From Wisconsin to Washington, alum aids conversation with Congressional internship

If you follow Congresswoman Gwen Moore’s social media, you have Emma Rappaport to thank for some of those Tweets.

Rappaport graduated from UWM in 2018 after majoring in journalism with a focus on advertising and public relations. Today, she’s a press intern in the Congresswoman’s office, drafting press releases, newsletters, and social media posts to help spread Moore’s legislative ideas and messages.

Rappaport spoke about her internship and her decision to jump into politics at an especially fraught time in the Capitol.

Let’s start with a bit about you – what drew you to public relations?

I originally went to UWM for teaching because I like learning and being able to share my knowledge. While I realized that wasn’t the path for me, I always knew that I had a strength for writing. I found JAMS (Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies) through a friend of mine in one of my gen eds. As I got further along and took more JAMS classes, I realized I liked creating content, and especially copy for advertising.

How did you end up interning in Washington, D.C.?

I’m actually working remotely right now, so I’m remotely in D.C. I’m on Eastern Time for work, but I’m actually still in Wisconsin.

Pretty much any Democrat from Wisconsin that worked in Congress, I just went and applied for their general (internships), as well as some more political-based nonprofits. I applied to the National Organization for Women, the DNC, and the ACLU. I ended up hearing back from Congresswoman Gwen Moore – full circle back to Milwaukee! – and they referred me back to their press secretary.

I’m from Milwaukee. Just having those Milwaukee ties and having a bit of a journalism background (really helped). I interviewed with the press secretary and they liked what I had to say and what I had done in the past, and now I’m here!

This seems like an interesting time to get into politics, what with a tense situation in Washington after the 2020 election and the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. What made you decide to jump in now?

I found out I had the internship at the beginning of December. I started working when the new administration started. On Jan. 6, that was in the in-between period where I hadn’t started yet, but I knew everything that was happening. It took me aback. Just having a connection with that gave me a bit of a different perspective on events.

I knew I wanted to get into politics now after the past four years and after everything that transpired in 2020. With my personal beliefs … and knowing that I would work with (Gwen Moore) in the Progressive caucus who has strong values and ties to the community and being involved with the action – that’s what draws me to politics.

As a press intern, what do you do?

I work under the press secretary in Gwen Moore’s office. The press secretary is the head of all of the communication. Daily, I’ll draft social media content to send to her. Depending on what’s going on and how the news flow changes, that impacts what is posted. She’ll edit posts and post it to the Representative’s social media.

I’ll draft certain press releases or newsletters, or create graphics. I created a graphic for Black History month, when Gwen Moore proposed legislation to honor the 6888th Battalion, which was an all-female, all-black battalion in World War II. They came to Europe facing a backlog of two years’ worth of postal work, and they (cleared it) in six months. So, I stay on top of legislation to know what to talk about.

There are a few things with an omnibus, a set of a bills regarding maternal health and rights of mothers. There’s a lot going on with the COVID relief bill and all of those markups. My job is basically getting bits and bobs from the press secretary or other legislative assistants and helping compile information to share with constituents.

That seems like a huge job with a lot of moving parts. How do you keep on top of it?

One thing that I took from UWM, my professors had us use TweetDeck a lot.

I use it to keep track of what other officials are saying, whether it be in the House or the Senate or the state. I keep up with state and local news as well as national news. I have a few news apps on my phone that will notify me. I check that in the morning to see what other people are talking about to draft things.

(I write) commentary in regards to the impeachment trials, or COVID relief, or the Wisconsin State Assembly, and things like that.

This sounds like the content generation you did at UWM.

I will say that’s one thing I loved about the JAMS department, is that it was set up like a work environment. There was so much that I was able to take with me to multiple jobs.

Was it cool seeing your words out on social media?

Yes! It was super exciting to see my words out there, and the fact that I was able to capture (Moore’s) voice was really rewarding. Back at the end of January, for Holocaust Remembrance Day, that Tweet was my first one that was published verbatim, without edits. Her post regarding the beginning of Black History Month was written by me and only had minor edits. She had a virtual briefing for the Violence Against Women Act, and there was a graphic I designed for that.

Your name isn’t attached, but your words are helping inform the national conversation! That’s exciting too. Being from Milwaukee, Gwen Moore was a household name growing up. Being able to be part of that bridge to connect, especially with social media being a digital archive, and knowing that I contributed to that, is pretty cool.

That’s exciting too. Being from Milwaukee, Gwen Moore was a household name growing up. Being able to be part of that bridge to connect, especially with social media being a digital archive, and knowing that I contributed to that, is pretty cool.

What do you want to do with this experience?

I definitely love the political world and would love to continue on this route. I’ve always had a passion for climate change and the climate crisis and conservation. I’d love to steer my path that way. I’d love to stay in the news and be a voice for these important issues.

By Sarah Vickery, College of Letters & Science