Nick DeSarno caught the political bug when he was 8 years old, reading about politics in the newspaper as part of his third grade journalism club. Fast forward a few decades and Nick, a graduate of the University of Mary Washington, already has experience with every level of government – working for his mayor, state assemblyman and senator, and Congressman, Tim Johnson.
Following Congressman Johnson’s retirement, Nick secured a position with the American Dental Association (ADA), where he directed the association’s digital advocacy campaigns to increase members’ political engagement. “I love being able to distill complex issues so people outside of the beltway are able to understand why they should care about this issue,” Nick said. He carried these skills to the Public Affairs Council where he leads the intersection of digital communications and advocacy. Nick is pursuing a Master of Public Policy degree from George Mason University and is grateful to be a part of the Foundation’s fellowship program. “Bryce Harlow demonstrated the importance of ethical corporate political involvement, and I believe it is my responsibility to uphold those ideals,” Nick said.
At 30 years old, Washington, D.C. native Christian Ficara is already living his dream: he’s run a successful political campaign, for Brian Hopkins’ 2nd alderman seat in Chicago. This is exactly where Christian wanted to be after graduating from Ohio State with a degree in International Relations. “I was nearing graduation and had to decide if I wanted to go back home or cut my teeth on local Chicago politics,” Christian recalled. His first stints in Chicago were with a political consulting firm, and working on several Illinois state campaigns. He met Brian Hopkins during a fund-raiser and eventually agreed to run his campaign for alderman. Christian now serves as the Alderman’s Director of Public Affairs. “I love government and politics, and while my work in Chicago has put me in the intense trenches of local politics, I see myself transitioning to the federal level and advancing progressive issues,” Christian said. He is pursuing a graduate degree in Public Affairs and Corporate Communications from Georgetown University through an online and interactive program. “This degree will make me a better advocate and learn skills critically important to be an effective lobbyist,” Christian said. “Bryce Harlow set an ethical standard to guide our profession. I am committed to meeting that standard by working with the utmost integrity and honesty,”
At its recent board meeting, the Bryce Harlow Foundation announced the appointment of six new board members and new elected officers. Join us in welcoming them and read all about it here: 2017 BHF new officers and board
The Bryce Harlow Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2017-18 Bryce Harlow Fellowship, a prestigious award including scholarship funds and mentoring. We encourage you to please help spread the word, or to apply if you are working full time, going to graduate school part time and are interested in the field of lobbying and government advocacy. For complete information, including a link to the on-line application, please visit our website.
When David Brinton was studying economics as an undergraduate at Mississippi State University, he made what now seems like a wise decision: to earn a master’s degree in Economics and Public Policy and Administration. His interest in public policy led him to leave Mississippi and work as an intern for an independent lobbyist in Washington, D.C. “I really enjoyed the public policy courses and wanted to explore that more fully,” David said. “Interning provided hands on experience in how politics and policy work together and was a great launching pad for my career.”
David is pursuing a Juris Doctor at Georgetown University and works as a manager for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the Congressional and Public Affairs department. He lobbies on an array of issues facing the Chamber’s members and is most interested in administrative law and regulatory issues. As a Bryce Harlow Fellow, he sees an opportunity to demonstrate to the American public that there are people in the lobbying profession today following the example of Bryce Harlow. “The lobbying profession betters the country, and people are serving as lobbyists in a principled and respectful way,” David said.
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.”