Madison to D.C.: Senior Paige Leiser Develops Expertise through WiW

From stumping for Klobuchar in Minnesota to Biden on the Madison campus, rising senior and political science student Paige Leiser has a passionate history in politics. Now, through the Wisconsin in Washington D.C. Internship Program (WiW) this summer, she is developing the know-how and D.C. career expertise to take her above and beyond.

WiW offers undergraduates to spend a semester or summer interning in Washington, D.C. while taking classes and earning academic credit. Not only does the course work include lectures from industry experts and alumni, but the program also gives students a chance to get a taste of D.C. professional life and fostering future industry connections.

As part of WiW, Leiser works as a Political Planning and Action Intern at the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC).

At the NWPC, Leiser works largely in political communications and research, focusing on both specific female candidates and women’s’ health at large in American politics. Most recently, this includes the upcoming Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court case on abortion rights in Mississippi and researching potential candidates to support for both the 2021 special elections and the upcoming 2022 midterms.

Paige Leiser

“Working with the ins and outs of an organization is great…especially having that D.C. experience is always good, too, because D.C. is the room where it happens,” Leiser said. “I’ve been able to gain a lot of D.C. contacts, which will be very beneficial for me even after graduate school.”

For Leiser, national politics are nothing new. A Minnesota native, Leiser interned at Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s re-election campaign in 2018. At UW–Madison, she continued in support of Klobuchar during her 2020 presidential run and became the chair of the Students for Biden student organization after Klobuchar dropped out of the race in the summer.

“It’s 2020, you know, can’t miss out on that presidential election if you’re a political science major,” Leiser said. “I got to take the organization from being very small and turning into something really big – I had a lot of at least 200 students that were like, actively following what we were doing, which was great.”

Looking forward, Leiser hopes to continue her passion for political organizing and women’s rights in the fall by interning with the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s health and writing her honor’s senior thesis on female candidates in the 2022 midterm election cycle.

After graduating from UW–Madison, Leiser hopes to attend graduate school and work towards a Master’s in Public Health, with a focus on women’s health. Though her planned study and service abroad through the UW Health & Food Systems: Human, Agricultural & Environmental Health in Ghana program was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she is optimistic and hopes to re-apply for the summer 2022.

“Women’s health is my main area. I’m hoping, you know, with my experiences within working for women’s campaigns, and having that advocacy piece, that [that will] benefit me.”