Alumnus Helps Shape U.S. Policy on Africa, Development

Author: Renée LaReau

Matt Walsh

As a member of the U.S. Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff in Washington, D.C., Matthew Walsh ’06 conducts policy research, makes policy recommendations on Africa and development strategy, and contributes to speeches for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“One of our jobs is to provide the Secretary of State with second opinions on policy issues,” says Walsh, who majored in political science and peace studies at Notre Dame. “It’s an exciting job that goes to the heart of almost every foreign policy debate and can have a real influence on policy.”

Walsh previously served as the State Department’s Somalia desk officer, coordinating policy discussions and serving as a liaison between the State Department and other U.S. government offices. Before working at the State Department, he worked at the United States Agency for International Development in Washington, D.C. and in Nairobi, Kenya helping with the U.S. government’s response to drought in the Horn of Africa.

As an undergraduate in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters, he conducted research on economic sanctions with George A. Lopez, The Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Professor of Peace Studies, and David Cortright, director of policy studies at the University’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Walsh also wrote an honors thesis on how to improve coordination of international peacebuilding efforts. He went on to receive a master’s degree in conflict management and international economics from Johns Hopkins University.

“At Notre Dame I learned how to influence policy by working within the system,” Walsh says. “My peace studies education taught me how to advocate effectively.”

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