*One of a collection of stories written by alumni for the Jepson School's 20th Anniversary

One of the most important skills I learned from my studies at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies was the ability to work well with a team. In working with classmates on projects in almost every Jepson class, I learned to effectively communicate with others, determine and divide tasks, trust others and lead by example. I have used these skills in almost every project on which I have worked, from developing a new way to track and respond to citizen concerns at the Department of Justice, to managing the logistical details of a high profile legal office at the Department of Homeland Security. The skills of learning to take ownership over tasks, to delegate other responsibilities, and to work with others toward a common goal have led me to success on every project I have undertaken in my career since graduating.

Jepson also instilled within me the importance of a mission, vision and focus, both personally and within organizations. One of my personal missions has been public service, and this mission has kept me in federal government positions since graduating, despite the draws of higher salaries in the private sector. One of my duties has been to serve as the confidential assistant to the general counsel of the Department of Homeland Security. In this role, I was guided by my experiences at Jepson to facilitate meetings, events and speaking engagements to communicate the general counsel’s vision for the Department to those throughout the legal office. With the strong base of knowledge I had built at Jepson about transformational leadership, I was able to understand and integrate the general counsel’s vision of institutionalizing change within the Department to enhance the culture and operations of a vital governmental legal office.

My education at Jepson also solidified within me the importance of ethical leadership. The value that I place on ethics because of my personal beliefs and education at Jepson has helped me serve as confidential assistant to a general counsel with discretion and integrity, and has also helped me guide the decisions of the general counsel to abide by government ethical guidelines and to ensure his decisions were in line with his strong sense of personal integrity. My personal emphasis on integrity and ethical behavior has also influenced the hiring decisions I make and the guidance I give as the manager of the Honors Attorney Program at DHS. The values and education that Jepson instills in students are crucial to building a society of responsible, ethical, proactive and involved citizens. I greatly value my education at Jepson, and think that anyone who graduates from the Jepson School of Leadership Studies will carry the skills they’ve learned at Jepson to contribute to the betterment of businesses, government and society as a whole.

--Alexandra Daddario Edwards