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.”