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International Political Economy


  • John Gray '06
    John Gray '06

John Gray ’06

Class Year



International Political Economy

Current home

Washington, D.C.

Current position

 Associate Director at the Office of Management and Budget

John Gray ’06 works in the White House, where his responsibilities include overseeing the federal Labor and Education departments and income maintenance issues which manages many welfare programs at HHS and all nutrition programs at USDA. 

He previously provided commentary on public policy in written, audio, and video format for Conservative Review, using a decade of experience in Congress to help frame his content.

Mr. Gray worked on the Committee on the Budget under then-Rep. Paul Ryan (now Speaker of the House), in Republican leadership under chairman Mike Pence (now U.S. vice president), and as the top policy advisor for Sen. Rand Paul. While working with some of the top names in the GOP, he got to attend meetings at the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis of 2008 and was on the House floor during historic votes on the Wall Street bailout and healthcare reform.

What have you enjoyed most about your career?

“My career has been quite the adventure. There’s been a lot to enjoy, but the people I worked for are among the top experiences. I began my career working for Congressman Paul Ryan at the Committee on the Budget. After nearly four years of writing federal budgets, I went to work in Republican leadership for chairman Mike Pence who is now the governor of Indiana.

In 2011, I left the House and moved to the Senate where I was the top policy advisor to Senator Rand Paul. My former bosses were all remarkable people and I am grateful for the opportunity to work for each one of them. Furthermore, I enjoyed many of the personal opportunities I received from sitting on the House floor as the President delivered his State of the Union, to drafting my own budget and receiving a vote in Congress, and attending diplomatic trips to foreign nations.

I also enjoyed the idea of participating in political history. I will always remember sitting in private meetings with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson as the financial crisis was unraveling. I was on the floor of the House of Representatives as they cast their vote for a Wall Street bailout, and I was there for the vote on Obama’s health care plan. I staffed filibusters and was involved in a government shutdown. I enjoyed getting to know inspirational people like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, and many others. Many of these people are friends to this day.”

How did Carthage prepare you?

“As a junior, I received the wonderful opportunity to intern on Capitol Hill with Congressman Paul Ryan during summer break. That was invaluable to preparing me for my job in Washington.

However, Carthage needs to be credited with their style of teaching. I always felt that my professors, like Profs. Cyr and Maltsev, provided a platform that was similar to graduate school. That style required more in-depth research and broader writing skills. But it wasn’t just the teaching style, it was the caliber of people who teach at Carthage — remarkable people — some that I still call mentors.”

How has your liberal arts education helped you?

“Senator John McCain once called me a ‘little [expletive]’ for being late to a meeting. I have to assume my preparedness in being late for class in college helped prepare me for that,” Mr. Gray jokes. But “in all seriousness, I think the intimate experience and the opportunities in a small liberal arts school helped me immensely along the way.”

Tips for current Carthage students:

“Whether it’s college or career, I’ve learned one thing that is more important than anything else I’ve ever learned — go to bed smarter than when you woke up. Read as much as possible, then read some more. I am confident that is the key to success. And, it’s actually a lot fun.”

Favorite Carthage memories:

“Prof. Yuri Maltsev’s class. He is still a mentor to this day and is among my greatest memories at Carthage. I have met people from all over the world, all branches of government, and it always amazes me how many people know Prof. Maltsev. I would do undergrad over again just to sit through his classes. I’ve met the most remarkable people in life, but Prof. Maltsev remains among the top of that list.”

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2018), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • Scheduled to open in fall 2018, a new residential tower will offer suite-style housing and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about The Tower

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • 96% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. 95% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • As a freshman in the highly selective Honors Program, learn how to gain expertise in anything from music to forest ecology. After that, tackle a contemporary social, economic, or political problem. If you like, you can live on an Honors-only floor of a Carthage residence hall. 

    • Carthage’s J-Term offers IPE students opportunities to study business culture in other countries. Recent J-Term study tours have been led by economics, finance, political science, and marketing faculty to such destinations as Sweden, Cuba, Argentina, southern Africa, and Hong Kong.

    • Carthage IPE graduates are working around the globe as computer analysts, financial advisors, investment brokers, international business analysts, mutual fund specialists, and for government and nonprofit organizations. 

    • Popular with IPE students, the student organization Enactus provides students with entrepreneurial experience through community projects. The group’s name borrows from three words: entrepreneurial, action, and us. Enactus has received regional and national recognition.

    • In 2016, 2017 and 2018, Carthage was named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our athletic and recreation center, student union, computer labs, audiovisual production suite, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 10 years. Our new science center caps it off.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to athletic training, neuroscience to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of our students receive financial aid, a hefty chunk of which is scholarships and grants — including $1.25 million annually from the Presidential Scholarship Competition and numerous Merit Scholarships. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” says biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 30 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from 75% tuition up to full tuition, room, and board. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 120 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Chemistry Club, to Frisbee and Latin Belly Dancing. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • Imagine presenting your original research at an international conference — as an undergraduate. Carthage is dedicated to undergraduate research. Learn more about current opportunities.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …