Staying Involved – Russell Fugett ’01

Staying Involved – Russell Fugett ’01

Interviewed by Kevin Torres ’21

KT: Do you have any advice for current students?

RF: Stay involved. It’s a little easier now with social media. I would encourage students to just soak it all up, to build those relationships, the learning does not stop once you leave. I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to email faculty periodically. My former advisor, Professor Leech, and I still communicate. It has been great to maintain that and to look back and still have access to those experts and those people that were just genuinely invested and interested in your success. Part of what makes Trinity special is that the faculty and staff were engaged in your development as a student and a person, and that is why I encourage anyone when they find those people; your peers, faculty or whoever it may be to engage in and build those relationships that are going to last. I can’t tell you what I learned in all of my political science classes , but I could tell you about broadcasting courtside at the basketball game, or about other experiences or relationships that stand out and you’ll draw on that later on in your career. What I think will sustain you is the relationships that you make on that beautiful campus, and you really don’t realize that until you graduate and have to start adulting. Make the most out of it while you are there.

KT: Is there something that you think alumni maybe don’t know about or should take advantage of after Trinity?

RF: To be frank it was difficult to stay engaged. As a majority of the alumni base is around Hartford, New York and Boston. Which is completely understandable. So being down here in Maryland and living about 45 min from DC with no traffic. I guess I would be open to seeing more ways that Alumni could more readily stay engaged. I don’t know if that would be through technology or webinars or other things or events. Again when you get married and have kids and it becomes challenging to make the time and have the time to do certain things. I do hope to get my kids up to Trinity later this year and for them to experience a homecoming event. I am hoping that the university can create more opportunities to foster connection to the school with some more connectivity. I am know that is something to help with donations and funding from alumni.

KT: I was wondering if you could reflect on some experiences that you have had since Trinity?

RF: My thoughts of Trinity are very fond, and that time of my life certainly looking back now. I think something that is actually exciting for me now is something that is happening next week. I am going to South Africa next week as part of a private U.S business delegation that has been funded by the U.S embassy there to meet with universities in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. I am going to southern Africa private equity venture capital conference to speak about eco system of government, and tech transfer and innovation as well as job creation. So of course going into that you have to understand the history and political environment that public policy and government, and the law. Things that can happen to foster a better environment for business and for early stage companies, so again drawing on my political science understanding to be able to understand that context and be able to place these things, and working with and visiting these publicly funded universities and understanding what their role is in society and why they have a responsibility and trying to figure out how to take that technology and intellectual property that is being developed in their universities and being able to commercialize it and to create industry in their country. Again I believe that my education, my business partner relationships and the skills that I developed having the cross courses classes at Trinity will carry forward into this next opportunity that I have the chance to be a part of for the two weeks that I am there and allow me to effectively engage and create some opportunity that will hopefully be lasting for the people of South Africa and the delegation that I am a part so I think that is something that I am working on now and that I am very excited about and certainly will probably have more to say about it in two weeks when I am back and we could certainly follow up about that and talk anything about that. Besides that I still have my eye on the elected officials that have been elected in the state house and paying attention to what is going on. I don’t live far from the state capital in Maryland, and just staying pretty connected  politically in this world more broadly and that is not necessarily a hobby, but is just in part from being on SGA and being a political science major it is just kinda who I am, and I said that my brother ran for office and may again one day. Certainly, again those four years that I spent at Trinity on that campus and my good education that I got from Professor Chambers and others certainly have helped shaped who I am and how I go forward and interact and volunteer and help raise money or do digital strategy for the candidates and the people that I work for or the volunteers or the people that I advise.

KT: Wow! That is amazing to hear. Sounds like you have an amazing trip ahead of you and a lot to look forward to.

RF: Yeah my kids are 1 and 4 years old and my 1 year old is going to be freaking out that I am going. I haven’t been away from them for more than a few days so that is going to be tough. However, other than that I am extremely excited about it. I actually emailed the person that organized the trip on my podcast I am about to publish it so I will share that with you. So yeah share it, subscribe, you know hey Trinity alum doing a cool podcast. Each episode is 15 minutes or less so it is very short, but I interview different people from different business fields, sometimes it is just my perspective of business news a short 5-10 minute op-ed. However, most of the time it is just going to be interviews. I am going to be interviewing everyone in my delegation and a lot of the people that I meet and work with in South Africa. So the next few weeks I have a lot coming to that channel so I’ll send you the link and you can share that if you want.

KT: Oh, of course definitely that would be great.

RF: I am getting happy to talk more about this project and I am looking forward to see what comes out of this. I am excited to hear that students like you, and the political science department, and trying to engage and tell more stories. I do without being bragging realize that my experience was very unique because of my position that I was able to hold for three years there as SGA president. When you think of it that way it was like what was I thinking it was crazy right. But I got so much exposure and got to meet so many people and trustees and every speaker that came to campus I got to meet and all these wonderful people I got to meet at dinners and trips. So many wonderful things and of course the faculty not just from political science and getting to interact with all there different backgrounds, and interacting with people on the trustee board and all these things. Again, I do think that Trinity was very special and I had a very special experience there, and again no place is perfect, but I am always a fan, I always think fondly of my time there.

