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Whether you are seeking to be more effective in your current role, transitioning to a new career, or pursuing lifelong learning, Harris is here to support your professional development. 

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The Groundbreaking Science of Kindness: Live Longer, Happier and Healthier
A Webinar with Kelli Harding, MD, MPH, author of “The Rabbit Effect”

Headshot of Kelli Harding
Kelli Harding

Please join us for a fascinating discussion in our Wellness Webinar series with Dr. Kelli Harding, a medical and public health doctor who specializes in mind-body medicine. Her book and research present a radical new way to think about health, wellness and how we live. 

Kelli Harding, MD, MPH, trained in psychiatry at Columbia University where she continues to teach, is Board certified in both Psychiatry and Psychosomatic (mind- body) Medicine, has a degree in public health from Columbia University, and completed a two-year National Institute of Mental Health research fellowship studying anxiety disorders and unexplained medical symptoms. She has appeared on the Today show, Good Morning America, NPR, BBC, and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the World Economic Forum.

Dr Harding’s book “The Rabbit Effect: Live Longer, Happier, and Healthier with the Groundbreaking Science of Kindness” will be sent to each attendee.

Register here to attend the webinar on Tuesday, January 24, 2023, at 2:00 pm CST.

New Webinar Series

Cody Keenan
Cody Keenan

On Tuesday, November 15, 2022 Cody Keenan was our inaugural guest for our new webinar series “Communicating Public Policy.”  We were inspired to begin this new series by George Lakoff, a professor of cognitive science and linguistics, who wrote a commentary with the headline: “Want to change America? Talk about it.” Lakoff added: “Changing the public political discourse also changes public understanding, leading to new demands for political action.”

Words matter.  How we talk about public policies matters.  At Harris we are excited about all the policy work our alumni are engaged in, and appreciate that communicating the “why and how” is often challenging. Cody Keenan, the chief speechwriter for President Obama, was the perfect choice to lead our new series.  Cody’s new book Grace: President Obama and Ten Days in the Battle for America,” is a New York Times bestseller.

Listen to our webinar with Cody to learn:

  • How President Obama and his Chief Speechwriter managed the communication challenges over 10 days in 2015 beginning when a white supremacist murdered 9 black worshippers in Charleston, and the Supreme Court issued decisions on marriage equality and the right to health care
  • About the delicate balance in public policy communications between leaders and speechwriters who have to be careful about forcing change on a wider audience,  and the policy activists who have been seeking change for years
  • How and why effective communicators give “space” for reflection, and the advice President Obama gave to Cody about that idea, using Miles Davis as a reference
  • How even seasoned policy communicators struggle to address challenging topics like race and guns, and how the concept of “grace” became the theme for the eulogy in Charleston, leading to President Obama’s powerful rendition of “Amazing Grace”

Watch Cody Keenan discuss his book and provide insights on communicating policy here

Take Five with Terri

Terri Brady, Harris' Executive Director of Professional Development, wants to know what makes Harris Alumni tick. In Take Five with Terri, she asks Harris alums five questions about their life and careers after Harris, and about the wisdom they gained along the way.

Interview with Dominic Garcia MPP '03

The following interview has been edited.

1. Tell us about your personal and professional journey (where did you grow up, where do you live now, and what do you do professionally).

I grew up in New Mexico. My family has been living in New Mexico for many generations. We can trace our family back to the time of the initial Spanish settlers in the early 1600s. I have a lot of blood and tears in the New Mexico land and a lot of ancestors. So this is home for me in more ways than one. 

Headshot of Dominic Garcia
Dominic Garcia

I started my career as a teenager interning for the Mayor of Albuquerque, New Mexico and interning for New Mexico’s US Senators. I always thought I wanted to be involved in politics. That was my teenage dream. At an early age, the internships gave me a front row seat that showed me politicians don’t necessarily make decisions based on facts or logic. As I finished my undergraduate studies at the University of New Mexico, I realized I needed more rigorous training. I sought out the Harris School, which I saw as the perfect fit with interdisciplinary studies in economics, policy, politics, and finance. 

My two years at Harris were amazing and I loved every minute. I got married and we moved back to New Mexico. At that time I had a lot of ambition and aspirations that I could help move things along at the New Mexico state government. I started a job as a Policy Analyst with the Legislature’s finance committees. In New Mexico, the finance committees manage the budget and are quite powerful. On one of my first days there my new boss asked me if I knew much about the pension system. He suggested I should spend time with the pensions and report back with my opinions. 

The public pension world proved to be the perfect combination

I spent nine months learning about pensions and providing my various recommendations.  It worked out well as the pension system offered me a job as the Deputy Chief Investment Officer. Everything just clicked. The public pension world turned out to be the perfect combination of private investment management and public policy and politics.

