school. It was difficult to focus on the
trauma therapy I was providing because
their basic needs were not being met. I
wanted to work on the laws and policies
that were keeping me from being the
best practitioner possible.
I saw how that could happen when I
participated in the Minority Fellowship
Program’s Psychology Summer Institute
in Washington, D.C. I met with a legislator who opened my eyes to the fact that
if I voiced the challenges my clients were
facing, I could influence the decisions
legislators were making.
Later, I accepted an internship as a
social justice fellow at the Center for
Policy Analysis on Trade and Health in
San Francisco, and I started to better
understand the legislative process. In
2011, I decided to take a fellowship at
the California State Capitol, which I
thought would be a temporary position.
Four months into my placement, I was
offered a full-time job as a consultant
for the Senate Committee on Business,
Professions and Economic Development.
I got my current job in 2015.
What makes you stand out in your job?
Many people who work in the Capitol are
political science majors who came here
as interns directly after undergraduate
school. There are not many paths to get
a job here, so we get a lot of people who
tend to think similarly. I had outside expe-
riences in graduate school doing research,
working in a community health center
Sometimes it feels like I do group therapy with lobbyists and stake- holders,” says Le Ondra Clark Harvey, PhD, of her job as chief consul-
tant for the California State Assembly’s
Committee on Business and Professions.
“I bring together opposing sides on what
are often controversial issues, and I try to
get them to come to a middle ground.”
Harvey, who has been in the job since
2015, spoke with the Monitor about
her typical duties and the psychological expertise that helped her secure the
What do you do at the state Assembly?
I lead a team of consultants who analyze
any bills the Legislature may be considering that could affect businesses and
professionals. We research the merits
and fiscal ramifications of the bill and
the history of the profession that will
be affected. We also talk to proponents
and opponents of the legislation and try
to create amendments that can bring
opposing sides together.
We see about 130 bills per year, which
can cover everything from creating a
medical marijuana bureau to starting a
loan-repayment program for dentists.
Recently, legislators drafted a bill that
would allow psychology students on
practicum to provide services to minors
without direct supervision in certain
situations. I worked with different groups
to create a bill that would lift certain
restrictions while at the same time ensure
the protection of the client.
Once we finish analyzing a bill, we
share the analysis with the committee
chair, provide him with a recommendation and hear his vote recommendation
for the bill. Then the chair and the other
committee members hear testimony and
vote. If the bill gets a majority, then it
typically goes to the entire Assembly
floor for another vote.
How do you use your psychology
training in your job?
The work involves a lot of mediation. It’s
similar to the work I did in community
health centers where I did group and
family therapy. I help people think in a
different way about issues and walk out
of the room respecting each other even if
they do not agree.
My graduate training also taught me
critical and analytical thinking skills,
which help me analyze research data
related to bills. I know how to assess
whether it’s reliable data.
What led you to a job focused
on policy and politics?
Throughout graduate school, I worked
at a community mental health center
where I served disenfranchised populations. Sometimes people couldn’t get
to their appointments because they had
no money for transportation. Others
couldn’t afford to keep their kids in
How Did You Get That Job?
WORKING WITH BOTH SIDES
OF THE LEGISLATIVE AISLE
As chief consultant to the California State Legislature, Le Ondra Clark Harvey
leverages her research and mediation skills to guide lawmakers
BY HEATHER STRINGER