Claflin

Leveraging Law and Public Policy to Advocate for Children 

To honor our 40 years, we're celebrating our most valuable resource - our alumni - through 40 profiles highlighting their leadership. Alumna Cara Claflin completed the Junior Summer Institute at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley in 2017.

Cara Claflin embodies the values of courage, focus, and commitment. Cara, a first-generation college student, graduated from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities with a Bachelor of Individualized Studies in Mass Communication, Political Science, and African American and African Studies.

Prior to her graduation, she was one of 10 students selected as a PPIA Berkeley Law Fellow where she gained skills to support advancing policy on behalf of under-served communities.

Upon returning to Minnesota, she began working for PPIA’s National Office housed at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Over the past five years, she held a variety of positions for PPIA focused on communications, recruitment outreach, and organizational operations. Initially, Cara worked as the Development and Communication Assistant where she managed PPIA’s social media accounts and launched new fundraising initiatives.

“Quite simply, the Junior Summer Institute was a life changing experience! My time as a Berkeley Law Fellow helped me see how advocates must work at the intersection of policy and law to improve circumstances for communities facing disparities.

The PPIA alumni network has supported me through each step of my career since the JSI, and I know I can count on their support for years to come. I look forward to watching PPIA’s efforts continue to expand so more students can obtain an advanced degree and make change in their communities.”

She then went on to work as the Communication and Outreach Manager where she managed the online application process for more than 500 Junior Summer Institute applicants annually and managed logistics for the annual PPIA Expo in Washington, DC. Her next role as the Marketing and Communications Assistant for Children’s Defense Fund - Minnesota provided her with opportunities to further support policies that lift children out of poverty. Recently, Cara served as an Emerson National Hunger Fellow for the Congressional Hunger Center.

In her field placement with Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, she authored a report on Oregon school meal access during the pandemic and provided policy recommendations to fill the gaps in response efforts. She had the opportunity to further develop her leadership skills in connection to anti-hunger, anti-poverty, and racial equity initiatives.

“Families deserve the dignity to access nutritious, culturally appropriate food without the burden of combining multiple resources, particularly during a crisis.”

Her policy placement with the National Women’s Law Center provided her with the opportunity to research and document remedies for discriminatory policies, systems, and structures that make women and girls more likely to experience poverty.

While there, she attended weekly meetings with housing advocates, analyzed data, and advocated for changes that impact policies for food and housing insecurity.

This fall, Cara is an incoming student at the University of Michigan Law School and plans to continue her advocacy through Michigan’s multiple child-focused clinics in addition to policy coursework through the Ford School of Public Policy.

“Learning to advocate for myself in systems that are not built for low-income and first-generation students of color has inspired me to be an advocate for others.”

Cara, having undergone numerous obstacles herself including the loss of both of her parents prior to graduation, is committing her leadership, talent, and experience to support children who are also undergoing numerous obstacles like those of hunger or poverty. Through research and advocacy, she is courageously challenging and communicating existing policies in order to create the most benefit for those directly impacted.

Thank you, Cara, for devoting your time and effort to reducing disparities for young people. Because of the choices you make every day, there is more hope in the hearts of children and families. Not only are you a powerful advocate for an individual’s basic needs but you are a role model for future leaders.

Read more changemakers profiles here!