In partnership with the Career and Professional Skills Committee (CAPSC), the Alumni Office is excited to host The Career Lab. This year-long program will enable juniors and seniors to engage in discussion with alumni who are leaders in diverse fields.
Established in 2015, this program provides juniors and seniors the opportunity to learn directly about specific career paths from Potomac alumni working in a variety of industries in both the public and private sectors.
This year the Alumni Office and the student CAPSC have reimagined the program as a series of “Career Labs.” These interactive student-led panel discussions, which will occur throughout the school year, will be dedicated to different industries from finance to engineering, computer science to medicine, journalism to the fine and performing arts, and everything in between.
These discussions will provide valuable insights into what our students might expect as they move from Potomac to college and beyond.
Career and Professional Skills Committee
Friday, February 10 - Government
In Washington, DC, there is no larger employer than the federal government. And as the world grows increasingly interconnected, how the United States interacts with other countries -- politically, economically, and culturally -- is more important than ever. From Capitol Hill staffers to K Street lobbyists, special interest advocates to think tank academics, World Bankers to local community organizers, professionals in government and foreign affairs are shaping current events and helping to chart the path of history. Learn more about making an impact through a career in public service!
Hamilton Brooks ‘18 is an incoming Associate of Movement Strategy at the Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit research and policy organization that focuses on immigration and criminal justice.
Previously, he worked as Strategic Campaign Director of Generation Vote, a youth-driven democracy organization. In this role, Hamilton successfully advocated for Election Day off for NYU students, an early voting site on campus, and started the first national program for young people of color to engage with Secretary of State races. An advocate for both social movement theory and practice, Hamilton began his work in organizing by marching 300 miles of the NAACP's 1000 mile Journey for Justice in 2015.
Hamilton graduated from New York University in 2022 with a Bachelor’s Degree in History, and from Potomac School in 2018. He currently serves on Potomac’s Alumni Governing Council.
Claire Figel '13
Claire Figel ‘13 works as a staffer on the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She covers a wide range of issues including foreign assistance, global health, food security, development finance, public diplomacy, and State Department management and operations. Previously, Claire worked on Western Hemisphere affairs, narcotics, and international law enforcement issues for the Committee. Before joining the Senate, she worked for the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. Claire is also pursuing a Master’s Degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and is a two-time recipient of the Bryce Harlow Foundation Fellowship Award.
Claire graduated from Bucknell University in 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Spanish, and from the Potomac School in 2013 – where she played soccer, basketball, and lacrosse for 12 seasons. She also served on Potomac’s Alumni Governing Council for a three-year term.
Candyce Phoenix ’03 was Senior Counsel and Senior Advisor to the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. She was previously Staff Director for the House Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. She worked closely with Subcommittee Chairman Jamie Raskin (MD-08), who served as lead manager for the second impeachment of former President Trump. She also worked with Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), with each of the subcommittee’s members’ offices, including Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-00).
Before working on impeachment, during the 116th Congress, Candyce worked on oversight efforts of the immigration crisis at the border, the rise of violent white supremacy, the 2020 Census, the systemic delays in the United States Postal Service, and many other pressing issues.
Prior to moving to the Hill, Candyce was a prosecuting attorney in the employment section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and an honors attorney in the Solicitor’s Office at the Department of Labor. She has a degree in comparative ethnic studies from Columbia University and a law degree from Harvard Law School.
Dana Stroul is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for the Middle East. In this role, she leads the development of U.S. Department of Defense Policy and Strategy for Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
Previously, Dana was the Shelly and Michael Kassen Fellow in The Washington Institute's Beth and David Geduld Program on Arab Politics where she delivered briefings, testified before Congress, and published research on a range of policy-focused topics in the Middle East. In 2019, she served as co-chair of the bipartisan Syria Study Group, which released its final report on U.S. policy toward the conflict in Syria.
From 2013-2018, Dana served as a senior professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where she covered the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey. In that capacity, she played a central role in the oversight of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, which included overseeing U.S. foreign assistance and weapons sales, as well as crafting relevant legislation.
