The Tools for Improving Policy

With Alum Brittany Weaver Matthews '10, '15G (MPA)
A photo of Master of Public Administration alum Brittany Matthews outside of Sen. Maggie Hassan's office

Current position: Senior Policy Advisor for Education & Workforce, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan
Carsey Degree: Master of Public Administration (MPA)
UNH Undergraduate Degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Affairs

While at UNH:

"The MPA gave me a deeper understanding of not only how public policy was developed, but how those policies are implemented, and provided me with necessary tools to avoid unintended consequences and understand what may be needed to make policy improvements."

What was your capstone experience like at the Carsey School?

For my capstone, I was able to work with a new statewide initiative called Live, Free, and Start that focused on engaging start-up businesses. I worked closely with the director of entrepreneurship at the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority to recruit and engage board members, plan and host events, and execute board-driven objectives to increase the networking, information, and technical assistance available to business startups. This was an excellent opportunity to work on an initiative from its early development to understand the challenges in building support for and creating a sustainable foundation moving forward.

A photograph of Brittany Matthews on the steps of Dimond Library after graduating with her Master of Public Administration degree

Brittany Matthews stands on the steps of UNH's Dimond Library on the day of her hooding, 2015.

Can you describe your most valuable takeaway from your master's program?

I often reflect on how valuable my MPA has been in shaping my approach to policy development. When I was pursuing my Master’s in Public Administration, I was fortunate to work full time in the New Hampshire Governor’s office for then Governor Maggie Hassan. Working and attending school full time was difficult, but it also made my experience more valuable, because I was able to apply my studies to my on-the-job experiences. The MPA gave me a deeper understanding of not only how public policy was developed, but how those policies are implemented, and it provided me with the necessary tools to avoid unintended consequences and understand what may be needed to make policy improvements.

What advice do you have for people considering a graduate degree from the Carsey School?

When choosing a graduate program, it is important to understand how you want it to serve you going forward. It’s critical to pursue a program that you think will best meet what you’re looking for and that aligns with your values. Because of my own background, I very much valued participating in a program in which I could collaborate and learn from other professionals across New Hampshire. I believe that engaging with your topic of study outside of the classroom will make your graduate program that much more valuable.

What was your internship like with The Washington Center (TWC)?

Through The Washington Center, I interned at the U.S. State Department in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ European office, where I served on the NATO team in a junior policy role. This was one of the most phenomenal professional experiences that I have ever had. I was able to work with and learn from both career and politically appointed foreign policy experts.

In my role, I was tasked with tracking and summarizing incoming information from around the world and helped pull together policy reports that were presented at higher state department levels. The four months that I served in this role is something that I reflect on often and I’m so grateful to The Washington Center for helping to make it possible.

What type of students would you recommend TWC program too?

Washington, D.C. is such an amazing city to explore for any college major. While people often think TWC is more for students who want to work in the government or political sphere, there are significantly more opportunities beyond that. For students who want to explore a new place and receive a valuable professional experience that they can also receive college credit for, TWC is a great option.

What did you enjoy most about TWC program and how did it prepare you for your current career?

My internship provided me with invaluable professional experience that I have been able to apply throughout my career, including in my current policy role in the U.S. Senate. TWC also confirmed for me how much I love Washington, D.C., and I was excited to move here more permanently in 2016!

About Brittany Matthews: Brittany served as Deputy Finance Director for Sen. Maggie Hassan's 2012 campaign for New Hampshire Governor. During Hassan's tenure as the 81st Governor of New Hampshire (2013-2017), Brittany worked as the Director of Administration and the Deputy Policy Director in the Governor's office while also earning her Master of Public Administration from the Carsey School. As a Senior Policy Advisor with Sen. Hassan, she focuses on Education and the Workforce and also advises the Senator on policies related to labor, disability issues, national service, and arts and the humanities. Brittany lives in the DC-Metro area with her husband Chris.