Alumni Profiles in CSI

  • Dedrick Asante-Muhammad `95, Chief of Membership, Policy and Equity at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition

    What is your current role? Chief of Race, Wealth and Community at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition

    What was your major at Williams and how does it inform your career journey? I was a Political Science major that focused on race and the political economy. It gave me a good foundation for the racial justice and eventual racial economic career I have developed.

    How does your liberal art education (including co-curricular activities) broadly inform your career? My liberal arts education prepared me for the multi-faceted approach required to address socio-economic problems.  To address such a problem often requires an understanding of history, psychology, political science, economics, communications, etc. 

    What skills, interests, and values show up in your work? Intellectual curiosity, A focus on addressing problems through advancing metrics, not allowing what is deemed practical to get in the way of what is necessary.

    Do you have any resources you recommend for students starting out in the field? Are there any experiences (courses, internships, research, etc.) that you advise students to explore? Highly recommend internships and using social media like LinkedIn and Twitter to get a better understanding of the conversations and interactions happening in a field.  If people are interested in learning more about racial economic inequality I do recommend the bridingtheracialwealthdivide Facebook page, my Twitter #DedrickM and the bridging the racial wealth divide WordPress page.  The Economic Policy Institute and Policy Link are good resources on economic issues as is Inequality.org 

    Connect with Dedrick on EphLink!

  • Jaelon Moaney '19, Regional Director for U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen 

    What is your current role? Regional Director for U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen 

    What was your major at Williams, and how does it inform your career journey? At Williams, I majored in Political Science (American Politics), Environmental Studies (Williams-Mystic), Leadership Studies, and Africana Studies. Each of these not only informs my career journey but also reinforces my essence. My Maryland Eastern Shore ancestors, whose revolutionary shoulders I stand on, founded the first free Black community in the nation and the only village in the country established by formerly enslaved soldiers. The rural, coastal and brackish nature of my tidewater roots are inextricably linked to my trajectory. Knowing who and where I come from remains key to knowing where I’m headed. In my experience, a renowned hallmark of being an Eph has been the lifelong empowerment sparked by being encouraged to own the power of my purpose coming full circle. 

    How does your liberal arts education (including co-curricular activities) broadly inform your career? As a public servant, I’m immeasurably grateful for how deeply the value of equitable decision-making was instilled in me throughout my undergraduate experience. Across a litany of New England campuses and communities, I was fortunate to spearhead unprecedented and enduring growth in collaboration with inspirational change agents. However, I’d be remiss if I did not underscore that my development of this skill was not fully realized until I put it into practice on all three U.S. coasts with my Williams-Mystic shipmates. Every meal, vestige, and environmental challenge was given a face. The attachment of real, human lives to each academic discipline I studied added boundless significance and integrity to how I reconcile constituents’ needs and effectuating the axioms of  American democracy.

    What skills, interests, and values show up in your work? The overarching skill that I use daily is critical thinking. The U.S. Congress can function at warp speed sometimes, and the capacity to think critically results in smoother time management, clearer articulation, and efficiency under pressure. In an ever-changing environment, being nimble and versatile while not compromising consistency is qualities of utmost importance. 

    Also, engaging and listening, and hearing all voices at all volumes is key to ensuring that previously unseen communities are no longer rendered invisible. At the root of service is an unceasing desire to improve another person’s quality of life. To do so, you must exhaust your resources to understand the context of their narrative. Each of us has an irrefutably credible story to tell and, by design, all equate to ‘e Pluribus Unum.’ ”

    Do you have any resources you recommend for students starting out in the field? Are there any experiences (courses, internships, research, etc.) that you advise students to explore? An invaluable resource for any student interested in public service is the people whom they wish to serve. There is no substitute for fully immersing oneself in a community and embracing the process of being poured into. Additionally, timing is everything. Ultimately, the efficacious public service scope is contingent upon an intimate understanding of legislative calendars, intersecting democratic dynamics, and the many seasons of a republic. Please, waste no opportunity to access these free accessible online tools. 

    Lastly, don’t underestimate the gravity of your immediate sphere of influence. My internships across every government level enhanced my understanding of how best to utilize the remainder of my undergraduate experience, where to invest my merits beyond Berkshire County, MA and how my cumulative discernment would impact my career interests. In any realm of life, nuanced leadership is consequential. If available, I highly recommend the following courses: LEAD 293—Leadership & Political Change; PSCI 201—Power, Politics & Democracy in America; ECON 205—Public Economics.