KT: That is great to hear. I appreciate this conversation, you provided a lot of perspective because I think that not all students realize that the relationships that are made at Trinity are huge.

RF: Yeah, it is hard but you’re gonna love it. Try and get the most out of it and enjoy it. It’s a unique place. Make those connections and try to maintain them, and the value will continue to carry you forward in your life.

Full Circle – Jake Cahill ’16

Full Circle – Jake Cahill ’16

Interviewed by: Sophia Gourley ’19

SG: What have you done since leaving Trinity? This can be something work-related, career-related, family-related, really anything you’d like to share.

JC: After I graduated from Trinity, my first job was actually down the street from Trinity at the Covenant Prep School.

I put my hat in the ring for a history teaching fellowship there, but they asked if I could teach math. So I was like, alright, sure I took maybe two math courses at Trinity, but all right I’ll give it a shot. Being at Covenant Prep and teaching math led me to my current job. I’ve been working for three years at the Westminster School in Simsbury, and I was hired to teach exclusively math. So making great use of my political science degree! Since graduating I’ve also worked at Princeton for a summer for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, and for the last two summers, I’ve worked at a summer camp in Maine. This summer I hope to start my masters.

SG: What are you hoping to get your masters in?

JC: I’m looking to get my Masters of Science in Teaching which is math related, so it’s much more about math pedagogy and approaches work how and to best work one on one with students.

SG: I am familiar with Westminster since I went to Wilbraham & Monson Academy for high school. They are a boarding school correct?

JC: Yes, it’s a boarding school, about 70% boarding students and 30% day students.

SG: I know that is is common for teachers to also coach sports at at boarding schools. Do you do any extracurriculars in addition to teaching?

JC: As for my responsibilities at Westminster, not only do I teach, I also supervise a dorm so I live in the dorm with the kids. I do events for them and occasionally have them over for food. And yes, I do also coach. In the Fall, I coach the JV soccer team and in the winter, I am one of the assistant coaches for the swim team. The other thing I have to mention about Westminster is that I also went here as a student.

SG: Very full circle.

JC: I swam here, and swam two years at Trinity. So yes, it’s cool being back here with a lot of my former teachers.

SG: That always has seemed like a great job to me since it includes housing, food, you get to do after school activities, etc.

JC: We work six days a week, so there’s half day Wednesdays and Saturdays. You get used to it and it’s a grind, but it makes up for it.

SG: That’s great. Is there anything you learned that Trinity that you use in your career? I know you majored in political science, but now you’re teaching math. Is there anything else you learned at Trinity that was particularly helpful?

JC:  I think of the things that I put most into practice are things that I picked up first at Westminster but then put to practice at Trinity, which was the idea of continuing your education beyond the classroom. For me, I learned a lot of things quickly by going out to eat with professors and doing things in Hartford with my friends. It’s similar here. There are so many little moments where you could learn, for instance by sitting with a fellow faculty member at lunch. Trinity definitely encouraged my want to be more intellectually curious and to be a global citizen by taking control of your education and continuing to do that in your adult life.

SG: It seems like you’ve accomplished a lot since you graduated in 2016. What do you think your proudest accomplishments since graduation?

JC: I think having a job at Westminster was something I aspired to when I was a student here. I had mentioned it to my high school friends but I don’t know if they ever knew how serious I actually was. I never expected the opportunity would come so early in my life. I thought I would have to work at school like Covenant Prep, then another school to build up a resume to be qualified to teach here. I’d already signed my contract to work at Covenant Prep for another year in June of 2017, but then Westminster called me about the open math position. That’s the other thing I could say Trinity taught me, which is having the courage to jump into something completely new. For example, I finished my poli sci degree pretty quickly, around the fall of my junior year, so at that point I decided to give film a shot. I took a bunch of film classes, dance classes and things I never would have done if I hadn’t branched out of my comfort zone. Jumping into being a math teacher has been the ticket that has gotten me into places I didn’t think I’d be at this stage in my life.

SG: Is there anything else you’d like your fellow alumni or Trinity to know?

JC: I would like Professor Benjamin Carbonetti to know I miss taking his classes! He and Professor Matsuzaki had a really big impact on the political science department.

Feeling Confident and Comfortable – Christopher Maycock ’11

Feeling Confident and Comfortable – Christopher Maycock ’11

Interviewed by Brooke LePage ‘19

BL: What have you done since leaving Trinity?

CM: I graduated in 2011 and since then, I’ve worked in two financial technology consulting roles. Now I’m at a startup called Seismic Software as an account relationship manager. I thought I was going to go into poli sci related fields but found my way into financial technology. The liberal arts background I received at Trinity definitely prepared me to learn and pick something up that, at the time, was totally foreign.

BL: That actually leads right into my next question. Is there anything you learned at Trinity that you’ve used or that’s helped you in your career? And for some alums, this is skills or knowledge that they’ve learned in their political science courses. But often I also hear a lot about the skills they learn just from attending a liberal arts institution. Things like communication and written skills. Are there any skills that you learned at Trinity that have helped you?

