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What the heck is “networking”  and why should I do it?

Merriam Webster Dictionary defines networking as:

“…the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions -- the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business”…

I know, I know – I hate the term “networking” as much as you do!

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I hate the term as much as you do. To me, when people talk about “networking” --  it sounds to me as though they are using people to get what they want without having any regard for the individual providing the help/assistance. So, take a deep breath. I don’t use the term “networking”.  Instead,  I like and advise people to have real/meaningful interactions with people and to be “straight up” and just ask for help.  Instead of saying “networking”, let’s take the pressure off.  We’ll talk about “connecting” with people instead. Let’s agree to go out and meet/interact with people and follow-up with them. When you go to meetings, classes, conferences and wherever else you meet people --  collect their business cards and send a follow-up email to say something like “it was good to meet you” or “thank you”.

Did you know that it’s estimated that only about 15% of job openings are posted?

Yes, indeed! That means in order to find a job, one really should “connect” with as many people as possible. If only 15% of jobs are posted – that means that about 85% of jobs are not posted. You will hear of these jobs by doing individual informational meetings with people, going to career fairs and expos, going to the supermarket, classes, asking to meet people, etc. You never know who might know of a job opening. Yes, someone might tell you about a great job while you are a host at a restaurant (it’s happened to some of our students).

What if you’re shy?

I know everyone is not a born extrovert. Have no fear … you can just request as many one-on-one meetings with people as possible. Make sure to do your research about people you are meeting with by “Googling” and/or looking for contacts on Linkedin.  By just meeting with one person at a time, you don’t need to be the life of the party. Show your interest and appreciation. People appreciate sincerity and honesty. If you need help …yes, just ask. Don’t be too prideful to let people know you could use some advice.

Good luck! Go out there and be yourself. Show your appreciation when other people help you. You’ll be surprised how far you can go in life by just showing your appreciation to others. It is rare when people take the time to thank others for their help. The Harvard Business Review did a good article about “networking,” or what we’re calling “connecting” -- https://hbr.org/2016/05/learn-to-love-networking

Good luck to all! As with everything in life --- practice does make perfect!

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/margaret-gottlieb-1457753/ or via email at mag@gwu.edu.

An informational interview is usually a “one-on-one” meeting to learn about someone’s experience working in a field or organization that interests you. It's not a job interview, so it's important to listen to get information, not a job offer. You can send someone an email asking for a 10 or 15-minute informational meeting. Make sure to respect someone’s time and offer to leave the meeting after 15 minutes.

Too many job seekers focus on just answering job postings. While it feels good to answer job ads, it is estimated that job postings represent only about 15% of all job openings. The other 85% of openings can be found through “hidden networks”. By doing as many informational interviews as you can, you will learn of job openings and movements within your field of interest. Make sure to ask people to keep their ears/eyes open for you in case they learn of something that might interest you. Be polite and not too aggressive. If you are likable/polite/appreciative, people will want to help you.

Some questions you might want to ask during an informational interview:

  1. How did you get your job?
  2. What advice do you have for me?
  3. Are there other people you think I should be talking to?
  4. What type of skills are important to be successful in the field of politics, public affairs, government relations et al?
  5. What kind of person do you enjoy working with?

*You can find further information about informational interviews online. YouTube has some good examples - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6Pa4ZB4mvQ

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/margaret-gottlieb-1457753/ or via email at mag@gwu.edu.

GWU’s Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) prides itself on its reach and influence  around the globe. GSPM students and alumni are viewed as some of the best “connectors” of people and coalitions. Each year, at least one new student, (aka new member of the “GSPM fold”), spends more time arguing about not wanting to connect on LinkedIn than it would take to just connect.  So, why not just be a good team player and work to make your connections?

Where do I start?

One of my mottos is “never reinvent the wheel”. You’ll learn in politics that you need to know a lot of information and you’ll need to learn quickly. So, don’t spend time doing something that’s already been done. LinkedIn has some excellent online information as to how to set up a LinkedIn profile. You can read the information here -- https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedin-beginner-all-star-8-easy-steps-clifford-wessel/ .