Before working on Capitol Hill, Dana served in the Middle East policy office of the Secretary of Defense. From 2008 to 2013, she focused on a range of topics including U.S.-Egypt relations, the U.S. military drawdown in Iraq, and a review of U.S. government policies and programs in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.
Dana also worked at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on economic-political affairs, at the U.S. Institute of Peace on civilian-military relations in Iraq, and at the National Democratic Institute on Gulf Affairs. She holds a Master of Science degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Virginia in Middle East Studies and Religious Studies.
Friday, January 6 - Finance
From personal to corporate, finance careers power the world. Within financial industries, there are unlimited career options. Come learn from our experts about how they forged their individuals paths.
Kelly Hackett '04
Kelly Hackett '04 is an angel investor. She invests in and advises startups across all sectors from pre-seed to pre-IPO. Prior to investing, she helped start Alector, a biotech company pioneering a novel approach to curing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. At Alector, she led all non-scientific aspects of the business including finance, operations, and human resources. Kelly has always loved entrepreneurship because of the fast pace and broad responsibilities at startups, which provide unparalleled opportunities to learn and grow.
Before joining Alector, she was the first employee at a hedge fund incubator where she led sourcing and due diligence for new partnerships. Additionally, she helped one of the founders start a multi-family office where she led portfolio analytics and asset allocation.
Upon graduating college, Kelly was a consultant at The Parthenon Group where she honed her financial and econometric modeling skills. In addition to her full-time jobs, she has always had many startup side hustles, including helping her sister-in-law launch Nearly Newlywed, a website to buy and sell used wedding dresses, which was featured on Shark Tank.
Kelly received her MBA from Stanford and BA from Dartmouth, majoring in Computer Science and Economics with a concentration in Finance. At Potomac, she played soccer, squash, and softball for 12 seasons. Prior to college, she took a gap year to go backpacking in Australia and New Zealand and while she still loves to travel, having visited every continent, she is excited to put down roots in Austin, TX.
Cleaver Sower ‘00 is a managing director on the Hybrid Capital investing team within Goldman Sachs Asset Management, where he leads the healthcare investing efforts for the Americas. Previously, he was co-head of the Americas Multi-Strategy Investing business, focusing on healthcare, healthcare real estate, consumer and retail industries in the US and Latin America. Cleaver joined Goldman Sachs in 2005 as an analyst in Corporate Treasury and transitioned to the firm’s investing businesses in 2007. He was named managing director in 2017 and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.
Cleaver earned a BS in Business Administration, magna cum laude, and a BA in Spanish Studies from American University in 2005. During college, he lived in Seville, Spain for a year studying Spanish and taking classes at the University of Seville.
Cleaver and his wife Emily Morse Sower '02 moved back to Washington, DC in 2014 after living in New York City out of college. They reside in Kent with their three children Rosie (8), June (5), and Wells (4).
Lauren Wackerle ‘12 grew up in Arlington, Virginia and attended Potomac from seventh through twelfth grade. Following Potomac, she majored in Political Science and graduated from Yale with distinction in 2016.
While in college, Lauren was a four-year member of the women’s varsity lacrosse team, served as an editor for the Yale Historical Review for seven semesters, and completed summer internships in the US Senate and House Foreign Affairs Committee. After graduation, Lauren worked for Morgan Stanley in New York for three years in the Global Capital Markets division, and enjoyed volunteering as President of the company’s Fresh Air Fund in NYC. She returned to the DC area and is currently a Vice President in the Financial Sponsors and Leveraged Finance group at MidCap Financial.
Lauren also enjoys engaging with many former classmates and interesting graduates as a member of Potomac's Alumni Governing Council and Board Member for the Yale Club of DC.
Friday, November 4: Marketing, Communications, and Sales
Why do you react to marketing and advertising the way you do? Organizations depend not only on getting their message out, but also on marketing's effectiveness in maintaining their current client base – all while attracting new customers. Competition is fierce, and technology constantly presents new ways to connect people and information.
