A few years ago, Zoya Awan was positive she would have a career in foreign affairs. She studied abroad, had several languages under her belt, and graduated from American University with a major in International Affairs with a focus in peace and conflict resolution. “I was certain I would be working somewhere like the State Department and eventually become a diplomat,” said Zoya. However, her job search led her elsewhere and today she works as a Congressional Affairs Project Coordinator for Microsoft.
Her work includes congressional outreach, which expanded her view and influenced her decision to pursue an MBA at Georgetown University. “The connection between business and policy is very important to understand,” Zoya said. “Now l am working towards some combination of foreign policy, business, and corporate and public affairs – hopefully as a principled public servant and leader like Bryce Harlow.”
Since college, Hanna Abou-El-Seoud knew she wanted to pursue a career in public policy. The Michigan native graduated from Michigan State and promptly secured an internship with Michigan U.S. Senator Carl Levin. She later moved to Washington, D.C. to work on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry for Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. During her years as a committee staff, Hanna focused on global food security, international food aid, conservation, and forestry, culminating in work on the Agriculture Act of 2014 (a.k.a. the Farm Bill) and its implementation. Hanna now works on international trade and agricultural development issues for a private government affairs firm.
Hanna attends Georgetown University and is pursuing a master’s in Policy Management. “This degree provides a fresh perspective and cements my policy background in the international trade and food security realm,” Hanna said. “Bryce Harlow’s legacy of integrity is a critically important guiding star in my advocacy career. As a Fellow, I hope to honor this legacy by emulating his professional grace, integrity, and decorum.”
Before 2012, Scott Astrada never imagined a career in politics and public service. After completing the dual Juris Doctor and MBA program at Marquette University in Wisconsin, Scott secured a position at a mid-level law firm working on housing and mortgage issues in their banking division, with every intention of rising the firm’s ranks. Instead it turned into a turning point in his career trajectory. Scott recalls, “I attended a meeting with White House and Treasury officials and JP Morgan executives to discuss housing policy implementation. I realized I wanted to be on their side of the table.”
Immediately after the meeting, on the advice of his boss, Scott made plans to move to Washington, D.C. As a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Fellow, Scott worked on housing finance reform with the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and with the National Council of La Raza on financial services and consumer financial protection policy. He then leveraged his experience into a post at the White House Office of Management and Budget in the Office of General Counsel.
Currently the Economic Policy Advisor to the Senate Democratic Leadership, Scott is pursuing a Master’s of Law degree at Georgetown University Law Center. Says Scott, “I believe I can have the biggest impact on building an inclusive financial marketplace from the legislative side — while using my background to provide a different perspective in policy making. Like Mr. Bryce Harlow, I am dedicated to building a clear, respectful, and cooperative dialogue between industry and government.”
Adam Abosedra fell in love with politics when he was 6 years old. His father took him to see then-President George H.W. Bush at a campaign rally. “I remember sitting on my dad’s shoulders, being fascinated by everything, and wanting to learn more,” recalls Adam. Immediately after graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Adam joined Governor Bill Ritter’s reelection campaign, and his love of politics evolved into a commitment to public service.
When Gov. Ritter opted not to run for a second term, Adam moved to Washington, D.C., where he quickly secured a position with the Arab American Institute. “I am committed to providing a voice for the underrepresented. I see public service and politics as mechanism to do achieve this,” says Adam. As a contractor for the Department of Defense in the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity, Adam focuses on disability recruitment, advancement and retention. He looks to the legacy of Bryce Harlow as an example of ethics and integrity in his work, and says, “Mr. Harlow’s steadfast commitment to ethical behavior is my guiding principle as I develop trusting relationships and advance issues that are important to me.” Adam is pursuing a Master’s of Public Administration at the American University.
Born in Brazil, Victor Machado’s international background led him to study international affairs as an undergraduate student at George Washington University. Since then, he has worked in government relations for two members of congress, for industry associations, and on a congressional campaign. Victor is currently working at DuPont, leading their international government affairs initiatives in key countries. “I was drawn to international affairs as an opportunity to learn about and understand different groups around the world, to build bridges and help reach common goals,” says Victor. He describes his role at DuPont as business diplomacy, and focuses on market access, trade, intellectual property, and collaborating with governments and stakeholders in the U.S., Latin America, and Southeast Asia.
