On November 15, a group of students associated with the Wilson Center for Leadership in the Public Interest embarked on an annual trip to Washington, D.C. This trip took the students to meet and hear from Hampden-Sydney alumni who work or have worked on Capitol Hill. They moved to the Russell Building, the oldest of three large Senate office complexes. The day was divided into four sessions with various alumni speakers. The guests spoke on their lives and jobs in Washington, and then students were invited to ask questions. After this, the students were treated to a cocktail party hosted by the DC Alumni Club at the St. Regis Hotel, followed by a panel discussion.
The first two speakers for the day were Hugo Rodriguez ’88, Deputy Director of the Office of Mexican Affairs for the Department of State and Scott Pietan ’95, Director of Domestic Policy for the Office of the United States Trade Representative. These two accomplished speakers focused on the direction of American diplomatic and economic policy on the international stage (especially in the developing world) in the coming years.
Shifting focus from foreign affairs to domestic politics, the second session featured Chris Stirewalt ’97, a FOX news anchor and reporter, and Chris Cooper ’92, a Democratic Party strategist and a member of the Obama 2012 campaign. What followed was an illuminating discussion of the past Presidential election viewed from both sides of the aisle as well as a series of predictions about the course of the next Presidential election.
After a break for lunch, the group reconvened for the third session, featuring Paul Cooksey ’70, Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, David Brown ’87, Vice President for Governmental Affairs at the Exelon Corporation, and Tucker Shumack ’95, a lawyer with GDS Strategies, LLC. They spoke about the rules and regulations concerning the process of lobbying and how integral lobbying is to the legislative process.
The fourth and final session was comprised of a group of younger alumni: Hunter Pickels ’05, Thomas Craig ’99, Thomas Doheny ’09, William Pace ’10, Jack Ruddy ’10 and Mac McKinney ’11. All of these men serve as staff members and aides to various members of Congress. They spoke of their own experiences as Congressional staff members and gave the audience tips for getting into a Capitol Hill career from the ground up.
After the four alumni presentations, the group left the Russell Building and traveled to the St. Regis Hotel. At the St. Regis, the students got a chance to interact personally with many alumni before settling in to listen to a panel discussion moderated by our very own President Howard. The panel consisted of Dr. Carol Adelman, a Senior Fellow and Director at the Center for Global Prosperity of the Hudson Institute, Charles Payne ’88, a lawyer at the Hirschler Fleischer Law Firm, and Peter Kellner, co-founder of the philanthropic organization Endeavor Global. The panel focused on how philanthropy interacts with capitalism and the forms philanthropic giving will take in the 21st century.