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Statehouse Careers

Ian Dollenmayer played a hands-on role in preparing Ohio's current $72 billion operating budget as a senior at the University of Dayton. He said working on that large and important piece of legislation last summer as an intern in the Office of Budget and Management helped him land a job at the Ohio Statehouse upon graduation in May.

Dollenmayer, now a legislative aid for state Sen. Bob Hackett, is one of 20 University graduates who have secured paid employment in and around Ohio’s house of government through the Statehouse Civic Scholars program. That represents one-third of the program’s 60 graduates since 2011.

“This eight-week internship experience is really providing a powerful groundwork that is getting people jobs and careers post-graduation,” Dollenmayer said.

Now a $25,000 donation from the AT&T Foundation will help continue the program, which selects 12 students each summer for eight-week residential internships in key legislative and statewide offices in Columbus. Scholars are provided with living stipends and housing.

AT&T’s latest donation follows on the heels of a $50,000 gift presented in November at a Statehouse ceremony, bringing the company’s total support to more than $125,000. The funding is part of AT&T Aspire, a national philanthropic initiative to invest $350 million in education between 2008-2017.

Sarah Briggs, AT&T vice president of external affairs for Ohio and a 2001 University graduate, said Statehouse Civic Scholars is essential to encourage students to become the next generation of public servants.

“This program is unique in that it gives participants a bird’s-eye view of what happens every day in Columbus and how average Ohioans are affected by the decisions of their state government and elected office holders,” she said.

In November, the Dayton Power & Light Co. donated $50,000 to the program, bringing that company’s total contribution to $90,000.

The program benefits both students and their placement agencies, said Grant Neeley, associate professor and chair of the department of political science. The Scholars work in a variety of state-level offices and share their experiences while living in community on an area campus. They also attend weekly networking events with state legislators, officers, lobbyists and University alumni.

This summer’s Scholars are working for the governor, attorney general, secretary of state, speaker of the house, senate majority leader and the Office of Budget and Management, among others. There are also first-time placements in the Ohio Department of Youth Services and the Criminal Sentencing Commission.

“These kinds of experiential learning opportunities at UD really open the door for students, and our alumni are so willing to help,” said Eileen Austria, Statehouse Civic Scholars program director.

Austria said a growing number of Scholars are securing public service jobs in Columbus after graduation, which keeps out-of-state students in Ohio and helps build an alumni network in and around the Statehouse.

Maggie Sheehan is moving to Columbus this month from her native Maryland to take a job as a marketing specialist at the Ohio Development Services Agency. Sheehan, who graduated in May with a communications degree, interned last summer in Gov. John Kasich’s communications team. There, she was mentored by Scott Milburn, now Kasich’s deputy chief of staff, who flew her to New Hampshire earlier this year to work on Kasich’s presidential campaign.

As Sheehan was deciding between jobs, Milburn guided her in finding a career in state government. "Next thing I know, I landed an incredible job post-graduation that will only help me flourish in my future endeavors," she said. 

Dollenmayer, a northern Kentucky native who double majored in political science and philosophy, said the program gave him working knowledge of the legislative process, which made him a strong candidate for his new job at the Statehouse.

“To actually see it play out in real life is far different than anything a textbook can teach you and a lot more enriching,” he said.

The Statehouse Civic Scholars program is also made possible by donor support of the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Fund for Excellence, as well as grants from CSX Corp. and the Dayton Foundation.

- Dave Larsen, communication coordinator, College of Arts and Sciences

2016 Statehouse Civic Scholars

Amanda Bergmann Junior Centerville, Ohio House Speaker Communications Team
Taylor Boyd Senior Granville, Ohio Office of Budget and Management
Nicholas Cirino Senior Highland Heights, Ohio Ohio State Rep. Kathleen Clyde
Kristin Drilling MPA Bloomington, Illinois Department of Youth Services
Libby Hildebrandt Senior Cincinnati, Ohio Gov. John Kasich Communications Team
James Lee Junior New Albany, Ohio Ohio Chamber of Commerce
Kasey Mulligan Junior Indianapolis, Indiana Secretary of State Jon Husted
Karen Naim Junior Kirtland, Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services
Allana Smith Senior West Chester, Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission
Catherine Sulecki Senior Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Senate Majority Communications Team
Brendan Sweetman Senior Park Ridge, Illinois Auditor Dave Yost
Jamie Vieson Junior Akron, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine
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