Illinois in Washington students have gone on to successful careers, graduate school and law school. Many IIW alums have returned to Washington, DC, to pursue work and school. We have alumni working in the White House, Congress, including the offices of Senators Durbin and Thune and Representatives Bustos and Davis, and a variety of non-profit, for-profit and political organizations DC. Below are bios to give you a sense of the school and career paths of some of our IIW alumni.
Jon Abdnor, Spring 2008
Jon Abdnor is a 2009 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he majored in news-editorial journalism, minored in political science, and was president of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. He currently serves as a legislative aide for Senator John Thune (R-SD), covering defense, foreign relations, veterans affairs, and a handful of other issues. He interned for Senator Thune as a junior in 2008 through the Illinois in Washington program, and later came aboard full-time in 2009 after graduating. Mr. Abdnor is currently enrolled in the U.S. Naval War College’s Fleet Seminar Program in pursuit of a Master of Arts Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies. He also participated in the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ Foreign Policy Fellowship Program in 2012. Past professional development includes the USAF Air Command and Staff College, the Foreign Policy Initiative’s Congressional Scholars Program, Partnership for a Secure America’s Congressional Partnership Program, and several National Defense University courses.
Jenny Baldwin, Summer 2013
Jenny graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the class of 2014 with a degree in History and Political Science with a minor in Spanish. She participated in the Illinois in Washington program during the summer 2013, interning with the Office of Congressman Rodney Davis (IL-13). After graduation in May, Jenny returned to Representative Davis’s office as a Staff Assistant. She couldn’t be more happy to return to Capitol Hill where she began with the IIW program.
Kevin Cooper, Summer and Fall 2011
Kevin Cooper is a two-time alum of the IIW program – interning both at the Fair Trade Federation and the office of Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) – who has lived and worked in the District ever since. After graduating in the winter of 2011, Kevin accepted a job with the political department of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), a labor union of over 700,000 members. His current role as the union’s Political Coordinator is to conduct candidate interviews, allocate and target national PAC contributions, manage the targeting and dispersal of the union’s national mail and phone outreach programs, conduct in-the-field organizing efforts in key electoral battleground states, and assist the National Political Director in structuring a national grassroots political program.
Josh Feiger, Summer 2008
Josh Feiger interned on the Hill for then-Congressman (now Senator) Mark Kirk as part of the Illinois in Washington program. In 2010, Josh graduated from the University of Illinois with a double major in Political Science and Economics and a minor in Business after which he began law school at Washington University in St. Louis. After his first year, Josh transferred to the University of Chicago, where he earned his J.D. in 2013. Josh is now a member of the Illinois bar and practices law as an associate in the corporate group of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom's Chicago office.
Stuart Karaffa, Spring 2010
Stuart graduated in May 2010 from the University of Illinois, where he earned a bachelor's degree in political science and international studies, spending his final undergraduate semester as a participant in Illinois in Washington. Stuart’s time at IIW provided an invaluable transition to a career in the federal government. At present, he is a Research Specialist for the National Security Education Program (NSEP), which is a component of the Department of Defense. The mission of NSEP is to expand U.S. expertise in foreign languages and cultures, thereby enhancing America’s national security capabilities. Stuart’s position focuses on DoD-funded study abroad scholarships for college students learning critical languages. He also manages several IT and administrative contracts. Prior to joining the Department of Defense, Stuart spent time in politics and academia. His past experience includes interning at a U.S. Senator’s office, working as an account manager at a political consulting firm, and serving as the Campus Outreach Coordinator for the Illinois Career Center.
Heather Reid, Spring 2011
Heather is currently the Department Manager for Tracking at American Bridge 21st Century, a progressive research and communications organization dedicated to holding Republicans accountable for their actions. Before that, she served as External Relations Coordinator for The Atlas Project and democratic GAIN, maintaining partner relationships and helping maintain the long term strength of the progressive movement by providing trainings and career advice for those seeking to break into the political world. Heather first started in politics at Rock the Vote (while participating in IIW) and also spent time working for the state Senate in her home state of Illinois. A native of the southwest suburbs of Chicago, Heather holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Katie Taylor, Summer 2011
Katie Taylor is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where she double majored in Political Science and Communication. Last fall, Katie interned for the White House office of Scheduling & Advance, where she worked with the Advance team to coordinate presidential travel logistics. Since the White House, Katie has interned for Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth’s political action committee, Duckworth for Congress, and is now serving as a press intern in the office of Congressman Bill Foster from Illinois. Katie recently accepted a position at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Molly Tutt, Summer 2010
Molly participated in the Illinois in Washington Program in the summer of 2010 working in the office of Rep. Debbie Halvorson. After graduating from the University of Illinois in 2011, she went on to complete her Master’s Degree in International Affairs with a concentration in Development from the Elliott School of International Affairs (George Washington University) in May 2014. While studying for her Master’s Degree, Molly worked at the German Marshall Fund of the United States as well as for the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. She now works at Chemonics International, an international development contractor in Washington, DC, on a business enabling environment project based in Pakistan. Molly credits her passion for working in international development in Washington, DC in large part to her time spent as part of the Illinois in Washington program.
Ian Williams, Spring 2011
Ian Williams works as the Special Assistant at the Center for Democracy and Technology. In this role, Ian helps maintain the day-to-day operations of CDT’s offices in DC, Brussels, and California. A leading tech policy advocacy group, CDT works with lawmakers, government agencies, tech companies, and civil society organizations to help keep the internet innovative, open, and free. During the 2012 election cycle Ian worked as a media buyer for Mundy Katowitz Media, in the firm’s DC office. As a buyer he helped coordinate media campaigns in a dozen states, planning the placement of radio, TV, and internet advertisements. A native of Naperville, Illinois, Ian is a 2012 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received a Bachelor's in Political Science with Honors.