CM:  I think back on an exercise a professor used to have us do. You were essentially assigned a stance on a subject and then tasked to come up with three pros for your idea. More importantly, you had to come up with three counter arguments as well, so you had an idea what the other idea was going to say, and then you had to combat those counterarguments. We did that almost every class and it really stuck with me, especially working with finance personalities, who can be difficult. I think being able to critically think about counter arguments that are going to come up from the other side and being prepared to acknowledge them helps in the workplace. It’s definitely better that just going into a meeting with what you want to say and that’s it, and it has honestly helped me a great deal. And that’s something I think about almost every day. Any sort of client interaction, I’m always thinking about the point that I’m trying to make or the path that I want to lead our client down. I’m preparing and I’m anticipating; I’m expecting in some cases a lot of push-back. But if I go through the exercise and sort of walk through what they might say and pick holes in their arguments ahead of time, I think that helps me. That helps me sort of drive my points a little bit better. And in terms of soft skills, I can’t speak highly enough about how that helps. Speaking to people who are unpolished and have poor communications skill is definitely impactful, especially during interviews. So I think having the background Trinity provided me certainly helps you prepare for the real world.

BL: What are your proudest accomplishments since graduating Trinity?

CM: I have a couple of things. Being 23, 24 years old and walking into a hedge fund by myself and sitting at the table across from four or five C-level employees—traders, portfolio managers, etc.—and having my thoughts and ideas treated with equal respect. I think that has probably been my biggest accomplishment. It’s not something that a lot of people get in that environment. And so I’m proud of the fact that I was lucky enough to be put in that position and be successful in that role. There are certainly more company specific achievements: getting promoted, etc. But I think ultimately what marked my experience was being confident and feeling comfortable in those types of environments. Especially not having a direct finance background or a direct a computer science background or anything like that.

A Well Rounded Education – Casey Ackermann ’10

A Well Rounded Education – Casey Ackermann ’10

Interviewed by: Sophia Gourley ’19

SG: What have you done since leaving Trinity?

CA: I had interned for three summers during college in DC for a United States Senator. After college, I moved back to DC for what I thought was going to be the rest of my life. I graduated in May and started working in another Senator’s press office for an internship in August 2010. And when that internship was done, I moved over to the private sector working at a government relations firm. During that time, I was considering law school, but decided to apply to the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) instead. I moved to London after only a year in DC. It was amazing. I got my master’s degree from LSE in political communications and then moved back to DC, where I worked for a small public affairs firm. And then one of my clients – SoundExchange – approached me to work in-house for them. They actually advocated for legislation passed last year called the Music Modernization Act, and I ended up working for almost five and a half years on that, between my agency and client work. The legislation passed right after I left SoundExchange to go back an agency environment. While I specialize in public affairs, it was the political science degree that definitely gave me the right foundation to figure out what I wanted to do. Now I am at an agency called Weber Shandwick, where I’m an Account Director of Public Affairs for their specialty public affairs unit, Powell Tate.

I feel that my foundation is really solid because of my degree in political science. II’m happy that I chose political science as my major and from there was able to launch my career by focusing more on Political Communications and Public Affairs, while having that foundation in policy. My focus was American National Government, which has been helpful for me.

SG: Was there anything else that you learned at Trinity that you think helped you in your career?

CA: Certain classes helped more than others. There was a senior seminar class that I found to be very good. Dr. Diana Evans taught a class on special interest groups and I find that I spend a lot of time thinking about that class since I now work with lobbyists. I liked the senior seminar setup in the political science department because it provided some real world perspective and practice based on your major.

SG: I saw that you studied abroad in Rome. Did having spent some time abroad make the transition between undergrad and grad school easier for you?

CA: I am a huge advocate for studying abroad. I just got back from Rome for vacation and it was great to go back and see the Rome campus. Studying abroad is something I keep an eye out for when I’m looking at resumes. I think that Trinity College did a really good job of promoting studying abroad and encouraging students to pursue it. The fact that they have a campus in Rome is a good example of that. It broadens your outlook and teaches you that there are other people and perspectives out there. I took a European Union class that was taught by a British professor while I was in Rome. It helps students understand different perspectives and that you can’t have such a narrow view on how other people feel, especially about the United States in general. I thought that living in London was going to feel more like my semester abroad in Rome but it was very different because you’re getting a master’s degree and there was less time to travel. But studying abroad prepares you for taking those kinds of journeys.

SG: What are some of your proudest accomplishments since graduating from Trinity?

CA: Getting into the London School of Economics was a big accomplishment for me. During the application process, I had been asking my work contacts for professional recommendations, but if you’re a recent graduate, you can only have professors write the recommendations. So relied heavily on my professors to help me get into LSE. One of my professors at Trinity had gone to LSE as well and she was very supportive of me in that process. Since graduate school, one of my biggest accomplishments at work was having music licensing legislation passed after working on it for more than five years. I spearheaded a music industry bill launch in New York in 2015, which was a huge deal for me. In general, having a liberal arts education made me more well-rounded and prepared for the workplace.

SG: It sounds like you’ve had a lot of success after graduation and that you’ve accomplished a lot. What were you kind of involved in while you were at Trinity in terms of extracurriculars? Did you play any sports?

