Summer 2023 Fellow: Skyley Mitchell ’25

Office Description

Judge Lina Hidalgo is the head of Harris County’s governing body. She is the first woman to be elected County Judge and only the second to be elected to the Commissioners Court.

Harris County is the third largest county in our nation. Its population of more than 4.5 million rivals that of the entire state of Colorado. The Harris County Judge and four County Commissioners oversee a $4.3 billion budget that helps fund key county services and institutions.

The County Judge is the presiding officer on the Commissioners Court. As the main governing body of Harris County, the Commissioners Court plays a critical role that is part administrative, part legislative, and part judicial. Its many responsibilities include adopting a budget; setting tax rates; calling for bond elections; building and maintaining county infrastructure such as roads and bridges; and overseeing county courthouses, jails, libraries, parks, and the Harris County Flood Control District.

By state law, the County Judge is also the county’s director of emergency management, leading the Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HCOHSEM). In addition to her formal duties, Judge Hidalgo plays an important advocacy role for the County.

Judge Hidalgo believes that our region will remain competitive only through proactive and creative leadership on issues like flood control, transportation, criminal justice reform, and education. She is committed to ensuring that Harris County government is transparent, accessible, and accountable to every resident. She wants Harris County to be a place where everyone can attain the American Dream.

Description of the Work

The County Judge’s Office has three teams which could be suitable for a intern:

For Policy Team – Conduct research around a variety of policy topics while producing written materials, including policy memos; Support preparation for the county’s regular Commissioners Court, including admin tasks and policy writing; Staff and take notes at meetings relevant to the County Judge’s Office, including stakeholder, community, and government meetings; etc.

For External Affairs Team – Build and strengthen relationships with stakeholders, including community members, organizations and businesses in Harris County; Identify opportunities for outreach and engagement activities and events to support the community; Regularly co-host and attend a variety of meetings and events across the County to develop partnerships and build rapport externally; Monitor the progress of community engagement activities and develop and execute program evaluations; Prepare and submit engagement participation reports; Work with Communications team to track and identify trends across social channels, based on conversation topics, locations and other noticeable patterns to identify emerging issues; etc.

For Communication Team – support drafting press releases, quotes, talking points, and speeches for Judge Hidalgo; gather and leverage input from internal and external government agencies, stakeholders, community residents, organizations, and advocates to inform county-wide messaging and advance public understanding of the office’s work; etc.

Desired Skills

For Policy – Research, analytical and writing skills (e.g. academic or policy writing)

For External Affairs – Communications skills such as facilitation and/or community engagement experience

For Communications – Communications and writing skills (e.g. comms-focused writing such as talking points/script)

Interest in and understanding of local government and passion for progressive politics

Willingness to work outside of typical 9AM to 5PM schedule

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