Josh Jensen, '10, advises Senator Joseph E. Robach, 56th Senate District, about public position on a variety of issues.
January 18, 2012 by Lisa McMahon, MA'09, and Jason Mollica
Just days after receiving his bachelor's degree in political science and history from Niagara University, Josh Jensen, '10, began his career in politics as the public policy adviser for Senator Joseph E. Robach of the 56th Senate District. Jensen had spent three summers as a special assistant in Robach's office, so he was familiar with the work that the senator, who represents the City of Rochester and the towns of Brighton, Parma, and Jensen's hometown of Greece, had done.
While Jensen's internship in the senator's office was one key to opening the door to his future in politics, another was an internship he had at the White House during his junior year. Jensen was assigned to work under Brian McCormack, who was deputy assistant to the president for strategic initiatives and external affairs in the George W. Bush White House. McCormack was the chief deputy to Barry Jackson, who had replaced Karl Rove in August of 2007. McCormack and Jackson oversaw the offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs, which offered Jensen a first-hand look at the political workings of four White House offices. Jensen saw the opportunity as one of service, both to the president and to the people of the United States.
“Even though I was just an intern, I felt I was working for our country,” Jensen says. “I gained a rare insight into how the government operates.”
One of Jensen's primary projects was the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument, the largest marine conservation effort in history. The monument, which consists of 95,216 square miles of submerged lands and waters in the Mariana Archipelago, was created in early 2009 by President Bush. Jensen was responsible for helping McCormack monitor the public's response to the project and to watch for possible environmental concerns.
Jensen also worked for Josh Bolton, the White House chief of staff, on a number of special projects. One such project was a speakers series that featured members of the president's cabinet and senior staff, who would offer advice and information to the White House interns. Bolton, the last speaker in the series, asked Jensen to be one of the two interns to introduce him. When the time came, Jensen decided to speak spontaneously rather than use the remarks he had prepared. It was a good decision ”” Bolton laughed at Jensen's account of the chief of staff's ability to play the bass guitar and his destiny as an inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“I knew then that this is a place where I'm comfortable,” says Jensen. Jensen's White House internship, which he obtained through a program run by the State University of New York at Brockport and with the assistance of Dr. Jamie Pimlott, Niagara's internship coordinator for political science, gave him hands-on experience that he draws upon today. As Senator Robach's public policy adviser, Jensen helps to research, advise, and inform the senator about public position and existing state law on issues such as hydraulic fracturing, a process used to stimulate production from oil and gas wells; wind turbines on Lake Ontario; issues affecting firefighters; and the current budgetary concerns facing New York state. He also represents the senator at events across the district when the senator is in Albany.
“My White House experience, coupled with what I learned at Niagara, helped me step right into this job and be an effective member of a state senator's staff,” he says. “I look to apply those lessons and knowledge to the work I do for the people of New York state.”