When we began searching for OWU alumni in the Washington, D.C., area to interview for this article, we quickly saw we had an abundance of riches. We could have interviewed dozens of OWU movers and shakers in D.C. and devoted the entire magazine to this single topic. Across an array of fields in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, a web of Ohio Wesleyan alumni are making a difference in what Nick Calio calls the capital of the most powerful country in the world. These are just a handful.
Nick Calio ’75
President and CEO of Airlines for America, Calio says, “I couldn’t work anywhere else.” He began his career as a lawyer, then became a lobbyist, worked for President George H.W. Bush, started his own firm to represent major trade associations and companies, and returned to the White House to work for President George W. Bush before taking on his current position. “My profession is here at the intersection of business and government, and it’s a profession I love,” says Calio. “What policies mean in terms of the free market, jobs, and the economy are fascinating, and I’ve spent my whole lifetime at this intersection.”
Susan Headden ’77
Headden’s position as an independent communications consultant entails writing, editing, and public relations for organizations such as the Lumina Foundation (a foundation dedicated to higher education), the 2020 Census, and the Aspen Institute. “From my Washington perch, I’ve been fortunate to have the access and the resources to help raise public awareness and build understanding of important public policy issues,” says Headden, whose career has spanned from journalism to the nonprofit world. As a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, she hopes to have helped shape a more informed electorate by explaining complicated subjects in an accessible and engaging way. In her nonprofit work, she has helped policymakers and the public understand the complexities of our educational system. “If we can get education right, we can solve a lot of our problems.”
Gregory Dyson ’80
As chief operating officer and executive vice president at the American Nurses Association in Silver Spring, Maryland, Dyson provides vital support to the ANA’s mission to create a healthy world through effective nursing. More than 4 million registered nurses in the United States are leading healthcare delivery in the 21st century, Dyson explains, and the ANA seeks to advance the profession and help these professionals excel in their practice. From technology to product development, marketing and communications, and talent management and acquisition, Dyson has been able to help lead the ANA’s work on behalf of nurses.
Sara Amy Leach ’80
Leach’s career in D.C. has spanned more than 30 years and two federal agencies. As a historian, she helps preserve the facts, present compelling stories, and protect significant places essential to understanding American history. “Both the National Park Service (U. S. Department of the Interior) and the National Cemetery Administration (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs), have noble missions that would be incomplete without a full understanding of their past,” explains Leach. Part of the federal government’s job is to steward vast and diverse historic properties, which can be challenging at times, she explains. “I am very proud to be part of a cadre of professionals who strive to preserve essential American places, keeping them relevant for current and future visitors.”
Bridget Newton ’80
Newton has served as mayor of Rockville, the third largest city in Maryland, for six years. Thirteen miles northwest of the nation’s capital and right on the Metro’s Red Line, Rockville is home to over 70,000 people. “But the sense of Rockville is small community,” Newton says, noting the “nice sense of belonging.” After graduating from OWU, Newton worked on Capitol Hill and lived in Alexandria, Virginia, before moving to Rockville in 1981. She soon became involved in her children’s schools and eventually ran for city council.
Irfan Nooruddin ’96
Professor of Indian Politics in the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and director of the university’s Georgetown India Initiative, Nooruddin says living and working in Washington allows him to stay centrally plugged into many important conversations in his field. “D.C. encourages a particular form of intellectual entrepreneurship, which, as an academic interested in the policy world, has allowed me to participate in debate and be part of policymaking discussions in a way that may have been harder if I lived anywhere else,” he says.
Ryan Martin ’05
As head coach for Loudoun United FC, the reserve team of Major League Soccer’s D.C. United in Leesburg, Virginia, Martin has helped young players on their way to become full-time professionals. “My path is exciting because you’re taking talented kids from very diverse backgrounds and helping them achieve a dream,” Martin says. As a coach, Martin takes a holistic approach, developing and mentoring the players as people as well as athletes. The D.C. area has a rich youth soccer community, he explains, which creates a large talent pool. “Being a part of the D.C. United organization has been tremendous, with really good people all pushing the same direction and trying to win championships, and helping the community at the same time.”
Stephanie Taylor ’07
As a producer at Ogilvy, a marketing and public relations firm, Taylor works with consumer, corporate, and federal clients — including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, PEW Charitable Trusts, Peace Corps, and Inova Hospital Systems. Through her work, Taylor helps client organizations promote healthy choices and preventative measures. In her current work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC, she is working on campaigns to help destigmatize opioid use disorder and to encourage women to get screened for gynecological cancer. “There is intention and passion behind the work we produce,” she says.
Courtney Durham ’12
In her role as senior associate for Coastal Wetlands and Coral Reefs at Pew Charitable Trusts, Durham works with policymakers on environmental issues, particularly climate change and ocean policy at the international level. Much of her work has focused on the Paris Agreement, a United Nations agreement adopted by 197 countries that have committed to reduce emissions to combat climate change. Durham has found being based in D.C. particularly useful due to the proximity to relevant stakeholders such as the World Bank, major environmental NGOs, the State Department, and think tanks. “I’m lucky to have a network that is locally based but globally focused,” says Durham. “I’m not sure there are many other cities that can offer that vantage point in policymaking.”
Tom Dolan ’18
In his current position as a staff assistant for Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL), Dolan supports legislative staff, drives Rep. Dunn to events, reviews letters from constituents, and books Capitol and White House tours for constituents. “Getting a tour of the Capitol building or the White House really goes a long way for someone visiting D.C.,” explains Dolan, who in the past months has set up tours for constituents in Dunn’s district, including those who lost their homes through hurricane damage. Dolan often researches legislative bills and tracks them through Congress to help accurately respond to constituent concerns. “I was always fascinated by the policy side,” says Dolan, who has an interest in issues such as foreign policy and trade, in addition to disaster relief. “That’s really what drew me back to the Hill.”