Sarah Barclay '03

 

agent of change

%758%left%For Sarah Barclay '03, working for the Children's Defense Fund is not only about making a difference,it's also about her faith.

"Faith and politics do intersect," said Barclay, a program assistant with the secular, not-for-profit organization that advocates for children, particularly the poor, members of minority groups, and children who are disabled. "I have tended to view the nonprofit sector as the sector that really gives back to society."

A native of Glens Falls, N.Y., Barclay learned the importance of community service from an early age. The daughter of a pastor, she first volunteered during middle school, when she took a trip to New York City with her youth group to deliver food to the homeless. At Colby she was part of Colby Companions and mentored the same Waterville girl for four years.

Barclay still volunteers, most recently as a tutor for a public high school student at her Presbyterian church in Washington, D.C. But she also sees the value in serving in another way: by working to improve society from its foundation up. "It's about changing society,and not just the Band-Aid approach," she said. That's where her job comes in.

At the CDF in Washington, D.C., where she has lived since her Colby graduation, Barclay works in the government relations division. She follows the legislative process on the Hill so her organization can advocate for laws it believes would improve the lives of America's children.

"I come away from my job, some days more than others, thinking that we made an impact,we are able to mobilize people to effect change," said Barclay, who majored in government at Colby. "I'm a person who's very passionate about my job."

%759%right%That passion stems partially from the lessons she learned at Colby, Barclay said. She spent two Jan Plans interning in Washington, D.C., one at CDF, another at the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. She also worked as a researcher for Sandy Maisel, William Kenan Jr. Professor of Government, and did research for Tony Corrado, Charles A. Dana Professor of Government, on campaign finance reform.

It was enlightening to "see how a professor in the academic world collided with the nonprofit sector," Barclay said. "My interest in helping people,I saw how that could intersect with government and public policy. I hadn't made that connection until I got to Colby."

After graduation Barclay interned with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank that focuses on alleviating poverty. That made for a smooth transition to CDF in 2003. Now Barclay is considering earning her master's degree in public policy or public administration.

In addition to analyzing the president's budget proposal and helping to write congressional report cards that show how lawmakers have voted on child-related issues, Barclay serves on the board of deacons at her church and as chairwoman of the church's children and youth panel.

One of the most rewarding moments of her week is watching the young woman she tutors improve her grades in geometry.

That's when she thinks, "This is why I'm doing this," Barclay said. "This makes it all worthwhile."

,Alexis Grant '03