Friedman Goes to DC: The 3rd Annual Friedman School Alumni-Student Networking Trip

By Kelly A. Dumke

Spring break!! Good times!  For some, spring break means an adventure to warmer climates for much-needed R & R, for others it means a week of downtime free from the daily grad school grind…and for twenty-plus Friedman students it means a venture down to the nation’s capitol on the 3rd Annual Friedman School Alumni-Student Networking Trip.

The trip consisted of two days chock full of alumni presentations, career opportunities, alumni networking, and a brief introduction to life on “the Hill”.  Organized by the office of Alumni Affairs, and hosted and supported by gracious Friedman alums, the 3rd annual Friedman School Washington DC networking trip took students from the streets of Boston to Capitol Hill.

Here’s a recap of the who’s, where’s, and what’s along the way, plus some tips from DC-based alums.

Stop #1:

Who: Britt Lundgren N06, AFE

Where: Environmental Defense

What: Britt Lundgren works at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) as an Agriculture Policy Specialist for EDF’s Land, Water, & Wildlife Program.  She started at EDF as a fellow working on Farm Bill programs such as commodity farming, nutrition programs, and reform conservation funding.  In her current position, Lundgren focuses on expanding and improving USDA conservation programs that offer incentives to farmers, ranchers, and other private landowners to address environmental issues in agricultural production.  In addition, her work examines biofuels, climate change, nitrogen levels, and how to influence policy for environmental change.

Alumni Advice: Lundgren advises students to work on critical thinking skills and develop the ability to examine an issue from a “scientific lens” and policy perspective. Salaries in DC-based organizations start around $45,000 to $50,000 with some ability to negotiate (usually 5-10%).  However, she cautions that certain jobs on “the Hill” have no room for salary negotiation, and it is best to do your salary research ahead of time.

Stop #2:

Who: Kristen Cashin N02, FPAN

Where: FANTA II – Academy for Educational Development (AED)

What: AED is a nonprofit organization working internationally to improve education, health, civil society, and economic development.  AED runs more than 250 programs serving communities in all 50 states and in more than 150 countries.   Krisiten Cashin works for the Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance II Project (FANTA II), a five-year follow-up USAID grant project continuing the work and evaluation of the 10-year FANTA Project.  The FANTA Project seeks to integrate nutrition into strategic planning; provide analysis for food security and nutrition policy; and share information and knowledge with partners.  The program focuses on improving the health and wellbeing of women and children through global leadership and field support.  Friedman faculty Jenny Coates and Bea Rogers are both integral members of the project’s development.  Cashin’s work focuses on capacity building – working with NGOs to strengthen programs and agencies delivering aid and services.

Alumni Advice:  Cashin’s advice for Friedman students: think critically, go to lectures, and know what’s going on in the nutrition field.  “You never know where you may find an interest.”  Additionally, technical skills such as STATA, SAS, and SPSS are extremely useful in capacity building settings.   Finally, she recommends taking advantage of internships and informational interviews.  For internships, “Be flexible, but make sure your work is clear.” Informational interviews are excellent ways to learn about careers and get your foot in the door. “Come prepared,” and who knows what opportunities will come your way.

Stop #3:

Who: Kelly Horton N05, FPAN, Simmons DPD Program

Where: American Political Science Association (APSA) & Connect Nutrition

What: Kelly Horton has a diverse background including business management and dietetics.  After receiving her RD and graduating from Friedman, Horton founded Connect Nutrition, a consulting organization specializing in public policy and advocacy, community food security, sustainable food systems, and environmental nutrition program planning. Horton is a 2009-2010 Health and Aging Policy Fellow/American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow.  As a fellow, she works in the USDA Food and Nutrition Services’ (FNS) Office of Strategic Initiatives, Partnerships, and Outreach (OSIPO) focusing on FNS policy initiatives for the Obama administration.  Horton works closely with Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Kathleen Merrigan, on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiatives.

Alumni Advice: Horton’s advice for current students is to seek out multiple part-time jobs that teach tangible skill sets, such as lab, survey, statistical, and data entry skills. She recommends students consider fellowships as an excellent way to start a career, especially in DC.  The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) offers various fellowships that often end with job offers.  Take a chance and apply, you never know when your background will lend something new to a fellowship opportunity.

Stop #4:

Who: Kimberley Hodgson N04, FPAN, Simmons RD Program, MS Urban and Regional Planning

Where: American Planning Association (APA)

What: Kimberly Hodgson is the manager of the APA’s Planning and Community Health Research Center.  Her unique background combines policy, nutritional science, and planning to promote public health. Hodgson works with planning, health, and food policy researchers, organizations, and institutions to develop healthy, sustainable communities. She manages several research projects and engages in multiple outreach and education activities, which focus on the integration of community health issues into contemporary urban and regional planning practice. The Planning and community Health Research Center is growing with projects targeting food systems urban agriculture, and corporate and educational partnerships.

