GOAL Program Experience Translates To Real World
A Spotlight on Brianna Walden, ’14
Written by Katie Beemer
Brianna Walden, class of 2014, majored in political economy and minored in music. Now she’s based in Washington, D.C., and has joined one of the largest conglomerates of Hillsdale alumni and students located outside of Michigan.
Brianna currently works at the Charles Koch Institute (CKI) as the Strategic Outreach Coordinator for External Relations, where she helps drive coalitions around key policy priorities. While her main focus lies with criminal justice reform, she also works with foreign policy, toleration and free speech, corporate welfare, and technology and innovation.
On any given day, Brianna is having lunch with a member of another organization, planning state-based discussion events (which ultimately create national conversation), and helping with 501(c)3 organizational structure. Her work helps move the needle toward positive reform in a direction that will increase societal well-being.
During her time at Hillsdale, Walden served as one of the founding members of A Few Good Men (AFGM), which is currently the largest volunteer organization in Hillsdale County. She also participated in symphony orchestra and opera workshop, captained a team with the Ultimate Frisbee Club, and worked on campus as an RA in Mauck Dormitory, a student affairs mentor, a student ambassador, and an assistant in the admissions department.
Brianna considers her initial work with AFGM as a major factor in how she was able to secure her current position immediately after graduation. Koch was looking for someone with one to three years of job experience, and her position as Chief Officer of Institutional Advancement with A Few Good Men enabled her to fulfill that requirement. As she put it, her practice explaining AFGM’s mission over and over again during her time at Hillsdale helps her communicate effectively with other nonprofits now.
“A huge part of my role involves building relationships with non-traditional allies,” Walden said. “We do a lot of work across partisan divides. The ability to hone these skills to articulate and rearticulate a mission in order to excite other people helps me thrive in my current role.”
Because of the college’s presence in D.C., Brianna has been able to stay involved from afar. She even called in for this interview from the Kirby Center, where she had just finished listening to a lecture sponsored by the college. But while D.C. isn’t that far away, it’s no substitute to the home that Hillsdale had become to her and other alumni.
“One thing I miss about Hillsdale is the opportunity to not only make good music with excellent musicians but also to attend concerts and other performances,” Walden said. “Really getting to engage with the extracurricular activities on campus is not something you’ll likely find available during the rest of your adult life.”
Katie Beemer is a #supersophomore from #puremichigan in pursuit of a degree in #politics and #classicaleducation. She is an #extremeextrovert, uses hashtags excessively/inappropriately, and is the proud owner of a pet reindeer named Edgar John Cervantes III #itsalongstory. In her free time, she volunteers with A Few Good Men and Crossroads Farm.