Why do I need 500+ connections anyway?

If you want to work in the political/legislative/public affairs world, you need to know people. And, you need to “know people… who know people”. LinkedIn makes it easy for you. From your desktop computer or phone while you’re at the beach, you can start increasing your connections.

Many employers won’t even interview a candidate before scoping out their LinkedIn connections and making sure the job candidate has at least 500+ connections.  An employer looks much more positively on a well-connected candidate than one who doesn’t appear to know anybody.

Also, many employers hire right off of LinkedIn by reviewing candidates in any given field. Too, many organizations post job leads on LinkedIn before they post on their own organization’s website.

How the heck do I get 500+ connections?

Every year at least one person asks this question and says … “I don’t know 500 people”. Yes, you do. You’ll find by joining groups on LinkedIn that you can connect easily with people who belong to the LinkedIn groups that you belong to and that you’re interested in joining. Connect with friends, family, schoolmates, teachers, professors, people you grew up with, people from your schools, etc. You will get there. It doesn’t even take that much time.

Isn’t quality better than quantity?

When it comes to LinkedIn, it is good to have both quality and quantity. No, I don’t want you to connect with strangers. Just take a little time to explore all of your different circles you know. You’ll surprise yourself by really digging through names of people you do know and connecting with them. LinkedIn has over 500 million users. Why not be part of the big world out there?

Any parting words for me?

Trust me on this one … you may not enjoy it now, but you will enjoy being part of the LinkedIn community. No, LinkedIn doesn’t pay me a penny to say that, but I have been a LinkedIn devotee from day one, and when I was invited to be a “LinkedIn Advisor”, I gladly accepted because I want to be a part of a group who continues to connect like-minded people and to see that people can find other people who can help them with their career goals and job search needs.

Good luck to you! You can connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know in a message how you might know me. Example: ”I’m coming to D.C. and I’m joining GSPM”. Hope so!

***Every year, at least one new student works in the Intelligence Community. If someone’s job prevents them from using social media, the student needs to discuss that privately with us. Or, if you’ve been stalked or something like that, we certainly wouldn’t force the use of social media. We aren’t completely inflexible.

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/margaret-gottlieb-1457753/

Hey everyone! I’m Josh Kim and I am the President of the GSPM Student Association. The Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) is an extraordinary program. In fact, there is no other graduate program like GSPM. You may have heard the saying, “Only at GSPM.” It’s a common hashtag on GSPM social media pages. However, “Only at GSPM” transcends hashtags. It captures the essence of our remarkable graduate program. On a regular basis, I am often left saying or thinking, “Only at GSPM.” 

This summer, I am taking two classes including “Running for Office” with The Honorable Connie Mack IV. Every “Running for Office” class exemplifies the “Only at GSPM” experience. “Only at GSPM” do you get a hands-on experience of how to run for office with a former United States congressman. Learning from Congressman Connie Mack IV has been an invaluable experience. He has incredible knowledge and equips his students with the tools they need to succeed if they run for public office. “Running for Office” is not just for students seeking to run for public office. We have many bright and talented students that will be successful politicians in the future. However, this class is also beneficial for a wide range of future careers including campaign management and political consulting. I don’t see myself running for office in the future, but I am grateful to have garnered critical tools that will help me succeed in my professional endeavors. In the “Running for Office” class, Professor Mack has brought in terrific guest speakers including Jo Anne Barnhart, Tony Fabrizio, and Larry Weitzner. Jo Anne Barnhart served as Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Tony Fabrizio was a pollster for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and Larry Weitzner’s firm created television advertisements for President Trump’s 2016 campaign. At GSPM, you get to hear from the best of the best. What is even more remarkable is that each of these guest speakers have been nice enough to stay in touch with students from the class after their respective visits. Congressman Mack exemplifies the outstanding devotion professors at GSPM give their students. Despite his busy professional schedule, Professor Mack makes time to meet with students outside of class. He wants to see his students succeed and offers wonderful guidance and insight. Professor Mack has an innate ability to pinpoint a student’s strengths and weaknesses and offer feedback that ultimately leads to a student’s exponential growth and development. 

