Guest Blog Post: Meet APTQI-Sponsored Congressional Intern Eric McGlothen

The APTQI Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Steering Committee assists the Board of Directors in creating and supporting initiatives that will empower APTQI’s member companies to promote diversity and equity in the workplace and inclusion in the communities in which they serve. As part of this critical effort, APTQI has sponsored a summer intern through the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF).

In a new guest blog post, Eric McGlothen discusses his experiences working in Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence’s (D-MI) office and how public policy and representation are so crucial to improving equity in the United States:

For as long as I can remember, I have been passionate about public service and helping people in underserved communities develop intergenerational wealth. A native of Atlanta, I earned an NROTC scholarship to study at Dillard University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) founded in 1935 as the “equity building engine of the south.” When I started my studies, I intended to be a public health major and work in kinesiology. But as I took more classes on public policy, I decided to switch majors. Since graduating from Dillard last May with a degree in Urban Studies and Public Policy, I’ve been really motivated to create positive change.

Public policy must be anchored to DEI. For too long, the doors have been shut for many people of different races, genders, and abilities simply because the systems in place were designed to exclude them. This has been true across a wide swath of sectors; in physical therapy, for instance, just 6.5% of the therapy workforce identifies as Black or Latinx, and Americans of color are less likely to receive physical therapy services. There must be more significant equity and representation from healthcare to housing, and from the environment to the economy.

America is a wonderfully diverse place, yet many of the folks in charge of designing these systems share similar characteristics. To make sure public policy truly serves the needs of everyone, people from all different communities must have a seat at the table. I want to help create that space at the table for others – and I am grateful that the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s summer internship program is making that space for me.

Interning with Congresswoman Lawrence’s office has been the experience of a lifetime. By drafting our daily press briefing and attending hearings, I’ve learned so much about the issues impacting healthcare and health equity, climate change, transportation, and the economy. Additionally, it has been eye-opening to help respond to constituent letters. Not only does it feel purposeful to help people, but it has also given me a much greater appreciation for the role of government and how Members of Congress serve the people they represent. Working on Capitol Hill has also afforded me tremendous networking opportunities. I’ve built relationships with many people I would never have had the chance to meet if I was not selected for this internship. 

Finally, I’m inspired by Congresswoman Lawrence’s commitment to public service. Before joining Congress, she had a long career with the U.S. Postal Service and was elected the first African American woman mayor of Southfield, Michigan. Representation—in every sense of the word—matters. 

As a future policymaker, I want to work to enact policies that make housing more affordable. This includes addressing high rental costs and incentivizing corporations and landlords to enter into public and private partnerships that allow for a percentage of affordable housing units in new and existing construction. The ability to own a home, an appreciating asset, and thereby build equity is a key to building generational wealth; yet, a long history of redlining and racial segregation have contributed to persistent wealth gaps and other inequities. Unfortunately, discrimination in the housing process still exists. I saw it firsthand as a testing coordinator for the Fair Housing Center of Northern Alabama. I recognize that the skyrocketing housing cost makes it harder for many marginalized people to afford their own homes, so I believe I can make a difference. With the support of my father, a CPA with his firm for 20 years, I obtained my commercial driver’s license and started a trucking company. The capital raised will be utilized to purchase my first investment property, which I will convert into affordable housing.

It has been great learning the business from the ground up, and with the skills and connections that I have acquired as a Congressional Black Congress intern, I believe I have positioned myself not only to enact policy to assist with affordable housing, but I am on my way to providing that housing in my community.

I leave you with what I have learned thus far in hopes that it will inspire you, too:

1. Individual actions can open doors for others. Those with an abundance of resources (talent, wealth, or influence, for example) have a moral responsibility to use their advantage to help empower others.

2. Public policy matters. It’s essential to be aware of what is occurring not only in Washington but in also your state and local governments – and advocate for policies that advance DEI.

3. Don’t doubt yourself. Being a leader requires you to be authentic and not conform to the ideals of others. If you trust yourself and work hard, you will reach your destination. Finally, when you claim your seat at the table, remember lesson #1.