March 30, 2017 | By Cristina Serra, Georgetown School of Foreign Service, Class of 2017
The Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation is proud to announce Carlos Monje as our new Senior Fellow for Policy Innovation. A Harvard graduate, Carlos has spent the last 10 years working for the Obama administration in a variety of capacities, including Special Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff of the White House Domestic Policy Council and Acting Under Secretary for the U.S Department of Transportation. He was also a founding staffer of the White House Office of Social Innovation, where he focused on forming cross-sector partnerships, using numbers and data to even the playing field, and help more people volunteer in their communities. Carlos is a native of New Orleans and enjoys running, reading and fishing.
We interviewed Carlos to hear more about his extensive experience in public policy and social innovation. Carlos will be leading a 3-part seminar on data and performance in government here at Georgetown. The first seminar was held on March 22. Upcoming seminars will be held on April 19 and 26 at the Beeck Center, in ICC 100. Carlos will also be holding office hours for students who wish to learn more about his academic or professional background.
What is your role at the Beeck Center?
I am a Senior Fellow for Policy Innovation, and have started a seminar series on data and performance in government. I’m available to students for advice and conversation, and I’m looking forward to sharing my experience and answer any questions that students may have.
Could you tell us a bit about your academic background?
I studied history and literature at Harvard College. I was accepted into graduate school twice and both times, my bosses decided to run for President.
How did you get interested in politics?
I thought I wanted to be a reporter and interned at newspapers in college. Meanwhile, I did my work-study at a center focused on the intersection of press and politics. After meeting leaders from both camps, I thought I could have a more direct impact if I got involved in the fight.
What are you most proud of achieving in your career thus far?
Working with the professional staff of the U.S. Department of Transportation to pass and implement a hard-fought surface transport bill.
My goal for the seminars is to talk about the political realities of using performance management and how challenging it is and what are some of the ways to get more political support for data-driven decision making.
Could you tell us a bit more about your 3-part seminar on data and performance in government?
The first seminar, held on March 22, focused on the political and logistical challenges of the presidential transition. This is the period of time between Election Day and Inauguration Day which often serves as the bridge between the poetry of campaign rhetoric and the reality of trying to change Washington. Some of the topics we discussed included the political barriers to public funding, expanding equity through infrastructure, and the role of autonomous vehicles for social inclusion.
The second, on April 19, will focus on data-driven decision making in transportation planning. I will explain how states and the federal government have made reforms, but face significant real-life barriers.
The third and final seminar, on April 26, will look at the use of data in improving safety across transportation sectors, again looking at the political barriers that can get in the way of needed safety efforts.
Which students can attend your office hours? How can these students take advantage of your extensive experience?
All Georgetown students are invited to my office hours. I hope I can provide insight into how DC works and to provide career advice.
Do you have any advice for students looking to work in public policy?
Talk to as many people as you can to network. Most people in DC are willing to do informational interviews, and you never know what combination of connections will lead to the job of your dreams. District Daybook and LinkedIN are good listing resources for real jobs. The DC job market tends to be kinder to specialists, so try to find an area where you can build expertise. Once you land the job, focus on putting your head down and doing a great work and your career will take care of itself.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished a collection of short stories by Joyce Carol Oates and am reading books about parenting while I seek out my next great novel to dig into.
Carlos will hold office hours from 10 am to 11:30 am every Tuesday, except during the week of March 27th, when he will hold them on Thursday March 30th at the same time, at the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation located in ICC 100.
Please RSVP here for his April 19th seminar, and here for his April 26th seminar.