By Matthew Pahl
City and County Management Fellow Laura Peralta has always been drawn to governmental issues.
Even before enrolling at USC, Peralta had significant opportunities to explore issues of governance at the federal level, interning for Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) in Washington, DC and later working for Congresswoman Lucille-Roybal Allard (D-CA) in Los Angeles.
Following her experiences in federal government, Peralta worked for Anaheim City School District and the non-profit Legal Aid Society of Orange County, which sparked her interest in issues related to local government.
As a result of her background and professional experiences, Peralta soon developed a pointed interest in serving as an advocate for the social, political and economic advancement of disadvantaged communities. This interest brought her to USC — and the City/County Management Fellowship.
“Local agencies have the power to change lives,” Peralta noted.
As a Fellow, she’s already experiencing this power of change. Peralta’s current internship with the Office of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa involves assisting the Office of Education, Youth and Families with projects for the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools.
Peralta is also acting as a liaison to the Mayor’s Office for the Dropout Prevention Summit planning meetings that Los Angeles Unified School District is sponsoring through America’s Promise Alliance.
“My internship with the Mayor’s Office is showing me how local government can help the communities I seek to serve,” she said.
This exceptional internship experience has been augmented by the resources of the City/County Management Fellowship.
“Our events with experienced local government managers have been invaluable, as we have been exposed to exclusive information and received precious advice regarding opportunities in local government,” Peralta said.
Additionally, Peralta took advantage of funding available for City/County Management Fellows to attend professional development events.
“I was selected as a Forum Founder’s Fellow for the American Society of Public Administration (ASPA) Conference in Miami, Florida this past March, she said. “With funding from the fellowship, I was able to pay for an ASPA annual membership and also cover expenses to attend the conference.”
Recently, Peralta was accepted to the prestigious White House Summer Internship Program in Washington, D.C. where she will be working for the Obama Administration in the Presidential Office of Cabinet Affairs.
Although she is still a student, Peralta feels that the opportunities afforded to her by the Fellowship are integral to her future goals. With the ultimate career goal of helping disadvantaged communities, she plans to gain a solid background on budgeting and financing for local government agencies and to continue learning through her classes, internships and Fellowship events.