It’s amazing how accessible professors are to their students at GSPM. If you reach out to one of your professors at GSPM about meeting outside of class, I can assure you that they’ll be more than happy to do so. Sometimes, professors even reach out to students about meeting outside of class. I’ve had professors reach out to me to provide professional guidance and insight. At GSPM, you have a team of professors that will guide you to professional success. 

GSPM is the world’s first and foremost school of applied politics, communications, and advocacy. To top it all off, it’s in the heart of the nation’s capital. Some of our classes take place less than a block away from The White House. You won’t find any other graduate program like that. As a prospective graduate student, you may have looked at other graduate programs. You may even think these other programs are like GSPM. However, that is not the case. At GSPM, your classes will be taught by practitioners in the field who specialize in the subject matter of the course. You have small class sizes and will develop strong professional and personal relationships with your professors and classmates. 

I really appreciate how each class at GSPM is a unique experience. My other class this summer is “Digital Content Creation.” For one of my class projects, a classmate and I filmed a video at the Lincoln Memorial. (By the way, how awesome is it that all these incredible monuments and museums are just a quick walk from GW’s Foggy Bottom campus?) Unique experiences are not the exception at GSPM, they are the norm. While, I was walking around the monuments with my classmate, we met someone I cited in a paper for one of my previous classes at GSPM. It was yet another “Only at GSPM” moment. I’ve had so many “Only at GSPM” moments that, as cheesy as it sounds, I could honestly write a book about it. However, this is supposed to be a blog post, and not a novel (by the way I’ve never written a blog before, so my apologies if this reads more like a term paper than a blog). 

While, I expected to learn a great deal from my professors at GSPM, I never imagined I would learn so much from fellow students in the program. As someone who moved to Washington, D.C. last fall to start the GSPM program, it was a bit daunting to be in a new city and no prior experience working in the nation’s capital. If you’re a prospective GSPM student and have never lived in D.C. or are interested in starting the program right after undergrad, you have no reason to worry. GSPM is an amazing community and you’ll meet so many great people. GSPM has provided me great friends and classmates. During my time at GSPM, I have been really blessed to have a phenomenal mentor. This mentor has been a classmate and fantastic friend. He’s unbelievably accomplished, but his humility is even more remarkable. He’s been a great role model for me and has always been there for me. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to meet a student like this at GSPM. He’s shown me the ropes and has taught me a great deal. He’s helped me with class presentations, given me great advice, and has inspired me to keep believing in myself. “Only at GSPM” will you have classmates that will become extraordinary mentors to you. 

Another great part of my experience at GSPM has been the GSPM Student Association Executive Board. This past spring, GSPM Student Association Executive Board elections were held. I had many friends at GSPM that encouraged me to run, but I wasn’t sure that I should do it. Luckily my friends and classmates at GSPM were incredibly supportive and I was compelled to give back to a program that has provided me so much. Running for GSPM Student Association President was an experience I will always be grateful for. It allowed me to branch out and meet with students in the other GSPM programs. It made me feel even closer to the program, which I didn’t think was possible, and it allowed me to showcase my zealous passion for the program. I was deeply humbled to be elected to the GSPM Student Association Executive Board. I am extremely excited to work with the new executive board. So far, we’ve been doing weekly conference calls and are preparing for a great school year. 

GSPM has been more than classroom and extracurricular experiences. It’s also about the moments in between classes. After class, I am often grabbing food with classmates. We always have great conversations and we often talk about how awesome class was earlier that evening. To me, that’s a part of the GSPM experience as well. It’s going to baseball game with friends from GSPM on a Friday. It’s going to The Palm because you and your classmates aced your class presentations the night before and chicken parmigiana sounds like a nice reward. It’s walking around the monuments with your friends from GSPM late at night to talk about your hopes and dreams. Whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, new to D.C. or have worked in D.C. for years, you’re going to meet amazing people at GSPM and share unforgettable experiences with them. 

