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Heinz College in Washington, D.C.

The Heinz College in Washington DC program enables us to apply our unique approach to problem solving to issues both local and global, whether with partners in the Federal government, non-profits working for more equitable communities, or respected think tanks influencing how problems are framed.

Sarah Mendelson speaking at CMU energy week

Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy leads policy innovation at every level of government and civil society. To shape policy, you need to be where policy gets made. That is why we established a permanent presence in Washington, D.C.

Our D.C. program is led by Amb. Sarah E. Mendelson, former UN Ambassador, global human rights champion, and advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals, including as a co-chair of the CMU Sustainability Initiative.

Heinz College is dedicated to solving urgent problems at the intersection of people, policy, and technology—the future of work and workers, criminal justice, how democracy functions, health care, cybersecurity, smart cities, sustainable development, and climate change to name a few. These are large-scale, complex public policy challenges that require thoughtful, creative, and innovative solutions.

We invest resources in action and engagement that has impact on people’s lives.  Through rigorous research, initiatives, and partnerships that channel talent and bold ideas to the public sector, as well as groundbreaking academic programs. Our top-ranked policy analysis programthe MSPPM-DC pathway—brings students to Washington, D.C. to not only launch their careers but develop the skills needed to be positive agents of change in public policy.

This page highlights the important work of our faculty, students, and alumni in the region.

More than a Policy School

Our impact in Washington, D.C. goes well beyond academics.

  • We partner with organizations such as the Brookings Institution, the New America Foundation, the United Nations, the Open Government Partnership, Freedom House, the Aspen Institute, the United States Institute of Peace, the AFL-CIO, the National Governors Association, the National League of Cities, and many others that keep us engaged with the most pressing policy conversations of our time.
  • Through the Heinz Policy Fellowship program, we place talented graduate students in federal agencies, think tanks, and influential non-profits. Our students perform work that draws on the skills they have learned at Heinz College which our partners know are well beyond the capabilities of the typical DC intern.
  • We host an annual Public Service Weekend through the Public Policy & International Affairs (PPIA) program to engage a group of diverse future leaders in the public sector.
  • Through our Executive Education programs, we offer industry leaders insight and skills in technology management, digital transformation, and cybersecurity.
  • The CERT division of CMU’s Software Engineering Institute, a federally funded Center of cyber research and development, provides frontline cyber defense and training programs to combat 21st century threats.

Learn more Heinz College's Policy Impact

  • Nevada Representative Susie Lee at an event alongside Heinz College Dean Ramayya Krishnan
  • Daniel Nagin speaking at the US Institute of Peace
  • Former US CTO Megan Smith speaks to Heinz College DC students
  • Ambassador Sarah Mendelson speaking at a Brookings event
  • Former MD Governor Martin O'Malley speaks to Heinz College DC students
  • Senator Bob Casey speaking to Heinz College students

Leading the Conversation

Heinz College engages directly with the people who move policy forward and get things done in D.C.

Democracy Now and Next

Democracy Now and Next: Conversations with Experts on U.S. Approaches to Advancing Democracy and Countering Authoritarianism At Home and Around the World

Co-sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy and Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service

This series featured conversations with experts in the issues of democracy reform, the revitalization of U.S. strategy and policy, and the countering of rising authoritarianism to highlight time sensitive policy conversations occurring within the Biden administration and members of Congress. Specifically, the series engaged with experts from the nonpartisan  Task Force on US Strategy to Support Democracy and Counter Authoritarian, organized by three leading Washington, DC-based organizations --  Freedom House, the  Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and the   McCain Institute  -- on issues to keep an eye out for democracy in 2021.

Amb. Sarah Mendelson, Distinguished Service Professor of Public Policy, Head of Heinz College in Washington, DC, Carnegie Mellon University

Speakers Include:
Mike Abramowitz, President of Freedom House
Amb. Eileen Donahoe, Executive Director of the Global Digital Policy Incubator at Stanford University, FSI/Cyber Policy Center
Mike Green, Senior Vice President for Asia and Japan Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Professor and Director of Asian Studies, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service
David J. Kramer, Senior Fellow in the Václav Havel Program for Human Rights & Diplomacy and Director for European & Eurasian Studies at Florida International University's Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs
Stuart Levey, Former Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence
Ashely Quarcoo, Senior Fellow, Democracy, Conflict and Governance Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Nicole Bibbins Sedaca, Deputy Director and Professor, Master of Science in Foreign Service Program, Georgetown University and Kelly and David Pfeil Fellow at the George W. Bush Institute
Alex Their, Task Force Co-Director, Senior Democracy Fellow, Freedom House
Anne Witkowsky, Task Force Co-Director, Senior Democracy Fellow, Freedom House
Vera Zakem, Senior Technology and Policy Advisor at the Institute for Security and Technology and Founder of Zakem Global Strategies

The Crisis & The Opportunity

Part 1: We discuss U.S. approaches to advancing democracy and countering authoritarianism at home and around the world.

Institutions Critical To Democracy

Part 2: We detail the key institutions that are critical to advancing and strengthening democracy in the U.S. and abroad.

Refreshing U.S. Architecture & Alliances

Part 3: We examine ways to refresh U.S. diplomatic architecture and alliances.

The Role Of Technology & Disinformation

Part 4: We outline the threat that disinformation poses to democracy, and what policy and technological measures can be put in place to help combat it.

The Role Of Corruption And Kleptocracy

Part 5: We analyze the role that corruption and kleptocracy​ play in threatening democracy​.

Interactions With Trade & Development

Part 6: We define ways that democracy interacts with trade and development.

Speaker Series, Events & Panels

Heinz College experts regularly convene with our network of colleagues and partners from government, public service and diplomatic institutions, and academia for solutions-oriented discussions and panels on pressing topics. 

View Recorded Sessions

Heinz College D.C. Academic Programs

Preparing Leaders to Affect Change

Heinz College operates several academic programs in D.C., including the highest-ranked policy analysis program in the capital.

Carnegie Mellon University is licensed to offer educational programs in Washington, DC by the DC Higher Education Licensure Commission.