“Aspen Digital focuses on big policy questions that impact everyone’s lives in a connected world. I love convening experts from different parts of the cybersecurity ecosystem to talk through these issues and develop people-focused solutions.”
After Katie D’Hondt Brooks (BA ‘12) graduated from the Ford School, she worked at Partnership for Public Service where she managed a set of programs meant to inspire the next generation to pursue careers in public service. She thought she would work in workforce development policy for the rest of her career, but a class she took at the Harvard Kennedy School while getting her MPP changed that trajectory.
“I initially had a very narrow view of what the cybersecurity field offered. As I dove in further through this course, I realized cybersecurity underscores every part of our digital society — and requires many different skill sets to address its challenges,” Brooks recalled.
Once she received her MPP, Brooks worked on cybersecurity implementation and strategy at Booz Allen Hamilton, a technology consulting company. She credits a lot of continuing education and mentorship at Booz Allen with helping her break into more technical parts of the field. In January, she took a position at The Aspen Institute and jumped back into the nonprofit world.
“I always knew I wanted to come back to the nonprofit space, and this opportunity came up at the right time,” Brooks said. “At Aspen, I work with public, nonprofit, and private-sector organizations to find ways to make Americans and organizations of all sizes more secure. That ranges from looking at building a more inclusive cybersecurity workforce to examining global cybersecurity challenges.”
In her role as Director of Cyber Partnerships, Brooks creates space for experts to engage with one another to develop actionable cybersecurity policy insights and share resources with the public.
“One of my favorite parts of this role is getting perspectives from different sectors,” she said. “Digging into these topics deeply with people who have different lenses on the same challenges has been really impactful for me. It shows me I’ll continue to learn the entire time I’m in this role.”
Even though she started just a few months ago, Brooks loves working at Aspen Digital.
“The team here is amazing— whether you’re a recent college grad or someone with more experience, it’s a place where you’re going to be well supported,” she said. “There’s a lot of people ready to help you succeed.”
As a member of the second BA cohort at Ford, Brooks looks back fondly on her time at the Ford School. Brooks and her cohort were able to forge traditions and lay the social footwork of the program. She credits the curriculum for preparing her for her job, whether it was through group projects, stakeholder analysis, or writing policy memos.
She has one piece of advice for other Ford School students: “Don’t be afraid to reach out to other Fordies or Wolverines in the field you’re interested in. This is a really supportive alumni community.”
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