Jennifer Mulveny had just finished her junior year of college when she faced “one of the most difficult decisions I would ever make.” She had been offered an internship with the late Sen. William Roth Jr., R-Del., but her friends had rented a house in Dewey Beach, Del., for “one last hurrah.”
“I remember the day, sitting there and thinking, “˜I’ve really got to be responsible and get something else on my résumé besides waiting tables and lifeguarding.’ And it was, absolutely, without a doubt, one of the best decisions I ever made career-wise”…. It was a great springboard.”
Earlier this month, Mulveny joined Intel’s government-relations office as the chip manufacturer’s primary liaison to Senate Republicans. “My job is to help members of Congress keep pace with the computing sector”…. There’s a lot that we can do to help [lawmakers] grasp the nuances of emerging technology.”
Mulveny, 38, grew up in Dover, Del., and earned a bachelor’s degree in English and political science from the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). “I had thought by my senior year that I was just going to be an English major, but my counselor pointed out that I had taken so many political-science classes that I was one class away from a double major.” After graduating, Mulveny parlayed her internship with Roth into a staff position on the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee. After a brief hiatus in the private sector, she joined the George W. Bush administration as deputy assistant for congressional affairs in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Mulveny was most recently Hewlett-Packard’s director of global trade policy.
Christopher Snow Hopkins
“I really, really, really don’t like losing,” says Rob Jesmer, wincing. “What drives me is not so much the desire to win, but the desire not to lose.”
Politics is a cruel vocation, he adds. “When you win, you get too much credit. When you lose, you get too much blame. Those are just the rules of the game.”
After more than a decade in the trenches, the former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee is leaving the battlefield. Earlier this month, Jesmer was named a partner at FP1 Strategies, where he will build coalitions, stimulate grassroots activity, and otherwise engage in the “public-affairs side of legislative fights” in the 113th Congress. He expects to work closely with his former boss, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.
Jesmer, 39, grew up in St. Paul, Minn. His father, a salesman, held the same job for 35 years. “I’d had more jobs than him by the time I was 25 years old,” he says.
In 1990, Jesmer was a page in the Senate, which stoked his interest in electioneering. While studying at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, he signed up for his first political campaign: former Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Bert McKasy’s unsuccessful senatorial bid in 1996. Two years later, he managed Peter Roskam’s campaign to succeed retiring Rep. Harris Fawell, R-Ill. (Roskam, now the Republican representative from an adjacent district, lost the primary election to Rep. Judy Biggert.) “Early on, I tried to get out of [politics] a couple of times,” Jesmer says. “Back then I had this feeling that it wasn’t a “˜real’ job.”
In the years that followed, Jesmer managed campaigns in Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, and Tennessee. In 2002, he was hired as the National Republican Congressional Committee’s national field director, followed by a turn as chief of staff to Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala. In 2006, Jesmer signed on as a regional political director with the Republican National Committee; two years later, he engineered Cornyn’s successful reelection campaign. Before coming to FP1 Strategies, he spent the previous two election cycles as executive director of the NRSC.
IN THE TANKS
Since Alan Murray came to Washington in the early 1980s, “a number of trusted institutions have lost their trust,” he says. “Washington, the United States, and even the world is becoming increasingly polarized.”
As the new president of the Pew Research Center, Murray will oversee what he calls “one of the few [organizations] that has figured out how to navigate that difficult road while still providing useful information on many of the most controversial topics of our times.” The former deputy managing editor of The Wall Street Journal plans to broaden the center’s footprint in the realm of international affairs. “There are huge opportunities for providing global information where little else is available,” he says.
Murray, 58, has been a newspaperman for “longer than I care to remember.” At age 9, “I would walk up and down Outlook Drive in Pittsburgh and take notes on what people were doing — where they were going on vacation, the fact that the cat was lost, etc.,” he says. “My mother would type them up, we’d mimeograph them, and then I’d sell it for a nickel. When we moved from Outlook Drive to [Lookout Mountain, Tenn.], the “˜Outlook Outlook’ became the “˜Lookout Outlook.’ “
Murray went on to edit his high school newspaper and the Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper at the University of North Carolina and, for many years, the only daily in Chapel Hill. After graduating, he returned to Tennessee as a reporter for the Chattanooga Times, then owned by Ruth Holmberg, granddaughter of Adolph Ochs, paterfamilias of The New York Times. (As Murray points out, when Ochs bought The New York Times in 1896, he remade it in the image of the Chattanooga Times. “No one at The New York Times would ever say this, but the Chattanooga Times is actually the parent company of The New York Times.”)
Murray later received a master’s degree from the London School of Economics, which was followed by a yearlong fellowship at the English-language edition of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun in Tokyo. In 1983, he was recruited to The Wall Street Journal, where he would remain for the balance of his career. From 1993 to 2002, Murray oversaw the newspaper’s Washington bureau.
On Sept. 11, 2001, The Journal‘s headquarters at One World Financial Center — across the street from the World Trade Center — was evacuated, and Murray put together the next day’s broadsheet in the Washington bureau. He says that the ensuing “war on terror” restored the primacy of his newsroom. “Before then, Washington was losing favor. It was hard to get stories on the front page; people just thought Washington was not particularly interesting”…. And then, suddenly, Washington was the story. It was on the front page every day.”
Murray cohosted CNBC’s Capital Report from 2002 to 2005, while continuing to write a weekly column for The Journal. As the newspaper’s deputy managing editor and executive editor online, he has presided over a quadrupling of Web traffic.
Asked about News Corp.’s acquisition of The Journal in 2007, Murray says, “Rupert Murdoch and Robert Thomson saved The Wall Street Journal“…. From where I sat, they not only put resources into it but they also pushed for the digital transformation”…. I shudder to think what The Wall Street Journal would be today if it hadn’t been for them.”
Growing up in the ‘50s on New York’s Long Island when there still were farms around, Jake Secor developed a passion for agriculture that led him to forsake the Northeast for the Midwest later in life.
After graduating from Boston University with a degree in business administration, Secor had a choice between Cornell University and Iowa State University for postgraduate work. He chose the latter and ended up getting master’s and doctoral degrees in science at Iowa State with a focus on crop production and physiology.
While continuing his postdoctoral research in 1983 at the University of Wisconsin’s Agronomy Department, Secor was discovered by Dow AgroSciences, a division of Dow Chemical, which hired him as a research scientist. And so began a 29-year career with the company in agricultural research and public affairs that will end on Dec. 31 when Secor, 63, steps down after more than five years as director of federal relations in Washington.
“I have an opportunity to retire now,” he says, adding that he hopes to resume his career next year in some type of public service for agriculture.
Secor spent 15 years on the science side of Dow Agro and moved every time the company’s headquarters relocated from California to Michigan to Indiana. He transferred to public affairs in 1998 as Dow AgroScience’s leader of state-government relations, then came to Washington in 2007 as director of federal-government relations.
After being knee-deep in the bitter partisan battles of Congress for more than five years, Secor admits to missing the more cordial relations with state lawmakers. “Because state legislators are closer to their constituents, they are more responsive,” he says. “And because many have little to no staff, they are more personally understanding of issues and the impact legislation will have on their constituents.”
Still, Secor isn’t giving up on the nation’s capital, saying he plans to remain here after leaving Dow to look for opportunities in public service.