By Taylor Huang
Running Start is a nonpartisan organization empowering young women to get involved in politics and transform our world, one elected female leader at a time. Learn more at runningstart.org.
Elle Stevens used to follow her dad around when he worked in D.C. as a lobbyist. From that young age, she knew she wanted to live in the city and be a part of the process of making bills. As she embarked on her college and professional career, Elle became involved in her school’s senate, where she familiarized herself with politics and how to confidently pitch to voters.
Fast forward to today, and she’s making major moves as a Congressional Intern at the U.S. House of Representatives. right after graduating with a history from Denison University. Her daily duties include a mix of in-person and remote experiences where she tracks bills, joins meetings, and sits in on calls – all of which are stepping stones as she prepares to run for office one day.
College name & major: Denison University, History
What sparked your interest in politics?
My dad is a lobbyist, when I was younger I would come to D.C. with him and follow him around. I fell in love with the city and the process of making a bill.
So you want to run for office – but what’s your dream job?
I don’t have a dream job. However, I want to make a change and be happy in my life. If I can find a job that provides that, then that’s the dream.
What does your role as a congressional fellow entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Everyday is somewhat the same, however it can be different. Since I am hybrid, my day depends on if there are votes or not. On a non-vote day it is pretty slow and typical. On no-vote days I work from home because of the pandemic. I usually wake up and immediately check my email. I always check the news as well. After that I make sure I get everything done.
On days when the House is in session, I get to go into the office. Those days are less predictable. I answer phones, run errands, track bills, sit in on hearings and really get the full experience of being on the Hill.
What’s been the most surreal moment of your fellowship thus far?
My first day in the office! It certainly was not a typical first day – I got a call halfway through my morning run asking if I could come in. I sprinted home and got dressed as fast as I could. I went into the office and met with the Chief of Staff. Then I got to sit in on a climate call.
After that I met the Congresswoman. She was so sweet and welcoming. As the day started to end she invited everyone in the office to her apartment for dinner – how can you say no to that? I drove with other staff members to her home and helped her cook dinner. I was so surreal, because not but 12 hours earlier I was on a run. And then suddenly I was having dinner with a Congressperson in her home!
What issues motivate you to run for office?
Women’s issues and environmental issues.
Have you run for office before? If so, what was that experience like and what were your key takeaways?
I haven’t run for public office yet, but I ran for my university’s senate. I was a senator for the class of 2020. I highly recommend getting involved with your school’s government. It really helped me gain confidence and taught me the basics of government and politics, which now help me in my current internship.
Who are you role models, either in your community or at large?
Stevie Nicks, Gloria Steinem, and Dr. Threlkeld from Denison’s history department.
What do you wish more young women knew about political leadership?
THAT WE NEED MORE WOMEN LEADING! Politics is still sexist and not diverse. If you want to cover defense policy, DO IT! I wish women, especially young women, would see how powerful they really are.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Living in D.C. and killing the game. I hope to be working for a women’s organization fighting for women’s rights.