Polkey headshot

Emerson Fellow

Chesterfield Polkey

25th Class, 2018-2019

Born and raised in Jacksonville, FL, Chesterfield graduated with honors from Macalester College with a degree in sociology and minors in political science, statistics, and French. Through the community service-oriented Bonner Scholars Program, he interned at Neighborhood House, a local social service agency. There, Chesterfield organized multiple lobbying days on the hill, conducted multiple presentations on political advocacy, and wrote a guidebook on public policy. He also assisted and interacted with participants in the agency’s food pantry. Chesterfield remains committed to public service having participated in the City of Minneapolis’ Urban Scholars program, worked in the government affairs department at the Metropolitan Council, and interned at the National Ministry of Education in Fatick, Senegal.

Field placement: Just Harvest

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Chesterfield completed his field work with Just Harvest, a long-standing Pittsburgh nonprofit that is dedicated to ending hunger through increasing accessibility to healthy and affordable food, raising awareness of economic injustice in Allegheny County, and advocating at all levels of government for a stronger safety net. In his role, Chesterfield collaborated with Just Harvest’s SNAP and public policy teams to develop practical avenues for client engagement and client advocacy. His work included revising the SNAP application follow-up process to be more open-ended and advocacy-oriented, conducting multiple focus groups to gather expertise from Just Harvest's clients, and developing a white paper on potential client advocacy opportunities. Chesterfield also engaged the local nonprofit and academic community to develop future research projects to improve Just Harvest’s SNAP outreach and the SNAP application process.

Policy placement: National Conference of State Legislatures

Washington, DC

Hunger Free Community Report

"Restoring the Balance of Power: Cultivating Leaders with Lived Experiences in Poverty to Create Lasting Social Change in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania" practices among leadership development programs and assesses the capacity of grassroots organization Just Harvest to develop a leadership development and training program. By coupling analysis of Just Harvest’s organizing past with an evaluation of leadership capacity-building programs around the country, this report suggests a new framework for integrating community members with lived experiences of poverty into the larger struggle against inequality.

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