What makes Washington run?
We view the nation's capital with both fascination and exasperation. It's the inspiring headquarters of our democracy. It's a money-mired morass. It's also an intricately human place, where a host of talented people—and not just the political celebrities we see on TV—grapple with the toughest issues of our time.
A good many of those people, it turns out, graduated from Kenyon. The College has a long history of placing alumni on the national stage. Consider the White House, where Rutherford B. Hayes (Class of 1842) served, front and center, as president and where Joe Hagin (Class of 1979) toiled behind the scenes as President George W. Bush's deputy chief of staff.
In the pages that follow, we'll meet just a few of the alumni who ply the trade of American democracy, inside the Beltway, today. It's a small sample. But we hope it puts a face—a Kenyon face—on the workings of Washington.
Photography by Howard Korn
Use your Kenyon advantages, do your homework, and start at the (undreamy) bottom.
The extraordinarily young chief of staff Jack Pratt '98 is living proof that a smart, ambitious, hard-working liberal arts graduate can rise quickly in the often invisible but crucially important world of Congressional staffdom.
And not just any pro. Lauren Weiner '81 drafts speeches for the top man at the Pentagon.
Weiner says that every speech is a team effort involving a "long and excruciating" fact-checking process and editing by everyone ("brutal, but strangely I like it").
They're chewing bark, destroying trees, and helping Jeremy Martinich '04 tell the climate-change story to policymakers.
After years of inaction on the issue of climate change, Martinich is pleased that President Obama and a made-over Congress are making progress. His work involves assessing the effects of climate change and projecting environmental trends decades into the future.
From the executive branch to the legislative by way of the media, writer and policy advisor Christian Brose '02 keeps penning his way to positions of influence.
Brose served as a speechwriter to Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice in the Bush administration, then helped to relaunch Foreign Policy magazine, writing for the journal until joining Senator John McCain's staff. In an interview, he offered some insights about those multiple perspectives.
Amid cable-news ranting and twenty-hour work days, U.S. Rep. Zack Space '81 cleaves to a moderation he traces to a class with Professor Clor.
A former Kenyon football star who went on to a legal and political career in his hometown of Dover, Ohio, Space won his House seat in 2006 after the long-time Republican incumbent, Bob Ney, got caught up in the Jack Abramoff scandal, resigned, and went to prison. He won re-election in 2008. Last fall, with Congress enmeshed in the health-care debate, Space took some time to share his thoughts on cable news, Plato, and today's football Lords.
Paul Brown '86 is prepared for the funny looks at family reunions. After nearly a decade working for former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, Brown made the switch in 2001 from crazy hours and little pay to lobbying, a profession that he acknowledges sometimes gets a bad rap in Washington.
The saying in the corridors of power is: "If you're here for two years, you'll probably be here for four. If you're here for four years, you'll probably be here for ten. If you're here for ten years, settle down." Paul Palagyi '91 has settled down, and relishes his career in politics and public service. "It can be addictive," he says.
Molly Flanagan and Grace Van Cleave both majored in political science, interned with their respective political parties in Washington, D.C., and returned there to work full-time just days after leaving Kenyon. Today, each works with her party's governors association, Flanagan with the GOP, Van Cleave with the Democrats. Although their political affiliations and job responsibilities differ, each has a good view of state politics on a national level, as well as a few favorite state leaders. Here's the scoop on each of them.