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Hamilton's Levitt Leaders in Washington, D.C.
Hamilton's Levitt Leaders in Washington, D.C.

Hamilton’s third annual Levitt Leadership Institute completed the second and final week of its program on March 21. The second week takes place in Washington, D.C., and focuses on four different events organized by the student groups.  The goals of the second week are to actively practice the leadership skills learned in week one (problem solving, interviewing, decision-making, and networking) while organizing and executing each event.

During the first week of the Levitt Leadership Institute, students formed groups focused on four core themes that they wanted to learn more about while in Washington: disability advocacy, foreign affairs, education and social entrepreneurship.

Each group was responsible for creating an event by identifying and using contacts developed in the nation’s capitol. The events centered on panels and speakers, including several alumni.

A snowstorm hit Washington on the first full day the institute, shutting down the government and canceling the event set up by the disability advocacy group. The group had planned a meeting with Daniel Vail at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Vail is the acting assistant general counsel with the EEOC. After several attempts to reschedule, the group was forced to cancel because of Vail’s travel plans.

The second day focused around a speaker series set up by the foreign affairs group, and highlighted by two keynote speakers, Frank Gaffney from the Center for Security Policy and Paul Garaffo ’05, an analyst at the U.S. Department of Defense. An alumni reception followed the event, with Kristin Stenerson ’12, Laura Gault ’11, Paddy McGuire ’81, P ’11, Christina Garafola ’11 and Sara Feuerstein ’07 among alumni attendees.

The Levitt leaders’ education and social entrepreneurship groups hosted events on the third day. The education group hosted two panels. One took place at the Center for American Progress where the participants were able to talk with Tiffany Miller, associate director for school improvement, and Jenny DeMonte, associate director for education research. 

The second panel, at the National Education Association, was comprised of Robert Tate ’82, senior policy analyst at the NEA, Barbara Stein K ’72, director of strategic partnerships at the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and Christie Vilsack K ’72, P ’00, senior advocate for international education at USAID.

The social entrepreneurship group coordinated an event at 1776, a start-up incubator in the D.C. area. This event featured a discussion with four emerging start-ups: SnapDash, Ventureboard, Stories Inc, and Visitdays. Each founder was able to meet with the students and talk about the challenges and opportunities they have encountered, and what they have done to learn from their mistakes. The event concluded with a tour of the 1776 office. 

All of the week’s events addressed the issues each group hoped to highlight. The third annual Levitt Leadership Institute closed with genuine appreciation for the program’s mentors: former U.S. Ambassador to both Kenya and Guatemala Prudence Bushnell; leadership development trainer Chris Powers; and Regional Fundraising Coordinator for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Izzy Van Hook ‘11.

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