Founded by former U.S. Representative Karen Shepherd, the Karen Shepherd Intern program funded local campaign interns in Utah for nearly two decades, making it one of the most prolific intern programs in Utah politics. Today, Shepherd’s emphasis on ethics and public service gets new life as the Karen Shepherd Internship for Ethics and Good Government, now housed in the non-partisan, Alliance for a Better UTAH. Shepherd’s name has been, and remains, a symbol of statesmanship and an important expression of the power of civic engagement to make Utah a better place for all Utahns, independent of political affiliation.
Interns are generally juniors and seniors from colleges and universities throughout the state, have the opportunity to receive college credit (if available) or a stipend, and work on policy issues and public messaging toward building a more balanced, transparent and accountable Utah.
Karen Shepherd Internship Program Alumni
Maxton Cline – University of Utah
My name is Maxton Cline. I am a Sophomore at the University of Utah where I am majoring in as an honors candidate in Political Science and Psychology. I am interning for ABU with hopes of gaining a greater understanding of the Utah policy making process, as well as immersing myself in the progressive voice of Salt Lake City. My current career plans are graduating the U and going on to a prestigious law school in order to become a lawyer, with an eventual goal of becoming a Federal Judge or UN Lawyer.
I was born and raised in Cottonwood Heights and attended Skyline High School, where I graduated with an IB (International Baccalaureate) Diploma with several national recognitions in high school speech and debate. I have one older brother whom I like to play video games, watch movies, and discuss politics with along with our parents. I speak Spanish, having had 5 years’ worth of classes in the language and one day hope to retire to Spain.
Kaelen Penrod – Brigham Young University
My name is Kaelen Penrod. I am a senior at Brigham Young University where I study Political Science with an emphasis in Global Development. My choice of major is a product of my experiences with travel (twelve countries and several major road trips) – it is easy to see how heavily the livelihoods of common people are affected when power is not evenly distributed. Studying politics is important to me because progress is generated by changes in policy and by honorable leadership. My experience with ABU will help me recognize opportunities for both.
I grew up in Las Vegas, where I attended a magnet high school for the arts and participated in competitions all across the country. During this time, I also completed thirty hours of leadership training. More recently, I’ve picked up a working knowledge of Spanish through classes, travel, and family. Moving to Utah for school was definitely a culture shock, but I have come to appreciate the state for both its natural beauty and its unique political scene.
Averie Vockel – University of Utah
My name is Averie Vockel and I am a current junior at the University of Utah studying Communication and Spanish. I am excited to intern for ABU as I believe it will allow me to fine tune skills in community outreach as well as gain a better understanding of public policy. I also look forward to the community engagement aspect of this internship and learning the ins and outs of a non-profit organization. I look forward to engaging with the progressive ideas and voices in my little red state and using ABU as a platform for change.
I grew up just north of Salt Lake, moving every few years, but currently residing in Kaysville, Utah. I graduated from Viewmont high school with several honors recognitions that helped me get into the U. I now compete for the U in parliamentary debate as well as Informative and After Dinner Speaking. Through both years of competition for the university, I have qualified with my partners to the National Parliamentary Debate Association National Tournament and in the most current season, to the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence. I have also joined several of my teammates in qualifying for and competing at the American Forensics Association National Tournament in multiple individual events.
Lauren Rasich – Bates College
- Worked with our Content Manager, Madison, to develop and execute a communications strategy highlighting the benefits of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
- Published an Op-ed in The Salt Lake Tribune questioning Senator Mike Lee’s opposition to the Clean Power Plan and the Paris Accords (read the Op-ed here)
Sam Adondakis – University of California, Berkeley
- Developed a strategic communications plan on the issue of air quality after meeting with the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality
- Published an Op-ed in The Salt Lake Tribune on the need to look beyond the “Wild West rhetoric” of gun control and gun violence (read the Op-ed here)
My name is Lauren Rasich. I am going into my junior year at Bates College where I am majoring in Politics with a concentration in Governance and Conflict. I have two other concentrations as well, one in English and the other in North Atlantic Sciences. Bates is located in rural Maine which has given me access to a wide variety of outdoor activities. Since attending Bates I have learned how to surf (it’s really cold), ski the icy East Coast conditions, rock climb, ice climb (also really cold), and mountain bike the thick rooted trails of the East. I have lived most of my life in Utah and went to high school at Rowland Hall. So even though I chose to go to college just about as far away from Utah as possible, it will always hold a special place in my heart!
Through my exposure to the outdoors both in Utah and in Maine, my desire to protect the land that is at risk of destruction through climate change or industrialization has grown. This summer I have focused on public lands and environmental issues with ABU and I hope to use all that I have learned throughout this internship to continue to protect the outdoors that have provided me with so many great times and learning experiences!
