Meet Kathleen, Fresh Energy’s new Capitol Pathways intern!

By |

Raised in Brooklyn Center, Kathleen Mason is Fresh Energy’s new Capitol Pathways Intern and is already busy diving into climate policy work during Minnesota’s 2024 Legislative Session. Kathleen comes to Fresh Energy with a background in public health and an interest in learning first-hand how policy is created and moved through the Minnesota Legislature.

“As I’ve advanced in my public health and policy major, I’ve realized how great an opportunity the Capitol Pathways program is to be involved and learn about the policy process firsthand,” says Kathleen. “I’m the type of person who likes to know how things work, especially in concrete ways, so this program seemed like a natural fit.”

Fresh Energy has hosted interns in the Minnesota Capitol Pathways program since its inception eight years ago. This program works to make our government truly representative of our communities, connecting young leaders of color with established policy leaders. Kathleen will be working with Fresh Energy’s Public Affairs team, particularly with Senior Lead, Public Affairs and Advocacy Justin Fay and Senior Manager, State and Local Affairs Anna Johnson from February through May this legislative session.

Kathleen is currently a junior at Hamline University studying Public Health with a concentration in Public Policy. She has interned at Washington County’s Department of Public Health and Environment approving food licenses and inspecting food trucks to ensure they were up to code in Minnesota’s hot summer weather.

“I was drawn to Fresh Energy’s environmental policy work with my public health background, because so much of our health is affected by the environment. Our individual decisions can only do so much to improve our health, but where we live and the air we breathe—those have large implications on our health,” said Kathleen. “This even came up in a committee hearing I attended today at the Capitol for my internship: A woman testified that she had lived a healthy life, but because she lived along the I-94 corridor, the polluted air had led to a cancer diagnosis. It really highlights how our individual actions have a limited impact on our health, and the importance of our government advocating for its citizens and our environment.”

Kathleen is most looking forward to working with Fresh Energy’s Public Affairs team to better understand how policy is made, how it advances through the Capitol, and how she can be a beneficial part of the process in the future.

“No matter what my future career is, it’s vital to understand how the legislative process works,” says Kathleen. “It’s important to be an informed citizen, know how to track a bill, and even testify and take part in how laws are made in Minnesota.”

While she stays busy in the Capitol Pathways internship, as a full-time student, and working as both a Resident Assistant and an Event Management Assistant on campus, Kathleen still finds time to relax by pedaling a bike or reading science fiction and fantasy books. One of her recent favorites was “The Parable of the Sower” by Octavia E. Butler.

“Even though it was written in the ‘90s, it feels so applicable to today,” said Kathleen. “I enjoyed the philosophical sections in it about being prepared for change. That’s something that helps me a lot.”