USC Price School of Public Policy

SPPD Students Attend Party Convention

SPPD Students Attend Party Convention, Meet State Assembly Speaker

From SPPD staff reports

Sherry Bebitch Jeffe with SPPD Students From left: Ashley Lautzenhiser, Diane Francis, CA Assembly Speaker John Perez, Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, Kristin McCowan, Eli Lipmen, Christa Salazar

This past spring, graduate students from Sherry Bebitch Jeffe’s “Communicating Public Policy” class (PPD 693) received the unique opportunity to attend the California Democratic Party convention in downtown Los Angeles with an all-access pass.

Jeffe – senior fellow at the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development, who is also the political analyst for KNBC-TV in Los Angeles – secured credentials for her students, who signed up on a first come, first serve basis.

“I would have done the same for the state Republican convention had that also been in Los Angeles,” she said. “The students get exposure to the way decisions are made within the party infrastructure.”

The students who attended the convention this spring included: Ashley Lautzenhiser, master of public policy; Kristin McCowan and Christa Salazar, mater of public administration; and Diane Francis and Eli Lipmen, MA in Global Communication (USC Annenberg).

Jeffe noted that her students “had a choice of going to see all of the many caucuses that exist within the Democratic Party and listen to debates over policy and over procedure.”

“There was a debate among the candidates for attorney general; they had the opportunity to sit in on that. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, spoke not only on the floor of the convention but to the young Democrats, and they had the opportunity to watch her in action,” she added. “It’s nothing you can get, quite frankly, from a book, or even a lecture.”

In addition, during a reception at the L.A. Convention Center, Jeffe and her students met the new Speaker of the California State Assembly, John Perez. He spent about 15 minutes with the group, discussing “politics and government and policy,” according to Jeffe.

“They talked about everything,” she said. “The students were really quite articulate and didn’t hold back — and he was very frank with them. They had a good time.”