The late Karabelle Pizzigati was an unwavering advocate and tireless champion for promoting and safeguarding the well-being of children. Each year, the School of Public Policy and the School of Public Health partner in her name to select Karabelle Pizzigati fellows who share her commitment to a career in children’s advocacy.
Megan Condon, a 2023 Karabelle Pizzigati fellow and student in the School of Public Policy Dual Bachelor's/Master of Public Policy program, embodies the spirit of The Karabelle Pizzigati Initiative in Advocacy for Children, Youth and Families. She describes it as a program that "inspires young leaders and advocates, providing them with the tools and resources necessary to effect change and become influential changemakers."
Raised in Nanuet, New York, a small town that highly values diversity and equity, Condon was brought up in an environment that emphasized compassion, empathy and a strong commitment to public service. Recognizing that her hometown’s values did not always mirror those of the wider world, her interest in advocacy was sparked. Condon’s journey to championing the rights of children began during her high school years when she had the opportunity to work with special education students, learning the intricacies of the policies, procedures and resources required to safeguard and meet their needs.
Initially starting her undergraduate journey at the University of Maryland as a business major, Condon stumbled upon courses in public policy during her second semester and immediately found her niche. Once she officially became a public policy student, Condon was deeply moved by Associate Clinical Professor and Karabelle Pizzigati Fellows Initiative Program Director Brandi Slaughter’s work in child advocacy. After learning about the fellowship opportunity and realizing that her values and goals aligned seamlessly with those of the Initiative and its mission, she knew she had found her calling.
The skills she has learned through this fellowship have equipped Condon with the knowledge of how to advocate for children and lead change. One of the highlights of her fellowship was the opportunity to work on a blog post highlighting legislation passed during this legislative session aimed at benefiting children and families. She describes it as “an incredible experience witnessing firsthand the profound influence of policy in shaping the lives of individuals and communities.” Condon places great value on the mentorship she has received from Slaughter, learning invaluable lessons in navigating challenges, addressing issues and embodying resilience in a world filled with complexities.
This past summer, Condon had the distinct honor of serving as an inaugural intern for the Moore-Miller administration. During her tenure, she had the opportunity to present a policy proposal on the childcare crisis to Governor Moore and Lt. Governor Miller. She credits the skills and knowledge acquired during her time at SPP and in her Karabelle Pizzigati fellowship for giving her the confidence and ability to execute this research and proposal.
Through additional internships with the Maryland State Department of Education and the Maryland Public Service Scholars Program, Condon has built connections with stakeholders and heard their remarkable stories. In her current internship with First Focus on Children, she is becoming well-versed in the intricacies of the advocacy process and “the art of capturing lawmakers’ attention.” Her current role involves drafting letters of support, participating in coalition meetings with diverse organizations and urging legislators to continue supporting vital legislation. Condon’s previous and current experiences have reinforced her passion for public service and youth advocacy.
Condon urges policymakers to adopt an education-centered approach to tackling critical youth-related policy areas such as the youth mental health crisis and book banning. She argues that attacking issues in isolated efforts fails to address the root causes, however, “increasing education and awareness about all matters related to children and child advocacy issues is a crucial first step.”
Condon is on track to complete her bachelor’s degree in December of 2023, followed by her Master of Public Policy in 2024. Looking to the future, she plans to spend her career amplifying the voices of those who have historically been silenced. Her commitment lies in “empowering all stakeholders in education to shape policies.” She aspires to help craft policies that are truly “by the people and for the people,” and to utilize the skills and experiences she has gained as a Karabelle Pizzigati fellow to become a powerful force for change.
- Social Policy