Throughout history, people affiliated with Penn have played a leadership role in U.S. public policy. These notable people include historical figures such as President William Henry Harrison, Secretary of Defense, Thomas Gates, Jr., the first Governor of Pennsylvania, Thomas Mifflin, and the current mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter.
Since 1749, when Benjamin Franklin founded the University, Penn has been committed to the education of students interested in advancing the public interest. This commitment is reflected in the accomplishments of Penn alumni who have pursued careers in the public sector. Such careers include the Special U.S. Envoy committed to confronting global AIDS, North Carolina State Treasurer, and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Legacy Securities Public-Private Investment Program. Penn’s commitment to training the next generation of policy makers is mirrored through the academic and career interests of current students.
Featured Alumni Profiles
As North Carolina’s Treasurer, the Wharton alumna has an enormous portfolio. The post—established in 1715—is one of the most powerful among the states.
Sarah McHugh thought she was on her way to a career in the hard sciences when two Urban Studies courses during her junior year at Penn ignited in her a passion for public policy. Eight years later, she has impressive experience in the public sector under her belt and is currently working for the federal government on health policy.
Featured Student Profiles
Penn allowed me to home in on this interest in a practical way and provided me with a wealth of opportunities, from the insightful speakers that frequently visit campus, including Vice President Biden, to the opportunities at Penn and in DC with the Public Policy Initiative.
On the policy side, I’ve learned a lot about pensions structure and how decisions made in the short term, even with good intentions, can have complicated long term consequences that impact people’s financial security. I’ve also learned a lot about how the gig economy has upended traditional health insurance and savings programs, and the challenges of protecting workers as those fields expand.