CA: I did not play any sports. I was a dancer. I had done ballet, modern dance,  and dance in general growing up. I took a lot of dance classes in college. I wanted to go somewhere where I could take dance classes without necessarily having to major or minor in dance. That was important to me and that was one of the many things that Trinity had to offer. I also did Model UN for a period of time and was a research assistant in the political science department during my junior year for Dr. Diana Evans. I was also a teaching assistant twice. And I was the secretary of the Trinity College Democrats.

Appreciating the Bigger Picture – Lloyd Wolf ’74

Appreciating the Bigger Picture – Lloyd Wolf ’74

Interviewed by: Sophia Gourley ’19

SG: I had a chance to look at your Web site and seems like you’ve had a really successful photography career. What got you interested in photography in the first place and how did you get your start after graduating from Trinity?

LW: I actually started it while at Trinity. I went to college without any idea of what I wanted to focus on there or what I wanted to do after graduation. A typical 18 year old! I was a very good student academically, and my father knew Trinity had a good reputation for engineering and liberal arts. One of my roommates showed me how to use the darkroom my freshman year, and I loved it. At the time, the only way to use the darkroom was to work for the Tripod. I signed up for the Tripod, thinking I would just be helping someone. But Steve Pearlstein, the editor, handed me ten or twelve rolls of film and said, “develop these prints.” I stumbled through it, and kept going. I ended up being photo editor junior and senior year. I got an internship at The Hartford Times (an afternoon daily at the time) and learned on the job. There was no structure like internships have today. I think it was in the beginning of my sophomore year that I decided that photography would be my career. But there weren’t many photography schools around. I stayed at Trinity because I was in a relationship, I had many friends there, and the climate there made it the place to be.

When I first got to Trinity, I thought I might be an engineer, largely because my dad was an engineer and he suggested it. He’s a refugee from Germany and very practical in that regard. I took some engineering classes and did ok, but I had zero interest in it. It just wasn’t for me. I took a couple of art courses with some strong professors, and I loved them. I realized I had the personality type and the drive and motivations of an artist. Dieter Friesen was the guest artist at Trinity then, and was a mentor to me. I took a film course with the guy who started Cinestudio as well. It was a bohemian time, and Trinity was an open minded place. It still had a strong preppy culture too. But looking back, the campus climate allowed me to grow up. Coming to Trinity was a big change for me. I was at the top of my class in high school, which was a public school in Virginia, but at Trinity, the prep school kids were way ahead of me in terms of how they work, etc. It took me about a year and a half to figure it out, and get back to being a straight A student. I came to political science as a major because my mom had majored in it, so I took some courses and found it interesting.

SG: I agree.

LW: I liked that I could also take courses outside my major and explore a bit. I remember taking a class with a Professor Jacobson and having these intellectual disputes in class. Just a great back and forth. It was good for the mind. At the time, I didn’t like him much, but now I realize I was learning something. College was hard for me, but it helped me learn how to work and how to work with people. It’s all part of the experience. I’m a member of the House and Senate press photographers gallery as a freelancer. I’m not a researcher or a political theorist, but I have more appreciation of what I’m trying to photograph. I think I have more appreciation of the dynamic than someone who went to photo journalism school. It helps me when I do independent stories because I have a bigger perspective. My time at Trinity created a world view and a method of thinking and work habits that paid off later.

SG: It’s interesting how you were able to find your passion for photography at Trinity, not through your coursework, but through the Tripod.

LW: Yes, and I also worked on the yearbook. The art department at the time was not supportive when I tried to do an independent study in photography. I don’t know why. I’m a photojournalist/fine art photographer, but I didn’t know the language of art until I left Trinity. It taught me to be highly motivated, but I did have some holes in my knowledge and some technical issues. I was able to take some courses at an art school in DC later. I eventually got a Masters in photography. I had to write a thesis for that and the writing I had done at Trinity prepared me well.

SG: What’s your greatest accomplishment since graduating?

LW: That’s a hard one. Probably being a grandparent. Professionally, I would say some of the books I’ve done. I’m working on two or three more. One is a project I’m doing in DC. I have a contract with Wesleyan with a writer in Jerusalem, that’s a multi year project. A lot of the work I’ve done has been involved in community building. I used to mentor an inner city kid in DC through a photography program for homeless youth. We met when he was 11 (he’s 42 now, I think). At the time, DC was the murder capital of the country, and my mentee lost four relatives in one year. Because of that I started photographing street memorials and homicide sites.

SG:  Oh, wow.

LW: My mentee is doing well now but it did a number on him. I’ve been documenting those memorials for 16 years now. It’s turned out to be very meaningful for me and parts of the community that are suffering. There’s no money in it, but it seems like the right thing to do.

I’m working now on a new documentary. I led a team documenting part of Arlington County, which was one of the most ethnically diverse zip codes in the country. We’re studying how a community that values diversity of all types copes with the pressures and changes they’re facing.

Taking the Long Way, but Loving It  – John Lynham ’75

Taking the Long Way, but Loving It – John Lynham ’75

Interviewed by: Sophia Gourley ’19

SG: My first question is what have you done since graduating from Trinity?

JL: When I graduated from Trinity, I had a job in banking. I was in an executive training program at a bank called American Security and Trust which was the second largest bank in Washington DC. After I finished the program, I had various assignments but I wanted to get into the commercial credit department. I was able to do that by taking some courses. I became a commercial credit analyst. Next I transitioned to another bank in town called First American and was head of their commercial credit department. I was going to night school for pretty much all this time and was able to finish my law degree. I was offered an associate position at a law firm, which is where I am today, still practicing law.