As I am writing this blog post, I cannot help but feel tremendous gratitude for the experiences I’ve had at GSPM. When I began my journey at GSPM last fall, I never imagined I would be where I am today. Enrolling in GSPM is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. The lessons you’ll learn, the people you’ll meet, and the experience you’ll have will make an indelible impression on your life. You can tailor this degree to fit your professional needs. You don’t have to be managing a campaign or working as a legislative aide to make use of a degree from GSPM. The versatility of a degree from GSPM can be beneficial for a variety of professional careers. 

I am going to miss GSPM when I graduate from the program. However, I will always be grateful for the experiences and relationships I’ve made at GSPM. The people I have met at GSPM will always be important to me. I am also confident that GSPM has prepared me for a successful career. With my journey at GSPM nearly over, I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for my classmates and me.

Joshua Kim is a student in GSPM's Political Management master's program and is the president of the GSPM Student Association.

Victor Reyes
GSPM online Political Management student Victor Reyes, who works as a lobbyist for The Roosevelt Group in Springfield, Illinois.

Our online Political Management student Victor Reyes had his capstone project profiled in Crain's Chicago Business Friday:

"Winning the Latino vote may well be the key to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's re-election, but he'll have change some things to actually reel in such support, starting with forming a "personal relationship" with Latino voters.

That's the advice for Chicago's CEO as he prepares to announce for a third term, and comes not in the form of a confidential memo from a high-priced outside consultant but a master's thesis written by Victor Reyes, who served as political consiglieri and chief lobbyist to Mayor Richard M. Daley during his tenure. Among his former duties was heading the Daley-allied Hispanic Democratic Organization.

'To win re-election in 2019, Emanuel must establish a supportive coalition that includes a large number of Latinos,' writes Reyes, who's now a lobbyist here and in Springfield but is getting a master's degree in political management from George Washington University in Washington, D.C."

Read the full piece at Crain's Chicago Business. 

One of our superstar alums, Dan Sena, Executive Director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was recently profiled by Roll Call's Nathan Gonzalez, another one of our superstar alums.

Sena is the first Latino to direct a campaign committee, and has been working on campaigns since his days as a student.

Read the entire profile at Roll Call.

The following post is from GSPM Adjunct Professor Chris Bender

We’ve reached a seminal moment in how advocacy is done.

Following the awful events at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, a garrison of outraged and determined students have used their phones and personal passion to do what scores of elected officials, professional activists, interest groups and community organizations couldn’t: Force cultural change on guns – and in less than three weeks’ time.

These students don’t have a paid campaign manager. There’s no donor strategy. No one is canvassing or thinking about microtargeting. They are doing something simpler and more organic: Speaking from the heart, using Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter to connect with millions of people who share their sadness and frustration, shifting the conversation and creating an imperative for change.

Read the full post on the Public Affairs Council website.

Argentine Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers Marcos Peña
Argentine Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers Marcos Peña addresses GSPM Seminar Students

The Graduate School of Political Management’s Latin American program hosted the Argentine Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers Marcos Peña at its 2017 fall semester Seminar on “Electoral Campaigns “ on Friday, December 1st. Peña is a core member of President Mauricio Macri’s campaign and political teams, providing key communications strategies and guidance. He runs the Jefatura de Gabinete de Ministros, which is responsible for coordinating the work of the cabinet of ministers, public communications and strategic affairs.

As a founding collaborator of the “Propuesta Republicana” party, also known as “PRO”, under which Mauricio Macri started his rise in South American politics, Peña has seen how nascent political organizations can grow quickly. The PRO party found its greatest success in the historic defeat of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in the country’s first runoff ballotage race. That success has continued for the party, and Peña shared some of those lessons with students.

One of Peña's points was about the importance of analyzing defeats as well as successes. He was asked about Mauricio Macri’s losing campaign for Mayor of Buenos Aires in 2003. Peña stated “This was absolutely shocking, but did learn a great deal about this loss. A big part of being living in a democracy is to be able to look back and find the reasons behind this loss, therefore, they we do not make the same mistakes again”

That lesson informed the Macri campaign's assessment of later races. In reference to the presidential election of 2015, Peña said, “Mauricio Macri expressed that this was not a victory coming from him, but rather from the whole party. This clearly reflects a contemporaneous leadership.