I succeeded and spent eighteen years in the public pension world, with about half that in New Mexico and about half at the Wisconsin pension.  The Wisconsin pension system is considered to be one of the best in the world, so it is the gold standard in the United States. I had a great education and mentorship there from the Chief Investment Officer and learned best practices in pension management. New Mexico did not have that reputation, so I decided to return to my home state to serve as the Chief Investment Officer. I implemented everything I had learned and turned the pension system around in New Mexico. 

In Wisconsin I learned four key principles for pension management, which I brought to New Mexico so that the system would be more sustainable. I completed that task and decided I would do something new by moving to the private sector. Now I am with CBRE Investment Management where I serve as the Chief Investment and Pension Strategist. CBRE is a 150 billion dollar real estate and infrastructure real asset manager. I do a lot of the work that I did before but now I am on the other side of the fence. I work with a lot of clients, particularly pensions, advising them on how best to build their portfolios and talking with them about different CBRE ideas and strategies. 

I do a lot of volunteering. I am a trustee for a couple of private schools in New Mexico, and serve on an advisory board for the University of North Carolina’s Institute for Private Capital. I also serve as an advisory board member for EDHEC Infrastructure Institute, and I serve as an independent director for a very large private capital fund.  I also serve on the advisory board for the Harris School’s Center for Municipal Finance. I am busy!

2. Please describe a recent work project that you found particularly challenging or interesting and tell us why.

In  early 2020, the New Mexico pension system was on a trajectory over the next 30 years that wasn’t healthy. I collaborated with my Executive Director, the New Mexico Governor, and the Legislature, to change our plan design/benefit structure and to reorient our COLA (cost-of-living adjustment) so we could make the benefit structure more sustainable for the next generation. We did this in the legislative session just before the pandemic, which hit two weeks later. 

The challenge was that for decades the very vocal retirees who are well organized in the legislative process were used to receiving a COLA every year. We proposed a more financially sustainable plan, but it was very difficult to convince the retiree groups and the legislators that this was the right thing. We pounded the pavement to every single legislator in New Mexico to make the case, and people listened. We passed the bill and won with a super majority. It was a milestone that confirmed for me that I had done my public service by moving the pension system from “not so good” to a much better footing.

 It was challenging as I experienced a lot of threats, but it was a very innovative policy and facts that won the day. It was gratifying and challenging all at the same time. 

3. What aspects of your Harris education have been most valuable to you in your career?

The obvious value is the rigor of the curriculum, particularly relative to other policy schools. The rigor of the economics and finance classes really set a foundation for me, especially as I moved into pension and investment management. The education was outstanding. It was like having a finance MBA within a public policy degree, so that was amazing. 

The second valuable aspect was the students.  I had an amazing experience with the students who challenged me, opened up my mind, and pushed me to be a better thinker and a better policy maker. Those two things combined gave me – more than anything else – the confidence to know that I could go out into the world and compete against anybody. At Harris I learned that my ideas could be sharpened and become some of the best ideas,  and that I could actually go out in the world and make change. I walked out of Harris a more confident person and a more confident professional. 

How was your teamwork experience at Harris?

About 80 percent of my work was team-based. Just about every assignment I did I worked on a small or medium-sized team. I learned a lot from my teammates. Some of them got PhDs in economics. I had great interaction with them and great discourse. 

4. What is an ideal fun day off for you?

Photo of Dominic Garcia posing with a fish
Dominic enjoying a day off

My best day off is spending some time in the mountains whether it is in winter or summer. I live in Santa Fe at about 7200 feet above sea level at the foothills of the mountains. An ideal fun day will include a couple of things. I may spend half the day going trail running or mountain biking. In the winter I am only thirty minutes from a nice ski area so I will take the day off and go skiing. Even on the ski lift I can take some work calls!  Then I can be down from the mountain in thirty minutes to my house and pick up the kids from school. 

Santa Fe is just a beautiful place to live – great culture, a very slow calm pace, excellent outdoor activities, and excellent weather. Many people have gotten that same vibe because we had a lot of “influx” throughout the pandemic. 

5. What piece of “counter-intuitive” advice would you give your “Harris self” now?

When I was at Harris, I was full of aspiration and ambition and I wouldn’t change that, but I wanted things done quickly and immediately. It took me a while – probably a decade – to realize that things don’t happen overnight. I would say that if you have a great idea don’t let it die just because it doesn’t get accomplished in one year, or because it doesn’t go through the legislative process right away. Even a good idea can take multiple years or a decade for something to happen. I would tell my Harris self to be patient and persistent.  

