Rachael Chong MPP'09 was working in investment banking and looking for ways to give back to the community. She found herself hauling lumber in a schoolyard in the Bronx. It was good work, but it wasn’t work she was good at doing. In fact, she found it surprisingly hard to find volunteer opportunities that used her professional skills. So, she's created technology she hopes will transform philanthropy.
You would figure there would be a lot of coffee if you were to walk into the Starbucks corporate headquarters in Seattle, but finding four to five break rooms on every floor, each one equipped with coffee brewers, coffee grinders, espresso machines and the milks and syrups the company is known for—that might be unexpected.
Seven-year-old Manoj wriggled impatiently in his mother’s lap, longing to play outside rather than take his latest round of medicine. Months before, a health care worker had come to his home in Chennai, India, to give him a tuberculosis (TB) test after one of his family members had gone to a clinic seeking treatment for the disease. Manoj, it turned out, also had an active case of TB.
Kristin Rechberger’s travels have taken her all around the world – from the Arctic Circle to tropical islands in the Pacific. But she never goes on vacation. “I go where I think I can make an impact,” the founder and CEO of Dynamic Planet said. Her company works with businesses and governments across the globe to help them find ways to restore nature.
Delvecchio Finley MPP'02, the 36-year-old CEO of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, has completed a lot of things that many people his age dream of. He managed to leave public housing in Atlanta behind, eventually earning a master's degree in public policy at Duke. Since then, he’s risen swiftly in health care. Today, the 36-year-old Finley is CEO of one major medical center, Harbor-UCLA, and he's recently been tapped to lead another, Alameda Health System.
Duke alumnus Jeff Harris has been named director of Duke in Washington and associate director of federal relations for the university, said Christopher Simmons, associate vice president for federal relations. Harris is currently the senior manager for public affairs and policy program communications at the Aspen Institute where he manages public outreach, social media, media relations and other communications responsibilities.
“I’m a little biased in this area, but I don’t think you can do anything more important than try to have a positive impact on children who are going through the education process. We can advocate for better conditions for children by representing school systems, and I like to think that’s a large part of what we do,” says Richard Schwartz PPS ’75.
When Sean Knierim MIDP’08 imagined his career path, his vision looked very different than the reality turned out to be.
“Every time I’ve been confident about what I was going to do next, I’ve been wrong,” Knierim said. The alumni speaker for Duke Sanford School of Public Policy’s 2015 master’s and PhD graduation ceremony, Knierim had originally planned to be an academic. He now works as the chief of staff at the Jeff Skoll Group, which includes media and entertainment companies, several philanthropic groups and an investment company.
As the first in his family to graduate from college, Congressman Bradley Byrne PPS’77 attributes his success to giving every job he has ever had the highest priority, working hard and, most importantly, listening to what others say. He attributes his career in public service to the lessons and tools that he gained during his time at Duke. However, his path to Congress was far from clear-cut. While he was always interested in public service, it was years before he thought about running for office.
When Kentucky attorney general Jack Conway ’91 stepped behind the podium last March to announce he would no longer defend the state’s same-sex marriage ban, he was, in effect, walking onto the national stage. What caught the attention of hundreds of thousands of online viewers was the catch in Conway’s voice when he discussed the role his wife played in his decision.
Danielle Zapotoczny PPS ’96 has used her public policy education in every facet of her career, from managing a film production company to engaging media with policy issues at the United Nations Foundation.
An MPP/MBA alum shares his experience of creating Durham's Fullsteam tavern and brewery in his quest to capture the flavor of the South.