Alumni Advice: Hodgson’s advice to current Friedman students is to take a planning course, like those offered at Tufts Urban and Environmental Planning School.  Planning is key to public, social, economical, and environmental health with large potential to reach state, regional, and local levels.  She advises students to attain grant writing, critical thinking, and negotiation skills.  For example, when interviewing for a position and negotiating salaries/benefits, consider asking for more money or comparably, more time off.

Stop #5:

Who: Andrew Shao NG00, BMN

Where: Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN)

What: Dr. Andrew Shao is the Senior Vice President for Scientific & Regulatory Affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), a dietary supplement industry trade group in Washington, DC.  With an undergraduate degree in biology and a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry, Dr. Shao earned an undergraduate degree in Biology from Brandeis; he has a broad background in nutrition science and policy with work experience in industry, research and development, ingredient manufacturing, and retail.  Currently, Dr. Shao’s position at CRN focuses on the development of position statements for government regulations and analysis of emerging dietary supplement science.  In addition, Dr. Shao leads industry-based committees; peer reviews publications, and writes trade publication articles.  Specific accomplishments at CRN include the establishment of CRN’s Senior Scientific Advisory Council.

Alumni Advice: Dr. Shao invites students to remain engaged with the Friedman School after graduation.  Join the Alumni Association to stay connected, learn about job opportunities, and impact the nutrition field.

Stop #6:

Who: Lucy Basset N08

Where: World Bank

What: Lucy Basset is a Social Protection Specialist in the Latin America and Caribbean Region at the World Bank.  Her job focuses on conditional cash transfer and nutrition programs in Haiti, Guatemala, and Panama.  Basset is a Double Jumbo with graduate degrees from both the Fletcher and Friedman schools.  Her career started at the think tank organization International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) before she moved to World Bank.   Currently, her position at the World Bank involves lots of writing, teamwork, contact with UN agencies, traveling, and project management.

Alumni Advice: Basset’s advice for students interested in international work and the World Bank include acquiring international experience, language skills, analytical and statistical skills, and writing experience.  World Bank offers an internship program, but the key is to get the most out of your experience at any internship.

Stop #7:

Who: Aimee Witteman N06, AFE

Where: Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

What: Aimee Witteman is the Executive Director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, a nonprofit that represents grassroots farm, rural, and conservation groups from across the country.  Witteman works closely with Dr. Kathleen Merrigan on implementation of farm bill programs. She was also a recent Food and Society Policy Fellow.  Witteman’s writing on federal farm policy has appeared in the Argus Leader, Iowa Farmer Today, Edible Portland, Edible Chesapeake and Grist.

Alumni Advice: Witteman recommends that current students “build a good reputation and jobs will follow.”  She suggests learning to network by doing real-world projects.  “Connect with organizations through directed studies and make the most of your internship,” Witteman advises.  Consider, especially if you have pertinent experience, pitching a new position to a NGO,  laying out your own job description and funding plan for this position.

Stop #8:

Who: Nina Schlossman J75, NG86

Where: Global Food and Nutrition

What: Dr. Nina Schlossman has experience in a range of food and nutrition programs and policies, both scientific research and market analysis.  She currently serves as the President of Global Food and Nutrition, which provides consulting services on global food and nutrition issues, markets, programs, and policy. She directs overall strategy and provides technical assistance, research, evaluation, marketing, and training services to private and public sector clients. Dr. Schlossman holds a Doctorate in International Nutrition from the Tufts University School of Nutrition Science and Policy and a Master’s of Science in Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism and in International Food and Nutrition Policy from MIT.

Alumni Advice: : Borron advises students to take more skills-based classes like financial management, statistics, planning and policy courses.  Harvard agribusiness classes are great and other Boston schools offer courses for free or small cross-registration fees.  Learn computer-based schools such as Excel and PowerPoint.  She advises student interns to come out of the experience with their name on something.   Establish contacts and maintain relationships, and share your resume with intern employers.

Stop #9:

Who: Kate Houston N99

Where: Cargill, Inc.

What: Kate Houstin is the Director of Federal Government Relations for Cargill, Inc.  Cargill is a producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial, and industrial products.  Houston has been at Cargill for one year and previously worked for the USDA, specifically on SNAP and WIC packages.  Her transition from the public to private sector has included a job focus shift to food safety, nutrition and health promotion, healthcare, and environmental impact from an industry point of view.  Cargill is a great company to work for because it “can make doing the right thing a competitive advantage.”

Alumni Advice: Houston advises students to be flexible and consider the advantages of different types of careers, both private and public.

Stop #10:

Who: Marguerite Evans Klein N84,

Where: Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), NIH

What: Prior to joining the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), Marguerite Klein worked for 15 years in cardiovascular disease prevention and 9 years in complementary and alternative medicine research. She has developed and managed national education campaigns of cholesterol and blood pressure reduction for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the NIH and the American Heart Association.

