SIG Alumni Testimonials
Armin Rosencranz Ph.D. ’70, M.A. ’63, J.D. ’62
I was ASSU president in 1963. My friend Jamie Hunter suggested that Stanford needed a DC-based summer internship program — unusual at that time. With an air ticket supplied by the ASSU legislature, I traveled to Washington DC and cruised the halls of Congress to obtain 14 summer internships. Some were offered by Members of Congress with Stanford connections. At least half were unpaid. The first interns were so excited by their experience of working on Capitol Hill that they urged that “Stanford in Washington” be perpetuated. It was, with the help of the Stanford Alumni Association. The organization grew by leaps and bounds over the years. SIW became SIG, in recognition of the many summer experiences it offers in the US and around the world. I’m slightly embarrassed to be called a founder of SIG, since the organization that I helped set up 50 years ago is like an acorn compared to the tall oak that SIG has grown into.
Julia Wedekind ’60
I was Associate Director of the Stanford Alumni Association. We helped Jamie Hunter ensuing student leadership with all areas of the development of the program. I participated in all areas of SIG at one time or another. Because of SIG, I continued my interest in the importance of learning to work with and for the government. Since I graduated Stanford in 1960 and since I left the Alumni Association in 1968, I helped start the California Institute of the Arts (1968-72); I served as Vice President of the National Center for Voluntary Action in Washington, D.C. (1972-74); I served as Campaign Manager for a California Gubernatorial Campaign, (1974); I worked as a Management Consulting for education, non-profits and small businesses, (1974-77); I was a Partner in Boyden Global Executive Search, the first executive search firm (founded 1946) and now with about 72 offices in 45 countries staff by nationals, (1977 to 2007). I am continually impressed with the many abilities and ingenuity of Stanford students, and the favorable impressions they leave. I have no doubt that SIG has contributed in grand measure to Stanford’s influence in governmental circles and enhanced the lives of its participants.
Susan (Miller) Dauphine ’65
In January 1964 I returned to Stanford’s main campus from Stanford in Germany, after having witnessed in Berlin how President Kennedy had lifted the spirits of the German people. I became seriously engaged in the critical issues facing our country, including the civil rights movement, and was privileged to hear Martin Luther King, Jr. speak when he came to campus. I learned about opportunities to work in the Congress of the United States through the newly established Stanford in Washington program and was fortunate to be accepted and offered a position with Senator Daniel K Inouye of Hawaii, which I began in the spring of 1965, after graduating early from Stanford.
It was an exciting time to work in Washington. Following President Kennedy’s tragic death, President Johnson, acting on his desire for a “Great Society,” spearheaded the introduction of huge numbers of bills to address critical civil rights issues and health care issues. I was fortunate to hear the discussions and debates and witness passage of many of the bills, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the legislation establishing Medicare and Medicaid.
In addition, I was privileged to participate in private conversations with Senator Inouye’s administrative assistant, who had been a professor in Hawaii, about what was really happening in Vietnam. Senator Inouye, who had lost an arm fighting for the allies in World War II, was on the Senate Armed Services committee and pro-military at the time. His administrative assistant, who was in the process of drafting a pro-military speech for the Senator, showed me a scholarly paper written by an academic colleague of his at Cornell, indicating the real losses we were suffering in Vietnam, and then contrasted it with a very simple paper that was issued by the State Department in support of the war. It was the first time that I, a young idealist, had ever been provided information that my government might not be telling our people the whole truth. It was quite a revelation and wake-up call. After interning for Senator Inouye, I worked for a California congressman that summer, drafting letters and speeches on Medicare and Medicaid and a variety of other issues, as well as helping with constituents.
The Stanford in Washington experience in the spring and summer of 1965 opened my eyes and inspired me to take part in making positive social change. I entered law school at Columbia University in September 1965, one of about 10 women in a class of 300 students. For the next 2 summers after that I returned to Washington DC to work. I graduated from law school in 1968, amidst the riots at Columbia, and married the man to whom I am still married almost 45 years later. As a married woman lawyer in 1968, job opportunities were limited, but I was hired by the Dept of Health, Education, & Welfare to work in their regional office in Boston. We were subsequently sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where my husband served with the U.S. Navy, and for two years I taught commercial law through Old Dominion University to sailors and marines on base. In 1972 we moved to Rochester, Minnesota, and I was hired as an attorney for the Dorsey law firm. In 1975 we moved to Monterey, California, where I accepted a position with the law firm of Hoge, Fenton, Jones & Appel. I became President of the Monterey County Bar Association, and, after working as a partner and associate with the same firm for 23 years and for a brief time practicing law on my own, I was appointed to the bench by Governor Pete Wilson in 1998. I have been re-elected twice since then and currently serve as a Judge on the Superior Court of California, County of Monterey.
