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Allie Bohm: From Tisch College to the ACLU

Friday, October 11, 2013

The former Tisch Scholar, now an Advocacy and Policy Strategist at the ACLU, talks about the role that Tisch College played in shaping her personal and professional development.

Tufts alumna Allie Bohm and ACLU logo

Freedom of speech. Privacy and technology. Women’s and LGBT rights. The militarization of police. National security.

For most of us, these are some of the most pressing matters of our time; controversial topics that often dominate the national conversation. For Allie Bohm, A07, they’re part of her job description; just a few of the issues she tackles every day as an Advocacy and Policy Strategist at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Her passion for many of these issues developed at Tufts and, especially, at Tisch College, where she also began learning the skills and values that would lead her down this career path.

To say that Bohm was an involved and engaged undergraduate during her time here would be an understatement. She helped revive the Tufts chapter of Amnesty International, led the former student group Tufts Action for Peace, and participated in what is now called the Tufts Queer Straight Alliance. She founded a group for students to teach each other dance, and started the Tufts Tap Ensemble.

“But my homes at Tufts were the Peace and Justice Studies (PJS) program and Tisch College,” says Bohm, who also double-majored in English and minored in Dance. “I discovered both during orientation week… I heard about the program and kind of freaked out,” she says, recalling her excitement at finding something that fit her interests and aspirations.

Bohm became a Tisch Scholar, first assisting a senior Scholar with an arts education after school program in Lawrence, MA. She spent her part of her junior year abroad doing a School for International Training program in Mexico. “That was probably one of the most influential things, in terms of what I ended up doing,” says Bohm.

For her senior Scholar project, Bohm worked with PJS to develop and implement Peace Games, a cooperative games/conflict resolution after school program at Medford’s public elementary schools. That program, originally inspired by the national organization Peace First, continues to this day under the direction of the Leonard Carmichael Society (LCS).

After graduation, Bohm was an intern at United for Peace and Justice. Soon after, she was then hired by the ACLU in Washington, D.C., as a legislative assistant. “I didn’t know what legislative work was. I just told them: ‘I care about your issues and I’m a quick study’. They basically took a chance on me,” says Bohm, who was quickly recognized for her work on issues like reproductive rights, surveillance, and immigration.

Now, in her current role, Bohm combines policy work and organizing. She monitors and analyzes state legislation and administrative policies, and strategizes about the best ways to advance legislation or administrative proposals. She also drafts model state legislation, policies, and testimony, and mobilizes state-level ACLU affiliates to lobby their members of Congress.

Looking back on her time at Tufts and her work as a Scholar, Bohm believes that she developed a valuable perspective that would help her succeed at the ACLU.

“The biggest thing I got from Tisch College was being very responsive to the needs of the community and not just to what you think the community needs, but to go in, and listen, and do what they really need,” says Bohm. “The fact that I chose to work domestically rather than internationally stems from those experiences, and the desire to work somewhere where I’m accountable and part of the community.”

This past summer, Bohm played an integral part in helping current Tisch students learn some of those same lessons when she hosted and supervised a pair of Active Citizenship Summer Fellows at the ACLU. They worked on an important project regarding the militarization of police, and left quite an impression on Bohm and her colleagues.

“They were far and away some of the best interns we’ve ever had: incredibly passionate, quick studies, and I adore both of them,” says Bohm. “I think that is a testament to Tisch College and to the people who gravitate toward Tisch College.”