Second-Generation Allegheny Graduate Involved at the Highest Level of Politics
Engaged at the highest level of politics, Ashlee Rich Stephenson ’05 works as the senior political strategist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She appreciates how Allegheny College gave her the tools to be prepared to work in national politics, leading to her position today with the world’s largest business trade association.
“The Allegheny experience is a holistic preparation for fast-paced, challenging careers,” Stephenson says. “With challenge comes growth, and I’m very fond of the time spent at Allegheny that pushed my boundaries as a student.”
During Stephenson’s senior year at Allegheny College, the Office of Career Education helped her identify alumni connections in Washington, D.C., to find a position that aligned with her goals.
Following her graduation with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in Spanish, Stephenson got her start at the Republican National Committee. For two years, she worked in the RNC’s Strategy Department, the division responsible for data and polling.
After the 2006 election cycle, Stephenson moved to New York City to serve as polling director for former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign. The experience solidified her decision to build a career out of her lifelong interest in politics.
“There is no greater opportunity in politics than to have the chance to work on a presidential campaign, no matter your role, and nothing can replicate the experience,” Stephenson says.
Today, Stephenson leads the Political Affairs and Issue Advocacy Division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She interacts with the organization’s corporate and federation members to support free enterprise.
The chamber represents companies of all sizes across every economic sector. A snapshot of current business issues of interest at the federal level includes inflation, supply chain, and workforce challenges.
Stephenson says it’s impossible to entirely predict the future of policy and politics, but the ever-evolving nature fascinates her.
“The political parties have shifted dynamically in terms of priorities not only in my lifetime but since I began my career,” Stephenson says. “As a strategist, understanding but also navigating these tides is challenging and rewarding.”
Stephenson advises students to network and search for internships, even if it’s out of their comfort zone.
“Having the courage to recommend or try something that may be out of the box is valued, so lean on the tools an Allegheny education provides by way of writing, critical thinking, and when in doubt, never be afraid to ask ‘why,’” Stephenson says.