Rumsfeld Foundation Hosts 2019 Graduate Fellowship Conference


Washington, D.C. – On September 19th-20th the Rumsfeld Foundation hosted its seventh annual Graduate Fellowship Conference in Washington, D.C. with network members attending from across the country.

The 2019 Conference also served as a celebration of the program’s 10th anniversary of operations. Don Rumsfeld, Foundation Chairman, said, “We are delighted to see how the program has developed over the past decade, particularly with regard to the growth of the connections among this talented group of scholars and service-oriented professionals.”

Events began Thursday evening with an Open House hosted at the Foundation office by Secretary Rumsfeld, followed by a Welcoming Reception where Fellows and Advisers had the opportunity to connect before Friday’s full day of events.

Formal conference sessions commenced the following morning with welcoming remarks from Sarah Tonucci, Executive Director of the Rumsfeld Foundation, who welcomed guests and highlighted some impressive statistics about the Fellowship network, including that more than 75% of graduated Fellows are currently working in public service or policy fields, more than 80 Fellows have published articles and papers, more than 75 Fellows have studied or worked abroad and 25 Fellows are currently serving or have served in the U.S. military.

To follow, a Graduate Fellow from the inaugural class of Fellows in 2009-2010 and a program faculty Adviser at Johns Hopkins University - SAIS, who has been involved with the Fellowship since its start, spoke on their experience with the program, the benefits of the network and its potential impact in the decade ahead.

Conference discussions focused around the theme, “Perspectives on Service: Leadership and Citizen Engagement.” Throughout the sessions, participants had the opportunity to learn from a number of leaders and experts who reflected on their wide-ranging experiences and provided guidance on navigating careers in service and beyond.

Following the opening remarks, Secretary Robert Wilkie, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, provided insights from his personal path in service and leadership, beginning with his own military service to currently leading the second largest department in the U.S. federal government. After Secretary Wilkie’s remarks, Fellows and Advisers participated in interactive roundtable sessions focused on practical advice for pursuing careers in intelligence, national security and academia. Discussion leaders included Dr. Michael Vickers, Executive Vice President of In-Q-Tel and former Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; Dr. Evelyn Farkas, President of Farkas Global Strategies and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia; and Dr. Paul Carrese, Founding Director of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University.

Following informal discussions over lunch, Vice Admiral Robert Murrett, Professor of Practice at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, conducted an engaging interview session with Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Diplomat in Residence at Princeton University. From his service as former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon, Amb. Crocker offered his advice for rising leaders from his wide-ranging experience, as well as remarked on broader diplomatic and security issues of the day.

The afternoon sessions included a breakout speaker series featuring individuals involved in initiatives relevant to leadership and public service. Topics discussed ranged from improving leadership development in government service and engaging civilians in supporting America’s diplomats and military serving abroad to effectively communicating in today’s evolving media landscape. Speakers included Ari Fleischer, President of Ari Fleischer Communications and former White House Press Secretary; Max Stier, President and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service; and Jim Hake, Founder and CEO of Spirit of America.

The formal conference sessions wrapped up with further networking and conversation over coffee before a formal reception and closing dinner held at the historic Decatur House in Washington, D.C. View photos from the Conference here.

Since 2008, the Foundation has provided over $2.9 million in grants to 146 graduate scholars, all with an interest in public service or policy-relevant fields.


Media Contact: Sarah Tonucci
Executive Director, Rumsfeld Foundation
(202) 944-1304,


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