SG: Sounds like you’ve accomplished a lot since graduating! You talked about writing and public speaking. Is there anything specifically that you learned at Trinity that you think would help you in your career besides those two things?

JL: My years at Trinity were formative ones, because you are on your own on campus. And you have to make a lot of decisions. I took courses and then tried to decide where I wanted to focus. When I first started, I played three sports: soccer, ice hockey, and tennis. I quickly learned that that was too much for me, and I dropped soccer and ice hockey. I stayed with tennis, though, which was a great experience for me. I had the challenges of the academics, and tennis provided the balance physically and I enjoyed the social aspect. I took advantage of the semester abroad through IES, Institute of European Studies. The experience matured me and helped me learn about other countries and culture. I enjoyed that exposure, and the knowledge I gained helped me make my decisions and plot my course.

SG: Did you feel prepared for graduate school coming out of Trinity?

JL: No, and the reason was that Trinity didn’t have any business courses when I was a student. During the summer of my junior year, I had a job as a bank teller and was advised to take business courses. I took a course at University of Hartford in accounting and that helped get me ready. Back then, there weren’t many business-type courses offered on campus. I was a double major in political science and psychology. Going to Vienna was fantastic because it was a center for those fields at the time. When I started on my business, I went to night school for the specific courses I needed.

SG: It sounds like you made the most of it even though there weren’t specific business related courses.

JL: I wouldn’t change it. You might say that I took the long way around but that’s OK. After Trinity, I took a few courses at a community college, which turned into a second undergraduate degree in finance. Then I went to graduate school and got my MBA. Along the way I took a writing course and a speed reading course and a resume writing course. I even took some automobile mechanics courses. I felt lucky to be at a place that offered all these things. It was all so interesting and had a great balance for all my interests.

Additional note: John liked the tax work that he was doing at his law firm so much that he went back to law school at night and obtained an LLM in taxation.

Using Poli Sci to Kickstart a Career in Finance –  Peter Espy ’00

Using Poli Sci to Kickstart a Career in Finance – Peter Espy ’00

Interviewed by Sophia Gourley ’19

SG: What have you been up to since leaving Trinity?

PE: Where to start? How about the beginning?  So, I was one of those fortunate seniors who had a job lined-up prior to graduating.  Thanks in no small part to my summer internships, which I’ll come back to, I landed a position with Credit Suisse in their investment banking division.  I spent the next 16 years at the firm working across a variety of industries, products, functions, and roles, the last of which was as the Chief of Staff to the CEO of the firm’s U.S. Operations.  After 4 years in that role, I knew it was time for something new, so I left Credit Suisse to found Event Driven, a business development and events consultancy.  It was awesome!  Any given week might start in mid-town (NYC) advising a top-3 global asset manager and end on Miami Beach overlooking the VIP section at an EDM festival.  Then I turned 40-something (he chuckles).  So, after making sure that all my staffers found new opportunities, I wound down operations and once again set my sights on something new.  It wasn’t long before I landed at Oliver Wyman, a leading global management consulting firm, where once again I’ve found myself in a Chief of Staff role, responsible for the firm’s Technology and Financial Services practices.

SG: That’s awesome! Now since this we’ve titled this “Using Poli-Sci to kickstart a career in Finance,” can you tell me a bit about how your studies at Trinity contributed to your career?

PE: Of course!  As I mentioned, my summer internships played a key role in my landing my fist job.  And one of those internships included time working in the New York City Counsel and later in the Office of the Mayor – neither of which would have been attainable without my budding Political Science credentials.  Once at Credit Suisse, and particularly in my role as Chief of Staff, I spent a great deal of time working on regulatory affairs and public policy initiatives.  Again, without a strong foundation in Poli-Sci, I’m not sure if I’d have been the right man for the job.  And now at Oliver Wyman, arguably the world’s leading Risk and Reg Affairs consultancy, I know my Trinity education will come in handy!

SG: That sounds really cool. One of the reasons students pick political science as a major seems to be because alumni go on to do such a wide range of things. It just goes to show you can do a lot with that degree.

PE: No question. For me it was the catalyst to a job in finance, but for others it has served as the springboard into wide variety of career paths.  In my class alone, I have seen poli-sci majors venture into careers in computer science, insurance, energy, wealth management, and law – ok that last one makes a lot of sense, but you get the idea.

At a minimum, it helps those lucky enough to study it to become better informed, and often more engaged, citizens.

SG: Do you have any interests or passions outside of work, or is there anything that you’re involved in that you’d like to share?

PE: Trinity College of course. While I have already completed tours on the college’s Alumni Association and Board of Trustees, I’m always looking for other ways to stay connected. Currently that’s as a Class Agent, but I hope to add student mentorship and career advisory to the list very soon. Outside of that, I try to never miss a good concert or music festival.

Political Science to Government Politics – Devin Romanul ’07

Political Science to Government Politics – Devin Romanul ’07

Interviewed by Sophia Gourley ’19

SG: What have you done since leaving Trinity?

