Crown Family School Students Dive into Government and Non-Profit Careers

Inside Washington Week 2024

By Sarah Steimer

News Type
Crown Family School News

The Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, hosted the 2024 Washington Week during spring break. The annual tour took 26 students to the nation’s capital to explore career opportunities, network with alumni, and visit over 20 different agencies. Washington Week, developed by the Career and Leadership Development Office, has a nearly 20-year history and all Crown Family School students can participate regardless of pathway or year of study.


Cover image

After leaving Washington, D.C., the students had a broader understanding of potential career paths for their respective fields. The Crown Family School degree programs offer preparation for many more jobs than some of the students realized.

“There is so much more to this degree in terms of things that you can do than I expected,” said Lilah Ravinuthala, a second-year Social Work student. “This is showing me an entirely different perspective of what I’m capable of.”

But the best part of Washington Week? Many of the students returned to Chicago feeling like their knowledge and training would enable them to enact real change. They experienced real-life examples of how they can apply their knowledge to handle society’s most difficult problems by influencing change at the federal level.

“I feel truly empowered,” said Doria Qu, a first-year Social Sector Leadership student. “Seeing all these impactful people working in different federal government branches is convincing to me that I’m on the right track, and what I’m doing right now on Asian women empowerment is meaningful, and one day I could be as influential as them.”

group of four people smiling

Touring the Nation’s Capital 

Several Crown Family School alumni working in the Washington, D.C., area met with students to host informational interviews and networking sessions. The tour began at the Department of Veterans Affairs, with White House Fellow and Crown Family School alumna Mariah Sklyr. Bryan Smith and William Godwin, also White House Fellows and both University of Chicago alums, discussed how their focus on equity prepared them for senior roles in government.

At the Council of Institutional Investors Research Manager and alumnus James Crowe spoke about how to make career tradeoffs. Peter Gaumond, Senior Policy Analyst at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and President of the Crown Family School Alumni Association Board, described the world of federal government and implementing policy across agencies.

group of people smiling

Students went to the Fairfax County Government building to meet alumna and county Deputy Legislative Director Jennifer Van Ee. At the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities alumna and Director of Cross-Sector Initiatives Abra Lyons-Warren offered insight on how to conduct a Washington D.C. job search from Chicago. Alumna Maggie Quinn, associate deputy director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families also met with students. The National Association of Social Workers, the Department of Transportation and the White House, were also stops on the tour.

Group of people smiling

Bisola-Mariam Obinyan, a first-year social work student, was inspired by the alumni’s career paths. “Those who have gone through the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice and are currently doing incredible work in different fields,” Obinyan said.

Nia Lennan, a second-year social work student, was also inspired by the experiences and said she learned the possibilities for a social worker are endless. “I am excited for what's to come,” Lennan said.

And while the week was focused on the Washington, D.C., area, the students saw an opportunity for their work to have a wide-ranging impact: “My biggest takeaway of Washington Week 2024 is knowing that my education at Crown will open many doors of opportunities and inspiration not just in Washington, but around the world,” said Ben Zhang, a first-year Social Sector Leadership student.

To learn more about Washington Week visit here.