Marianne Avari, MPA '18

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Marianne Avari, MPA '18

Marianne Avari, MPA, M.S. in Criminology ‘18, is currently working as a policy intern at Covenant House Pennsylvania. Fels student Meghan Pierce, MPA '18, sat down with Marianne to discuss her career and academic experience.

What professional and academic work were you engaged in before you came to Fels?

I received my bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in 2014. After graduation, I worked at the Florida Department of Children and Families as a legal/special projects assistant. One of the many highlights of that work was working with FBI agents on human sex trafficking trial preparation.

Why did you choose Fels to pursue your MPA?

I chose Fels because of the opportunity to pursue an MPA/MS in Criminology dual degree. It’s the best of both my worlds. I’d like to continue to do work in human sex trafficking, ideally in a federal position at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children or in federal law enforcement. Additionally, the small cohort size at Fels creates a more collaborative learning community and allows for more specialized attention.

How has Fels influenced your understanding of public service?

So far, Fels has taught me the importance of being empathetic. Whether that means with a potential boss or important stakeholders, we need to remind ourselves that empathy can bring about the most ambitious and innovative change.

Please describe your internship role:

With the help of PLAS funding, I worked as a policy intern at Covenant House, Pennsylvania. In this position, I reviewed past and current legislation regarding combatting human sex trafficking from both the supply and demand sides. I drafted material for distribution to PA senators and representatives to garner support for Pennsylvania’s proposed Safe Harbor legislation seeking to provide robust, comprehensive victim services for minor victims of sex trafficking. 

What was the most challenging aspect of your internship?

The most challenging part of my internship was being patient with the legislative process. I believe in the proposed Safe Harbor legislation so it was difficult to witness how long it could and would take for it to pass. 

What was most interesting about the work you performed?

I had a first-hand experience in seeing how much language use plays a role in policy. In my experience, if wording is too bold, it can upset party relationships but if it is too soft, it will not do its job of fighting for the cause. 

How did PLAS funding assist you in obtaining this internship?

I am extremely grateful to the Fels PLAS donors because, without PLAS funding, I would not have been able to complete this internship and gained all this experience in one semester.  

Fels Institute of Government

The Fels Institute of Government
3814 Walnut St. 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215) 898-7326