Teresa Moran Schwartz ’65
I was in the second class of Stanford in Washington in the summer of 1964. Members of the first class, who started the program, returned to Stanford after their summer in DC, interviewed candidates for the next year’s class, and then helped place them in internships. I worked for the Senate Commerce Committee, which had jurisdiction over the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It was an exciting time to be in DC, and there was a wonderful community of Stanford students there that summer. That summer I met Dan Schwartz, who was part of the Stanford group. We both returned to DC after graduating in 1965 and were married in 1966. We’ve lived in DC ever since. I supported Dan while he went to law school at George Washington University, and then he supported me when I too went to law school at GW. During our careers, we’ve both held positions in government, but mostly we’ve been in the private sector. Dan is a partner at Bryan Cave, a large international law firm, and I’ve been a law professor at GW law school.
The Stanford in Washington experience had a profound impact on the careers of both Dan and me. Based on our exposure to Congress and Washington during that summer, we decided to return to DC, become lawyers and to have careers that keep us involved in government and public policy. Dan’s legal practice is centered on several areas of government regulation, and my teaching has focused on subjects involving administrative law. We both have taken positions in government. Each of us, at different times, has served as a Deputy Bureau Director at the Federal Trade Commission, and Dan served as General Counsel of the National Security Agency from 1979-81. I was White House Fellow from 1978-79.
Jay Kittle LLB ’66, BA ’63
In the summer of 1964, when I was between my first and second year of law school, I had a summer internship in the legal department of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) in Washington D.C. I saw how the staff there worked, and I sat in on staff conferences which gave me a chance to observe how these professionals interacted. I met lawyers from many parts of Latin America, and I learned a lot about the workings of the Bank itself.
After graduating from Law School I returned to Arizona where I had grown up, and became heavily involved with the Arizona-Mexico Commission, which is run out of the Governor’s office and coordinates a wide range of interaction between Arizona and Sonora which is the adjoining state in Mexico. Areas of involvement include, trade, health, arts and culture, banking and legal affairs.
In the 1990’s, after the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, I joined the staff of the National Law Center for Inter-American Free Trade as Deputy Director. The mission of the Center, which received most of its funding through the U.S. Department of State, was to harmonize trade law between Canada, the U.S. and Latin America.
Today, nearly 50 years after my internship with the IADB, I recognize that the international work I did after Law School would not have been done as well, and my life generally would have not been as full, without the Stanford in Government experience I had during the summer of 1964.
Fred Millhiser MBA ’66
In 1965, as a student in the Stanford Graduate School of Business, it became clear to me that I was more interested in public policy and government and was pleased to be selected for the Stanford in Washington program(now SIG). That Summer, I was placed as a management intern with the US Navy Polaris Submarine Command in Washington in light of my technical undergraduate work. In the fall I enrolled in the American University Masters degree program in Public Administration and also began a full-time civil service job with the US Office of Education (Now Department of Education). In 1968, I joined the campaign staff in New York of the Allard Lowenstein for Congress Committee and then when he was elected, became administrator for his office in the House of Representatives in Washington. Next, I worked for a year as a budget analyst for the State of Maryland Legislature before returning to California in late 1970 to work for the Gary Hart for Congress campaign. From 1971 until 1977, I was on the Washington staff of Maryland Congressman, and later Senator, Paul Sarbanes. During this time I also completed law School. From 1977 until 1983, I was an attorney at the US Department of Transportation in Washington. From 1983 to 1986 I was a member of the legislative staff for Governor Harry Hughes in Annapolis, MD. In late 1986, I rejoined the staff of Senator Paul Sarbanes to work on the Iran-Contra Investigation and other assignments until I retired after 30 years of public employment.
Chuck Ludlam ’67
In 1965, a Stanford in Government internship on Capitol Hill transformed my life, leading to a happy, productive career in public policy that spanned four decades. I am grateful to this program for exposing me to work that matched my interests and talents and gave me a great sense of accomplishment.
In hindsight, it’s clear that I would have been attracted to a public policy career. In high school I had run for office and argued with my parents about politics and public policy. In high school and at Stanford, I was stirred by the Kennedy presidency, the Vietnam War (I led the first protest at a Stanford graduation), the Civil Rights Movement, and the social upheavals of the 60s.
It was my good fortune, however, that SIG existed at Stanford and could give me the exposure I needed to be infected by Potomac Fever. It all started over Christmas break during my sophomore year when my grandmother, who had organized the Congressional campaign for the Republican candidate in Monterey, California, said, “Why don’t you go back to Washington to work for Burt (Talcott, the Freshman Congressman who she’d helped get elected).” I’d previously spent seven summers as a camper and counselor on a cattle ranch in Arizona and was open to new opportunity. I was off to Capitol Hill.