She transferred to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative

Medicine (NCCAM) of the NIH.  Currently, she is expanding the ODS Analytical Methods and Reference Materials Program, directing the ODS botanical centers program.

Alumni Advice: Klein recommends taking positions that interest you, even if they are different from your previous experience. She has had a diverse career path, and has learned a lot from every position.

Stop #11:

Who: Sarah Borron N07, AFE

Where: Food and Water Watch

What: Sarah Borron has a background in environmental studies, and has worked as a Congressional Hunger Fellow, and interned with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome. After Friedman, she started her career at the Las Vegas Food Bank and then moved to DC to work for Food and Water Watch, a watchdog organization.  Food and Water Watch is dedicated to working on behalf of the public to assert and lobby for effective government standards and oversight.  The organization also organizes the public to take action and educates the public and the media on these basic issues.

Alumni Advice: Sarah recommends students take skill-based classes such as financial management and agribusiness, learn as much s they can about excel and power point, and take chances.  She also recommends students come out of their internships with their name on something, either a project you worked on or a report.  Finally, Sarah advises students to be flexible when it comes to finding a job, “You may not land your dream job right away.”

Stop #12:

Who: Rose Craigue N05,  FPAN; Carrie Hubbell Melgarejo N00, FPAN; & Kathryn Lockwood N99, M.A. Humanitarian Assistance

Where: World Vision

What: Carrie Hubbell Melgarejo (N00) is a public health nutritionist with ten years of domestic and international, NGO and business experience in program designing, planning, budgeting, managing, implementing, and monitoring and evaluation; forging and nurturing partnerships with public and private institutions.  Melgarejo recently returned to World Vision, where she serves as the Design and Development Officer on World Vision’s Integrated Food and Nutrition team, coordinating proposal preparation largely for U.S. Government grants.

Rose Craigue also works for World Vision providing technical expertise to emergency operations in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean regions. In her seven years with World Vision, she has managed large relief programs in Kenya, South Sudan and Eastern Congo. Craigue also served with Catholic Relief Services in Ethiopia and managed tsunami programs in Indonesia and Sri Lanka for Lutheran World Relief. Craigue holds a Master’s of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance from the Fletcher and Friedman Schools.

Kathryn Lockwood is currently the Nutrition Specialist for World Vision and has over 12 years of experience in technically supporting and managing international nutrition and health projects. Lockwood has directly overseen the technical design and implementation of nutrition components for many US Government, UN and Foundation grants and has contributed to several technical and policy publications.   Currently with World Vision, Lockwood reviews research protocols for new nutrition products, such as new ready-to-use foods, and programming approaches, such as timed and targeted counseling for infant and young child feeding practices and the integration of agriculture and livelihoods programming with nutrition.  She provides capacity-building support to the World Vision partnership in nutrition, behavior change programming, and integrated

program models.  As Co-Chair for the Nutrition Working Group with CORE, she organizes technical nutrition events and discussions for the US PVO community.

Alumni Advice: Lockwood recommends that students work with professors on grants, gain experience with research projects with NGOs, and develop technical skills. Experience with grant writing, overseas organizations, assessment skills, and budgeting are all important for careers in humanitarian aid.  World Vision looks for individuals with a passion for development, a multi-lingual background, and great communication skills.

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Stop #13:

Who: Gabrielle Serra N05, FPAN

Where: House Committee on Education and Labor Nutrition programs

What: Gabrielle Serra is a policy advisor with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor.  She joined the Committee in June 2009 from the Food and Nutrition Services of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  She is responsible for advising on food and nutrition policy issues under the jurisdiction of the Committee, including the Child Nutrition Programs and the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Serra worked for the USDA Food and Nutrition Services since 2003, with a focus on the school meal programs.  She also served on detail assignment in 2008 as the Policy Advisor to the Deputy Under Secretary for USDA Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, which is the federal agency responsible for administering the domestic nutrition assistance programs.

Alumni Advice: Serra recommends students get acquainted with policy.  She advises students to be flexible if they want to work in DC.  There are many roles from communication to policy design, but students need to be flexible when first breaking into the job world.

Stop #14:

Who: Sara Wilson N06, Nutrition Communication

Where: Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC) at the National Agriculture Library

What: Sara Wilson is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Information Specialist at the Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC) at the National Agricultural Library where she helps to develop and maintain both the FNIC and Nutrition.gov websites, in addition to other duties including fielding reference questions for consumers, educators, and health professionals. She previously worked as a registered dietitian.

Alumni Advice: Wilson advises students to consider various opportunities when it comes to jobs.  There are a lot of opportunities to work for government, such as the USDA, in a variety of different fields.  She recommends that students check government job websites because new postings are always added.  Wilson also suggests students take advantage of their time at Friedman by learning both practical and analytical skills.

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