From Non-Profits To The White House

At Haverford’s second Public Policy Forum, alumni from across the professional spectrum returned to campus to talk to students about the wide range of careers that exist to address the complex issues facing our world.

After the success of last year’s inaugural Public Policy Forum, it seemed only natural to hold another.

“Last year’s forum was a wonderful opportunity for Haverford students to meet so many of our alumni who have varied and accomplished careers related to public policy,” said Dean of Career and Professional Advising Kelly Cleary. “During the panels, student poster sessions, and David Wessel’s keynote address, students were able to learn about policy issues from experts in their respective fields, while also hearing the personal stories of how these alumni made their way from Haverford toward their own career trajectories.”

So on Saturday, March 19, the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, the Center for Career and Professional Advising, the Koshland Integrated Natural Science Center, and interested faculty and alumni co-sponsored and co-hosted Haverford’s second Public Policy Forum. The daylong event was filled with various networking events, talks, and panels, featuring alumni discussing issues in education, environmental policy, health, incarceration and criminal justice, poverty and homelessness, and big data. Students from a variety of majors, such as history, economics, psychology, and geology, showcased their research at the midday poster session.

“I hope that students came away from the experience with a broader understanding about the variety of careers open to them—and the many ways that they can make a positive social contribution—following graduation,” said Haverford Assistant Professor of Political Science Zachary Oberfield, who moderated the panel on education policy. “I also hope that first, second, and third-year students were inspired by seeing and hearing about the thesis research conducted by seniors.”

More than 20 alums from across the professional spectrum were in attendance to speak at the panels, including Chief of the Streets for the City of Boston Chris Osgood ’99, New York City Council Member Mark Levine ’91, Founder and President of WEEMA International Elizabeth McGovern ’91, and Senior Chemist at environmental law firm Bergeson & Campbell PC Rich Engler ’87.

“I hope students take away two things: First, to see both the connection and disconnection from how we approach policy issues theoretically in the classroom to how practitioners deal with theory,” said Postdoctoral Fellow in Environmental Economics Steven Smith, who moderated a panel on environmental policy. “The panelists are able to touch on their broad policy goals, which are familiar from the classroom, but also reveal what they are doing under the hood to make it go in the real world. Second, I hope the students see the wide range of knowledge, experience, and career paths that are needed to address the complex issues facing our environment.”

The event’s keynote address, moderated by last year’s keynote speaker David Wessel ’75, featured two people who know their way around the White House: Amy Pope ’96 and Daniel Price ’77. Pope currently works as the deputy homeland security advisor and deputy assistant to President Obama at National Security Council. Price was formerly the assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for international economic affairs to President George W. Bush, and served as his personal representative to the G8, G20, and APEC summits. In their Q&A, they discussed how their Haverford experiences prepared them for career trajectories in both the private and public sectors.

Pope stressed the importance of building strong relationships and networking, noting that many of her jobs came out of recommendations and personal relationships. “To put it in Haverfordian terms,” she says, “Be nice. Someone who works for you could be your boss in two years.”

Price advised that, when looking to start a career in public policy, “caring about something won’t fix the problem. You have to be good at something and use that to help find a solution.”

Watch the full keynote discussion:


Photos by Caleb Eckert ’17

Additional writing and reporting by Jenny Ahn ’17