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Vista • Fall 2009 • Volume 14 • Number 2

Our Woman in Washington
Mona Sutphen ’89 | White House Deputy Chief of Staff

Mona Sutphen ’89 is deputy chief of staff for the Obama administration, where she oversees policy development and implementation. She is coauthor of the book The Next American Century: How the U.S. Can Thrive as Other Powers Rise and a former managing director of Stonebridge International, LLC. Sutphen, who holds a master’s degree from the London School of Economics, was also a member of the Clinton administration, serving on the staff of the National Security Council under Sandy Berger.

According to a recent Washington Post article, Sutphen has been characterized “by current and former colleagues as very smart, driven, and matter of fact . . . [she] has previous White House experience absent from the résumés of most other senior staff.”

Sutphen describes her experience attending a women’s college, where she majored in international relations, as incredibly inspiring. “Intellectually, the institution builds a cadre of forward-thinking, creative women. It really embraces women’s achievement.” She adds that while women’s colleges are not for everyone, they reflect the diversity of higher education in the U.S.

She credits Tony Lake, Clinton’s national security advisor, former Five College Professor of International Relations, and current MHC trustee, for fostering her career. “It is happenstance that I am in this field,” Sutphen said. “I got to know Tony Lake during my time at MHC. I met him when I was 19, and he gave me career advice. He and others encouraged me to take the Foreign Service exam.” Just out of MHC, she passed the exam and was eventually sent to the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok.

Sutphen believes that there is more than one way to discover your passion and that MHC equips you with the resources to help you in this journey. Her advice to new MHC graduates: “Follow your interests in the early part of your career. It all comes back and is relevant.”

Empowering Teens through Film
Maile Martinez ’03 | Program Manager | Reel Grrls

When Maile Martinez ’03 landed a job two years ago at Reel Grrls, a filmmaking program in Seattle for teenage girls, she knew it was a perfect fit. As program manager, she plans and implements the organization’s after-school classes, workshops, and summer camps exploring all aspects of filmmaking and media literacy.

Martinez fell in love with teaching while working for Teach for America after graduation and earning a master’s degree in education. In 2005, she set her sights on a Ph.D. in comparative literature and, with support from Mount Holyoke’s Career Development Center, won a prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship to get a master’s degree in European literature and culture at the University of Cambridge.

While Martinez thrived at Cambridge, she found it difficult to reconcile that work with her desire to do something more socially conscious. “At MHC and Cambridge, I had many pinch-me moments when I asked myself how I had gotten so lucky to be getting this amazing educational opportunity. I wanted to help other people who haven’t had the same opportunities I’ve had.”

Martinez focused on film studies at Cambridge and aspired to a job that would combine her interests in community service, young people, and the arts. “It’s the only program of its kind exclusively for girls. Having come from Mount Holyoke, I’m really a believer in all-women’s education, so this job is great for me.”

While Reel Grrls serves a diverse population, Martinez particularly enjoys working with at-risk girls. “A lot of these kids have cast themselves into roles as unsuccessful students. Here, away from school, they can break out of that and be successful. It’s great to watch them stay committed to something that’s really hard and succeeding at it.”

Mount Holyoke College • Vista

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