    Connect with Jaelon on EphLink!

  • Larry Smith '92, Management Consultant at Leading Edge Advisory Firm

    What is your current role? I am the Founder/CEO of a management consulting firm. I work in all sectors (i.e., nonprofit,   private, public, academic, and faith-based). But most of my clients are nonprofit.

    What was your major at Williams, and how does it inform your career journey? I majored in history with a concentration in Afro-American Studies. Having done so informs my career journey in that learning about the history of Black people instilled in me great confidence and pride. Before attending Williams, I subliminally believed that our history began with slavery and ended with the Civil Rights Movement. Fortunately, my understanding became more fulsome and accurate.

    How does your liberal ARTS education (including co-curricular activities) broadly inform your career? Having attended a liberal arts college (especially Williams) is perhaps the single most important factor in my professional career. The cliche' is true; one "learns how to learn.”  I was a good athlete (e.g., two-time All-American), but that has not informed my career nearly as much.

    What skills, interests, and values show up in your work? Critical thinking, analysis, listening, oral and written communication, and interpersonal skills are crucial in my career. My values are religious faith, equity, justice, and self-affirmation. 

    Do you have any resources you recommend for students starting out in the field? Are there any experiences (courses, internships, research, etc.) that you advise students to explore? "Start with Why" (Simon Sinek's Ted Talk and book); Stanford Social Innovation Review; Harvard Business Review; Forces for Good (book); Good to Great (book); Uncharitable (book); The School of Philanthropy (academic training) and The Fund Raising School (practical training) - both at Indiana University in Indianapolis (IUPUI); La Plaza (nonprofit consultants); School of Public & Environmental Affairs (IUPUI); The Networked Nonprofit (book); The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (book); Financial Management for Nonprofit Organizations (book); The Complete Guide to Nonprofit Management (book); The Nonprofit Strategy Revolution (book)

    Connect with Larry on EphLink!

  • Liz Kirkwood Archives - FLOWLiz Rosan Kirkwood '92, Executive Director for Love of Water

    What is your current role? I’m currently the executive director of the nonprofit organization, For Love of Water, also known as FLOW.  We are a Great Lakes water law and policy center dedicated to protecting the commons waters of the Great Lakes Basin and ensuring access to safe, clean, and affordable water for all.  

    What was your major at Williams and how does it inform your career journey? I majored in history at Williams with a specialization in modern Chinese history, and I also had an environmental studies concentration.  In the early 90s, Williams College did not offer an environmental studies major.

    How does your liberal art education (including co-curricular activities) broadly inform your career? A liberal arts education has informed my deep curiosity about the world. I want to understand how social, economic, and ecological systems work, don’t work, intersect, and undercut. At Williams, I tried to take advantage of unusual classes outside my major like The Symphony, which still remains one of my favorite all-time classes.  It’s not just about the ability to converse at a cocktail party.  It’s about the ability to be curious about different cultures, different ways of thinking, different ways of being.  The more time I spend away from school, the more similarities I see between science and art and other sectors.  

    What skills, interests, and values show up in your work? Skills:

    1. Strategic thinking: the ability to design smart and holistic programs to solve complex environmental problems. Leadership: cultivate equitable and effective relationships with new and existing partners for solution-oriented advocacy.
    2. Relationship building: building and maintaining strong relationships based on trust, transparency, and accountability across NGO, government, and business communities.
    3. Innovation: applying systems thinking approach to public policy issues involving the environment, public health, economics, and financing.
    4. Stakeholder alignment: balancing diverse expectations of various interest groups. Communications and writing: translating ideas for varied audiences.
    5. Fund Development: crafting new programs and securing needed funding.
    6. Legal analysis: deep understanding of legislative and regulatory landscape related to water law, tribal sovereignty, and environmental issues.

    Interests: art and behavioral psychology. As an environmental lawyer, I’m intensely interested in transforming public opinion and policies about the way we steward our water, air, and land, build climate resilience and prosperity in our communities, and reimagine economic sustainability and opportunity across the planet. To do this work, I have learned that it’s all about connecting with people from the heart.  The best arguments with statistics, facts, science, and law will not stick without the personal or heartfelt commitment and connection to the issue regardless of whether your audience is a lawmaker, resource manager, government official, civic and business leader, frontline activist, or youth. 

