With daffodils in full bloom, almost 300 graduates from around the world came to campus for SIPA’s 2019 Alumni Day. Highlights included an address by the School’s alumna in the U.S. House of Representatives and a reunion dinner.
In addition to food, drink, and networking, the April 6 event also featured multiple panel discussions of current public-policy issues. Almost 200 alumni representing various degree programs took part in the daytime program, and an overlapping group of 200 attended the dinner at Low Library. All told, alumni traveled from 33 countries including Bolivia, China, India, Kenya, Syria, and Ukraine.
At a Faculty House luncheon, Dean Merit E. Janow and Kirsten Imohiosen MPA ’03, the chair of the SIPA Alumni Association, welcomed guests and introduced Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin MIA ’03, who gave keynote remarks. Elected in November 2018 to represent Michigan’s eighth district, Slotkin enjoyed a warm greeting from the full house and was roundly applauded at the conclusion of her speech.
Among other things, Slotkin discussed her experience as a student at SIPA in the days and months immediately following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011. That event, she said, shaped her career in foreign policy and continue to reverberate today in her role as a newly elected official.
Watch keynote address (story continues below video)
In the years since 9/11, Slotkin said an “enormous trust deficit” has developed between U.S. foreign policy leadership and the nation’s citizens.
“Americans and especially young Americans have lost trust in our ability to succeed abroad,” she said. “Trust is our currency… we cannot lead abroad or at home without trust.”
Slotkin emphasized the need to rebuild alliances with the nation’s international partners, noting that foreign policy should be viewed as “relationships, not transactions.”
“An erratic partner is the worst kind,” she said. “America’s handshake has to mean something.”
But Slotkin also expressed pleasure about speaking to fellow alumni.
“This is one of the most fun things I get to do,” she said. “Thank you for the thrill of returning here. It’s an honor to be here.”
Earlier in the day, the Gender and Public Policy specialization had gathered more than 30 alumni and friends to celebrate its five-year anniversary. The program hosted a breakfast for specialization alumni and other “honorary” alumni who helped start the process that led to the specialization’s creation. The breakfast also featured a panel discussion among alumni representing UNDP, Madre, and the National Association of Latino Elected Officials.
Afternoon programming included seven discussions that convened more than two dozen graduates, faculty experts, and current students all told. Panel topics included sustainable finance, immigration, and the era of disinformation; one session was devoted to selected Capstone projects.
The day ended with a cocktail reception at Low Library and a dinner attended by almost 200 alumni, with strong attendance by members of the classes of 2014, 2009, 1999, and 1994.