That summer the Great Society legislation passed – sailed – through the Congress. It was similar to Roosevelt’s 100 days. Democrats controlled 2/3 of both the House and Senate. To say the least, I was captivated and impressed. So, I returned for another SIG internship in the summer of 1967, when I helped to arrange for our group of Stanford interns to meet with six Cabinet Secretaries, and a third internship in 1970 at the (then) Department of Health, Education and Welfare. In law school at Michigan I took off a semester to work in Washington at one of the nation’s first public interest law firms, the Center for Law and Social Policy, where I was on the team working for the environmentalists on the Alaska Pipeline lawsuit, the case that defined what is required for an environmental impact statement.
After law school, one public policy gig led to another: Three years as a trial attorney prosecuting deceptive advertising cases at the Federal Trade Commission, four years leading regulatory policy for the Senate Judiciary Committee, two years staffing the Carter White House regulatory initiatives, a year saving the tax exemption for nonprofit university bonds (with Stanford as a client), eleven years on Capitol Hill developing incentives for high technology firms, eight years as the principal lobbyist for the world’s biotechnology companies, and then three final years on Capitol Hill leading the response to the Anthrax bioterror attack of 2001. Along the way I was immersed in hundreds of fascinating policy fights, pieces of legislation, oversight hearings, and political and parliamentary wranglings. I never became jaded or cynical about the public policy making process. Bracketing my public service, I served twice as a Peace Corps Volunteer, first in Nepal and then after my retirement in Senegal. My wife and I became the lead advocates for fundamental reform of the Peace Corps.
In gratitude to SIG, I have served as a mentor to SIG and its participants for 40 years now. In the 1980s, working with Catherine Milton, President Don Kennedy’s assistant, I helped to establish the Stanford in Washington Campus and the Haas Center for Public Service. Both SIW and the Haas Center owe their existence to SIG. At SIG we’ve secured endowments for 26 fellowships, and we’re now working to endow at least 40 and perhaps 100 stipends, to celebrate SIG’s 50th anniversary in 2013. Many of these are international placements. Back in 1965, the internships were often paid, but now they are almost all unpaid. We need to provide funding for them so Stanford students can get hooked on public policy like I did! Without this funding, many Stanford students would lack the opportunity to learn how interesting and important public policy work can be. And with the new stipends program, even more students will have a chance to become public policy leaders.
The key to SIG’s success is that it is utterly non-partisan. It promotes public service and public policy internships because they are critical to our nation and the world. Having worked with thousands of SIG participants over the years, I can say unequivocally that these are sophisticated and idealistic students who give me confidence in our nation’s future. For over nearly half a century, SIG has exposed 4-5,000 Stanford students to the world of public policy and helped Stanford to attain its rightful place as a leading thinker on solutions to national and world challenges.
An oral history of my career – dedicated to SIG – is posted with the Senate Historical Office.
Dale Ikeda ’73
I was a Legislative Intern for California Assemblyman John T. Knox of Contra Costa County in 1970 as part of the Stanford-In-Sacramento program. I had just completed my freshman year. I signed up for the internship because I planned to become an attorney and considered working in government, possibly in the State Capitol.
I paid my own way through school and was able to serve my internship due to a stipend from Stanford on top of my University scholarship and 9 other scholarships I received my senior year in high school. It also helped that S-I-S placed me with Dr. Herbert and Carolyn Jenkins, both Stanford graduates. I did some chores around the house in exchange for a free room and meals. They wanted me to be a good influence on their son, Bill, who was unhappy at a private college preparatory school. I was treated like a member of the family. When I suffered an appendicitis, Dr. Jenkins took me to the hospital and arranged for Dr. Quillinan, a surgeon and friend of Dr. Jenkins who attended Stanford Medical School, to operate on me. I was never charged for my medical care. I returned to work after a week of convalescing. I would have returned earlier but Dr. Jenkins didn’t want me riding my motorcycle until the incision had healed a bit. I learned that Dr. Jenkins raised $1,000,000 for Stanford by hosting a dinner for 100 doctors who had attended Stanford. He successfully challenged each doctor to contribute $10,000 to their alma mater with the pitch their success was largely due to their Stanford educations. Mrs. Jenkins also procured a $1,000,000 donation to Stanford from an aging, wealthy neighbor who attended Stanford. They were great role models of alumni giving back to Stanford.
As an intern, I mainly wrote letters to constituents for Assemblyman Knox to sign under the supervision of Martha Gorman, his Administrative Assistant. I was paid $1 by the State of California so I would be covered by workers compensation. I’ve retained the check as a memento of my experience, which was far more rewarding than any monetary compensation I received.
