Current Position: Policy Advisor, U.S. Department of State
Past: Policy and Communications Advisor, Office of Representative Mike Pompeo; Global Policy Analyst, Facebook; Senior Foreign Policy Advisor, Scott Walker for President
Education: Stanford University, Peking University, London School of Economics
Reagan Thompson has served in multiple foreign policy positions both in the U.S. and abroad, including stints with the House of Representatives, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and various political campaigns. She participated in Hertog’s “Great Figures of the 20th Century” Weekend Seminars in Winter 2016, with sessions on Winston Churchill, David Ben-Gurion, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher.
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR CAREER PATH. HOW DOES HERTOG FIT IN TO YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS?
I do foreign policy, and I want to continue to stay involved in politics. Part of being effective on the Hill and on presidential campaigns is understanding past leaders and what they’ve done well. The Hertog program I did was focused on leaders and examining, with a critical eye but also positive themes, domestic and foreign leaders. What they’ve done well, what they did in regard to communications, building allies, working with other countries—principles that are timeless.
It was also a great way to meet other like-minded and serious people in DC and get to know some of the instructors. I feel like I’ll be friends with people from Hertog for a very long time.
WHAT STICKS OUT IN YOUR MEMORY ABOUT YOUR EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE WITH HERTOG PROGRAMS?
It’s a chance to learn in a way that is rare for professionals, but also rare in a university setting. Due to the caliber of the instructors and the intense, high level of discussion, it feels like you’re back in college. But the things you’re talking about are elevated because you’ve had additional professional experience, and you’re speaking with both the leading expert on these issues and with people who have had some sort of experience with that same topic. It’s not as though the students just did their reading for class and showed up; they’re personally invested. So it’s kind of like college on steroids.
DO YOU THINK HERTOG PROGRAMS ARE BENEFICIAL FOR YOUNG PEOPLE INTERESTED IN PUBLIC POLICY AND LEGISLATION?
There is a lack of ability and time to dig into issues, particularly those that are most important for our country. The principles that we discussed in each of the “Great Figures” seminars are still applicable today. There were many times when the discussion turned from talking about how a certain leader dealt with a particular issue—whether it was nativism or trade or a deficit—to how we’re dealing with those concerns today.
Hertog is also a way to distinguish yourself. I’m on the nerd spectrum; I loved college, and I loved grad school. There are book events and things of that nature here in DC, but there’s a lack of opportunities to really dig into these important issues in an academic setting.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS? IN A SIMILAR JOB, OR EMBARKING ON SOMETHING DIFFERENT?
Hopefully, we’ll have a Republican president then, and I’d like to be a foreign policy advisor for whoever that is!