Kristen Orthman (‘04)
Kirsten Orthman (‘04) graduated from American University, majoring in international studies. She served as Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director during her 2020 bid for the presidency. Orthman has been the Communications Director for the Democratic National Committee since January 2022.
The Argo: When and why did you decide to pursue your current career path?
Orthman: It actually starts at BLS. I decided to go to school in Washington, D.C. for college. While I was in college, one of my friends from BLS — his name is Houston Pang — messaged me on Facebook asking if I wanted to apply for an internship for a Senator named Harry Reid. I applied and I got the internship, and that was my first big foray into the national politics scene. And fortunately, I graduated the following year and Harry Reid’s office had a press assistant role open that they asked me to apply for, and I ended up getting it.
A: Looking back, what would you say is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life, or in your career?
O: Being nice and professional and a good person to every and anyone you meet. The person who sits next to you in homeroom at BLS, or the person you’re an intern with, or is your classmate in college, or who’s your boss in your first job — those people will stay with you in many stages of your life. Ruthzee [Louijeune (‘04)], who is a city councilor in Boston, she and I went to high school together. She went off to law school, I went off and did my thing. All of a sudden, we’re reconnected on Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign, and that’s someone that I had English class with in tenth grade, right? So, you just never know where you’re going to come across people again.
A: What is one piece of advice that you would give to a student at BLS?
O: Don’t be so hard on yourself. I know that sometimes there is an expectation to be the best at everything and do all the activities. And I think doing what makes you happy and fulfilled is a lot more important than doing what’s going to look good on a college application. There’s a lot of different paths for people, and knowing what fulfills you is ultimately what’s going to drive you and make you as happy as you could be.