My name is Sam Adondakis. I am working as an intern at Better Utah before I begin my senior year at UC Berkeley this fall. I study political economy with an emphasis on labor & development in the 21st century. I plan to complete a minor in Spanish, as being bilingual is an important goal for me. At ABU, I work on issues of government ethics & transparency and environmental sustainability. I do not have much of a career plan at this point, but I’ve considered law, broadcasting, and international relations or business. When I graduate, I will see what opportunities come along and hopefully learn what I have passion for.
I was born in Salt Lake City and I attended Hillcrest High School, where I played one minute and thirty seconds of varsity basketball. I have a Greek-American family with one younger brother. I am bad at speaking Greek but I am ok at folk dancing. I plan to be good at both someday. Culturally, my hometown and Berkeley are different places. Living in both has forced me to find my own beliefs and question them honestly. Working with ABU has improved this type of critical thinking, as well as my communication skills.
Atticus Edwards – University of Utah
- Wrote a letter-to-the-editor of the Deseret News praising Senator Orrin Hatch for his work to combat religious hate crimes, while questioning the refusal of our state legislature to similarly do more to protect against hate crimes in Utah (read the LTE here)
- Researched precinct-level voting data for use in our partisan school board lawsuit
Reva Laurella – Weber State University
- Worked with our Policy and Advocacy Counsel, Chase, to implement an upcoming campaign finance project through in-depth research and writing
- Wrote a letter-to-the-editor of The Salt Lake Tribune commenting on Sec. Zinke’s trip to Utah (read the LTE here) and drafted an upcoming Op-ed on municipal campaign finance
Atticus is a student of Philosophy and English at the University of Utah. His interests include Social Justice and Critical Theory. He is working on promoting legislation against hate crimes, and keeping Utah electoral processes fair. He enjoys walking, talking, and reading.
Atticus also cares very deeply about violence prevention, and is the Legislative Analyst Intern at Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, as well as an officer at Students Against Sexual Assault at the University of Utah.
Hi my name is Reva Laurella. I am a graduate of Weber State University with a BA in Political Science and BA in German Language. I am currently trying to figure out what I’m doing with my life and decided that ABU was a good step in some direction.
For as along as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in learning new things. As I got older I became more intrigued by how the world works but not being any good at chemistry, physics, and other hard sciences I had to settle on politics ( a good choice according to my father).
Politics intrigues me in that one can see an idea form on the grassroots level, rise to a municipality, county, state, and then federal. You can see the ripple effect happen. A paper or article can influence someone, who then influences another person by word of mouth, action, or criticism, who then influences another and another and so on. Change can be instigated by an optimistic 17 year old sitting at the kitchen table or by a spurned 70 year old and with time ( a lot of time) that instigation can be made into a local movement or even a national policy.
In short, I guess, that is why I’m here at ABU. I like to see the little sparks of change, the butting heads with locals and Facebook vigilantes.
Keaton Quinn – University of Utah
Nearly every profession will expect you to have relevant work experience or at least one internship before your application is even considered, regardless if it’s beneficial or not. For most students, scheduling time to be wasted is more than a nuisance. However, my time at Alliance for a Better Utah was more beneficial than I could have imagined, opening my eyes to the unique field of which I had no prior knowledge of: nonprofit political advocacy.
Read more of Keaton’s “Reflections from the Better Intern” here.
We all know what intern work looks like. Grabbing coffee for every member of the office, making thousands of copies, and generally being incredibly bored are staples of the standard internship. This is what I expected for my internship with Alliance for a Better Utah. I can’t be more grateful that that is not what happened. Four months after my timid introduction to the Better Utah team, I can appreciate the experience I had.
Read more from Gillian’s “Reflections from an Intern” here.
Emily Crawford – Boise State University
Grace Hansen – J. Reuben Clark Law School
Kate Button – Rowland Hall
- Wrote an op-ed published in the Salt Lake Tribune on the issue of “dying with dignity.”
Matt Glasgow – Bates College
Terminally ill patients need the option to die with dignity in order to fulfill their right to self-determination. Taking a life-ending prescription can provide individuals with control over their illnesses, reduce fears of an imminent death, maintain self-respect and allow patients to die peacefully and happily, which all contribute to a dignified death.
Read the rest of Kate’s op-ed, “What does it mean to die with dignity?,” here.
Opportunity to succeed cannot continue to be dependent on where you grew up or who your parents are, but what you are willing to do and how hard you work. It should not be about where one belongs, but rather where one could belong.
Read more from Matt’s blog post, “The Privileged Delinquent: A Narrative about American Society,” here.
Jose Chacon – University of Utah
Steven Lizzarago – University of Utah
Brandon Zacharias – University of Utah