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As an undergraduate, policy management major Kelly Rogers ’10 was an honors student and mock trial standout, with an international climate-change conference, three internships—at a lobbying firm and the Pennsylvania Department of State and in the Office of the First Lady of Pennsylvania—and two awards under her belt. She went on to earn a master’s degree in public policy at Brown University, where she conducted research through the Rhode Island Senate Fiscal Office, served as a federal government relations intern for a major energy corporation and attended two United Nations climate conferences. Kelly spent the following three years working as a policy analyst and as manager of policy and public affairs for the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council. Today, this environmental and energy policy wonk is deputy treasurer and director of policy for Rhode Island’s Office of the General Treasurer, where she taps her passion for green energy by helping the Rhode Island government better leverage private finance for green investment.
Can you speak to how Dickinson’s useful liberal-arts education helped you along your career path?
I was a policy management major, which granted me the opportunity to deeply explore and understand the content and implications of individual policy challenges like energy taxation (the topic of my senior thesis) and the ways in which singular issues fit within broader public agendas. Understanding the complexity of public policy from an academic and practical perspective prepared me well for my graduate degree at Brown University and my subsequent work advising policymakers in Rhode Island state government.
Also, the breadth of Dickinson’s curriculum has made it possible for me to be flexible. When career curveballs or seemingly foreign assignments are thrown my way, I can adapt swiftly and with a level of confidence—an ability developed by the breadth of my undergraduate experience.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the incredible extent to which Dickinson’s excellent administration and faculty enhanced my development. Professors Doug Edlin, Nicola Tynan and Jim Hoefler and administrators Neil Leary, April Vari, Gretchen Symons and Rebecca Bliss all played pivotal roles in my personal and professional development.
What was your favorite Dickinson experience?
Attending the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-15) in Copenhagen as part of the Kyoto 2 Copenhagen Mosaic program. From an academic perspective, I observed the coalescence of many fields of study—public policy, environmental science, sociology, economics, etc.—all with the goal of addressing the same fundamental global challenge: climate change. The experience epitomized liberal-arts education. From a professional perspective, participating in the United Nations conference introduced me to a new network of individuals, governments and organizations involved in green policy and finance. Specifically, my Copenhagen experience set the stage for me to subsequently intern for a large U.S. energy company and attend two subsequent United Nations climate conferences in Mexico and South Africa as part of my graduate public policy study at Brown.
All of these experiences inform the work I pursue in my current policy development role in state government, particularly as my policy portfolio relates to green finance issues.
What jumps out as a great memory from your time at Dickinson?
While the academic and professional opportunities and memories I experienced at Dickinson are all incredibly rich, I am most thankful for the friendships I developed over my four years there.
How do you stay involved with/support Dickinson?
Rhode Island does not have a robust Dickinson alumni community, so I mostly stay involved through the DAVS [Dickinon Admissions Volunteer Society] network. I help interview or meet with prospective students, and I attend college fairs. I participate in this way because I believe that Dickinson’s approach in preparing students for global leadership and complex problem solving is unique. For me, attending Dickinson was not solely a transaction of four years and dollars spent on a degree. I view my relationship with the Dickinson community as a lifelong partnership, in which we continuously learn from and support each other.
How did you get interested in your work, and what about it excites you most?
My interest in government and public policy stretches back to the sixth grade. I’ve always been drawn to the prospect of using public policy to enact change for public good, and I’m surprised by the fact that I’ve already played very large roles in the development of legislation that is now law. Ushering policy ideas from conception to legislative passage is a complex process that I hope to continue to experience across many different policy subjects.
What does your current work entail?
My job is to provide the research, writing and direction necessary to develop and manage the legislation, regulations or other initiatives necessary to fulfill the general treasurer’s policy agenda. During the past year I was the treasurer’s lead staffer, responsible for developing legislation and regulatory framework to create and manage the implementation of the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, a quasi-public agency aimed at enhancing investment in green infrastructure. Specifically, I spearheaded legislative drafting, managed stakeholder outreach and continue to provide strategic direction for the implementation of the bank’s new programs.
Once fully implemented, the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank’s new programs will make it easier and more cost-effective for homeowners, businesses and municipalities to finance energy efficiency or renewable energy investments in the properties.
What is the most challenging part of your work?
Situations in which politics trump good policy—I know these situations are bound to occur, but they still catch me off guard.
What comes to mind as something unforgettable that you’ve done since you graduated?
My first project for my first job out of graduate school involved a fairly high-profile consulting assignment within state government. As part of the assignment, I had the opportunity to interview almost 100 leaders across Rhode Island. Our recommendations were subsequently enacted into law. One of the enacted recommendations resulted in the creation of a new position in state government (secretary of commerce), which is widely regarded as playing a very important role in the advancement of Rhode Island’s economy and economic competitiveness.
If you could have dinner with anyone famous, living or dead, who would it be?
Hillary Clinton. I’d like to gain a better understanding of the decisions she’s made.
You just built a time machine: where and when do you go?
I’d probably go into the future, not the past. I would want to take what I learn about my status-quo future life to inform my current decision-making. This seems more valuable than looking backwards.
You’re going to live on an island by yourself for a year: What books, albums and movies do you take with you?
I’ve always wanted to become well-read on the concept of public leadership, so I’d probably take a lot of political biographies and books on leadership. I only have the luxury of reading these texts periodically, so it would be interesting to do a yearlong deep dive. If the island has Wi-Fi, I’d probably bring an iPad with subscriptions to Netflix, HBO and Showtime, so I can watch whatever series I want.
If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
I wish Rhode Island neighbored Pennsylvania so I could visit my family more easily. Traffic through Connecticut can be fairly rough!
Published March 28, 2016