Four questions for Beth Felder

Director of Federal Affairs talks about national issues of concern

Image caption: Beth Felder, a Johns Hopkins alumna, spent 12 years working on Capitol Hill before joining the university’s Office of Government and Community Affairs.

Credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University


What's at the top of your to-do list?

Encouraging Congress to complete the current year's appropriations process so we avoid a government shutdown and instead fund research and education programs that are the bedrock of long-term economic growth. Then we will work to have a voice in entitlement reform so that policymakers don't cut the legs out from our efforts at health care reform and transformation in the name of debt or deficit reduction. And, as a result of our tremendously successful Summit on Gun Policy, a recent addition to our plate is to connect federal policymakers with our experts on gun policy. 


What keeps you up at night?

A great deal of the lifework of so many people here is dependent upon the federal government because of our research and health care activities, not to mention our students and financial aid, that I sometimes think, How can our office stay on top of it all? The other thing that I think about is, How can we bridge the increasing partisan divide that exists in Washington to get good policy enacted?


What's in store 10 years from now?

We are witnessing interesting and significant changes in the demographics of this country, and it's going to have an impact on our politics. It's going to be very interesting to see who votes and what the defining issues are in 10 years, but I would bet that health and education are still a big part of the mix.


Tell me something I don't know about Johns Hopkins.

The Eisenhower Library is home to the papers of two of Maryland's U.S. senators: Paul Sarbanes (served 1977–2007) and Charles "Mac" Mathias (served 1969–87). Early on in my tenure at Hopkins, I worked with Sen. Sarbanes and his senior staff to have his papers deposited here. And as is often the case in politics, those relationships continue to be valuable as his chief of staff now works for another senator.

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