Beltway Alums

By Lawrence Goodman / January/February 2011
January 6th, 2011

All across Washington, D.C., Brown alumni are busy working for the federal government. Some toil at less well-known agencies like the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, while others rub elbows regularly with President Obama. In one way or another, all are making major contributions. 

Have we missed someone? If so, email us at and we'll add them online.

Click on the image below for a larger version of the list of alums. You can also read the text alone below.



Alumni working at the White House:

Jason Bordoff '94 Associate Director for Energy and Climate Change, Council on Environmental Quality, White House

Nick Hagerty '10 Council of Economic Advisors, White House

Nicole Isaac '00 Dep. Dir. of Legislative Affairs, Office of the Vice President, White House

How did your time at Brown prepare you for your current job?

I was an African-American studies and English major before starting law school. Brown exposed me to many groups of people with varying perspectives, and helped me to understand that while an individual may not share your perspective, their concerns are absolutely valid. I was also reminded of the importance of diversity of experience, as well as race, class, gender, and ethnicity.

Divya Kumaraiah '07 Policy Asst. to the Domestic Policy Council's Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, White House

Tobin Marcus '08 Deputy Economic Policy Advisor, Office of the Vice President, White House

Were you crazy to take this job in this economy?

I think I would have been crazy not to take this job. When I was offered an opportunity to serve the vice president and to help this administration put in place policies I believe are critical to millions of working men and women in this country, I jumped at it.

How did your time at Brown prepare you for your current job?

The most important piece of preparation from my time at Brown was practice learning new subjects quickly. With the pace at which things move in the White House, you don't have the leisure to selectively get involved in areas where you're already an expert; you have to be able to jump right into emerging policy areas and very rapidly become proficient.

Steve Moilanen '08 Policy Analyst, Office of Energy and Climate Change, White House

David Pressman '99 Director for War Crimes Atrocities and Civilian Protection, National Security Council, White House

Kori Schulman '08 Dep. Director of Digital Content in the Office Of New Media, White House

What do you do?

I work on the new media team at the White House—the group responsible for and the administration's online programs.

What advice would you give students going into politics?

Work on a campaign.

Katherine (Kate) Shaw '01 Associate Counsel, Office of the White House Counsel, White House

Dana E. Singiser '92 Special Asst. to the President for Legislative Affairs, White House

Why take this job, given the mood in Congress?

I love this job! I get to work in the world's best office building–the White House–and work for one of the most inspiring people I've ever known.

What do you hope to achieve during your time in government?

I sometimes see my role here as akin to tossing little rocks into a river to move the river bit by bit in the right direction... If I can just move good policies slightly more in the right direction, then I will have served the President well.

Can you tell us something about President Obama we may not know?

He is a great boss. He expects a lot of everyone around him, which I believe is the hallmark of getting the best out of each of us.

Jenny Urizar '03 Director for Global Engagement, National Security Council, White House

And alumni working elsewhere within the administration:

Susie Andersen '90 White House Liaison, Dept. of Education

Jenny Backus '90 Asst. Secretary for Public Affairs, Dept. of Health and Human Services

William Bittinger '05 Special Assistant, Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs, Small Business Administration

Cecillia Blye '76 Director Office of Global Risk, Security and Exchange Commission

Matthew Bowen '00 Senior Advisor at the Office of Nuclear Energy, Dept. of Energy

John Cross '77 Assoc. Tax Legislative Counsel, Office of Tax Policy, Dept. of the Treasury

Robert Dreher '79 Principal Dep. Asst. Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources Division, Dept. of Justice

Peter Gosselin '76 Special Adviser to Offices of Health Reform and Health Policy, Dept. of Health and Human Services

Scott Blake Harris '73 General Counsel, Dept. of Energy

Can you tell us something about President Obama we may not know?

In my thirty-five years in Washington, I have known many politicians and met several presidents. Without being critical of anyone, President Obama is simply the most genuine, straightforward political leader I have ever met. When you speak with the president, you know you are speaking with the man himself—not with a crafted political persona. That is far more rare than you can imagine.

Christopher Havasy '10 Research Associate, Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, Dept. of Health and Human Services

Suzanne Immerman '94 Director of Philanthropic Outreach, Dept. of Education

Roberta Steinfeld Jacobson '82 Principal Dep. Asst. Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, State Dept.

Neal Kemkar '01 Special Assistant to the Counselor to the Secretary of the Interior

Jonas Kieffer '05.5 Director of Speechwriting, Dept. of Transportation

Gene Kimmelman '77 Chief Counsel for Competition Policy and Intergovernmental Relations, Dept. of Justice

Mark Koumans '86 Dep. Asst. Secretary for International Affairs, Dept. of Homeland Security

Arlen Leland '76 Assoc. General Counesl for Civil Rights, USDA

Elizabeth Littlefield '82 CEO, Overseas Private Investment Corporation

David Margolis '61 Dept. of Justice

Mary Minow '80 Member, National Museum Library Services Board

Jonathan Olin '99 Councel to the Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, Dept. of Justice

Steve Owens '78 Asst. Administrator for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances, EPA

Maura Pally '98 Deputy Assistant Secretary, State Department

Thomas Perez '83 Asst. Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, Dept. of Justice

Thomas Perrelli '88 Associate Attorney General, Dept. of Justice

Laurel (Laurie) Robinson '68 Asst. Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, Dept. of Justice

Griffin Rogers '76 Director of the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases

Megan Rooney '01 Speechwriter for Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton 

Kali Schellenberg '10 Paralegal Specialist, Dept. of Justice

Joel D. Scheraga '79 AM, '81 Ph.D Senior Adviser for Climate Adaptation, EPA

Kam Sripada '09 Presidential Mgmt. Fellow, Office of Child Care, Dept. of Health and Human Services

J. Alexander Thier '92 Afpak Dep. Asst. Administrator, USAID

What do you do?

My job is to oversee all USAID assistance to Afghanistan and Pakistan. These two countries are our two largest civilian assistance missions in the world.

Are you crazy? Why did you take this job?

Joseph Heller gets it exactly right in Catch 22. You can't have the job if you are crazy, but you have to be crazy to take the job.

Emma Vadehra '02 Dep. Asst. Secretary, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, Dept. of Education

Eric Waldo '00 Deputy Chief of Staff, Dept. of Education

Elisse B. Walter '71 Commissioner, Securities and Exchange Commission

Irving A. Williamson '65 Vice Chair, U.S. International Trade Commission

How did your time at Brown prepare you for your current job?

Majoring in history led to my interest in the U.S. Foreign Service and, while a foreign service officer, I developed an interest in international trade, law, and economic development. I have been focusing on these for the past 40 years.

Melanie Wolfgang '07 Presidential Mgmt. Fellow, Office of HIV/AIDS Housing, Office of Community Planning and Development, Dept. of Housing and Urban Development

Janet Yellen '67 Vice Chair, Federal Reserve Board

Jill Zuckman '87 Director of Public Affairs, Dept. of Transportation


Illustration by John S. Dykes

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