Sanford alumni serve in a variety of ways.

You are invited to support Sanford and our global alumni community in critical roles that will contribute to the growth, leadership and future of our program. Join us as a regional leader working with other alumni or assist with a variety of student needs. Share your expertise as a career panelist, hire a student intern, host a regional event, serve as a fundraising ambassador, or share your story. Don’t see a role for you below? Contact Samantha Fiske for other opportunities.


group of people smiling and talking
Dean Judith Kelley at Duke in DC alumni event


Communicate with the Director of Alumni Engagement and host a regional event. Potential events include: faculty on the road events, Welcome to the Sanford Alumni Network for recent graduates, Sanford Social, Networking & Business Breakfast, Game Watch, service projects and more. The specifics of the events will be at your discretion with input from the Director of Alumni Engagement.


This position is instrumental in serving as a voice for alumni of the school on the Duke Alumni Association chapter board. You will encourage the DAA Chapter board to pursue programming that engages a broad cross-section of the alumni populations, beyond the traditional undergraduate experience. You will serve as a voice and liaison of the Sanford School, gathering information of areas and programming of interest in the region and sharing that feedback with Sanford's Director of Alumni Engagement. You will receive information of upcoming Sanford programming, events and opportunities and share that information with the chapter board and Sanford alumni in the region. In addition to attending DAA chapter regional board meetings, you may also be asked to host (or identify an appropriate venue) a Sanford Alumni event in your area. For more information on DAA responsibilities, click here.

Student Engagement

Assist our Career Services Team

  • Policy Pros work with Sanford's Career Office in these ways:
  • Hire a summer intern or recruit recent graduates
  • Practice interviewing skills with students
  • Engage with students around their career trajectory and offer employer tips
  • Speak on panels and in workshops with groups of students
  • Be a go-to resource to staff regarding the job market in their specific policy field
  • Propose a spring consulting project
  • Share policy-relevant job postings with the Sanford Career Office

For more information, contact Career Services.

Sanford Board Leadership Initiative

SBLI places Duke MPP students as non-voting members on local nonprofit leadership boards for one calendar year (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill).  Sanford alumni who work for a local non-profit organization, or who serve on a local non-profit board may apply for their organization to participate in SBLI.

 Expectations of organizations:

  • Integrate the student into the board as a non-voting member (not an intern or consultant)
  • Provide student with an orientation to the board and any relevant documents (board handbook, annual report etc.)
  • Place student on a project, subcommittee of interest, or needed task
  • Match students with a board mentor

For more information, please contact Mackenzie Phillips, Director of MPP Student Services & Program Development.

Sanford Master's Mentoring Program

Sanford graduates who might be interested in becoming mentors for current MPP/MIDP students as part of the 2023 Sanford Master’s Mentoring Program. We will begin matching during the Spring 2023 semester. If you are interested in potentially becoming a mentor to one of our current Sanford students, please take time to complete this 5-minute survey. You can find program participation information below.

Program participation

  • Communicate with your mentee for 1-2 hours per month from March 2023 to December 2023 (summer months included). Meetings can take place in person or via phone/Zoom 
  • Receive periodic communications from the Mentoring Leadership Team to check in, exchange resources, and share updates 

If you have any questions or comments, please contact us at  


MPP Alumni Applicant Referral

As a volunteer in this area, we would look for you to submit and identify prospective students that we should engage with to apply to the Sanford School of Public Policy. You may nominate or refer students directly through the Director of MPP Admissions & Scholarships, Jessica Pan, or encourage them to apply independently. We would also ask for you to be an ambassador in your workplace and among fellow alumni encouraging them also to identify and refer potential students to Sanford.

MPP Diversity Recruiter

As an MPP Diversity Recruiter, you may be asked to connect with prospective/admitted students from underrepresented communities via email and phone, especially during the time between their admission and enrollment deadline (March – April 15). We hope that you will be able to provide them with information about your experience and provide advice as they go through the process of deciding which program is best for their needs. Your guidance, feedback, and candor will help prospective/admitted students from underrepresented communities decide whether Sanford offers a supportive environment where they will thrive.

MPP Prospective Student Contact

As a MPP prospective student contact, you will work directly with Jessica Pan, Director of MPP Admissions & Scholarships. Sporadically throughout the year, Jessica will connect you with prospective students who are interested in your area of expertise. We would ask you to then reach out and communicate with those students via email or phone in a timely manner – preferably between 48-72 hours after Jessica shares the prospect’s contact information.

four woman on a panel
Woman in Policy Townhall, Feb. 2020

MPP Admitted Student Mentor/Advisor

As an MPP admitted student mentor/advisor, you will be asked to chat with admitted students via email and phone during the time between their admission and enrollment deadline (March – April 15). We hope that you will be able to provide them with information about your experience and provide advice as they go through the process of deciding which program is best for their needs. While we would love for all admitted students to choose Sanford, ultimately we want this to be the best match for both the student and our program. Your guidance, feedback and candor will help admitted students make the critical decision of whether or not to enroll at Sanford.