I’m not quite two decades into my career but I think I have had three or four big ideas and I have been able to accomplish most of them. But it didn’t take one or two years - it took five or ten years. 

That sounds like a lesson from “The Long Game,” a book written by one of my webinar guests, Dorie Clark.

I agree with playing the long game.  If you want to change something you can’t have a position that is just a little bit different from the status quo because the status quo is so powerful. The gravitational pull of the status quo is so big that you have to have a view that is outside the orbit of the status quo. But the idea or proposal can’t be so far out that you are considered an extremist.  If I can continue the analogy of the orbits: maybe you go to the Mars orbit, but you don’t go to Jupiter. It’s a fine line. 

Read Up

Stay informed about important professional development and leadership topics. Our curated and insightful articles highlight connections to our webinar speakers. 

High-Performing Professionals Run on Self Awareness
A commentary by Terri Brady about developing self-awareness, which requires curiosity, humility, and courage.

How to Network When There Are No Networking Events
Our initial webinar speaker, thought leader Dorie Clark, wrote a piece in Harvard Business Review on how to network when there are no networking events.

Master of Influence: The “Notorious RBG” Used Persuasion to Advance Equality
A commentary by Terri Brady about how Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg used the persuasion tools of framing, building relationships, and asking strategic questions to change policy and laws.

The Power of Networking: A Harris Connection Story
When Harris alumna Mary Michaud, MPP ’95, connected with Analiese Wagner, MPP ’20 and Sarah Gill, MPP ’20 it triggered a powerful chain of subsequent connections and events. And it all began with a single email.

Listen Up

Explore our collection of webinar series and individual events to hear from experts on a range of topics related to professional development and leadership.

Listen to past webinars from the Transition Series, the Influencing Series, the Leadership Series, and the Wellness Series.

Culture by Design with David Friedman

Headshot of David Friedman
David Friedman

David Friedman knows firsthand what it takes to build a high-performance culture. He is an award-winning CEO, entrepreneur, author, and renowned public speaker. His book, Culture by Design, is the definitive “how to” manual for building a high-performing culture. Participants in his  workshops have described them as the most practical and actionable programs they have ever attended. Here is what one reviewer said of his presentation:

“The genius in what David Friedman teaches is in its simplicity. But don’t let that fool you. We applied these concepts, with amazing results, for our thousands of team members around the world.”

Listen to our webinar with David to learn:

  • Why culture is consistently ranked among the top three most important issues for senior leadership and the impact culture has on an organization
  • David’s innovative eight step framework for creating a high-performing culture and why it is important to understand the distinction between “behaviors” and “values”
  • How “fundamental behaviors” determine culture, why and how to “ritualize” the practice of fundamentals, and the importance of clarity in communicating these ideas to the organization and to external stakeholders
  • How to design and build a high-performance culture when employees are working remotely

Watch “Culture by Design” with David Friedman here

Cultivating Confidence with Michelle Fraley

Headshot of Michelle Fraley
Michelle Fraley

Michelle Fraley believes that self-confidence creates a foundation for living with authenticity and purpose. She has a master’s degree in clinical psychology, is a certified holistic life coach, certified yoga and meditation teacher, and a clinical counselor and highly regarded speaker. She has been featured in Yahoo, Women’s Health, and other significant publications and is an Integrative Wellness Specialist at Miraval Resort and Spa in Tucson. In her webinar presentation she discussed insights and misconceptions about confidence, growth mindset, emotional resilience, and the imposter syndrome. 

Listen to this Wellness-themed webinar to learn:

  • What confidence is and is not, why it is important to develop and strengthen our self-confidence and self-trust, and how low self-confidence manifests in our daily lives
  • About the Imposter Syndrome, which is a distorted way of thinking estimated to affect 7 of 10 people, to learn the common symptoms, and practical strategies for dealing with it
  • Ten valuable and actionable strategies for boosting your self-confidence, including the importance of shifting your perspective, taking action to get out of the "overthinking" trap, and surrounding yourself with people who support you on your confidence journey
  • The importance of self-compassion, and how self-discovery can be beneficial and lead to diminishing the frequency and intensity of negative self-dialogue

Watch “Cultivating Confidence” with Michelle Fraley here

Speak Up

Partner with us in our efforts to support lifelong learning and Harris community building!

Ask a question

If you have questions about professional development, or you would like us to explore specific subjects, contact Terri Brady, Executive Director of Professional Development at tbrady@uchicago.edu.


Do you want to contribute your opinion in writing?

The Chicago Policy Review invites all Harris alumni to submit opinion editorials for their Commentary section. Promote your professional brand to an audience of policy experts. 

Submit your editorial.

Send questions to the Chicago Policy Review editor in chief at editor.in.chief@chicagopolicyreview.org.