From Googleplex to City Hall
Rachel Kinney was working as a technical sourcer for Google when she felt a pull toward, as she says, something “more.” Kinney (BA, Sociology, ’06) has since then launched a career in public service as an inaugural 2008–2009 City Hall Fellow working in the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement.
The application process for this position was very competitive, with more than 400 people from across the United States vying for one of 11 spots in San Francisco. After sending in a lengthy written application, Kinney was called in for a group interview in which a panel of applicants was given a public policy problem to discuss and solve under the scrutiny of the interviewers. They presented their solution as if they were advising San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. It was a challenge, says Kinney, to stand out in the group and work together to solve a problem.
Overall, the interviewers were looking for academic success, communication skills, and a demonstrated commitment to public service. Kinney, winner of the CSU, Chico Glenn Kendall Public Service Award, developed a foundation in community service and leadership as the co-founder and president of the Sociological Association of Chico State (SACS). Under Kinney’s leadership, SACS spearheaded the first sociology graduation banquet, volunteered at the Fun Without Alcohol Fair and the Women’s Center, and raised awareness of the unsolved murders of women in Juarez, Mexico.
After a month of training, the fellows were placed with high-level local officials in various city agencies for 12 months. In Kinney’s position, she helps San Francisco employers and employees understand the city’s new Health Care Security Ordinance.
“The ordinance is one of the first laws nationally requiring employers of 20 or more to provide health care to their employees, and other cities are looking very carefully at what happens with San Francisco,” she says. “I work on compliance enforcement: helping to educate the public about the law, helping employers to comply with the law, dealing with the complaints from employees who are not receiving the health care benefits that they should.”
Kinney is thrilled to be working on the ordinance during such an exciting time, she says, and has become dedicated to the effort to provide health care to all San Francisco employees. She also loves working in City Hall.
“There is so much going on,” she says. “I am in the middle of all the action—from the same-sex marriages that were taking place every day to the No on 8 and other public protests that went on during the election to a public broadcast of the Obama inauguration. It’s great.”
Kinney says the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement has expressed interest in hiring her at the end of the fellowship term, if the city’s budget allows it. Regardless, says Kinney, she is committed to a career in local government and public service, wherever that takes her.
— Anna Harris, Public Affairs and Publications