At the end of my internship, I was hired for the rest of the summer as temporary staff to the Local Government Committee, which Assemblyman Knox chaired. I became friends with the entire staff, including Tom Willoughby, Principal Staff Analyst to the Local Government Committee, Larri Sheehy, and Susan Shaver, secretary. I maintained contact with Ms. Gorman and Assemblyman Knox while attending law school at U. C., Davis. When I finished law school, Ms. Gorman asked if I wanted to work in Assemblyman Knox’ office as a Legislative Aid. I declined and took a position as Deputy City Attorney for the City of Fresno in 1977. In 1980, I attended Assemblyman Knox’ retirement party. I still have an etched wine glass from that event.
My internship in the State Capitol was valuable work experience and helped me land my first legal position in the Fresno City Attorney’s Office as a Deputy City Attorney. After 4 years there, I left to enter private practice. After 20 years in private practice, I was appointed Superior Court Judge for the County of Fresno in 2001. I filled the vacancy created by the retirement of my former partner, Gary Kerkorian. Gary was an All-American quarterback for Stanford and lead Stanford to the 1951 Rose Bowl along with Bob Mathias, Bill McColl and Harry Hougasian. Judge Kerkorian died in 2000, shortly before my appointment to fill his vacancy. His wife, Joyce, attended my investiture. My other partner was Steve Blumberg, a Stanford alumnus. We are still good friends and get together regularly.
Barbara Brown ’74
This photo taken in the Georgetown house the summer of 1972 when I invited Rep. Bella Abzug to dinner. I’m standing to Bella’s left.
I was a summer intern with Rep. Bella Abzug (D,NY), working on women’s issues. During that summer, around the country, several women were arrested for driving without a license because their licenses were in their birth surnames, not their husband’s. I drafted legislation to “eliminate discrimination in the determination of surnames upon marriage.” While working on that, I uncovered quite a few instances of sex discrimination with respect to the SEC, stock purchases by married women, etc.
The summer was wonderful: sharing the house in Georgetown with 7 other SIW women, experiencing living in a big city, working on the cutting edge of feminist change in Bella’s office. I remember her taking all of us in her office to the Supreme Court to be there when Roe v Wade was announced. Going to work for Bella was a natural outgrowth of my own feminism and interest in social change, but being there cemented it. I returned to Stanford to work with the Women’s Center, the Committee on the Education & Employment of Women, etc. After graduating, I continued work in the political arena, running political campaigns, ultimately becoming a community organizer. That summer of 1972, Watergate was happening but not yet exposed. Bella had scrupulous integrity, and I was glad to know that people like her were in Congress, at least for a time. That became especially important once the deceit of politics and government became so visible and crushing. I tend to see things in political, structural ways with political, structural solutions and SIW gave me an inside view.
Gretchen Welch ’74
I was a member of Stanford In Government from 1976-78 (during SIG’s dark ages). I can’t even remember if we had committees, we were a pretty “lean and mean” group. I traveled to DC as part of the “internship search” committee in the spring (we looked for Congressional offices who would offer an internship to Stanford students). Once I came to DC for my internship, we were fortunate to have Chuck Ludlam looking after us and acting as mentor, guide and adviser.
It is no exaggeration to say that Stanford in Government had a profound impact on my career choice. I worked on the Hill for Senator Percy from Illinois on both his personal and committee staff; I had a brief stint at the Consumer Product Safety Commission; and then in 1980 I joined the Foreign Service. After 32 great years, with assignments in Pakistan, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UK and Washington, I will retire in September 2012 and remain in London. As a Stanford alum and parent of Stanford students, I am very pleased that Stanford in Government is still a viable and important group. It is more important than ever that students pursue careers in state, local and national government, and I am so glad that SIG continues to provide encouragement and support for students interested in public service.
Michael Lopez ’75, MBA ’78
I was the D.C. student chair for SIG in the Spring/Summer 1974 and was hired to work on Capitol Hill for Rep. Pete McCloskey (R-Palo Alto). While on Capitol Hill, I was loaned out to the House Judiciary Committee to work on President Nixon’s impeachment. It was an amazing ringside seat to a major historical event. After President Nixon resigned, I was hired by Sen. Hubert Humphrey (D-Minn.), who had also been Vice President under Lyndon Johnson and the Democratic Presidential Candidate against Nixon in 1968. I was working on the Nuclear Test Threshold Treaty in the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. That was an experience I will never forget.
I presently have business with the White House, other Executive Branch departments, as well as the House and Senate.