DR: My favorite takeaway from Trinity is a distinct memory of arriving on campus and all of the freshmen gathering on the main quad, and President Borden Painter saying, “Look around. Some of you will see future friends, future partners, maybe even future spouses.” And I chuckled to myself, there’s no way that’s going to happen. Well, sure enough, one of the young women in the crowd was Abigail Runyan ’07. We would later get married. We met doing musical theater. The first time we worked together, we were cast as romantic opposites. It wasn’t until after graduation, in the fall of 2007, that we started dating. We got married in 2011 and we now have a three-year-old and a five-year-old. It’s a neat story of life imitating art.

I was really interested in government politics before I arrived on campus. I had been civically engaged in one way or another since I was a little kid. Trinity fostered that zeal and passion for history and government politics in a number of ways, and put me on a trajectory and equipped me with the skills to do it professionally. I have been a campaign manager or campaign aide for local government races—mayors, state representatives for state senate. I ran for office in 2008 to be the Democratic nominee for the Massachusetts House of Representatives in my hometown. It was a great experience, and while I don’t think I would do it again, it was a phenomenal experience.

I was the director of government relations for the National Association of Social Workers. In my most recent position, I was at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where I got my master’s in public policy degree. I ran its first levels of two in various communities of practice for local government officials, one for gubernatorial chiefs of staff, another for county executives for large and innovative counties. And then the third for the chiefs of staff from four mayors for the biggest 45 cities in the country. We ran events and wrote papers on best practices to make sure they had all the tools they needed to succeed.

I just started a new job in November. I’m the director of strategic partnerships for FUSE Corporation. We’re a non-profit that places executives/long-term professionals with distinct skill sets into city halls across the country where there’s a mismatch, where a particular a department head or a county executive or a mayor wants to run who doesn’t have the right talent. We help them find the talent.

SG: It sounds like a great role! Is there anything that you learned at Trinity that you think was applicable in working towards your career?

DR: Absolutely. I’ll start with Jack Chatfield, a cherished history professor on campus. I loved every one of his classes and took every class of his that I could. He taught a class on Vietnam and a number of classes on colonial history and the Revolutionary War. His passion and the level of detail to which he approached American history, particularly around the Constitutional Convention of 1787, was unparalleled in any other academic experience that I’ve had. He also approached it with a joy that was infectious. My classmates felt the same way. While I had a passion for government before college, it was exploded at Trinity. Whenever I see a colonial history book, I think of Jack Chatfield, and I do my best to read it.

Then there was Diana Evans, who taught a class in how the federal government works. We did experiential exercises where we would pretend to try to pass bills through committee. We would take on a role of a particular member of Congress or a senator, negotiating various points. We’d hold committee hearings and hold votes and try to convince our classmates to pass amendments. It was invaluable.

And finally, I had Professor George Gallo, who, while we don’t, let’s say, share the same party affiliation, his classes were structured around raw politics and campaigns. That was also very infectious. I got into government to improve the lives of people living in our communities, but there’s also an element of politics that doesn’t make it exciting.

SG: What is your proudest career accomplishment since graduating from Trinity?

DR: It was a collaborative effort, but I was working for the National Association of Social Workers in Massachusetts. There was a crisis, a couple of kids died in foster care, I believe in 2014. There was a huge legislative effort the following spring to overhaul how social workers are trained and how continuing education credits are administered to ensure the highest possible level of training. We worked closely with the union and other government partners. For me personally, it was very gratifying to work with a number of people who helped see that bill passed. It was an important issue that had a very tangible impact. It was then my job to pull out best practices for other cities to replicate. It was immensely gratifying to see it being adopted in other cities, affecting millions of people.

It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve enjoyed my work in government politics and Trinity was a big part of it. It was a great place to go to school.

A friend of mine, Nate Johnson ’07, became an accomplished brewer and runs the Prohibition Pig Brewery in northern Vermont. He was a major inspiration that got me into home brewing beer, so I do it as a hobby on the side.

Reinventing Myself – Stephen Lewis ’86

Reinventing Myself – Stephen Lewis ’86

Interviewed by Brooke LePage ’19

BL: What have you done since leaving Trinity?

SL: I ended up getting a job offer at the Connecticut General Assembly right after I graduated. I happened to be in a situation where I was interning on the Public Health Committee, and the person for whom I was interning became the chairman, and he wanted to hire me. That was a fortuitous event.

I was thinking of going to law school or business school, but I ended up loving it and staying there for 13 years. The pay was pretty low, but I really, really enjoyed it. That was probably why I was a political science major in the first place—because I wanted to be in government. And being in the legislative arena was even better because I was helping people make policy and working on really interesting issues and making a real difference.

When I did get to law school, at UConn Law, I met my future wife. Well into our first year, we both realized we didn’t want to be lawyers, so I applied to UConn’s MBA program. If I was going to break out of working in the government and the legislature, I needed some kind of business credentials to get myself out in the private sector and have a chance to really demonstrate more value for the salary.

As soon as I got my MBA, I went to work for a consulting firm called American Management Systems that works for a lot of private and governmental clients on health care technology integration.

