SIU political science internship to honor Barb Brown

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, IL. – An internship offered by Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Department of Political Science is being renamed to honor the life and legacy of a longtime local, state and national political figure and public servant.
The Barb Brown Springfield Internship places well-qualified students with government agencies, select elected officials, political interest groups and lobbying organizations during the spring semester to coincide with the Illinois legislative session. The internship honors Brown, an SIU alumna and former political science lecturer for more than 30 years, who passed away in May 2016.

The paid internship is open to junior and senior political science majors and includes students who have a double major. Students can receive up to 15 hours of academic credit. Interns will perform a variety of tasks, including legislative and policy research, committee monitoring, and other activities focused on lobbying.

“I was happy to learn of the decision of the Department of Political Science to name the Springfield internship program in memory of Barb,” Brown’s husband, Richard, said. “I know how much she worked to develop the internship opportunities for the students of the department so that they could enjoy the experience of working in fields of government related services as students.

“Because of her many contacts and friends in Springfield, she was able to develop continuing opportunities for students of the department,” he added.  “I know that it would be her hope that the cooperation she received for placement of the students will continue for the education of future students in the department.”

Brown was Randolph County circuit clerk from 2000 to 2012, earned her doctorate from SIU Carbondale in 1985. She taught American government and democracy classes to international students through a summer program funded by the U.S. Department of State.

Brown was co-founder and former president of the Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership; vice-chair for the Democratic Party of Illinois; co-founder and president of Southwestern Illinois Democratic Women, and founder and president of Southern Illinois Democratic Women. She was a precinct committeewoman, former chair of the Randolph County Democratic Central Committee, and treasurer for the Pierre Menard Democrat Club. She was a nine-time delegate to the Democratic National Convention, a two-time candidate for 58th State Senate District, and served roles in the presidential campaigns of President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama.

Brown helped establish the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Randolph County, served on the Chester Public Library Board of Trustees, started and led Chester Aces 4-H club, and was a longtime Rotary International member and an organizing member of the Daughters of the American Revolution Liberty of the West chapter.

The paid internship is open to junior and senior political science majors and includes students who have a double major. Students can receive up to 15 hours of academic credit. Interns will perform a variety of tasks, including legislative and policy research, committee monitoring, and other activities focused on lobbying.

Randy Burnside, associate professor, is program director. For more information, contact Burnside at 453-3174 or burnside@siu.edu.

Liz Brown-Reeves recalls that Brown was the first woman she personally met who had a passion for politics and public service. Brown was her professor, Model Illinois Government adviser, mentor and friend, Brown-Reeves said.

From a legislative internship in Springfield, to later working on the legislative staff of House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago and then opening her own lobbying firm that sponsors SIU Carbondale interns, Brown-Reeves said she and Brown remained close.

“The direction and guidance of Barb Brown in my life has been a cornerstone for my success,” Brown-Reeves said.

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