Bill Abrams ’76
This was before SIG fellowships were formalized as they are now. Students who had worked on the Hill would go to Congressional offices and lobby on behalf of Stanford students who wanted to work in Washington for a summer, or longer. I was very fortunate to be selected to be the only intern for Senator Lee Metcalf of Montana, a Stanford alum, for the summer of 1974. It was an incredibly exciting summer, with the Nixon impeachment hearings and his resignation. I got to do lots of constituent casework, write speeches, do research, and generally hang out with the Senator and his key staff. A particular highlight was in the wee hours of August 8, 1974 when I drove by 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (which you could do in those days) (and don\’t ask me what I was doing driving past the White House at 3 A.M.). I saw a line of moving vans pulling into the White House, and deduced that President Nixon was going to resign and move out shortly. And, later that morning, it was announced that the White House would have a statement by the President, and I sat with Senator Metcalf and watched the President of the United States resign!
Senator Metcalf lived a life of public service and standing up for his beliefs despite political pressure. He was a liberal, an advocate for civil rights, and supporter of labor, and was resolute in his not allowing special interests to try to affect his votes. His integrity, good nature, optimism and warmth for his constituents have been a model for me in my personal and professional life.
Jeff Neubauer ’78
I worked for Congressman Les Aspin in 1976 as a SIG Intern. That experience got me hooked on government and politics. After Stanford, I returned to Wisconsin and was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1980 at the age of 24. I was the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and a member of the Democratic Leadership when I left to rejoin my family business in 1988. I was elected as a member of the Democratic National Committee in 1983 and continued in that role until being elected State Chair of the Democratic Party of WI in 1989 and 1991. I was the State Chair of the Clinton general election campaigns in both 1992 and 1996.
Susan McCaw ’84
I joined SIG upon transferring to Stanford from Pomona College as a sophomore in 1981, and became an active member. After Stanford I pursued the business route, earning a MBA from Harvard Business School and working in investment banking and venture capital, but my interest in government continued. In 1999, I became involved with the Bush campaign in Washington State, and later became one of a few national level women leaders when I was Washington State Finance chair for the Bush-Cheney campaign. I was later asked to serve as US ambassador to Austria and served from 2005-2007. It was incredible honor to represent the United States as ambassador. Although my interest in government has been clear since I was young, I decided to pursue a business career because I see great value to having experience in both the private and public sector. SIG is a great resource for Stanford students, providing inspiring opportunities and stimulating interest in our political system.
Jim Sherman, ’84, M.A. ’85
I was a member of SIG for three years and became Chairman in 1983-1984. I ran the Summer in Washington Program and also guided our campus speaker’s program. As Chairman, I oversaw the internship database, summer socials, and stipends/awards program. SIG was a terrific learning experience. It taught me a great deal about how to organize and run an organization. I learned about team motivation, management, and strategy. It also allowed me to work three unforgettable summers in Washington D.C. After Stanford and later HBS, I worked at Bain & Company and eventually entered the media industry with positions at Time Warner, Pearson, and Martha Stewart Living. I then took the entrepreneurial route in the late 90s and launched an online media company, ShermansTravel.com. Despite my years in business, SIG lit a long lasting fire in me to eventually return to government service. I recently volunteered to work part-time with the State Dept. on one of their private-public sector committees on public diplomacy. I hope to spend more time working in government after I exit the private sector. To sum it up, SIG is one of Stanford’s preeminent student organizations. It is truly inspirational, and I will always value how it can ignite in students a lifelong passion for public service.
Gary Rosen ’88
I ran the Public Policy Forum my junior year and chaired SIG my senior year. It was my introduction to the world of real policy-makers and politicians, and it taught me a lot about how personality, ideas, and interests shape public life. I ended up getting a Ph.D. in political science and going into journalism. These days I’m still asking and trying to answer many of the same questions that I first encountered with SIG.
John Sellers ’88
I first became involved with SiG when I was a summer intern with a Colorado senator in D.C. after my sophomore year. SiG provided incredible opportunities over that summer to meet with leaders such as Secretary of State George Schultz and Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger. In my senior year, I ran the Washington D.C. programs for SiG. It was exciting time because it coincided with the opening of the Stanford in Washington campus. After graduation, my SiG involvement helped lead me to work with Congressman Tom Campbell from Silicon Valley (and current SiG Advisor Board member) for almost 3 years. Working for Tom Campbell was one of the formative events of my early career, providing outstanding mentorship and insight into the public policy process.
After working in Washington for 3 years, I left for law school at the University of Chicago. After law school, I returned to the Bay Area where I have practiced corporate law for almost 20 years, primarily working with emerging companies and venture capital firms. My SiG experience continues to benefit me in my career, as it helped teach me how to interact with government agencies (for instance I often work with the Securities & Exchange Commission on initial public offerings) and understand the legislative process. SiG had a huge impact early in my career and provided a framework of experiences and connections that help me to this day in my work in the private sector.
