“I am a public servant at heart.”
That’s the first line of an essay Lori Sims, BA Criminology, Law and Society ’11, MPP ’15, submitted to a federal agency as she applied for a prominent—and valuable—fellowship. It’s the first thing she wanted the judges to know about her.
Sims has already devoted much of her life to helping others. She juggles several positions at area nonprofits, including one that helps survivors of domestic violence and one that assists young victims of human trafficking. Her full-time job was as a mental health professional at a crisis stabilization program.
That was last spring. Thanks to the essay and her compelling life story, Sims won the fellowship, becoming one of the 2015 Presidential Management Fellows. Some 7,800 people applied for 600 spots.
The fellowship is administered by the Office of Personnel Management and is intended to develop potential government leaders by permitting them to rotate from agency to agency at their pleasure for two years—paid, and with benefits—sampling the duties and demands for a few months at a time. At the end, a permanent job or term position is offered.
“Vulnerable populations in general attract me,” Sims says.
Sims understands hardship. Both of her parents were in the service and money was often in short supply.
“I’ve been in situations where my surroundings were not the best,” she says. “But I’ve seen the other side of things. I’ve got a glimpse of what happens when you come out of a bad situation. I choose to use that as an opportunity to give back to individuals who need my help the most.”
And Sims, it seems, can’t behave in any other way, except as a champion of those who need help. “I believe that each individual should be afforded the opportunity to succeed.”
“I feel like the fellowship has not only put my career goals in arm’s reach, but also validates everything I’ve worked so hard for my whole life. My dream to bring about socially responsible and effective policy change can and will come true.”