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Politically Engaged Alumni
September 06, 2012
GW’s Office of Alumni Relations sponsored events at both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
Politically active George Washington University alumni made their voices heard at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions this year.
GW’s Office of Alumni Relations hosted special receptions at both conventions that drew a total of 120 alumni and other members of the GW community. Mark Kennedy, director of GW’s Graduate School of Political Management, who served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001 to 2007, hosted the event at the Republican convention in Tampa, Fla., while Pennsylvania Democratic Delegate Omar Woodard, B.A. ’05, M.P.A. ’07, and a former recent alumni GW trustee, hosted the reception at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C.
“The Office of Alumni Relations is proud to sponsor programs at the political conventions because so many of our alumni want to stay actively involved with the political landscape,” said Renee Thomas, associate director of regional alumni programs. “Bringing alumni and faculty together to discuss today’s issues continues the dynamic experience that began on campus.
GW alumni gathered together in Tampa on Aug. 30 on the last day of the Republican convention. Mr. Kennedy, who has served as a presidential appointee to the Advisory Committee on Trade Policy under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, welcomed the GW alumni and thanked them for participating.
“Conventions represent not only a time to shape policy but also a time to unite with those who share common affinities,” he said. “It is important for GW and its alumni to be actively engaged at the conventions where party policies that will shape the future of the country are debated and espoused.”
GW alumni are also playing a role in the Romney campaign. Matt Rhoades, M.A. ’99, is Mitt Romney’s campaign manager, while Janna Ryan, J.D. ’98, is the wife of Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
“GW alumni are well placed on both sides of the political landscape to have a significant impact on the election results this fall and on the course the nation takes following the election,” said Mr. Kennedy. “Having studied in Foggy Bottom – in proximity to the White House and the Capitol – students become aware of the importance of being involved.”
Earlier this week, alumni also attended a reception in Charlotte during the Democratic convention. Mr. Woodard, who hosted the alumni event, said he was impressed by the number of GW alumni attending the DNC.
“Many GW alumni are actively participating as delegates, press, elected officials and campaign staff. In the first three days, I ran into no less than 30 fellow GW alumni,” said Mr. Woodard. “If you find a congregation of people talking about ways to improve our nation, odds are George Washington alumni are leading the conversation. GW has an incredible story to tell about the important role it plays in educating the future of America’s political leadership.”
GW alumni are also playing an important role in Democratic congressional campaigns. Rep. Steve Israel, B.A. ’81, (D-N.Y.) is the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Tammy Duckworth, M.A. ’92, who is running for a U.S. House seat in Illinois, delivered a speech on the convention’s opening night.
“Anywhere you look in American politics, you find GW alumni,” said Mr. Woodard.
As both President Obama and Mr. Romney campaign over the next two months, Mr. Kennedy offered his perspective on what is most important for both candidates leading up to Election Day.
“Mr. Romney must continue to tell his life story in a way that connects to the average voter and keep the focus on jobs, while President Obama must either keep the focus on any issue other than jobs or deliver a more convincing strategy for how he will reignite America’s job growth,” Mr. Kennedy said.
Mr. Woodard believes President Obama will receive a post-convention bounce in the polls thanks to the energy and excitement at the Democratic convention and ultimately win in November.
“President Obama needs to remind Americans what he promised, what he delivered, what is left to do and how his opponent would do the opposite,’ said Mr. Woodard.