The Heller School for Social Policy and Management

Allison Ivie is lobbying Congress on social justice issues

Allison Ivie, MPP'13

“I’ve done government work, private sector work and nonprofit work, and I see value in all of it,” says Allison Ivie, MPP’13. “The beauty of the MPP is that all these options are open to you.”

Today, Ivie is the senior director of government relations and public affairs at Center Road Solutions, a boutique, woman-owned lobbying firm focused on mental health and school safety. “Our goal is to make sure the Affordable Care Act is implemented in the way it was intended, such as keeping coverage for mental health and substance use disorder treatment. It’s an ongoing challenge,” she says.

When Congress is in session, Ivie frequently meets with staffers on Capitol Hill, especially those on the Energy and Commerce Committee. “I’m telling them, this is who I represent and these are our key issues. I’m asking, what are you guys tackling this session? How can we partner to improve your work?” Once she knows her clients’ stance on ongoing legislative efforts, she works to write joint letters with coalition members to heads of committees and to activate grassroots networks to call different Congressional offices. However, it’s not just about Congress. In times of legislative gridlock, administrations often turn to regulations to get things done. That’s when she dives deep into policy research and analysis to write opinions on behalf of her clients to enter into the public record.

“One of the most important skills I learned at Heller was writing policy memos,” she says. “Learning to be really concise in your language and getting your point across quickly. In any government or lobbying job, nobody has time to read academic papers.”  

Ivie’s path to social policy was clear. In college, she volunteered at a local domestic violence shelter. It soon became apparent to her that many of the women were overprescribed on medications like antidepressants.

“I realized this was a policy issue,” she says. “If they go from doctor to doctor to doctor, they should have a record of what they’ve been prescribed. We still see this today with the opioid crisis of overprescribing. I didn’t have the skill set or knowledge to address it, so I needed to go to grad school.”

She chose Heller because of the joint master’s program in public policy and women’s, gender and sexuality studies. Raised by a single mother who faced both abuse and financial struggles, Ivie wanted to find a way to help others like her.

“My mother passed away in 2015, and her life was so short because she had to work so hard to provide for us,” she says. “It was incredibly stressful for her, but she still dedicated herself to public health. That’s what gets me out of bed every morning. She worked so hard to launch me and my brother—the least I can do is get up every day and do some good in the world.”