Now as president, Macri is dealing with a different set of priorities during his presidency, Peña stated “Macri is enjoying his presidency and is confident about Argentina’s future. There is a high level of hope in the country. The dynamics of this country are changing for the better.”

The Argentine government has assumed the presidency of the G20 for 2018 effective December 1. Peña said that the government’s focus would be to “build consensus for fair and sustainable development” and to advance three central priorities addressing the future of work, infrastructure for development, and food security. The administration also seeks to amplify the voice of the entire region on the global stage, not just Argentina.

 

The following post is from GSPM Research Director Prof. Michael Cornfield

In the space of three weeks Senator Al Franken (DFL-MN) plummeted in public standing from a presidential mentionable to a disgraced official on the verge of departure. Some blame his Democratic colleagues for abandoning him in the interest of political expediency. A review of Franken’s remarks indicates that the bulk of the responsibility belongs with him.

Al Franken was the first in the post-Harvey Weinstein sleaze parade to give a speech about his scandalous predicament. Previous celebrities exited in silence or under cover of brief released statements expressing combinations of apology, self-defense, and promises to rehabilitate, with the notably defiant exceptions of Roy Moore and Donald Trump.

The Leeann Tweeden accusation hit on November 16, fortified by an incriminating photo. Franken questioned her interpretation of their encounters but apologized, in public and in personal communications (as he told the public). She accepted his apology. So far, so good.

Senators McConnell and Schumer initiated a Senate Ethics Committee review of the incident. Franken embraced the move and went silent under the pretext that the review would afford him “due process.” This damage control strategy was terribly flawed. More accusations surfaced, turning a one-off incident into a pattern that a fuller statement by Franken about his behavior in his pre-Senate days could have mitigated.

It’s also hard to see how a Congressional panel could rule fairly on he-said she-said conduct that occurred before the accused was a member of the body to whose rules he would be accountable. A more cynical perspective would interpret the referral as a stall. Given the performance of Congress in recent years, earning the institution job approval ratings in the same number range as the age of Roy Moore’s victims, cynicism is justified.

Twitter data show the stonewall held for a short while. Here are the number of times Franken’s name was mentioned between November 16 and December 5. The public eye went elsewhere, even on November 23 when Franken surfaced to issue what now sounded like excuses: "I've met tens of thousands of people and taken thousands of photographs, often in crowded and chaotic situations. I'm a warm person; I hug people. I've learned from recent stories that in some of those encounters, I crossed a line for some women — and I know that any number is too many.” In other words, only under public scrutiny did Franken become aware that there are certain places his hands and tongue should not go when he was in close proximity to women.

On December 6, the wall collapsed. A seventh accusation appeared in Politico, and it came from a Congressional staffer. Time valorized the “silence breakers” as “Persons of the Year.” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand declared that “enough is enough” and called for Franken to resign. A cascade of more than thirty Senatorial dittos fell within hours.

Senator Franken now had a huge audience for his goodbye and, if he chose, a farewell address that would put his troubles in a larger context.

------

He opened well, harkening back to the post-Weinstein pre-Tweeden weeks:

We were finally beginning to listen to women about the ways in which men's actions affect them. The moment was long overdue. I was excited for that conversation and hopeful that it would result in real change that made life better for women all across the country and in every part of our society.

Then the conversation turned to me, Franken continued, and I was shocked. In being a respectful listener “I think it gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing things that in fact I haven't done.”

Franken was walking back his culpability as a misunderstanding on the part of “some people,” as the hellacious price paid by a well-intentioned “respectful listener.”

He then widened his attention from himself to include two other accused sexual harassers:

I of all people am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.

The bitter comparison was easy to see as a self-exculpating “whataboutist” diversionary tactic, but hard to accept as helpful to the conversation, given Franken’s refusal to clarify the differences between what he had done, as he saw it, and what Trump and Moore are accused of doing. Instead of setting forth categories, he asked people to take his innocence on faith in his character.

“I know who I really am,” Franken asserted. I knew I was joking around or just being warm, he implied, and so did the women. Or so they should have. After all, he’s famous.

