IBM’s Lauren Phelps ’07 seeks to influence government policy — by Jess Wason ’11
Lauren Phelps ’07 moved down to Washington, D.C., after graduating Lafayette to launch her career in her dream job at IBM. She loves being in D.C., at the core of the political realm.
“I always had a passion for politics, so when I was a senior and was presented with the externship opportunity to follow an IBM lobbyist, I could not resist,” said Lauren, who works in governmental affairs. She shadowed Chris Caine ‘78 – then IBM’s top lobbyist — for a few days, and after the externship program was finished they remained in contact.
“In the spring I went down to D.C. for an interview and then I was hired. I definitely felt lucky to be able to spend my last few months of school relaxing,” said a laughing Lauren.
She helps the effort to encourage policy changes that would benefit IBM. “I work with the folks who deal with environmental and energy [issues] for IBM,” she said. “ We use technology to increase and enable energy and water efficiency and conservation, thereby reducing carbon emissions. I work with internal executives to try and drive and develop legislative policy that will eventually help create federally funded programs.”
Lauren is extremely passionate about what she does. “Even though it sounds corny, I believe everything politicians do affects the lives of Americans,” she says, “and that is something I want to be a part of.”
When Lauren first arrived at Lafayette, she took a lot of government classes. “I always had an interest in politics, and there was one class [about] U.S. politics with Professor [James] Lennertz that confirmed my reasoning for wanting to go into politics,” she recalled.
The government and law graduate credits one experience in particular with enabling her to dip her feet into the pond of politics: Her first semester junior year she served an internship with Rob Wonderling, a Pennsylvania state senator. She was able to go to Harrisburg and follow him for a day while he was being lobbied to vote for a bill reducing carbon emissions from cars.
“It was the most real-life experience I got, and it was so exciting being able to be in the capital of Pennsylvania [for a vote] on something that could and would affect thousands of people,” she said.