Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Students, alumni named PMF finalists

Patrick Landers and Vanessa Studer Patrick Landers and Vanessa Studer

La Follette School students Patrick Landers and Vanessa Studer along with Casey Hutchison (MIPA ’18) and Danny Benson (MPA ’17) advanced as finalists in the highly competitive Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) program. 

They join a long list of La Follette School alumni, including former ambassador Daniel Speckhard (MA ’82), who have launched their public service careers through the PMF program. The two-year appointment provides participants with leadership training and experience across functional areas, offices, and in some cases, different agencies in the Executive branch of government.

For Landers, a second-year student in the Master of Public Affairs (MPA) program, the guidance and encouragement from La Follette School alumni and staff were invaluable.

“The panel discussion with Don Eggert (MPA ’15) and Chad Ruppel (MPA ’04) was really helpful for increasing my understanding of the application process and motivating me to work on my application even when my coursework seemed daunting,” said Landers, who earned a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Hamilton College near Utica, New York.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Landers is interested in domestic social and economic policy issues, particularly poverty and the safety net.

Studer, another second-year MPA student, applied after learning about the leadership development and mentorship opportunities.

“Given the competitive nature of the program, I appreciated the La Follette School connecting us to past fellows; it made the prospects of becoming a finalist seem more tangible when applying,” said Studer, who is interested in health policy and policy analysis.

Hutchison, who received her master’s degree in international public affairs (MIPA) in May 2018, hopes to work in the State Department. “These jobs are hard to find without an ‘in,’ so I was excited to hear that I got a PMF,” she said. Hutchison now lives in Washington, DC, and is an advisory associate in the Global Public Sector at Grant Thornton.

Benson also relocated to Washington, DC, earlier this year and hopes to work on housing and community-development policy. Internships at the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) solidified Benson’s interest in pursuing the PMF.