The Minnesota Capitol Pathways program works to make our government truly representative of our communities, connecting young leaders of color with established policy leaders. Fresh Energy has hosted interns every legislative session since the program’s inception four years ago.
Pachia Thao wasn’t originally fired up about energy, climate, and legislative work. But after her parents casually threw out a recycling guide from the city of Minneapolis—they weren’t clear how it applied to them—she realized there was a lot of work to do.
A first generation Hmong American immigrant, Pachia moved to Minnesota when she was a baby. While in high school, she participated in the AVID program, which links students from under-resourced communities with extra support to make college a reality. Pachia was thrilled to move to Northfield after graduating high school, where she is currently a senior at Saint Olaf College with a double major in Political Science and Asian Studies.
Pachia had envisioned a career in foreign service, but after studying abroad in Japan and missing snowy Minneapolis and her family, she turned her eye to social impact work with non-profit organizations. “I really wanted to give back as a way to recognize all the support I’d been given throughout my journey.”
As our newest Capitol Pathways intern, Pachia is thrilled Fresh Energy actively works to advance equity work within the clean energy sector. She notes that most people in her local neighborhood simply don’t have access to solar panels and new electric vehicles. She’s hopeful one day this can change.
Pachia will be working directly with our government affairs director, Justin Fay, throughout this legislative session, and recently made her first visit to the Capitol. “I would have never thought you could just walk in and talk to your legislators!” Her goal is to take it all in and learn the ins-and-outs of making change happen at the policy level. She’s thinking graduate school in public administration may be in her future, and she’s grateful to be learning outside the classroom with us.
When not balancing classes and her internship, Pachia is an avid gamer and openly embraces being “weird”: “I love it all—Playstation, Xbox, everything!” We’re so happy Pachia will be bringing her positive and unique energy to our work at the Capitol. Stay tuned for a Day in the Life post from Pachia next month.