Mollie is a Senior Counselor at the Office of the Governor of Illinois.
The training I obtained as part of the MPA has, without a doubt, helped to save lives. As part of Governor Pritzker’s COVID-19 response team, I have been leading Illinois’ efforts to increase testing capacity for COVID-19 across the state. In practice, this involves working with hospital and commercial laboratories to understand their constraints, developing relationships with manufacturers of supplies needed for testing, and monitoring and leveraging best practice in research and strategies emerging from across the globe.
At the start of this crisis, my first calls were to former classmates all over the world to learn what they had already experienced. I was able to learn quickly about approaches that seemed promising, and to use my evaluation training to vet studies on approaches that the media touted by did not have significant evidence to invest time into. I also utilized my econometric skills to assess the benefits and costs of various policy options on which we had to make quick decisions. Both the LSE and the MPA helped me think critically and use evidence to drive policy decisions.
In four weeks, Illinois was able to start up an entirely new testing and supply chain infrastructure that has been cited as a ‘poster child’ by leaders across the United States. We saw the largest growth in testing out of the ten largest states, and now perform more tests per capita than 90% of states in the US. I’ve appreciated Illinois’ data-driven response, which highlighted early on a need for mass testing across the state. Our rapid increase in testing meant that we were able to perform holistic testing on our nursing home residents, incarcerated populations, homeless individuals, and other vulnerable populations - all much more quickly than other states.
My time at LSE transformed my understanding of the role of government and lead me to pursue a career in local service. Illinois has a particularly poor history of public leadership and I was inspired to use my education to help transform government institutions - and, hopefully, provide some improved outcomes and faith in the systems.