    Do you have any resources you recommend for students starting out in the field? Are there any experiences (courses, internships, research, etc.) that you advise students to explore? Intern with an organization that you believe in so you can get a true flavor of the culture.  And network like crazy for ideas and options.  The opportunities are overwhelming so it’s hard to know how to generalize in such a diverse field as the environment.  

    Connect with Liz on EphLink!

  •  

    Sam Arons '04, Director of Sustainability at Lyft 

    What is your current role? I'm the Director of Sustainability at Lyft focusing on electric vehicle deployment and corporate sustainability and previously was a Senior Strategic Negotiator for Energy and Infrastructure (a mouthful!) at Google focusing on renewable energy procurement.

    What was your major at Williams and how does it inform your career journey? At Williams, I majored in Physics and did my senior honors thesis as a joint project between the Physics and Geosciences department on wind energy – namely, should Williams build its own wind farm, and what would the economics and visual impact be (find it in Schow if curious!). Having a grounding in STEM subjects from Williams has been very helpful in my career for understanding these novel technologies and setting me on my career trajectory focusing on the climate transition.

    How does your liberal art education (including co-curricular activities) broadly inform your career? Having exposure to a wide range of topics, and the flexibility to design my own senior research project, were super helpful in setting me on my path. The climate transition touches on so many disciplines – from science & math to economics, policy, and social equity – that having a broadly grounded education set me up to be ready to learn about all these areas and to continue learning beyond Williams as well. At Williams, and even more so in grad school, I got really involved in campus sustainability efforts and this led to direct hands-on experience that I could point to when interviewing for my first sustainability job.

    What skills, interests, and values show up in your work? I use many of the skills learned at Williams on a day-to-day basis, including quantitative analysis, writing and presentations, and teamwork. I get to live my interests and values every day working on the climate transition.

    Do you have any resources you recommend for students starting out in the field? Are there any experiences (courses, internships, research, etc.) that you advise students to explore? There's no one way into the climate/sustainability world, and folks from all backgrounds and disciplines are needed. I think my biggest lessons are just simply, "follow your passion" and also importantly, "show up!" 🙂 I've found many connections and opportunities by simply getting involved in environmental organizations and efforts, not only on campus while a student, but also in employee interest groups at work, and in environmentally focused political groups in my "extracurricular" time after graduating. Some of these experiences and connections have led to collaborations, friendships, and even jobs!

  • Scott Monroe '90, Supervisory Management Analyst at the Office of Air and Radiation in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

    What is your current role? I am a Supervisory Management Analyst with the Office of Air and Radiation in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, D.C. I lead a variety of management areas, including the full range of human resources work. The Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) is one of EPA’s largest offices and carries out the Clean Air Act. Over the course of my 28-year career with EPA I have worked on a variety of projects, including a federal radioactive waste disposal site, replacement of chemicals that deplete the stratospheric ozone layer, and the national ENERGY STAR program. I am also an internal Organization Development consultant, providing facilitation and strategic planning services to many EPA organizations. I started my federal career as a Presidential Management Intern.

    What was your major at Williams and how does it inform your career journey? My major at Williams was Russian and I did my best to avoid Division III classes, having no inkling that I would one day find myself speaking about radioactive waste at a conference in Bruges! I went to graduate school straight from Williams and got a position at a research center that helped me get a federal job. At the time I was intent on working for the Department of State, thinking I could parlay my Russian language skills into international diplomatic work. Instead, it was EPA that hired me and, after completing brief assignments at the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, I realized that I preferred EPA.

    How does your liberal art education (including co-curricular activities) broadly inform your career? I cannot emphasize strongly enough the extent to which the writing and critical thinking skills that I developed through the Williams education enabled me to succeed. When managers know you can make your point well, they pay attention to what you say and trust you to speak for them. In the federal government, we talk a lot about “policy,” meaning, “telling others what to do and how.” Being able to think through policy options and their ramifications and then articulate them to a variety of audiences is a valuable skill. While I can’t say that the courses I took in Russian literature, Chinese history, and epistemology directly informed my EPA career, I can say with confidence that learning to formulate and elucidate a thesis statement in paper after paper in such courses most definitely did.

