Margaret Deason-Coughlin

Policy Analyst

When asked in high school about my career aspirations, I would say that I wanted to be a social worker, though I had a limited notion as to what that entailed. In my first year at the University of Alabama – Birmingham, I was still contemplating social work when I took my first sociology course. My professor instantly garnered my interest, and I thought I had finally figured it out– I wanted to be a professor of sociology. As an undergraduate, I worked as a Research Assistant for my university’s Sociology Department, reinforcing my interest in the field. I interned on the successful reelection campaign of Congresswoman Terri Sewell and for the Alabama Association of Nonprofits, training local nonprofits in best practices. After college, I worked at the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) on a fellowship program that supports graduate student fellows as they matriculate through PhD programs. This experience gave me an inside look at the process for earning a PhD and becoming a professor, along with the realization that this career path wasn’t for me after all.

What I liked about my work at SSRC was the opportunity to encourage and witness our fellows’ progress and subsequent scholarly work. This interest in supporting the educational advancement of students is what drew me to NAF, and I’m excited to be working for a cause that I’m passionate about.