Masters in Advocacy and Political Leadership program was founded 2001 at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) and has resided at Metropolitan State University since 2013.

Adam Schank

Adam Schank (UMD Graduate)

I started in the MAPL Program right out of my undergrad in the fall of 2005. While the program was in its 3rd semester, and a few kinks were bring ironed out, it helped me develop the skills necessary to work in and around the legislative process in both the private and nonprofit sectors.

MAPL provided me with a strong foundation in policy analysis, evaluation, and communication. More importantly, however, the program’s internship requirements forced me to use that knowledge in a real world setting. As a result, I learned the practical skills of how to operate a successful advocacy campaign, be it political, lobbying or fundraising.

I learned how to assess the landscapes I was working in, and how to plan and adapt accordingly.  I also gained the ability to rapidly assess complex legislative proposals covering a wide variety of programs.

The skills I learned in MAPL have aided me throughout my career in both Minnesota and Washington, DC.

Without it I would not have been successful in raising funds for a get-out-the-vote campaign at the Minnesota State College Student Association that registered 4,300 first-time voters. 

Thanks to MAPL, I worked as a staff member of the National Council of Non profits, which was part of a broad national coalition of charitable organizations to ensure small charities would be able to access tax credits for providing employee health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. 

And for the last 4 years, the skills I honed in the program have served me as a legislative and legal analyst at Congressional Quarterly and more recently at Bloomberg Government.

In these roles I have written analyses of major pieces of legislation for an audience of lawmakers, staffers, lobbyists and interest groups. I’ve covered issues ranging from offshore energy policy and health care to patent law and immigration.

I am not sure where I would be without the program, but with it, I can tell you that I have had the opportunity to learn from and work with incredible people dedicated to making a difference.

The first time I heard about the program, the director told a group of interns at the Minnesota legislature that it was for people who want to “kick ass in politics."  He wasn’t kidding.

Liz Kuoppala

Liz Kuoppals (UMD Graduate)

The first cohort had just graduated when I applied to MAPL.  I was drawn to the program because I wanted to do my part to change the world but I hadn't figured out how I could best pitch in or how to get my skills appreciated by my employer.  MAPL honed my skills in analytical thinking, strategic policy planning, organizing, and community building.  It gave me confidence to see myself as a leader. It gave me access to Minnesota’s political, labor, and nonprofit leaders.  It provided crucial insights into the failures and successes of the great movements of our time. 

Our guest lecturers included a congressman, the Governor's chief of staff, state representatives, labor leaders, mayors, foundation leaders, and artists.  From them, I gained an appreciation for the many different forms leadership can take. MAPL instructors challenged me to find my own unique skills and passions.  

Since starting MAPL, I have been elected to local office and promoted to Executive Director at the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless (MCH).  As I’ve built our staff team at MCH, I have looked to MAPL graduates to fill critical roles.  Six of our nine staff has MAPL degrees, and the seventh is just starting the program. 

Our MAPL team has been critical to our successful collaborative work of increasing state appropriations for homeless programs by 42%, passing a historic $100 million for housing in the state’s bonding bill, passing nation-leading reforms to our welfare-to-work system, increasing the minimum wage, defeating voter restrictions, expanding health insurance coverage, and shaping the state’s plan to prevent and end homelessness. 

Our work has earned us powerful accolades including the Minnesota Council of Non profits Advocacy Award (2013) and the McKnight Foundation Human Services Award (2014).

Atom Robinson

Atom Robinson (UMD Graduate)

I came to the Masters in Advocacy and Political Leadership program in 2007, after I was recruited by some union colleagues. I was told that the MAPL program would expand my network, help me develop my skills, and offer opportunities that wouldn't be available to me in other academic or organizing training programs. I knew I wanted to organize people to take on tough issues in their communities and I wanted to get better at organizing and developing campaigns, and people told me MAPL was the place to do that. They were right.

Any organizer or advocate can get a lot out of the MAPL program. You’ll be surrounded by students and teachers who are smart, engaged, and energetic. They love talking about ideas, but they’re even more interested in getting things done. Whether you want to take on an issue at City Hall or the State Capitol, run a campaign for elected office, or become a candidate yourself, you’ll go into that work stronger, smarter, and better connected.

The best thing about MAPL is that you’ll be constantly experimenting with ideas, strategies, and tactics that will make you a better organizer, advocate, and leader. You’ll get the chance to think, talk, read, and write about ideas that you’ll use in your public life and career.

If you want to make change in your community, your city, your state, or even beyond, MAPL is the place to develop the skills to do it.

Atom Robinson is the Director of Outreach and Campaigns Coordinator for the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless. He was, up until this fall, the Lead Organizer at Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, where he developed and executed direct action and public policy campaigns for social, racial, and economic justice. He’s also organized for Twin Cities’ Catholic Charities - Office for Social Justice and the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and daughter.

Catherine Emmanuelle

Catherine Emmanuelle (UMD Graduate)

I never thought I’d be on food share or any public assistance, for that matter. That was my reality, however, during some unexpected life changes. My period of situational poverty opened my eyes to public policy, as a way to lead and affect positive change in people’s lives. After I finished my bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, I wanted to take my passion for policy to the next level. MAPL was the perfect match for me! (I’d like to note that many weekends; I brought my daughter to class with me. She was welcomed as one of the MAPL family and as a parent, it meant so much to me that I could be supported as a student and as a mom. The program went as far as giving my daughter her own “diploma” when I graduated. :) )

My first week of MAPL was a bit unconventional--not only was I starting graduate school, I had also been appointed as an at-large member to the Eau Claire City Council in western Wisconsin, as the youngest female and first Latina in my community to elected office. There is so much to share about my experience in MAPL. Bottom line: I learned how to research, think, and propose public policies that help to bring more caring to our communities.

In addition to serving on the city council (which by the way, I won my election during my 2nd semester at MAPL, securing a  three-year seat to represent +66,000 people), I am a Family Living Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Extension. Through my job, I partner with organizations to build family resiliency through complex social issues, such as incarceration, immigration, and leadership development.

MAPL was the right fit for me and my family. MAPL was also a marvelous next step to think higher and care deeper about real public policy solutions that can positively change our world!

Juanita Lewis

Juanita Lewis (UMD Graduate)

I came to the MAPL program as a person who thought the only way to make political change was by getting people out to vote and electing the right person. I soon learned that being political was much larger and broader. MAPL was a perfect place to learn how to create, develop and lead strategies to create policies that would impact people in communities I care about. 

I saw that MAPL had a lot to offer, but it was not as racially diverse as I would have hoped. I couldn't just complain about the issue, but needed to come up with a good argument and organize my fellow students around it; after all that is why I came to this program.  I spoke with my classmates; conversations happened and since I graduated there have been more diverse cohorts. It wasn't just my issue, but became something more people cared about. 

I am consistently using articles and tactics from my classes in my work as lead organizer. I always go into meetings talking about and demonstrating the importance of building authentic communities for social and political change.

If you are interested in challenging the status quo, then the MAPL program is for you.