Jason Snyder ’94
At Stanford I was lucky to serve in two SIG fellowships. The first was in the summer of 1991 in Sacramento, where I worked for the California Department of Education’s Equal Opportunity Office. There, I focused on revising the Department’s diversity policies and increasing awareness of how employees can protect their civil rights. As a rising sophomore, I had the opportunity to brief the California Superintendent of Public Instruction – what a great experience!
For my second SIG Fellowship in 1993, I was placed in the U.S. Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, where Senator Kennedy served as the Committee’s chair. I applied to the Fellowship, in large part, knowing that the National and Community Service Trust Act – which launched AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National and Community Service – would be the Committee’s focus during my Fellowship. During that summer, I worked exclusively on the bill as it navigated its way though the Senate floor debate and conference committee: writing constituent letters, gathering research for various debate issues, supporting the Senator during conference committee deliberations, and even having the opportunity to brief Senator Kennedy personally (as a rising college senior!). I also witnessed a historical filibuster by Senator Carol Moseley Braun, who opposed Senator Jesse Helms’s effort to attach a rider to the bill that would renew the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s design patent with its Confederate flag insignia. By serving at the feet of Senator Kennedy and his staff, I learned so much about the legislative process and how compromise and principle-based politics are not incompatible.
I was so excited about my SIG Fellowship experience that my interest in the National and Community Service Act did not end after the Fellowship. The next year I wrote my Public Policy honors thesis on the organizational structures of the Peace Corps and the new Corporation for National and Community Service, which were both created as semi-autonomous corporations. I then spent the next twenty years as a public school teacher, education attorney, and education policymaker, including serving as a White House Fellow and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Education. As the Department official charged with managing our country’s efforts to turn around the country’s lowest-performing schools, I reconnected (twenty years later) with the Corporation for National Community Service to launch the $15 million School Turnaround AmeriCorps program. Working with the Corporation brought back fond memories from my SIG Fellowship summer, including the contagious passion for public service and for helping engaged citizens make a meaningful impact in their local communities. Thanks, Stanford in Government!
Capri Cafaro ’97
I participated in Stanford in Government in 1995 and 1996. As an American Studies major, and as someone who had, even then, a long-standing interest in American public policy, I sought out ways I could become more involved in activities that enriched my knowledge of American government as well as enhanced my commitment to community service. Since my freshman year, I had been a Haas volunteer in after school programs in Redwood City. As such, I spent a lot of time in and out of the Haas Center, home of both the volunteer programs and SIG. Upon my return from studying abroad in Paris, I decided it was time to explore Stanford in Government in addition to my volunteer activities with the after school programs. I ended up doing a lot of office work and prep that spring quarter leading up to the summer Stanford in Washington program. I assisted in identifying and notifying fellow students on their housing status as well as helping prepare them for their summer experience.
My passion for government and for service has remained unyielding almost 17 years after my experiences with SIG, the Haas Center and with Model United Nations at Stanford. Since then, I have worked with numerous non-profits related to health care policy and older adult advocacy, as well as with a United Nations NGO. Currently, I am completing my sixth year in the Ohio Senate, three of which I spent in the position of Senate Minority Leader. Just this November, I was re-elected to my final term.
Lindy Eichenbaum Lent, ‘97
I served as SIG Chair my senior year (1996-97), after having worked on the Campus Awareness and Fellowships committees. In addition to participating in Stanford in Washington (where I interned in CNN’s political unit) during my junior year, I also spent a summer in the SIW house while interning on Capitol Hill. In many respects, my career has been an extension of my SIG experience. I spent the first decade of my career in government and political campaigns at both the federal and local levels. This included my tenure as Communications Director to U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas and Communications Director and Senior Advisor to then-Denver Mayor (now Colorado Governor) John Hickenlooper, a position I held while Denver bid on, prepared for and hosted the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Demonstrating that SIG is never out of one’s system, I have since transitioned to nonprofit leadership, but with a nonprofit closely tied to government and immersed in public-private partnerships. I also continue to volunteer in the government and political realm, serving on gubernatorial and mayoral task forces and transition committees. Since 2009, I’ve served as the Executive Director of the Civic Center Conservancy, a nonprofit focused on revitalizing downtown Denver’s historic Civic Center Park – a 12-acre urban oasis owned by the City and County of Denver and surrounded by the Colorado State Capitol, Denver City and County Building, Denver Art Museum, Denver Central Library and Downtown Commercial Business District. Our efforts focus on advocacy around policy, design, safety and infrastructure; events and programming to activate the park; marketing and public engagement; and fundraising for capital improvements, activities and initiatives that will elevate and sustain Civic Center as an iconic cultural and community hub. In 2011, the national City Parks Alliance recognized these efforts as a “leading example of urban parks creating economic, environmental and social capital though innovative partnerships.” Along with Stanford in Washington, SIG was the most impactful and memorable aspect of my Stanford experience. I loved the opportunity to work with students from diverse political and philosophical backgrounds who shared the common goals of promoting political awareness and public service opportunities on campus. The incredible access to diverse thought leaders and elected officials from every level of government made for fascinating experiences and inspiring lessons. And, of course, nothing could be better than having had Jeanne Wahl Halleck as a mentor and friend.