I ended up doing projects at Cigna and at Illinois Medicaid Agency. I commuted out to Springfield, Illinois for two years, managing a giant project there. I worked in Virginia on the centers for

Medicare and Medicaid services when they were implementing Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit in Medicare. Eventually I got tired of being a road warrior consultant, so I made a play to get a local job in the health insurance industry, and was hired by United Healthcare in Hartford. I’ve been there for 13 years now, and kind of reinvented myself for a third time, moving into sales strategy and analytics for the client management organization for their national accounts business.

It took me quite a long way away from being a political science major at Trinity, but the path was using a governmental and political science background to get into health policy, then moving into the private sector on the healthcare side, then moving into the health insurance business itself, then getting onto the sales side and the client management side and doing more with analytics.

BL: That’s great. It sounds like a lot of your political science courses helped you get those first few jobs and take your first few steps. Are there any skills that you think have been really important throughout your career?

SL: A liberal arts degree is really important for being able to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing, to do analysis and understand the big picture, and be persuasive. I’ve hired people and you can tell the difference between people who have a solid liberal arts background, and how good they are at reading, analysis, writing, and speaking.

Now computers and technology are everywhere, but when I was at Trinity, it was just becoming a thing. I knew about computers from Trinity before the state government was even using them. It’s funny, I did my honors thesis at Trinity on a word processor and that was revolutionary at the time. I was able to bring technology skills into the legislature. I was the first one there to push to put everything online when the Internet first came out. Here I was, this young guy out of Trinity. Lo and behold, that’s what they ended up doing.

BL: That’s amazing. It’s funny how much we take for granted, the luxury that a computer is. I’m writing a senior thesis this year and I cannot imagine writing it with anything but a computer.

SL: My first couple years of college, I was using a typewriter because there wasn’t really a personal computer. That’s pretty shocking.

One of the great things I did after Trinity was take a trip with Trinity alumni and professors to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. It was the summer after the Berlin Wall came down. The political science department and the economics department got some alumni together that wanted to tour East Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Warsaw, Minsk, Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), and Moscow, so I jumped at the chance to go and it was fantastic. It was one of the best things I’ve done, one of the highlights of my post-Trinity career as an alum.

BL: That sounds absolutely incredible.

SL: It was designed to be a political and economic tour of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. We met with political and economic leaders in every country, and were in Prague for the inauguration celebration for Vaclav Havel when he became the first democratically elected president of the Czechoslovakia. We went to Budapest and met with economic leaders who were bringing in economic reforms as the country was moving away from communism. We went to the Soviet Union and talked with political people who studied American government, for at that time it was still the Soviet government, and we were able to ask them questions. It was really interesting, a great experience.

BL: That’s an awesome story that I think is really cool to share. These stories show that your Trinity career really doesn’t end after four years, that you can keep in touch and continue to be involved with the campus community after graduation.

SL: I’m a political junkie and I can’t get over it.

BL: You’re preaching to the choir!

SL: At Trinity, I read a lot of newspapers every day. And when I was in the legislature, I had to stay on top of everything that was happening, especially in health policy, but in politics in general. Then Joe Courtney ran for Congress and I helped get him elected, and he’s been in Congress over since. Yeah. Chris Murphy was also on my committee; he was actually a staffer with me for quite a few years and now he’s our U.S. Senator from Connecticut.

BL: We were fortunate in the fall—Ned Lamont had a rally across the street at the Magnet School. Chris Murphy and Johanna Hayes, who recently was elected, were there, and Ned Lamont and Joe Biden. It was awesome.

SL: I was the treasurer for South Windsor Democratic Town Committee for four years, so I got into the details of how campaigns are regulated and financed, just kind of on the side, as a volunteer. I’m the chairman of Hockanum and River District in the Boy Scouts in Connecticut. I have a responsibility for the programming for 1,000 adult volunteers and 2,100 youth, and I do a lot of training of adult volunteers in conservation and computers in scouting. My Trinity background of being a teaching assistant for international law was an important experience, foundational experience for me both professionally and personally and helped me become a better trainer and presenter.

BL: You’ve answered a lot of the questions I had through your conversation, but is there anything else you would like to mention or would like Trinity to be aware of?

SL: I’m on the Legislative Committee for the Sierra Club, Connecticut chapter. I’m also working on a state legislation relating to renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions. That’s kind of my passion right now, environmental activism. And I got that from Trinity, too, because when I was at Trinity, I took environmental law with a very distinguished visiting professor, Russell Brenneman, who was one of Connecticut’s leading environmental lawyers at the time. I credit my Trinity experience for a lot of the things I do today because a lot of my papers in the political science realm were around environmentalism at the time.

A political science major or a major in history or the classics or any other Liberal Arts program is still a very worthwhile investment. Employers are looking for well-rounded, articulate, well-read, curious, self-motivated people, and the degree that they have in a specific educational focus is probably not as important to them as the type of person and the general skills that they have when they come out of college. I fully think a Trinity education is highly relevant and valuable.

Trinity: A Platform for Exploration – Elizabeth Thrasher-Broidy ‘80

Trinity: A Platform for Exploration – Elizabeth Thrasher-Broidy ‘80

Interviewed by Sophia Gourley on 3/1/2019

ET:  My year I had a small group of poli sci students. We had a small major and we focused on international affairs. Danny Meyers was one of them, he’s a good friend. Danny was hilarious. Danny had a radio show in the early morning. I don’t know how he did it. We had an advisor named Dr. Albert Gastmann who was wonderful. He was our professor too, and he was just the greatest guy. Danny and I stayed great friends with him until his death. And Danny used to imitate the professor because he was dutch and he was just a total character. So, Danny developed this whole character based on Dr. Gastmann that he had on the radio every morning.

