Group at Vilsack's Office

The Spring 2016 Policy Tour

Policy Tour Video

Cherry blossoms adorned the nation’s capital as 25 Grinnell College students, faculty, and staff arrived for the Policy Tour in Washington D.C. Faculty and staff trip leaders were Sarah Purcell, director of the Rosenfield Program; Barb Trish, professor of political science; Wayne Moyer, professor of political science; Christie Mohlke, assistant director of career development and internships; and Laureen Van Wyk, Rosenfield Program coordinator.

The tour provided an opportunity for students to see aspects of the policy-making process in practice. Visits to organizations allowed students to build connections with alums.

The tour began at the Arms Control Association where Greg Thielmann ’72, Arms Control Association, talked about his 25-year career in Foreign Service. The group took a long ride out to Greenbelt, Maryland for dinner where Todd Perry ’84 and Pam Goddard ’83 hosted dinner at their home.

On day two, the students were captivated as Ed Senn ’79, Verizon, discussed his work in public policy advocacy. “Grinnell is the basis of who I am today,” says Senn. This generous alum also hosted the group for lunch at the National Association of Manufacturers. Former Rosenfield Program Committee members Chris Hildebrand ’10, Sally Blatz ’08, Josh Dorner ’03, Hamsa Hasan ’09, and Claire Griffith ’12 joined the group for lunch.

A highlight of the week was the Alumni Reception at Decatur House. The DC alumni group is very active. President Kington and Student Trip Leader David Leitson each gave a talk before Rosenfield Program Director Sarah Purcell spoke about the 30 years of success of the Rosenfield Program.

Next was a visit to the Heritage Foundation where Ted Bromund ’91 shared with the group about the history of think tanks. The Heritage Foundation, the world’s largest think tank, was founded in 1973. This research and educational institution think tank whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.

A special feature on the tour was a meeting with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Secretary Vilsack spoke about the history of the USDA and how the organization provides leadership on issues related to food, agriculture, and natural resources. The secretary welcomed questions from the students. Iowa State Director of Rural Development, Grinnellian Bill Menner, assisted in hosting the tour group.

Ben Weyl ’07 invited the group to visit Politico where he talked to the group about his new career. “It’s a bright spot in media,” says Ben. Politico is a journalism outlet that covers politics and policy in the United States and internationally.

The Grinnell group enjoyed a gourmet Native American lunch at the Mitsitam Café at the National Museum of the American Indian. Eric Green ’85 and Aubrey Carlson ’82 joined the lunch to discuss their work at the State Department. The museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution and is dedicated to the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of the Native Americans of the Western Hemisphere.

Supreme Court Tour

Sheryl Walter ’78 opened her home to the tour group. The evening was filled with stimulating conversation and delicious food.

The tour concluded on Saturday morning with a tour of the White House. The White House has been occupied by every president since John Adams.

The tour wouldn’t have been complete without taking in the sites at the National Mall Area throughout the week. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial, built under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was intended to represent the Age of Enlightenment and Jefferson as a philosopher and statesman. The bronze statue is 19 feet tall and weighs five tons. Towering 555 feet in the air, the Washington memorial was built to honor the United States’ first president. The Lincoln Memorial National Memorial honors the 16th president of the United States. The memorial is meant to symbolize Lincoln’s belief in the freedom and dignity of all people. These are just a few of the tributes to American history at the National Mall. The Policy Tour provided an opportunity for students to see aspects of the policy-making process in practice and create connections with many alums.

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