Jane Lyons ‘18

Title: Maryland Advocacy Manager

Employer: Coalition for Smarter Growth

Major: Economics, BA


What do you enjoy the most about your position?

In my current position, I lead advocacy campaigns related to local housing, transit, and land use policy in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties. I feel incredibly lucky to have found a role that combines so many of my passions and interest areas. The part of my job that I love the most is meeting and bringing community members together for a common cause.

What is a typical day like in your position?

Every day is different! Before the pandemic, I was traveling all over the DC region to different meetings, including community meetings and county council meetings. Now, I still talk virtually with county staff, elected officials and other decision makers, residents, community groups, non-profits, and business leaders. My organization brings together these groups to work in coalition for positive changes to housing, land use, and transit policy.

How did you find your current position?

I began getting involved in local Montgomery County advocacy while in college. I sat on the board of a transit advocacy group, interned with a Bethesda-area delegate, and completed a fellowship at the county council. Through those experiences, I got to know my predecessor in this role.

Which undergraduate experiences did you find most helpful in preparing you for your current position?

My internship and on-campus leadership experiences were critical to preparing me for my current position. This included internships at the Maryland General Assembly, Montgomery County Council, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. On-campus, my leadership experience included roles with WMUC Radio, University Senate, and BSOS Dean's Student Advisory Committee.

How has your coursework helped you in your current position (i.e. quantitative skills, research techniques, communication skills)?

My urban economics coursework has been incredibly helpful, and understanding good research methods is important for analyzing policy and discerning best practices.

Any job or internship advice for students seeking a position in your field?

Relationships are everything, especially in advocacy! Start attending community meetings, get involved with local organizations, and ask community leaders for one-on-one conversations. You'll be surprised at how fast showing up will put you at the center of these discussions.