The Rose Institute Alumni Roundtable, held on November 14, originated as part of a developing effort to increase engagement between current and former Rose Institute students. Alumni Jessica O’Hare, CMC class of 2000, and Nicholas Heidorn, class of 2006, met with Rose students to provide insights on their experiences both during and after CMC and the Rose.
Jessica O’Hare was Student Manager during her time at the Rose, and currently serves as Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer of Orange County. She helps manage all county infrastructure departments, including Public Works, Waste and Recycling, Dana Harbor, and John Wayne Airport, and also oversees the Social Service Agency, Clerk of the Board, and County Counsel departments, among others. Nicholas Heidorn worked as a Research Assistant at the Rose, and is now Assistant General Counsel for Special Projects with the California Environmental Protection Agency, where he focuses on land use, environmental justice, drinking water, and oil disposal policy.
The Roundtable was structured in a question-answer format, in which students directed a series of questions to O’Hare and Heidorn. A wide range of topics were covered during the Roundtable, from the speakers’ favorite classes at CMC to career advice for current students, but a there was a special focus on public service. O’Hare and Heidorn both described how they reached the decision to pursue careers in public service, as opposed to the private sector. Both spent time in the private sector—O’Hare in corporate communications and marketing consulting and Heidorn in private practice of law—but neither had a passion for work in these areas. Rather, O’Hare found value in taking on a role in public affairs, working with people who had a depth of knowledge and passion for their careers. Heidorn found that in the public sector, his position allowed him to use his analytical legal skills while simultaneously influencing policy.
O’Hare and Heidorn’s advocacy of careers in public service is especially salient at a time when there is an increasing disenchantment with government’s slow pace. Both alumni stressed that though this pace can be frustrating at times, it is a sign of the importance of the work that government undertakes. Each change in law and policy affects millions of people; it makes sense that the deliberative process is a lengthy one. O’Hare and Heidorn encouraged students to consider careers in public service, and to think about what role they might play in influencing governmental institutions.
The first Rose Alumni Roundtable gave students an opportunity to contemplate their futures through discussion with experienced alumni. The Rose plans to host future Alumni Roundtables.