Students Visit Washington, D.C., For Week Two of Levitt Leadership Institute

Erik Wemple '86 shows Levitt Leaders around at the Washington Post.
Erik Wemple '86 shows Levitt Leaders around at the Washington Post.

While many students may have been relaxing at home or on the beach during spring break, 19 Hamilton College students participated in the second week of the two-week Levitt Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C.

The Levitt Leadership Institute is a two-week program led by former U.S. Ambassador to Kenya and Guatemala Prudence Bushnell and Christine Powers, a veteran of the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of State.  Maynard-Knox Professor of Government and Law Frank Anechiarico also joined the group in Washington.  Bushnell started the program in 2012 because she believes that there are not enough leaders in the world today. 

The week was filled with events including many speakers, leadership activities and sightseeing.  During the first week of the Institute, participants were separated into groups tasked with arranging speakers during the week in Washington.  Many students reached out to Hamilton alumni based in Washington, either to meet with them or to ask them for contacts in the Washington area. 

Levitt Leaders first heard from some speakers who work in the lobbying industry.  Cory Crowley, the founder of Cory Crowley & Company, works in governmental affairs services. Crowley spoke about his experiences in Iowa politics, working with Senator Chuck Grassley and founding his own company.  Frank Vlossak ’89, a principal at Williams & Jensen LLP described his experiences during his years at Hamilton as well as his career path afterwards. 

The group then met with Steve Culbertson ’79, CEO of Youth Service America, at its Washington headquarters.  Culbertson impressed the group with his vision for his organization and with his impressive speaking abilities.  Culbertson specifically spoke about the power youth has to change the world.  He also talked about how the relationships he made at Hamilton helped him excel throughout his career.

Also during their week in Washington, the students arranged a trip to the State Department.  Jason Donavon, a foreign service officer who served with Bushnell in Guatemala, not only gave an impressive tour of the State Department, but also spoke to the group about the rewards and the drawbacks of a foreign service career.

The final speaker of the week was Erik Wemple ’86, a media opinion writer at The Washington Post.  He described his experiences after Hamilton and about his career path leading up to his job at the Post.  Wemple gave the Levitt Leaders an extensive tour of the newspaper’s offices, and allowed the group to meet with Julie Tate, a researcher specializing in national security, intelligence and defense issues.  Wemple and Tate then described issues that they write and research about each day at The Washington Post.

Other speakers included Ralph Oman ’62, the former United States Register of Copy Rights, Ray Leki from the Department of State, and Ken Brown, former U.S. Ambassador to Ghana.  The group also had a meet and greet with recent Hamilton alumni living in the Washington D.C.

The Levitt Leaders also had the opportunity to meet with Rep. Matt Cartwright ’83 and his chief of staff, Hunter Ridgeway, before taking a guided tour of the U.S. Capitol Building. 

Samantha Sherman ’15 said, “The week in Washington was an eye-opening experience for me. As a result of the LLI, I gained confidence in my leadership abilities. I learned the importance of having a clear vision, setting goals, and emotional intelligence when leading a team,” Sherman said.

Graduates of the Levitt Leadership Institute are now tasked with carrying out a commitment project that will benefit the greater Utica or college community.

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