SG:  That’s really funny!

ET:   I had a fabulous Trinity experience. One of the things I love (I don’t know if you know this) but I started a neuroscience fellowship at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles, one of the leading neuroscience labs in the country, in conjunction with the head of the hospital. I wanted the world to know that Trinity has depth in neuroscience, which stemmed from the strong engineering department at the school. It has become a real strength of the school, and Trinity was one of the first liberal arts schools to offer a really strong neuro program.

SG:  Definitely. I haven’t really heard about it at many other liberal arts schools before.

ET:  A lot of them are jumping on it now. When I was on the Board of Fellows, we worked to highlight what Trinity was doing, what Trinity had to offer. I got internships for students at Cedars Sinai with one of the guys who cloned the sheep, Dolly. And I worked with the neuroscience department to identify students who were good candidates.

The reason I studied poli sci was that I wanted to learn about how people in leadership roles interacted. I was interested in lots of other stuff and I did think Trinity gave me the opportunity to explore a lot of other stuff. I wanted to study things that I probably couldn’t or wouldn’t study on my own. I went into poli sci and don’t regret it. I don’t think your major is that critical, unless you’re going into neuro or medicine. I think the Trinity experience is important too. What Trinity does beautifully is that it doesn’t put barriers up in terms of what you can be exposed to.

Trinity was fabulous about study abroad as well. I went to Vienna first semester of my junior year and I created an internship that Dr. Gastmann helped me with. I ended up getting an internship working for the chairman of the company, based in Paris, right after my semester in Vienna. That was awesome.

After I graduated , I was going to go to Columbia for public international affairs public policy. I just didn’t want to go to school right away. I had always been interested in design and because I had gone to Vienna, I spoke sort of German. Long story short, I went to Conde Nast and I ended up getting a job as an assistant to the editor of German Vogue.

She was a big wig. She was Viennese, which was the connection. I would book all the photographers. It was kind of like that movie The Devil Wears Prada, but it was great. I learned tons and how to put together books too. She had been the art director at Glamour and she had been the first one to hire Andy Warhol.

SG:   Wow.

ET:    Later I moved to NY and went to work for the Wall Street Journal and then I was on the marketing team that did the launch for the European Law Street Journal.

SG: This all sounds really interesting. It sounds like you’ve definitely had a lot of different roles.

ET:  It’s been a really interesting, great ride. And Trinity has been a part of it. I stay involved and when I was in LA. I hosted an event that the Beverly Hills Peninsula for Trinity alumni out there. And for a while there wasn’t anything going on out there. But there’s a really interesting alumni group there and it’s one of the more loyal alumni groups.

SG:  I definitely experienced that. I’ve never had a bad experience speaking to a Trinity alum. They’re always so willing to help, especially when it comes to applying for jobs and stuff like that.

ET:  It’s really wonderful. To be able to keep that kind of a network for your life is just terrific. It’s really special.

SG:  Absolutely. So what do you do now?

ET:  Well, I have three companies. One I’m creating an app for tipping in the postal sector. The way I look at it, it’s a triple win because people need their packages delivered better. With Amazon having its relationship with the US post office, the amount of packages that are being dispersed is huge. We would hope to sell it to Amazon. And then I’m doing branding consulting for startup companies. It’s a lifestyle brand. I find that sometimes people have an idea and they have money, but they don’t know how to actually create a project, a product or kind of move forward with that. And I’m consulting for a biotech company that’s actually getting fast tracked with the National Institute of Health for alleviating infection in knee and hip joints. I still am involved with Cedars out in LA, with the neuroscience, you know.

Poli sci related, I co-founded a magazine for CEOs called CEO International Strategies. And we put together a company, called International Media Partners. We would take heads of US industry to foreign markets, emerging, initially emerging and then others. We’d bring in the [president?] of country and the secretary of commerce and we would try to match them up, so to speak, with the CEOs to encourage joint ventures. Because of my international background, I felt strongly about trying to get American CEOs to think out of the box and try to understand different cultures and realize we’re not the center of the universe. Something Donald Trump does not grasp. I’m worked with the IMF World Bank.

SG: On a more personal level, what are some of your hobbies or things that you’re interested in beyond your career. I know you said neuroscience was one of your passions.

ET: Yes, neuroscience is a passion. I still contribute to a bunch of different magazines. We live in France part of the time. I’ve really tried to encourage kids to get out there in the world and work, explore, meet new people. That kind of thing. I do a ton of sports. I love starting things. That’s my passion.

SG:  What would you say your proudest accomplishment is since leaving Trinity? If you had to pick just one thing?

ET:  The neuroscience fellowship was fabulous. I don’t want to really limit it to one thing. Life is an evolution and it’s such a gift. I really cannot stress enough that I think Trinity provided a wonderful platform for students, without slotting people and pressurizing students to feel that they couldn’t explore. I think that’s one of the real assets of Trinity. They encourage it and it’s really rare.