Baker News November 19, 2018

Student Reflection: Kitchen Table

by Courtney Powers

We are proud to publish student reflections on our programming and events. Check out this insightful reflection on our latest Kitchen Table dinner by MBA student Courtney Powers.

As I logged out of my computer and bundled up for the unseasonably snowy night, I felt a wave of excitement that I was about to head to my first Baker Center Kitchen Table dinner. The dinner, billed as a conversation with Tara McGuinness, currently a senior fellow at New America, and Natalie Quillian, a principal at The Boston Consulting Group, felt like the perfect opportunity to discuss the nexus of policy implementation and innovation in both the public and private sectors.

I am an evening student at McDonough, completing my MBA while working full-time at a policy research firm. Getting to talk to two esteemed former White House officials about their transition to the private sector felt like the perfect encapsulation of my career interests.

So, on the night of November 15, a small group of bundled up Georgetown graduate students arrived at Via Umbria for a casual reception before sitting down to a dinner with Tara and Natalie. The energy in the room was palpable, as it’s not every night (at least for me!) that you get to have a frank and open conversation with two women who were at the forefront of policy change and innovation. Tara and Natalie’s openness and humility were apparent throughout the discussion. We were asked to submit question ideas in advance of dinner, and while I couldn’t remember my exact questions, I believe the process of developing questions led to a much stronger discussion.

With events like this, I sometimes fear that one or two individuals will dominate discussion. However, the group of students in attendance and the discussion format was particularly conducive to an enjoyable event for all attendees. Thanks to Tara and Natalie, as well as the Baker Center’s planning, all members of the table were able to engage in discussion and ask questions. Questions ranged from career advice, anecdotes from years in the driver’s seat of policy change at the Obama White House, to their transition into the private sector.

This event helped renew my excitement in policy as a force for good, while also recognizing the strong power of the private sector to shape the ways we interact with the world. I am extremely grateful to have attended this event and am looking forward to continued Baker Center discussions in the future.