He was resigning, he said, because he could not remain effective for the people of Minnesota while defending himself before the Ethics Committee. Then why did he approve of the committee referral in the first place? Because exoneration was no longer a foregone conclusion?

This speech was Senator Franken’s last best chance to frame the sexual harassment issue moving forward. But he talked about himself instead of his accusers and others in similar situations. In all likelihood, his conduct WAS different from that of Trump and Moore in many respects. But on the crucial matter of refusing to apologize to all he had offended, intimidated, confused, and disappointed, he was, ultimately, the same.

-----

Sometimes in life we fixate on what we are about to lose and fail to see what we could gain. A different speech would have imbued Franken with the moral authority to go on this Sunday’s (December 10) news programs and blast Roy Moore, Donald Trump, and all the Republicans who are enabling their aberrant behavior toward women. From there, he could have rebuilt his political career by adopting the role of the reformed man who gets it. (For different reasons, Senator Jeff Flake is in this very position. He is departing the Senate with long-term potential. He was the only Republican who attended Franken’s speech.)

“I'm going to be just fine,” Franken said at one point.

It’s not you I’m worried about, Senator Franken.

Trailblazers in Politics
The inaugural winners of Trailblazers in Politics awards on front row starting third from left: Samantha Joy Fay, DeJuana Thompson, Jeanine Henderson Arnett and Keysha Brooks-Coley.

The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) and the Virginia Leadership Institute (VLI) launched the inaugural Trailblazers in Politics award Wednesday, honoring diverse GSPM students and alumni who have made significant contributions to the field of politics.

This year’s winners are DeJuana Thompson, M.P.S. ’17; Samantha Joy Fay, M.P.S. ’17; Keysha Brooks-Coley, M.A. ’00; and Jeanine Henderson Arnett, M.A. ’04. The four women have led drives for change inside and outside of local and federal government.

The Trailblazers in Politics award was born from the desire of GSPM and VLI to recognize and amplify the message that governments that reflect the diversity of their communities better serve society.

“Leadership is a collection of character traits, and it comes in all packages. If we’re going to have a country that represents all people, we need to recognize leadership in everyone that steps up to the plate,” said GSPM Director Lara Brown.

VLI founder Krysta Jones said the idea for her institute was born from a GSPM project. During a thesis discussion with a professor, Ms. Jones noted that Northern Virginia’s political culture was much more homogeneous than surrounding areas such as the District and Prince George’s County, Md. “My professor said instead of making a thesis why don’t you do something to solve the problem. VLI comes directly as a result of my GSPM education,” said Ms. Jones.

The organization currently has a goal to help elect 500 black officials in Virginia by 2026 by providing training and resources for candidates.

This year’s honorees were introduced during a ceremony at GW's City View Room by colleagues and mentors from the highest levels of government and advocacy.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) was on hand to present the award to Ms. Fay, who serves as a legislative aide in his office. He said that in politics “it is easy to lose faith, but when I see young people and the people in this program…I am optimistic.”

Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall presented the Trailblazers award to Ms. Arnett, her former chief of staff who is now the executive director of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Ms. Randall said that the essence of politics is “working hard for the many people who need us the most. The ones who don’t know we’re even doing it.” She said that Ms. Henderson Arnett embodied that ethos through her work for the county and her role as a mentor.

A leadership and mentorship role was key in the success of honoree Ms. Brooks-Coley, director of Federal Relations at the American Cancer Society Action Network. “I have never seen her turn down a request for an informational interview. She leans in. She’s a connector,” said Dick Woodruff, the society’s vice president of Federal Relations.

Ms. Thompson gave back to her community through politics and public service, serving as a senior adviser for Public Engagement at the U.S. Small Business Administration and the national deputy director for Community Engagement at the Democratic National Committee. “She is one of the most tireless workers in the field to push for change to ensure that communities of color have a space, access, and opportunities,” said Stephanie Gidigbi, a former colleague and director at the National Resources Defense Council.

GSPM and the VLI have committed to working together to train and advocate for the next generation of political and advocacy leaders, and the first generation of Trailblazers in Politics award will be there to help lead the charge.