Citizens League Capitol Pathways Spotlight: Jess Lindeen

This article originally appeared on the Citizens League website.

As we celebrate another successful year of the Capitol Pathways Program—the only paid internship program in the state that opens a policy career pathway for BIPOC college students— we ask you to join us in investing in the next generation of civic leaders.

Leading to our celebration on June 22, we are hosting an online fundraising campaign to raise $10,000—all of which will go directly to support our student legislative and other professional development trainings in 2023. While our students are passionate about civic engagement and policy, many of them have never been exposed to the legislative process or Capitol. Through these trainings, they build career skills and gain technical knowledge of the legislative process to help them build the confidence and know-how to prepare for their policy internships.

Every gift—no matter the amount—moves us one step closer to our goal and truly makes a difference. Click here to donate today.

If you’d like to learn more about the impact of the Capitol Pathways program and students, read on to learn more about Jess Lindeen, Capitol Pathways host supervisor at Lockridge Grindal Nauen

Through studying Political Science in college and working on campaigns, Jess Lindeen found her passion for policy. She now works on the government relations team for Lockridge Grindal Nauen P.L.L.P. (LGN), where she mentors and directly works with Capitol Pathways students. As a program host for the past four sessions, LGN has found the experience mutually rewarding for their firm and the student interns they work with. Through their experiences working with new interns each year, and hiring two alumni from the program to their team, LGN has benefitted greatly from their connection to the program.

Jess serves on the firm’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, and has a strong commitment to building a diverse team. She notes that their participation in the Capitol Pathways program aligns perfectly with the goals and needs of LGN, and has been one tangible way for the firm to help diversify the Capitol. 

As a host supervisor, Jess has greatly benefitted from working with interns of diverse geographic and political backgrounds. As a firm, LGN has also had the opportunity to learn and listen to emerging diverse leaders in policy, and have enjoyed working with students who bring fresh eyes and excitement to the process. Additionally, Jess highlights LGN’s intentional efforts to keep in touch with past interns they host, saying, “one thing that we really value as a firm is when you’ve been part of our team, we want to continue to be a resource…certainly personally, in the friendship sense, and professionally, supporting future opportunities.” 

The Capitol Pathways program opens doors to policymaking for students of color, and is a mission that LGN firmly supports and stands behind. Jess stresses how Capitol Pathways is still much needed today, because those who are in policy – those who have decision making power – are still not representative of our state. Jess also discusses the culture and structure of the policy space today, and how there is still so much work to be done to advance change: “There have been intentional choices made that have shaped where we are today and the faces of power that exist right now, and it’s going to take similar intention – probably more so – to change those dynamics. I think that’s what’s so powerful about this program, is that [the Citizens League] makes it easy to be a part of that change.”

Jess notes that the Capitol Pathways program is intentionally bringing students of color into the process in a meaningful way, and building a group of people who have now gained legislative experience and feel empowered to step into more influential roles in policy. When asked why others should support the Capitol Pathways Program, Jess simply states, “it’s the right thing to do.” She adds: supporting BIPOC students and leaders in policy comes from listening and making connections, and these internships set the students up for success so they can continue to be a part of the policy making process.

About Capitol Pathways

With the long-term goal of making Minnesota government and policymaking more representative of its diverse racial and ethnic communities, Capitol Pathways is a paid internship program for college students who identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC). Through the program, students gain hands-on legislative experience interning with government agencies, nonprofits, and corporations working at and around the Minnesota state Capitol during the legislative session. Following a cohort model, students participate in leadership and policymaking workshops. Capitol Pathways is critical and needed because there is no other internship program of its kind, with the same focus and service to BIPOC college students, in the state of Minnesota.