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Fridays from the Frontline: Stanford GSB Internship – Helping Patients Vote Safely

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In this edition of Fridays from the Frontline, we hear from Stanford GSB MBA student, Ben Ruxin, about his internship with VotER. Read on about his efforts to promote civic engagement, and how the Stanford GSB curriculum supported this endeavor.

Helping Patients Vote Safely

By Ben Ruxin, Stanford GSB MBA ‘21

As we approach the 2020 Presidential Election, Americans’ trust in institutions is historically low and their ability to register to vote has been impaired by pandemic-driven closures.

Ben Ruxin, Stanford GSB MBA ‘21

These challenges were at the forefront as I began my internship in May at VotER, a nonprofit that equips healthcare providers to help their patients register to vote.

At VotER, we recognized that the healthcare sector was uniquely positioned to overcome these challenges: doctors, nurses and hospitals are more popular than any other industry, and healthcare professionals see patients in person, giving them a unique opportunity to reach voters.

My role this summer was to amplify this message across the healthcare industry. I led the development and launch of Civic Health Month, a nonpartisan advocacy and awareness month dedicated to amplifying patient and provider civic engagement. Celebrated in August, Civic Health Month brought together a diverse group of 95 healthcare and democracy organizations and 15,000+ individual healthcare professionals. We worked together to advance 3 objectives:

  1. Drive voter registration among patients and providers
  2. Equip people to vote safely
  3. Amplify civic voice in healthcare

I led a team of four undergraduate interns through the development, launch and execution of Civic Health Month. We produced newsletters, blog posts, social media content and webinars for our partners. We wrote an op ed to explain why we feel that patients’ Civic Health is as important as their physical and mental health, a theme that the AP explored further in a story that was picked up by several outlets including the Washington Post.

All of this work added up to an impact that we’re very proud of and look to build on in future years. Here are some highlights:

  • In August, we helped 9,500 patients use VotER’s voter access portal to either register to vote or request their vote by mail ballot
  • We are now impacting over 400 voters every day – a pace we hope to continue through Election Day
  • We developed a culture of Civic Health across the healthcare sector by maintaining a blog, expanding our social media presence (including a shoutout by the star of Grey’s Anatomy), and being covered by national and local news outlets

I’m incredibly grateful to Stanford GSB and the Center for Social Innovation for providing the opportunity to work at VotER through the Social Management Immersion Fellowship. Additionally, two courses in particular helped guide my work:

  • I took Kristin Hansen and Matt Abrahams’ Essentials of Strategic Communication course at the same time as I was developing our Civic Health Month pitch deck. Their course gave me the opportunity to practice and hone our pitch to potential partners
  • Anne Marie Burgoyne and Jane Leu’s Making Social Ventures Happen provided me with frameworks and examples of successful social change initiatives that I drew on extensively during this work

With just 6 weeks remaining until Election Day, we are continuing to engage the coalition that we developed during Civic Health Month. Together, we’re helping to build a healthier democracy. To join us, click here, and don’t forget to register to vote!

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.