Current Position: Communications Manager, Goldwater Institute
Past: American Enterprise Institute, Burson-Marsteller
Education: Drew University
Jennifer Marsico spent six years at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in Washington, DC, working with scholars Norm Ornstein and Karlyn Bowman. While at AEI, she studied with Bill Kristol as part of his Advanced Institute on American exceptionalism. Jennifer has recently started a career in public affairs and communications.
HOW DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT THE HERTOG FOUNDATION? WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO APPLY?
I heard about the Foundation through AEI while I was working in their Political Corner doing political and public opinion research. In spring 2013, Bill Kristol was teaching a class on American exceptionalism, which is something that’s very interesting to me. The topic was also relevant to my work, and became even more so throughout my time at AEI.
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR CAREER PATH. HOW DOES HERTOG FIT IN TO YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS?
American exceptionalism is something we think about a lot when focusing on public opinion research. One of the major topics we grapple with is the American dream. Part of getting a better sense of what the American dream is about is knowing what makes America special. It’s important to understand what’s currently in Americans’ heads and what’s included in public opinion, but then you’ve also got to recognize the history that informs those views. Having a background in historical writings and research in order to frame current American ideals is essential, and the course certainly helped add to my understanding of that background.
WHAT STICKS OUT IN YOUR MEMORY ABOUT YOUR EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE WITH HERTOG PROGRAMS?
One of our readings in “Is America Exceptional?” looked at American ideals in film. I remember reading about the concept of the Westerner and how it’s a very quintessentially American ideal. When studying America, we’re all used to reading Tocqueville and writers from that era, but to read something that was a modern take on what exactly makes an American idea is an approach I’d never taken before in an academic setting. Those readings certainly stayed in my memory.
OVERALL, WHAT IS YOUR IMPRESSION OF HERTOG PROGRAMS?
Hertog’s aim is to equip students and young professionals with the historical and educational tools they need to approach politics, political philosophy, and political analysis. Hertog works with the knowledge that a political mind needs to be grounded in history—it’s not useful to look at things in a vacuum. It’s easy to forget about that in Washington, because so much of our work focuses on the day-to-day. Hertog asks participants to step back and really examine the principles that inform what we’re all trying to accomplish, which is vital.
DO YOU THINK HERTOG PROGRAMS ARE BENEFICIAL FOR YOUNG PEOPLE INTERESTED IN PUBLIC RELATIONS OR PUBLIC POLICY?
Absolutely. Hertog Programs can be beneficial for both. Public relations and public policy are different fields, but there are a lot of similarities between the two worlds. One of the largest similarities has to do with appreciating what makes people tick—why they think what they think, and why they do what they do. Having a better understanding of something like American exceptionalism is important to that process, because it definitely informs how we communicate with people. A background in those historical ideals is key to knowing what sorts of arguments are going to be most coherent, most cogent, and most influential in your work. All Hertog Programs seem to be designed to give participants a way to better communicate with different types of people.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS? IN A SIMILAR JOB, OR EMBARKING ON SOMETHING DIFFERENT?
What I’m primarily interested in is writing. I write a lot for the Independent Women’s Forum, which gives me an opportunity to reflect not just on politics but also on cultural topics. In 10 years, I definitely still want to be writing. I’ll certainly be thinking about these same ideas and trying to bring those thoughts to the people who read my work. My experience with Hertog was very helpful in informing the way I think, and it gave me a clearer picture of how others think as well.