Brandon Friedman MPA’06
The stuff you learn at UT Dallas matters. Taking a deep dive on policy analysis will put you a step ahead, adding value to your organization.
Home: Washington, D.C.
UT Dallas Degree: Master of Public Affairs, 2006
Profession: Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
As a political appointee in the Obama administration, I work directly for the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs as the No. 2 communications official at HUD — a cabinet agency with 8,000 employees and a $45 billion annual budget. I lead planning, management and messaging in the Office of Public Affairs, where we are responsible for advising the HUD Secretary on all matters involving internal and external communication. Our primary mission is to inform the American public about the housing services available to them, while also engaging with media.
Honors/accolades, additional degrees received, and/or previous work/positions held
After graduating from UTD in 2006, I spent two years with VoteVets.org helping military veterans get involved in politics at every level. After the 2008 Presidential election, Assistant Secretary (now Congresswoman) Tammy Duckworth asked me to create and lead the first digital media team in the Office of Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C. After three years at VA, I left government in 2012 and accepted a position as a vice president at FleishmanHillard — one of the largest corporate PR and communications firms in the world. After nearly two years there, I was offered my current appointment.
In 2007, Zenith Press published my war memoir called The War I Always Wanted. The book was later recognized in 2010 by The Military Times as one of “The Best Military Books of the Decade.” Since then, I’ve been a regular media contributor. I’ve written for The New York Times, The Huffington Post, TIME Magazine, The Guardian, The New York Daily News, Foreign Policy and The White House Blog. I’ve been profiled in The Washington Post, Stars and Stripes, and Government Executive magazine, and I’ve appeared as a guest on CNN, BBC, MSNBC, Al Jazeera and C-SPAN, as well as on many radio programs.
I was selected in 2010 as a Truman National Security Fellow and designated an “emerging leader” in the federal space by Government Executivemagazine in 2012. In 2013, I was named by Stars and Stripes as one of the most influential voices on Twitter for veterans policy.
The Value of My Degree
The most critical part of my education was UTD’s cadre of knowledgeable instructors who were genuinely focused on teaching students. There’s really not a day that goes by in the government that I don’t rely on something I learned at UTD. Whether it’s the theoretical underpinning of what we do, knowing what “right” should look like or knowing how to properly analyze information in a chaotic situation, I can point to specific lessons I learned from UTD instructors. I still keep copies of Lipsky’s Street-Level Bureaucracy, Golden’s What Motivates Bureaucrats?, Kachigan’s Statistical Analysis and Shafritz’s Classics of Organization Theory in my office.
Advice for EPPS Students
The stuff you learn at UTD matters. At some point, you’ll come across senior-level decision makers who don’t appreciate the significance of sampling bias in data interpretation. Or you’ll work for others who’ve never read or talked through case studies. Taking a deep dive on policy analysis will put you a step ahead, adding value to your organization. But you have to pay attention. Don’t just go through the motions. Doing your job well as a leader in government will impact people in ways you’ll probably never know.
My wife, Alexandra Friedman, received a PhD in political science from UTD in 2010.