Highlight on Alumni

Alumni who have graduated from the program are involved in a variety of significant roles in government. Learn more about what some of them are doing and their experiences with the program.

Robyn Russell

Robyn Russell

What is your Master’s Degree? I graduated with an MA in Government in May 2013.

Where do you currently work and what do you do? I just left the Hill after working for Congressman Quigley for four and a half years, most recently as his Legislative Director. I accepted a Policy Officer position at the United Nations Foundation working on the Universal Access Project, a program dedicated to providing voluntary family planning to the more than 200 million women around the world who want access to family planning but don’t have it. As the Policy Officer, I help coordinate family planning advocates and design strategies to enhance U.S. support for international family planning programs.

Why did you choose to get your Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins? I was working on Capitol Hill and did not want to put my career, or paycheck, on hold in order to earn my Master’s Degree. The ability to attend class in the evenings was very appealing to me, and I liked that most classes were conveniently located in the city, near DuPont Circle. Finally, I found the fact that most other students were also working full-time to be a very valuable networking opportunity.

What was your most useful experience from the program? I very much liked the thesis requirement portion of the program. Writing a thesis allowed me to zero in on an area in which I am most interested – international family planning – and leave the program with specialized knowledge. I also appreciated that most of my classes gave me a lot of flexibility regarding the topics of final papers. This allowed me to do research on my thesis topic and write on my thesis topic in all of my classes, further expanding my expertise on the topic of international family planning and reproductive health.

What was the most challenging part of the program? The most challenging class I took was Quantitative Methods with Dr. Bachner. As a liberal arts major in undergrad, I had little experience with quantitative research. Taking the class with Dr. Bachner and learning how to collect and manipulate data in order to observe relationships between variables was extremely challenging but also extremely eye-opening and informative. I was able to use the skills I learned in quantitative methods to use quantitative analysis in my thesis and draw some interesting and unique conclusions.

How has the program enhanced your career? I wrote my thesis on international family planning because this is the area where I want to work, make a difference, and develop my career. My thesis work allowed me to bolster my knowledge of international family planning in a way my job did not, and that expertise played a key role in earning me my new position at the United Nations Foundation.

What are your future plans? There has never been a more exciting or important time to be working in international family planning arena. The largest cohort of young people the world has ever seen is entering their reproductive years and wants the ability to plan their families. We have the technology and the ability to empower these people and provide them with the education and services they need to plan their families and improve the quality of their lives. I intend to dedicate myself to this cause and continue to work to inform the public and policymakers about the need for universal access to family planning.

Pamela Prah

Pamela Prah

What is your Master’s Degree and when did you graduate? I graduated with an MA in Government in 1998.

Where do you currently work and what do you do? I’m a journalist in Washington, D.C., reporting for Stateline.org, a free, nonpartisan, online news organization that tracks state government and state policy. My articles about state trends have appeared in USA Today, The Denver Post, The Washington Post and The Fiscal Times. I’ve appeared on CNN, C-SPAN and NPR to discuss my articles.

Why did you choose to get your Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins? I make my living reporting about government policy from Capitol Hill, the White House, various federal agencies and now statehouses so I wanted a deeper understanding of how government works (or is supposed to). Johns Hopkins’ reputation for top-notch professors, small classes and catering to working professionals made Hopkins the only choice for me.

What was your most memorable experience from the program? The people in my classes and my professors are my most memorable experience from the program. So many of my fellow-students worked on the Hill, the agencies and elsewhere in government and they had such great insights to share in the classroom. The professors were leaders in their fields, but they were never too busy to spend time one-on-one. They really took an interest in us, not just as “students” but as working professionals in the nation’s capital.

How has the program enhanced your career? My Master’s in government makes me a better reporter. I can ask more pointed questions and I know where to look for varied answers. Some of the people I met in class became sources or introduced me to new sources. My JHU advanced degree also helped me land an adjunct journalism teaching position at American University, which I love.

What are your future plans? I love being a Washington reporter as much as I love being in the classroom with college students. I am constantly learning. I hope to continue doing both! Who knows, maybe one day I’ll teach a course at Johns Hopkins!

Brian Feldman

Photo: Brian Feldman

What is your Masters Degree and what year did you graduate? I graduated with a Master’s Degree in Government in 2000.

Where do you currently work and what do you do? I am a member of the Maryland House of Delegates. I serve as Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Banking, Economic Development, Science and Technology and Chairman of the Montgomery County Delegation. When the Maryland State Legislature is not in Session, I am an attorney with a Washington, DC law firm.

