Pay Our Interns was founded in 2016, by Guillermo Creamer Jr. and Carlos Mark Vera. 

As unpaid interns themselves, Carlos and Guillermo worked across five different offices, including the House of Representatives, the White House, the office of the D.C. Mayor, and the European Parliament.

In September of 2016, they compared experiences, and realized their hardships and challenges were similar. Weeks after the 2016 presidential election, the two focus on creating a non-profit. By June 2017, POI released the first-of-its-kind Congressional Report: Experience Doesn’t Pay the Bills, which listed which members of Congress paid their interns, and those who did not.  

The report was received and shared by various news outlets highlighting the limited number of members who offered paid internships.

Since then, Pay Our Interns has:
    • Worked with various offices, doubling the number of Senate Democrats who offer paid internships and increasing the number of Senate Republicans as well.
    • Worked with candidates in the DNC chair race to ensure their support in offering a paid internship program if elected.
    • In June 2018, Pay Our Interns successfully worked with the DNC, DCCC, and several Senate offices to help create their paid internship programs. Along with a group of bipartisan legislators, the team also worked to help create the first ever internship fund allocation for the Senate at a $5 million fund.
    • A few weeks after a successful partnership with the Senate, the team worked with a group of bipartisan legislators on the House side and successfully secured $8.8 Million in intern funding.
    • On October 3rd, 2018, the President of the United States signed a minibus budget that included $13.8 million in funding for an internship program in Congress

Meet Our Team

Carlos Mark Vera

Co-Founder, Executive Director

Carlos Mark Vera is the Co-Founder and current Executive Director of Pay Our Interns. Originally from Colombia, Carlos was raised in California, but moved to Washington, D.C. to attend American University. While at AU, Carlos was an unpaid intern at the White House, the European Parliament, and the House of Representatives. He knows firsthand the struggles of trying to survive while interning for free.  Under his leadership, Pay Our Interns successfully convinced Congress to pass more than $31 million in funding for interns and has helped nonprofits, companies, and presidential campaigns create their internship programs.

Carlos’ efforts on Capitol Hill led him to be named a Forbes 30 Under 30 Honoree, Echoing Green Fellow, Camelback Ventures Fellow, a Top 20 Changemaker by NBC Latino, and an Aspen Ideas Fellow. He has been featured in The Washington Post, NPR’s All Things Considered, The New York Times, CNN and The Atlantic. He has also written for The Washington Post, Teen Vogue, USA Today, and NBC Latino.  Carlos proudly served in the Army Reserves as a mechanic for 8 years.

Carlos can be reached via email and found online at Twitter

McKinzie Harper

Deputy Executive Director

Over the last six years, McKinzie has managed a variety of projects, partnerships, and programs at the nexus of education, workforce, urban planning, and technology. Most recently, she managed JFF’s $10M Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration H-1B OneWorkforce funded RITEI program.

Prior to her time with JFF, she managed a first-of-its-kind WiFi pilot in Columbus as a response to accessibility issues with distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic and helped develop the national Big Ideas, Bright Cities Challenge for the Skills-Friendly Cities initiative of the Global Business Coalition for Education, their first ever US-focused partnership with Dell and Deloitte. 

McKinzie’s career started with a series of unpaid internships, which ultimately inspired her to found Untapped Good in 2020, a Columbus, Ohio-based nonprofit, connecting young people to paid, values-driven career-building opportunities. 

McKinzie holds a BA in Public Management, Leadership and Policy from the Ohio State University, and is currently pursuing her Mst in Social Innovation at the University of Cambridge. Additionally, McKinzie holds a certificate from MIT’s Innovation Leadership Bootcamp.

Jess Huang

California Initiative Director and Communications Manager

Jess Huang is the first member of her family to work in politics and couldn’t have done it without internships. That’s why she wants to make the intern process more equitable for all.

Previously, she spent over a decade working for elected officials, across all levels of government. When she’s not working, she’s a writer with bylines in CNN, Teen Vogue, Marie Claire, and proudly repped by the Bent Agency. As a graduate student at King’s College London, she helped organize an event for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and learned all about royal protocol. She has an MA in War Studies from King’s College London, and just successfully defended her Thesis at Johns Hopkins University in Global Security. 

When she’s not writing press releases or thinking about the perfect social media tweet, she’s catering to the whims of her three cats, Tortellini, Jack and Sadie.

You can reach her via email, or find her online at Twitter.



Federal Affairs Manager

Habiba Mohamed is an advocate – always fighting to center those who have yet to see themselves in the halls of power. She’s the daughter of Somali refugees and a proud first-generation college student. She’s a 2016 graduate of D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY. Habiba knows the barriers unpaid labor reinforce and is working to expand access to paid and well-rounded internship experiences for people in our communities. Building on her experience with Journey’s End Refugee Services, the Office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and most recently the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Habiba is excited to remind policymakers that we should all be afforded the opportunity to not only survive—but to thrive.

Matthew Waldron

Legislative Analyst

Matthew knows firsthand the value of paid internships after working his way through law school for two years as an intern in the California State Capitol – and is determined to make access to similar opportunities more equitable.

Matthew received his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and a J.D. with a Government Law Concentration from the University of California Hastings College of the Law. 


William A. Powers

William A. Powers

Of Counsel

Denise Smith

Denise Smith