Racy Ming, ’97, M.A. Education ’98
As a SIG Fellow, I spent the summer in Sacramento and experieced firsthand lobbying for increasing the CalGrant amount for students attending private colleges and universities, including Stanford. As a CalGrant recipient myself, it was an incredibly meaningful experience to see policy making first hand. Stanford In Government had a profound impact on my career. I went on to earn my masters degree in Education Administration and Policy Analysis. My first two jobs after Stanford were in the field of educational research and evaluation. I have been working for the last 11 years for Marin County’s Department of Health and Human Services. I am currently a deputy director within the Social Services Division, administering employment and training programs. My SIG experience was directly relevant to my career choice, as I now spend my days interpreting policy and implementing programs that have real impacts on the lives of the people in this community.
Elizabeth Pianca ’99
I participated in Stanford in Government from 1996 through 1999. I was involved in the public policy and community outreach committees. I was also SIG Chair (1998-1999). I am forever thankful for the exposure to government that SIG gave to me when I was at Stanford. It certainly contributed to my commitment to pursue a career in government. I serve as a Deputy County Counsel for Santa Clara County. I represent the county’s Roads and Airports Department and Department of Planning and Development and advise on matters relating to environmental and land use law, public contracts and construction, and general government/municipal law. In addition, I advise county departments and public officials in government ethics and conflicts of interest. I arrived at Stanford with an interest in government and, in particular, how it works, operates, and evolves. I was not, however, aligned or associated with a political party or ideology and so I had a hard time finding a non-partisan and well-rounded outlet where I could pursue my interest in government. SIG filled that void and it provided me with the opportunity to learn about government at a local, state, national, and international level and to hear from decision-makers and policy-makers representing a myriad of political interests.
Aron Kirschner ’06
I was involved with SIG from 2003-2006. In 2003-4, I worked on the public policy forum committee, helping to announce events, schedule policy lunches, and organize programs. I was head of this committee my junior year, and Stanford in Government Chair my senior year. Being Chair of SIG taught me a great deal about leadership: the experience helped me understand that being a leader can be challenging and even lonely, but also very rewarding. I graduated in 2006 and worked in management consulting for five years. My work with SIG helped me understand the importance of policy, and gave me a true awareness and passion for having an impact in the world. While working in consulting, I made sure to always keep SIG’s broader goals of social change and policy work in mind. With these values in mind, I then worked in Kenya with a social enterprise called KickStart as a product manager. Now, I am a student at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkley, where I continue to care deeply about solving complex, intractable problems related to international development. Specifically, I plan to work in areas related to energy and emerging markets, seeking to increase access to energy. I credit my SIG Experience with inspiring me to pursue greater social change in all of my work.
Emmerich Davies ’07
I joined SIG late, my junior year, but served on the international fellowships team and then as vice-chair of fellowships my senior year. I heard about SIG after attending many of their events my freshman and sophomore year, and decided to get involved with what looked like a fantastic organization from the outside. Some highlights of my time at SIG included having dinner with General Wesley Clark and interviewing a fantastic set of candidates for SIG’s international fellowships. I think the biggest impact of SIG on my career, especially working on the international fellowships team, was to make me seriously consider a career outside of the U.S. It was easy to limit my job search domestically, especially as on campus recruiting is tailored towards that. Despite the anxiety of not going through on-campus recruiting, and not having a job at graduation, it seemed like the right thing to do, and SIG opened me to the opportunity.
I eventually landed a job with a research organization in India called the Centre for Microfinance (CMF) that was affiliated with the J-Poverty Action Lab (JPAL), a research centre out of MIT. I worked for two years on a randomized evaluation of a microfinance organization in Kolkata.
I am currently working on a PhD in political science at UPenn. After my experience in India with JPAL and CMF, I decided to focus on Indian politics. (I was there during the 2009 national elections, which was a really fascinating time for someone interested in politics!) I am now in Delhi for a year for my field research before returning to Philadelphia to write up. I have SIG to thank for pushing me to think outside the box regarding career opportunities and my current deep engagement with India.