Why did you choose to get your Masters Degree from Johns Hopkins? I was a Department of Justice Attorney and was contemplating a career change that involved running for political office. The part-time Master in Government program at Johns Hopkins was the perfect way for me to begin to explore the possibility of making that transition.

What was your most memorable experience from the program? Meeting and interacting with so many interesting people, many of whom I’m still in touch with today.

How has the program enhanced your career? The program provided me with an academic credential from a prestigious, nationally respected institution. It also provided me with a broad-based professional network that extends throughout the DC region.

What are your future plans? To continue to serve in political office. If the opportunity were to present itself, I would consider running for higher office.

Ashley Futrell

Photo: Ashley Futrell

What is your Masters Degree and what year did you graduate? I graduated from the AAP Program with a Masters in Government (Political Communications Concentration) in 2009.

Where do you currently work and what do you do? I’m a Senior Manager of Public Policy for the National Recreation and Park Association. In this position, I lobby for community parks and recreation centers.

Why did you choose to get your Masters Degree from Johns Hopkins? I was attracted to Johns Hopkins’ AAP Government Program because of the list of relevant classes that I thought would be beneficial to my career. At the time that I applied, I worked on Capitol Hill and wanted to improve my writing, knowledge of federal budgets and campaign knowledge. The AAP Government Program definitely helped me accomplish these goals and gave me the confidence that I needed to seek positions both on Capitol Hill and in the private sector that may have seemed outside my reach before I was a student in the program.

What was your most memorable experience from the program? My most memorable experience was the Lobbying and Interest Groups class with John Kornacki. There, I was able to meet classmates who were skilled in each of their respective fields and who became more than peers, but a strong network of friends that helped each other throughout the program and even after the program ended. This group was beneficial not only inside the classroom, but also in my career and personal life as well. Having a strong network like this only heightened my experience in the AAP Government program.

How has the program enhanced your career? The program has provided me with relevant classes that help me daily in my career, from public policy writing to classes about developing media strategies and working with interest groups. It also has provided opportunities for scholarships and fellowships outside of Johns Hopkins. During my second year in the program, I became a Bryce Harlow Foundation Fellow. This experience allowed me to receive a scholarship for part of my graduate studies and I was paired with a Mentor on the Bryce Harlow Foundation board who was able to provide encouragement and support while I finished the AAP Government program.

What are your future plans? My future plans involve continuing to work in the field of government affairs and to eventually branch out into political communications. I know that my experiences at John Hopkins will only make my career journey easier because of the skills I have learned and the resources that I have in the faculty and students in the program.

Kristen Soltis

Photo: Kristen Soltis

What is your Masters Degree and what year did you graduate? My Degree was an MA in Government, May 2009.

Where do you currently work and what do you do? I currently work at The Winston Group, a Republican strategy and opinion research firm. I’m the firm’s Director of Policy Research, so I do analysis and presentations for policy-focused clients that want to put together their strategy and messages.

Why did you choose to get your Masters Degree from Johns Hopkins? My boss was invited to speak at Chuck Todd’s class in the spring of 2007, and he came back and suggested I look into the program. I wanted to continue my education beyond undergrad but didn’t want to take time away from my career. I also wanted a program that offered courses that were just like the rigorous academic classes you’d get in a full time program. The JHU program in Government offers a perfect blend of classes with immediate practical application and classes that give a strong intellectual foundation in the basics of politics and policy.

What was your most memorable experience from the program? My last semester, I took American Conservative Political Thought. I was also working on my thesis at the same time, a thesis about how the GOP could win back young voters. I began taking pieces of my thesis work and posting them on Pollster.com. In class one week, we were reading Andrew Sullivan’s The Conservative Soul and I really found myself enjoying (and agreeing with) many of his points about the nature of conservatism. Much to my surprise, right after we did that reading, a friend sent me a post from Andrew Sullivan’s blog at The Atlantic…where he had referenced my thesis research! It was a very neat moment for me, and I’m so glad that the JHU program included a thesis component that had motivated me to put together research that helped me get noticed in my career.

How has the program enhanced your career? The program has enhanced my career in many ways – not only did I have the chance to meet a number if bright, incredible people in class who have taught me a great deal about politics and policy, but the knowledge I gained has been extremely applicable. I have a deeper understanding of critical policy issues like national intelligence programs that I previously knew little about. I was also able to use my thesis research to generate some more attention about the issue of young voters and the GOP which has opened many doors professionally.

What are your future plans? I’m hoping to stay in the strategy and research field for now while doing freelance writing on topics that I care about. Eventually, I’d love to be a major Republican pollster and strategist for campaigns and policy groups! I’m hoping to use my thesis research as the basis for a book about the GOP and young voters. I also think I’d love to really dive deeply into understanding education policy. Many of my clients are in that issue area and I really believe reforming and improving education in America will do so much to give more Americans opportunity while also addressing a number of other problems our nation faces like crime, poverty, and unemployment.

