Hill Climbers: Aide’s Focus Extends Past Borders

Posted April 13, 2012 at 3:34pm

For Madeline Rose, Capitol Hill is a classroom.

The new staff assistant for Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) has a passion for international relations and said she came to Capitol Hill to witness firsthand how Congress, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector work together to solve issues such as poverty and disease abroad.

“I hope to figure out what the best and most pure and true channels are to implement sustainable and effective policy change,” Rose said.

A California native and lifelong resident of Honda’s district, Rose said her interest in foreign relations developed during her time in South Africa in 2010, as well as her studies at Occidental College, from which she graduated last May with a degree in diplomacy and world affairs.

In South Africa, Rose worked at an NGO that helped provide services to refugees seeking asylum or temporary citizenship. She said she participated in a number of protests against the South African government, which Rose said was knocking down refugee camps and homeless shelters to clean up the streets in preparation for its hosting of the 2010 World Cup.

But despite her studies and work abroad, she said she still wanted to see up close how foreign affairs played out in Washington, D.C.

“There’s so much discussion about the bringing together of communities, and how academics need to work more with the private sector, and the private sector needs to cooperate more with Washington, and Washington needs to work more with diplomats,” Rose said. “Everyone’s writing about this. … And beyond rhetoric, it’s hard to know what that means.”

Ultimately, it was during a trip she took to Liberia while also interning in Honda’s office and consulting for the United Nations when she realized she needed to be in Washington. It was important to see how all the actors interacted on Capitol Hill for her to take the next step in helping solve international problems.  

“I had the opportunity to go to some really high-level international forums and work on these really incredible events with diplomats, and it was so inspiring and I learned so much. But more and more, over time, I realized that if I want to really make an impact in these international spaces, I needed to understand how my government works and understand how D.C. works and what the channels are for actually creating effective change in both Washington and the international stage.”

Now on the payroll in Honda’s office, Rose said she is learning about how language gets into bills and about the avenues for money toward certain causes.

Rose said she plans to spend a few years on Capitol Hill and then hopes to pursue a master’s degree in conflict management or international law, as well as spend more time abroad.

“In general, this is definitely a learning space and a space to learn from amazing people,” Rose said. “We have some amazing staffers in our office, and there are so many incredible thought leaders on the Hill, and I hope to absorb as much info as I can while making sure I do everything in my power to push the Democratic agenda.”

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