alumna Sarah Knisely Handy 01C
found herself drafting congressional testimony for the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), she realized
she had traveled full circle.
was a perfect fusion of my personal, professional, and academic
lives, said Handy, a program analyst for the financial
management office of the CDC since shortly after her graduation
from Emory with highest honors in political science.
a native of Arlington, Virginia, is the daughter of an appropriations
committee staffer. I grew up immersed in that culture,
she says. I used to hang out in my dads office on
[Capitol] Hill. It just seems natural to me.
CDC Director Julie L. Gerberding was called upon to appear before
the appropriations committee in March, Handy helped to prepare
her, providing briefing materials on virtually every program
at the federal agency, which is part of the Department of Health
and Human Services. The briefing included each committee members
special area of interest and questions they had asked in past
must explain the science and other complex issues in accessible
language, says Handy. Dr. Gerberding gave her statement,
then answered questions. It lasted about two hours overall,
and went really well.
hearing is the most formal, public interaction between the CDC
and Congress, and is an integral part of determining the CDCs
budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The House and Senate appropriations
committees are panels of mostly senior members that annually
approve every dollar of federal spending. Washington insiders
like to say there are three real parties in CongressRepublicans,
Democrats, and appropriators.
members and their staffers also visit Atlanta frequently to
tour the CDCs various programs, which range from international
disease investigations to bioterrorism preparedness to health
education and prevention efforts, such as reducing obesity in
Handy and her colleagues serve as congressional liaisons.
are a small office with a huge responsibility, says Handy.
Theres a prohibition against lobbying,
but we answer questions, provide information, and conduct briefings.
is an extraordinary young alumna who is making some very important
scholarly and professional contributions very quickly,
says Randall Strahan, associate professor of political science,
who co-authored a study with Hardy that has been accepted for
publication by the scholarly journal Congress and the Presidency.
who has been accepted for graduate study at the London School
of Economics in public policy, says she cant imagine not
being involved in legislative affairs in some way, although
she doesnt plan on running for office any time soon.
not where the appeal is for me. Im much more interested
in the processthe engine behind the operation. Its
a real challenge to attract young people to public service.
The private sector often pays better, Handy says. But
I believe its honorable, to work for the government and
try to make peoples lives better.M.J.L.