Jennifer Yang

Photo: Jennifer Yang

What is your Masters Degree and what year did you graduate? MA in Government with a Concentration in Homeland Security. I graduated in 2007.

Where do you currently work and what do you do? I am on the management team of a small strategy/management consulting company called BRMi. I am the Senior Director for Account Management and Delivery, which means I oversee all of our projects, grow current accounts, and foster client relations. BRMi’s core business is helping federal agencies better plan and manage their operations, especially when it comes to impacts from technology, process, or policy changes.

Why did you choose to get your Masters Degree from Johns Hopkins? I chose Johns Hopkins because of its academic reputation and the part-time program format (since I was working full-time). Because I had just switched to government consulting when I started at Johns Hopkins, I was looking for a program that would provide me with a broad set of courses in public administration, policy making, and political science.

What was your most memorable experience from the program? I work with agencies every day to help them interpret the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 (Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996) and to improve how it should be implemented. So when I heard former Congressman William Clinger is a faculty member of the program, I jumped at the chance to meet one of the primary stewards of this bill. We had a great discussion on the genesis of the legislation, whether it has been effective, and issues that still need to be addressed. We also discussed my recommendations for refreshing the legislation, and he even put me in contact with people in Congress to continue this discussion. This was definitely a unique experience!

How has the program enhanced your career? Because I didn’t study government or political science in college, this program really helped me better understand the inner-workings of Congress and the federal agencies, which was important for my career since I had just shifted to public sector consulting at the time I started the program. Moreover, by getting a Concentration in Homeland Security, it has made me smarter on the dynamics of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has been very valuable since DHS and its component agencies are my biggest clients. BRMi has been able to do great work with DHS, earning us the 2009 DHS Small Business Achievement Award.

What are your future plans? My plans are to continue to grow BRMi as a top-rate consulting company and to continue to help government agencies improve their operations and execute large-scale policy changes.

Eric Christopher

What is your Masters Degree and what year did you graduate? Masters Degree in Government with Concentration in Security Studies in 2009.

Where do you currently work and what do you do? Currently, Department of Defense, National Guard Bureau, Military Operations and Policy.

Why did you choose to get your Masters Degree from Johns Hopkins? I chose Johns Hopkins because it is among the nation’s top graduate-level institutions. Earning a degree from the Johns Hopkins AAP is one of my proudest accomplishments. I encourage those who wish to excel in the national or global security realm to consider taking the challenge that Johns Hopkins AAP brings.

What was your most memorable experience from the program? My devoted students and professors that are tops in their field are definitive of the Johns Hopkins experience, and this is especially evident in the AAP. Academically demanding, the program’s unique curriculum is also flexible, allowing students to focus on security studies, politics, economics or a combination of these disciplines.

How has the program enhanced your career? My studies at Johns Hopkins have given me an expanded understanding of political theory relative to current affairs that has placed me above my peers. I interact daily with military and interagency senior policymakers, engaging my knowledge to help influence our national security policy.

What was your most memorable experience from the program? My devoted students and professors that are tops in their field are definitive of the Johns Hopkins experience, and this is especially evident in the AAP. Academically demanding, the program’s unique curriculum is also flexible, allowing students to focus on security studies, politics, economics or a combination of these disciplines.

How has the program enhanced your career? My studies at Johns Hopkins have given me an expanded understanding of political theory relative to current affairs that has placed me above my peers. I interact daily with military and interagency senior policymakers, engaging my knowledge to help influence our national security policy.

What are your future plans? I will continue working within the Defense Department; however, my long-term goal is to complete a doctoral program and to someday teach.

Andrew Veveiros

What is your Masters Degree and what year did you graduate? MA Government, concentration in Security Studies.

Where do you currently work and what do you do? State Department, Foreign Service Officer, Vice Consul U.S. Embassy, Montevideo.

Why did you choose to get your Masters Degree from Johns Hopkins? The MA in Government program offerred me the opportunity to receive a high quality education while at the same time remaining fully employed. The program was stimulating, rigorous, and enlightening and I was attracted by the course offerings and the diverse student backgrounds.

What was your most memorable experience from the program? Becoming acquainted with some of the best minds in Washington representing many areas of the Government and private sector, with various ideologies.

How has the program enhanced your career? One of the best courses I took was Negotiating as a Leadership Skill. That class has served me well as now I am a diplomat with the State Department and use the skills gained from that class daily.

What are your future plans? I would like to continue working for the United States (Dept. of State) in a public diplomacy capacity.