Kevin Bender '05
Kevin Bender, currently Director of Special Projects at Healthline Media, the country’s leading health & wellness publisher reaching 80M+ readers per month, has a diverse background in storytelling, content development, and marketing. At Healthline, Kevin leads the special projects and content marketing teams to ideate and execute innovative omni-channel campaigns that resonate in the cultural zeitgeist, contributing to a spike in monetization, awareness, and engagement for Healthline. Examples include insight-driven Skin Care, Nutrition, Men’s Health, and Mental Well-Being vertical launches and TRANSFORM: Future of Health with diversity, equity, and inclusion at the forefront of the content and marketing strategy.
Prior to working at Healthline, Kevin served as Programming Director for Genius Kitchen and Food.com, a digital food and entertainment brand. In addition, he worked in various strategic and creative capacities on all food-related brands within the Warner Brothers Discovery portfolio and developed show concepts for social, digital, and linear outlets (Cooking Channel, Food Network, and Food.com). Before working at Food Network, Kevin worked at CBS Sports Interactive in digital ad sales.
Kevin has volunteered as a lifeline counselor with The Trevor Project, a nonprofit dedicated to providing life-affirming resources to LGBTQ+ youth, as well as with Do The WeRQ, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing queer visibility within the marketing and advertising community.
Kevin received his MBA from NYU Stern School of Business with concentrations in Entertainment Media & Technology, Leadership & Change Management, and Marketing. Kevin is an alumnus of Georgetown University, where he received his BA with a double major in English and Government, and lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his husband David and their dog Cooper.
Derrick is the Director of Crisis and Public Affairs communications at Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, Mint, Credit Karma, Quickbooks, and Mailchimp. He leads Intuit's newly created central crisis and public affairs communications function, collaborating with key internal and external stakeholders across Intuit. He helps develop and coordinate short and long-term campaigns directed toward elected officials, policymakers, media, and influencers to bring to life the Intuit story and how its products and services are helping its customers solve their biggest financial challenges. Derrick also developed and is responsible for an Intuit-wide center of excellence for the planning and management of crisis response.
Before joining Intuit, Derrick was a senior vice president at SKDK one of the country’s leading public affairs firms. There he specialized in public affairs, crisis and political communications, stakeholder engagement, multicultural and media relations and led some of the firm’s most significant and high-profile accounts including AWS, Lyft, PepsiCo, NAACP, and others. He also led the firm’s United Auto Worker’s war room during its 2019 labor strike against General Motors.
Prior to working at SKDK, he worked for Purple Strategies, Edelman, the Obama Administration, the Democratic National Committee, and multiple members of Congress.
In 2020, Derrick was named to PRWeek's prestigious 40 Under 40 list. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA and a Master of Business Administration from Howard University.
He lives in Maryland with his wife, daughter, and son.
Hana Ford graduated from Temple University in 2018 with a degree in Strategic Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. She has over four years of experience working at some of the industry's top-performing agencies, including Weber Shandwick and Great Minds. She currently works as an Account Supervisor at Small Girls PR. Hana has worked with clients across a variety of industries: among them, Booz Allen Hamilton, the US Postal Service, Healthcare.gov, Papa John's, OLAY, ThirdLove, and the Boston Celtics, to name a few.
Friday, October 7: Entrepreneurship
Drew Durbin '04
Drew Durbin, is the co-founder and CEO of Wave, a mobile money company with over 10 million users in West Africa and the mission to make Africa the first cashless continent.
Before Wave, he co-founded Sendwave, the world's first instant, no fee remittance company which helped the African diaspora send money home. Sendwave was acquired last year by WorldRemit, and Wave was spun out as an independent company in the process.
Drew grew up in McLean, Virginia, attended Brown University, and spent the first few years of his career working on social enterprises in Africa and teaching himself to code.
Career and Professional Skills Committee
“Personally, I thought that I had an idea of what I wanted my future career to look like,
but after hearing last spring’s program, I realized how much knowledge I lacked about the current
climate of careers. I was shocked to discover the number of potential careers that I previously had not thought about or realized exist. That assembly made me want to explore many more fields rather than focusing in on one area and encouraged the people around me to do the same.”
–Student, Class of 2023