Victor is pursuing his MBA in International Business at Georgetown, with a goal of learning to achieve business goals in upcoming markets through effective advocacy strategies. Victor says of the lobbying profession and the Foundation, “I believe in the critical role of ethical and professional advocacy in well-functioning economies and governments. I am grateful to be associated with the Foundation and am happy to be a part of carrying on Bryce Harlow’s legacy to future generations.”
Megan Taylor grew up in the Washington, D.C. area and was always interested in politics. After attending college in North Carolina she worked as press secretary for different congressional members to develop a deeper understanding of the legislative process. “I believe you can’t be an effective lobbyist without being an effective communicator,” says Megan. In her current role as Press Secretary for Senator Cory Gardner, Megan helps develop strategies for what the Senator will pursue legislatively, and for crafting the ensuing messages. She sees clearly the power of advocacy and how government relations professionals help develop sound public policy. Megan says, “Lobbyists serve as a voice for the people and facilitate the distribution of information. They help us to be more informed decision makers and understand how we will impact the people we are working for.”
Megan is pursuing her Masters in Communication at Johns Hopkins University. She says, “My program supplements what I do on a daily basis, especially as media landscape is changing so dramatically year after year.“ Megan learned of the fellowship from former fellow, and although she was drawn initially to financial assistance, she now notes that the most beneficial aspect of the program has been the mentorship. She says of her mentor, “Gloria Dittus is a wonderful mentor whose character matches her talent. She truly embodies what the Foundation is about.”
The Bryce Harlow Foundation recently announced it’s 2016-17 class of Bryce Harlow Fellows. Join us in congratulating them and read all about it here: BHF 2016-17 Fellows.
Paul Melmeyer came to Washington D.C. as an undergraduate student to attend George Washington University where he majored in Political Science. Paul became interested in health policy after taking several classes on the topic and interning for several health policy organizations. These led him to his current role as the Associate Director of Public Policy at the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), focusing on congressional advocacy to enact pro-rare disease patient policy and drug development.
In pursuing his Master’s in public policy at George Washington University, Paul finds many of his courses are directly applicable to his job — specifically classes in cost-benefit analysis, health economics, and health services and law. A registered lobbyist, Paul says, “I pursued a career in lobbying because I was intrigued by congressional advocacy. Working for NORD gives me the opportunity to combine interest in congressional relations with working for a cause I believe in. Being a Bryce Harlow Fellow makes me even more proud of my chosen profession.”
Kirsten Hunter is a self-described political junkie. While earning her undergraduate degree in political science, she traveled to DC for a government and policy course, fell in love with the city and began working at Peck Madigan Jones shortly after graduation. At PMJ, Kirsten specialized in public policy research and lobbying for financial services clients. In this role, Kirsten learned the power and importance of targeted advocacy campaigns. She leveraged the skills learned there and recently moved to Boston for a position with AthenaHealth. Currently, she analyzes federal and state healthcare policy to build and improve product functionality.
Kirsten is pursuing of a Master’s in Government with a concentration in Political Communication at Johns Hopkins University. She knows her degree will maximize her career opportunities in both business and politics. She says of the fellowship, “It has given me the invaluable opportunity to learn from leaders in the field — each with such unique perspectives.”
Ian Nicholson was introduced to the world of lobbying during his undergraduate studies at Oregon State. During this time he had three different internships on the Hill. Ian currently works for Senator Ron Wyden as a member of the oversight and investigations team. In this role, he analyzes various issues within the finance committee’s jurisdiction.
Ian says, “I decided to pursue a Master’s in Public Policy to build an academic foundation in issues and improve my quantitative skill set. I am able to use experiences from work and school to complement each other, which gives me a well rounded perspective.” He is grateful for the Bryce Harlow Fellowship, especially for his mentor who has provided valuable insight and feedback. Ian also cites the network of fellows and the events and presentations hosted by the Foundation throughout the year as major components of what makes the fellowship a unique and valuable experience.