In March President Trump appointed two Patrick Henry College alumni, Ben Williamson and Alyssa Farah, to the White House, adding to the growing number of PHC graduates to staff the presidential mansion.
We spoke to a few of our alumni to discuss their positions. Here's what Nick Butterfield (JRN '08), Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy White House Policy Coordinator, had to say.
What does your average day looks like?
I’m up at 6:30 AM, fortified by a fresh cup of coffee, and start each work day with a 7:45 AM meeting with my boss, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Coordination. We briefly cover issues of the day, including potential decision points for the President. From there, my schedule takes off. Each day is different, but they typically involve a mix of meetings and phone calls, along with some quiet time to focus on reading, research, and memo writing. The West Wing is a dynamic work environment where information moves at a rapid pace. Keeping up can be a challenge, but I am regularly impressed by the quality of my colleagues and the wealth of knowledge they possess. We have access to the world’s leading experts across the full range of policy areas. I make a point of leaving the office by 8:00 PM, but work usually follows me home and into the night.
What do your specific duties entail?
The Deputy Chief of Staff and I work closely together to serve as a clearinghouse for Presidential policy decisions (mainly on domestic policy). We are in constant touch with the President’s senior staff and Administration officials to ensure that Presidential decision points are fully vetted and that the policy processes that produce these decision points are functioning, appropriately inclusive, and moving on the right timelines. We convene deputy, principal, and Presidential-level discussions around key policy issues and disagreements, and manage any follow-up, as necessary.
How did you get to where you are now?
I wish I could share a blueprint! The bottom-line is that relationships open doors in Washington. My sincere belief is that the best way to build relationships is to show a genuine interest in others, to work hard, and to have a good attitude (i.e., no task is too small). I see these qualities in my fellow Patrick Henry College graduates, in addition to strong critical thinking and presentation skills. I can’t help but feel that our alma mater played a key role in developing, strengthening, and shaping these traits.
What lessons did you learn at PHC that still impact you today?
Patrick Henry College is a unique academic environment; I was constantly challenged by my professors and fellow students to be better, think deeper, and work harder. PHC exposed me to national politics for the first time, including campaigns and unique internship opportunities, and I was required to write more than ever I thought possible. Perhaps most importantly, the friendships I forged at PHC strengthened my faith and continue to bring light and joy to my life.
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