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Public Policy Trip to Washington D.C.

By Will Moyo, 2024

Thanks to the generosity of the Public Policy program, six graduate students embarked on an educational trip to Washington D.C., the hub of political activity and policy innovation. This experience provided us with a firsthand experience of the epicenter of American governance and policy making and allowed us to engage in the rich tapestry of political discourse and policy innovation that characterizes the city.

The highlight of the trip was the opportunity to connect with Stanford alumni who are leaders across a spectrum of sectors within Washington D.C. From government agencies to think tanks, these alumni generously shared their expertise and experiences, offering great insights into the realities of policymaking and the diverse career pathways available post-graduation. In addition to the meetings, we enjoyed a dinner with the alumni of the Public Policy Program.

Interacting with Stanford alumni working in different sectors provided us with a multifaceted perspective on the complexities of public policy implementation and the diverse range of opportunities available beyond academia. Whether in government agencies, non-profit organizations, or the private sector, the alumni demonstrated the far-reaching impact of Stanford's public policy education. Through engaging discussions, networking events, and mentorship opportunities, we gained invaluable knowledge and diverse perspectives, deepening our understanding of the intricacies of public policy and its global impact.

During our meeting with Samir Jain, (BS ’91) the Vice President of Policy at the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), we gained an understanding of the organization's role in advancing policy that protects digital information. Mr. Jain elaborated on how CDT collaborates with government and other stakeholders to shape technology policy. Our discussion included data privacy concerns, national security risks, competition, and regulation of digital platforms.

Uttara Sivaram (BA ‘15, MA ‘16) shared insights into her role as the Senior Advisor for Cybersecurity and AI at the Department of Homeland Security. Uttara also shared lessons learned from her time serving as the Global Head of Privacy & Security Public Policy at Uber. We discussed navigating complex regulatory landscapes, collaborations between government and corporate entities, formulating privacy policies, and advocating for data protection measures to safeguard user information amidst evolving digital landscapes.

Erika Crawford Tom, (BS ’09) a product manager with the United States Digital Service discussed her experience in product development within the federal government. She highlighted the importance of initiatives that enhance the digital infrastructure and services offered by federal agencies, especially user-centered design, and technological innovation. Erika shared perspectives on the intersection of technology, public service, and innovation, highlighting the importance of leveraging digital capabilities to enhance citizen experiences.

Wilson Sinclair (PhD, ’22), an officer in the NIH Office of Science Policy provided great insights on science policy. Wilson recounted his experience at the intersection of scientific research, governmental regulations, and public policy. Wilson shared his firsthand experiences bridging the complexities of science and policy. His perspectives on career pathways were exceptionally beneficial.

Max Stier, (JD, ’92) the President and Chief Executive Officer at Partnership for Public Service shared insights on the pivotal role of young people in civil service. He highlighted the tools necessary for effective governance and the importance of cultivating purpose-driven careers in public service. Max emphasized the transformative power of impactful leadership and its impact within civil service.

We concluded our trip to Washington D.C. with a meeting with Phillip Brest (JD), the White House Senior Counsel. Phillip shared his experience leading judicial nominations in the Biden administration as well as his pathway to his current position. He shared pivotal moments of his career such as the nomination and appointment of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. 

The trip gave us a renewed sense of purpose and determination to make a meaningful difference in the world. This transformative experience not only broadened our horizons but also created enduring connections within the Stanford community and beyond, empowering us to chart our own paths in public policy.