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.
“One thing that is exceptional about Duke is the way that professors genuinely care and respect students,” said public policy alum Will Woodhouse PPS’14. “I believe Duke and Sanford professors seek to mentor and challenge students in whom they see potential.”
Rewriting a nation’s entire tax code might seem like a pipedream to most policymakers, but that’s what alumnus Aleksi Aleksishvili MIDP’04 was able to do for his home country of Georgia. As part of the administration brought into power by the “Rose Revolution,” Aleksishvili was able to institute sweeping tax and economic reforms in his work as Minister of Economy (2004-2005) and Minister of Finance (2005-2007).
The phrase “higher education” usually conjures images of leafy college quads, imposing stone buildings and school spirit fed by winning sports teams. That image leads to a bad case of “Harvard envy,” and a mismatch between the current system and the educational needs of the majority of the population, according to Andy Rosen, PPS/History '82, chairman and CEO of Kaplan Inc., the for-profit education and test-preparation company.
Daniel Werfel MPP’97 established a reputation as a problem-solver during his 15 years of service at the White House Office of Management and Budget. That reputation led to his appointment as acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service in May 2013, when the agency was under fire for possible political discrimination.
After two months in Sudan, Idrissa Kamara MIDP’02 was ready to give up. He and his fellow humanitarian aid workers for Save the Children arrived in what is now South Sudan in March 2005 to help implement a basic health, water, hygiene and HIV/AIDS services program. They found themselves fighting intense heat, sleeping on dirt floors and treating contaminated water from a nearby river.
Lawyer and businessman Michael Sorrell MPP'90/JD’94 took the reins at Paul Quinn College, a historically black college (HBCU) in Dallas on the verge of collapse, in the spring of 2007. Sorrell turned the situation around with significant changes and accomplishments during his tenure.
By Becky Richards