    What skills, interests, and values show up in your work? Public service was always my motivation, even in high school. I studied Russian in order to work on government policy towards the U.S.S.R. Looking back now, having worked for some years in the human resources area, I’m struck by how my co-curricular activities were a clearer signal of my ultimate career direction than were my courses. I was a Purple Key host and tour guide, suggesting an interest in orienting others to new situations. I sang with the Ephlats and performed in a couple Cap and Bells productions; now I train and facilitate work groups, which has a certain performative element. I volunteered for 10 to 1, a peer support service where students would sit in the Chaplain’s office in Baxter Hall from 10 PM to 1 AM and answer questions from other students. Coaching, mentoring, and active listening are all quite important elements of my job. My point is, as you start to plan your career, think about all of your interests and talents and not just your major.

    Do you have any resources you recommend for students starting out in the field? Are there any experiences (courses, internships, research, etc.) that you advise students to explore? Students interested in public service would do well do to contact alumni and state and federal agencies for information and summer jobs. Even when people don’t have positions to offer, they generally are happy to provide advice and suggestions. Also, it’s important to persist. Bureaucracies can be hard to penetrate and government agencies usually don’t recruit in person, so you have to pursue them instead of the reverse. I got lucky when I contacted a federal employee whose name was on the mailing list of the publication I edited. You never know where contact will lead you. Good luck!

    Connect with Scott on EphLink!

  • Christine Hunt '06, counsel for the Food and Drug Administration center.

    What is your current role? 

    I am in-house counsel for the Food and Drug Administration center that regulates and approves drugs.

    What was your major at Williams and how does it inform your career journey? 

    Since I was a biology major at Williams, I can understand the scientists and doctors better when I am providing legal advice on topics like when particular biomarkers can be formally qualified, whether the primary protein sequence of a biosimilar is a trade secret, or what FDA should tell drug companies about FDA's expectations for clinical trials during COVID-19.

    How does your liberal art education (including co-curricular activities) broadly inform your career? 

    I can jump into any topic - and believe me, the questions we get to run the gamut!  My post-graduation Williams in Africa fellowship with AIDS activists at the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa is also part of what inspired me to become a public health lawyer.

    What skills, interests, and values show up in your work? 

    Public health focus, conflict resolution, and writing with precision.

    Do you have any resources you recommend for students starting out in the field? Are there any experiences (courses, internships, research, etc.) that you advise students to explore? 

    Try an internship in government if you are looking for a place to make an impact, and ask alumni about their day-to-day work. 

  •  

    John E. Putnam '90, General Counsel for the United States Department of Transportation

    What is your current role?

    I am the Acting General Counsel for the United States Department of Transportation.

    What was your major at Williams, and how does it inform your career journey?

    Political Economy.  This major introduced an interdisciplinary approach to study and problem solving, recognizing that real-world policy and legal issues mix political, economic, technical, social, cultural, and other factors.  Through my career in environmental and transportation law and policy, nearly all matters are interdisciplinary, including economic, governance, and political considerations captured in the Political Economy major.

    How does your liberal art education (including co-curricular activities) broadly inform your career?

    Success as a lawyer on public policy issues, or as a policymaker, depends on the ability to grasp and solve problems on multiple levels involving different disciplines and subject areas, as discussed above.  For three decades since I graduated from Williams, this has been “liberal arts applied.”  Almost no area is narrow and deep.  The ability to reach across and into different traditional disciplines, and deep technical and other experts, leads to better outcomes (and a more satisfying career).

    What skills, interests, and values show up in your work?

    I bring my deep interest in and concern for the environment, social impacts, justice, and scientific inquiry to my work every day.

    Do you have any resources you recommend for students starting in the field? Are there any experiences (courses, internships, research, etc.) that you advise students to explore?

    Statistics and basic accounting are courses or experiences too many law students miss.  Anyone interested in law and policy should have some exposure to both of these disciplines to understand and apply principles of risk, uncertainty, and basic business operations.  The most effective public servants and advocates speak these languages, regardless of whether the substance of their work relates to environmental, civil rights, education, social issues, or other issues.