Ludwig Fellows Gain Insight into Public Leadership in D.C.

Yale Law School students in front of the U.S. Capitol
Students spent several days in Washington, D.C., as part of an immersive organized by the Carol and Gene Ludwig Program in Public Sector Leadership.

Law students from the Carol and Gene Ludwig Program in Public Sector Leadership, part of The Tsai Leadership Program at Yale Law School, visited Washington, D.C., in January to meet with government and policy leaders and hear about the unique spectrum of experiences that led them to careers in public service.

“The Ludwig Program provides support to a group of students who aspire to traditional and nontraditional careers and leadership roles in public serving institutions,” said Margie Adler, Co-Head of The Tsai Leadership Program and Executive Director of the Ludwig Program. “One way of achieving this is to introduce students to career paths that may not be familiar to them.”

Last year, the Ludwig fellows visited Sacramento, California, and met with government officials and leaders of nonprofit organizations. Both trips, said Adler, exposed students to a variety of career paths.

On their first full day, students met with Michael Levy, Policy Director at Brownstein, and former Assistant Secretary of Legislative Affairs for the Department of the Treasury and Senior Advisor to Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin ’64. Levy was introduced by Gene Ludwig ’73, Co-Founder of the Ludwig Program. 

“Gene Ludwig emphasized the importance of learning how to do and implement, not just think. That is something I admire about Yale Law School alumni — they don't only think of great ideas, they also go out and make them happen,” said Ludwig Fellow Ashlee Fox ’25.

After lunch, the students heard from Max Stier, President and CEO of Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization devoted to “revitalizing the U.S. federal government by inspiring a new generation of civil servants.” They also met Bharat Ramamurti ’07, former Deputy Director of the National Economic Council.

students around a conference table at the Department of Justice
The trip to Washington also included a visit to the Department of Justice.

The following day, the students toured the Capitol buildings before meeting with James Barton, Chief Counsel to Sen. Chris Coons ’92 and Aaron Stanislawski, Senior Counsel to Sen. Coons. They also heard from Claire Kim ’17, Counsel in the Office of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, and Evan Turnage ’17, Chief Counsel to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer.

In the evening, the group enjoyed a dinner reception at The Metropolitan Club hosted by Gene Ludwig. Ludwig led a “fireside chat” with political scientist and commentator Norman Ornstein, Senior Fellow Emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank.

The final day of the trip began early: the students met with Grant Harris ’05, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Analysis at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

In the afternoon, David Newman ’06, the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division of the Department of Justice, talked to the students. Following a brief lunch, the students met David Uhlmann ’88, Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. 

Before the day concluded, the students had the opportunity to visit the U.S. Supreme Court. 

The Ludwig Fellows said they found the trip valuable for several reasons. 

Fox is a member of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma; after graduation, she hopes to work in Washington — the “heart of the federal Indian law and policy world,” she said — before returning to Oklahoma to serve her community. “Good government requires good public servants, and that is why I think it is so important that Dean Gerken established the Ludwig Program,” said Fox. “I left D.C. eager to get to work alongside so many inspiring public servants.”

One unique element of the Leadership Program is its deliberate focus on mentorship. “Fellows are paired with alumni mentors who are leaders in their fields and whose experiences mirror their interests,” noted Adler.

The importance of mentorship was echoed by speakers during the trip to Washington. Most of the presenters’ paths to public leadership were nonlinear, but mentorship and relationships built on the job sometimes formed a “core reason to keep doing the work,” said Ludwig Fellow Samuel Feineh ’24.

Feineh said the trip left him feeling “humbled” by the range of opportunities in public service. 

I came to law school interested in the intersection of law and policy, specifically criminal justice reform,” said Feineh. “[In the Ludwig Program] I saw the opportunity to be in community with other people who are like-minded.”