Cindy Polzin: Making friends in Madison
As Cindy Polzin, ‘01, Madison, tells it, her job is to make friends.
Polzin, a member of the of UWSP Alumni Association Board and the president-elect of the organization, works at the Capitol in Madison as a legislative liaison between members of the State Senate and Assembly and the governor. Although her job varies from day to day, her focus is to make sure that legislators from both sides of the aisle know she is available to them to discuss everything from state storm damages to public policy.
“When sessions are taking place, I make sure they see me. If they need something from the governor, I’m the one to go to,” she says. “It’s really about becoming friends with people and getting that trust level. If they don’t trust you, you are not doing your job.”
A Pound native, Polzin began her Pointer journey as a young girl while on a trip to Stevens Point with her mom. She recalls, “I remember saying to her, ‘I’m going to go to school here.’ “
She made good on that promise in 1997, choosing UWSP over UW-Madison because Point felt more like her hometown—small, friendly and comfortable. “I wanted to be a name, not a number,” she said.
Majoring in political science and public administration was something Polzin had wanted to do since discovering her love of politics in high school. Her favorite professor was Dennis Riley of the Political Science Department.
“Professor Riley always started classes on a light note,” she said. “That’s something I try to do by starting my meetings on a light note before getting down to business. Professor Riley was a great mentor to have, and UWSP is lucky to have him.”
Her senior year she was elected president of the student body. “Having that opportunity to talk to students has done nothing but help me, especially in this career,” Polzin said. She also credits the good friendships she made with a variety of people at UWSP with preparing her to work with legislators of both political parties.
The summer before her senior year, she interned with Congressman Paul Ryan in Washington D.C. After graduation she worked for Steve Foti, the majority leader in the Wisconsin Assembly. Polzin then did some campaign work for now Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and worked for the Justice Department for three years before taking her current position.
Polzin advises current students interested in politics to take advantage of opportunities to volunteer their time in a campaign or political office, saying “I would not be where I am now without those experiences.”
She also advises high school students to pick UWSP when choosing a university.
“UWSP has everything you could ever want in a university,” Polzin said. “It has world class professors and classes. The student body is great. You will meet friends you will have for the rest of your life. And I think I speak for thousands of UWSP graduates when I say that.”