Jen Bullock, ’09
I served on the 2007 John Wesley Rice, Jr. Fellowship at the International Labour Organization of the UN, in Geneva, Switzerland. I spent the summer learning about intractable labor issues, human trafficking patterns, and child labor prevention initiatives. Writing products to inform UN policymakers around the globe, it struck me that many policy decisions – ones with deep global reverberations – were made in unglamorous cubicles by ordinary people guided by a belief in social progress and the courage to take on behemoth, complex problems with small, imperfect steps. SIG’s values of political awareness and public service were a welcome infusion into my life on the farm, and I find those values with me to this day. I now work in Washington as a foreign policy analyst, my career largely a factor of both my exposure to public service and interest in international affairs, both first experienced over a hot, muggy summer in Switzerland.
Daniel Slate ’09
Matt Platkin ’09
I held several roles in SIG during my time at Stanford, including directing the Public Policy Forum from 2006-2007, and also spent a summer with the Institute for National Policy Research in Taipei on a SIG fellowship. My involvement with SIG was a defining experience during my Stanford career. Through SIG, I had the chance to meet and interact with high profile policymakers and political figures, including General Wesley Clark and Steven Hadley, as well as lesser-known, but equally remarkable, advocates and activists, such as Southern Sudanese refugee Valentino Deng. My experience in Taiwan opened my eyes to new perspectives on the relationship across the Taiwan Strait and has had a lasting impact on my own understanding of the region. Perhaps most importantly, SIG allowed me to discuss and debate issues of public concern, and to interact with public servants, outside the context of partisan politics. There was never a litmus test to join SIG; it always stayed true to its nonpartisan roots. Having now spent time working in politics and policymaking at both the local and national levels, I realize how special this type of opportunity truly was. I am now back on the Farm as a student at the law school, and I continue to marvel at the work SIG does, year-in and year-out. It’s been a tremendous 50 years, and I look forward to seeing its achievements over the next half-century.
Valentin Bolotnyy ’11
I was the 2010-11 SIG Chair. I live in Washington, D.C. now and work at the Federal Reserve Board as a research assistant in the Office of Financial Stability Policy and Research. A day has not gone by that I haven’t thought back to my time with SIG. When considering a run for Chair, I remember doing some serious thinking about why I was so willing to put in as many hours into SIG every week as I was into my courses. There was something about the organization that made one proud to be a part of it and its cause, whether you were doing a lot of the heavy lifting as a committee member or leading in a directorial role. It was refreshing to work closely with some of the most brilliant and driven students on campus who cared deeply about public service and who had an earnest desire to find a way to dedicate their lives to making a positive difference in the world. There was a sense, especially as we started talking more and more about the coming 50th anniversary, that we were working with a lot of outstanding history behind us and that our work was affecting thousands of people on campus and in the community. Along with student groups like Stanford Alternative Spring Break (ASB) and the Stanford Solar Car Project, I see SIG defining Stanford as an institution where students can do amazing things on their own initiative. A place where students can bring together Sec. Kissinger, Sec. Shultz, Sec. Perry, and Sen. Nunn to discuss nuclear disarmament and have them leave the conference room high-fiving students; where a student (this year’s Chair Otis Reid) can lead a discussion with former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in front of a packed Memorial Auditorium on food security issues; and where students can put together a multi-million dollar proposal for a stipend program, lobby the university administration, and have it approved.Most importantly, the friends that I made through SIG have been my best. It was a great feeling to come back to campus in December and be able to catch up with former SIGers now working in the area and with those now leading SIG. As it turns out, there is nothing like putting together a big speaker event or meeting a fellowships deadline to better create lasting memories. Though D.C. prides itself on attracting the most public service-experienced people, I still get a lot of “You did what?”s and “How?”s whenever I begin to talk about SIG. The more I’m out here, the more I appreciate how special my time at Stanford and in SIG really was. I look forward to seeing everyone else’s thoughts and memories and to seeing many of you during celebrations for the 50th (if not earlier)!
Sarah Flamm ’11
Otis Reid ’12
I joined SIG as an extremely eager sophomore in 2009, after eagerly attending all the SIG events I could find as a freshman. I first served as Director of Communications, then, after returning from Stanford in Washington, I rejoined SIG with the international fellowships team. Finally, as a senior, I served as SIG Chair — probably the best possible capstone to my time at Stanford.I like to trace all of those roles because each of them reminds me how important SIG was to my time at Stanford and how it kept drawing me in, year after year. It\’s very easy to become jaded about student groups at Stanford, but the community of people that SIG attracts and retains — smart people who care deeply about a wide variety of policy topics — means that it is more than just a student group: it’s a home. The friendships I made through SIG are ones that I know will last for my entire life, no matter where in the world I am. Finally, SIG has absolutely shaped my view of how I can best enter public service to do the most good; between my summer fellowship in Ghana and what I learned from leading an organization that has a truly unique ability to add to the public service opportunities available for students, it has shown me that I can make a career of my passion for international development. I am eternally grateful to SIG for taking me in and I hope that I left it a bit stronger than the day I joined.