The fascinating world of politics and policy can lead to lifelong careers that impact everyday lives. It’s also a strong thread that ties Jeff Forbes ’87 together with Jack Stauss ’19, his sister Mattie Stauss ’22, former congressman Bob Dold ’91, and countless other Denisonians.
But the ties that bind these four individuals are stronger than most. They, and several other Big Red alumni, are connected through Forbes Tate Partners, a bipartisan, full-service government and public affairs advocacy firm, founded by Forbes and his partner Dan Tate.
In today’s divisive political landscape it might be difficult to imagine that colleagues from opposite sides of the aisle can be, well, collegial. But according to Forbes, who has worked on Democratic campaigns since Al Gore’s presidential bid, that’s the whole point.
“People forget about the moderate factions in politics — and that’s where real work can be done,” says Forbes. So it made sense to build a firm that could work well with both parties and provide positive results for everyone.
And the work has become more complicated. “Lobbying has changed,” he says. “It’s not as much who you know - though that still matters. Today, you have to run a full-fledged campaign with traditional PR, social media, news updates. You have to make sure the people back home see the reason for what you are doing, to create that support before you move forward.”
So how did all these Denisonians find their way to Forbes Tate? You can credit another Denison tie, the Hilltoppers men’s a cappella group. Forbes was a member of the popular campus group, and several years ago a student Hilltopper reached out to him, struggling to figure out what to do for the summer. Forbes’ impulsive response, “Why don’t you come here?” became the beginning of an internship program that has brought scads of students from Denison’s hill to Capitol Hill.
Students like Mattie Stauss ‘22, the firm’s most recent intern. “I learned how to write a multitude of different pieces of writing like press releases and memos, “ says Stauss, a political science major. Stauss followed the footsteps of her brother (and former Forbes Tate intern) Jack ‘19 to Washington D.C. last summer. “I also learned how to work in the real world, dealing with different clients, and doing real time work regarding politics and with my client, the American Medical Association.”
Much of the work involves gathering information and reports for clients. Stauss’s work with the AMA regarded opioids. “It was very interesting for me because it is something that is affecting our country so greatly every day and I got to work on helping to promote legislation which would curb the crisis,” she says. “I learned so many new things about the extensiveness of the crisis, where it is the worst in the nation, and how certain laws can help stop it.”
“This internship has been a great way to start expanding my career network, “ she adds. “Even though it was a remote internship, meeting the partners and people at different levels in the firm over zoom helped me understand their different career paths. They were all so kind and were always offering to grab virtual coffee to network and chat. It was clear that everyone there wants you to succeed in your career and they are going to be there to help and want to work together in the future.”
“We’ve had so many great interns in the past and now have five Denisonians on our staff, “ says Forbes. “My partner Dan graduated from Amherst, and he became a little jealous, so now we have one Amherst intern, too.”