MPP Recruiting Fair Representative

As an MPP recruiting fair representative, you will attend an in-person recruiting fair in select cities to speak one-on-one with prospective students. The typical duration for this event would be 2-3 hours. You will receive information on the fair from Jessica Pan, Director of MPP Admissions & Scholarships. These events typically occur from September – November.

MPP Employer Admissions Site Visit

If you are interested in hosting an employer admissions site visit, you would connect Jessica Pan, Director of MPP Admissions and Scholarships, with your employer to help us coordinate a recruiting site visit. We would also need your assistance in booking a room on-site and helping with outreach to potential colleagues who should attend.

MPP Admissions Ambassador

An MPP Admissions Ambassador works with Jessica Pan, Director of MPP Admissions & Scholarships, to serve as a resource to prospective and admitted Sanford students by participating in virtual chats, phone conversations, email exchanges, coffee chats, and attending admitted student events in late March or early April. The pre-open house mixer occurs on a Thursday evening (often at a local restaurant) and the post-open house mixer occurs on a Friday evening.

MIDP Applications Reader

As an MIDP Applications reader you will work closely with MIDP staff to review and provide feedback on MIDP applications. An interview is required before selected to serve as a reader with the MIDP staff.

MIDP Admissions Event Ambassador

As an MIDP Admissions Event Ambassador, you will represent the MIDP program during a recruitment event or college fair. In working with the MIDP staff liaison, you will be provided with content and information to share with prospective students. You will be responsible for answering prospective students’ questions and sharing your experience as a positive role model for the program and school.

Duke reader project

This project offers alumni an opportunity to help and support current Duke students with their writing assignments in Public Policy courses. Alumni get the opportunity to work with one student and give authentic feedback on their class writing project as professionals with relevant experience. This feedback helps students learn to anticipate the needs and expectations of readers, and to revise their writing to make it more effective for the intended audience. For more information please visit the Duke Reader Project website

MPP Alumni Advisory Board Member

MPP Alumni Advisory Board is charged by the Dean of the Sanford School to provide ongoing feedback to the leadership of the school and its faculty. The committee offers input on Sanford’s curriculum, identifies areas missing from the curriculum that may better position students for success, discusses emerging challenges and opportunities and provide recommendations for improvements. This important committee reports to the chair and Director of the MPP program in close consultation with the Associate Dean of Career Services. An interview and application is necessary when vacancies occur.


Academic Engagement

Duke Sanford’s PolicyLab

A non-partisan service-learning initiative of Polis: Center for Politics at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.  Striving to use knowledge in the service of society, we develop research memos in response to questions posed by policymakers, issue advocates, non-profit organizations, and community leaders. This project also provides public policy students with a unique opportunity to learn about the important work that our local, state, and national leaders are doing and to produce research products that can have an impact on public policy.

What We Provide:

For a portion of their semester, our public policy students work in small teams to produce policy memos in response to your questions.  We invite questions on a rolling basis, as research teams will work on memos at different points in the semester, depending on the course in which they are enrolled.  We deliver memos electronically to the email address that you (or your staff representative) indicate.(Expected memo delivery: Late April)

Introductory Research Memos:

Undergraduate students will develop a brief memo (2-3 pages in length) in response to your specific question.  Students will provide introductory research in the form of background information, relevant insights from scholarly research, and a description of policy options.  Specifically, they will strive to provide:

  • Insight into practices and other programs in other states, cities, counties, or countries.
  • An overview of scholarly research on the topic
  • Public opinion data related to the issue
  • Information about North Carolina (or another geographical area)
  • Policy options and/or recommendations
  • Additional information per your request (e.g., things that you would like them to emphasize or pay close attention to)

Sample questions:

  • What can be done to increase access to affordable housing in North Carolina?
  • Is it possible/desirable to privatize water and sewer systems? What have other states done?
  • How will voter ID legislation affect North Carolina's indigenous populations?
  • How do states typically fund pre-kindergarten education?
  • What are the benefits of summer job programs for disadvantaged youth?

What we would need from you:

To submit questions, please reply to this email with:

  • Your Name and Title
  • Your Assistant's Name and email address (if applicable)
  • The question(s)/topics that you would like us to consider (Please feel free to submit multiple questions/topics!)
  • An email address where we can send the completed memo(s)

We would be grateful for the opportunity to provide research to support your important work and hope that you will submit questions/topics for students to investigate this term.

For more information about volunteer opportunities, please reach out:


Samantha Fiske

Director of Development and Alumni Relations

Samantha Fiske joined the Sanford School in February 2019 as the Director of Development and Alumni Relations. Most recently, Samantha served as the Senior Associate Director of Development at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

Samantha holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Wesleyan University (CT), and an M.A. in East Asian Studies from UCLA. Samantha resides in Chapel Hill where she is engaged in a number of local groups addressing issues pertaining to k-12 public education, specifically around racial equality and food insecurity.


Tap into the Network

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