Member Spotlight Amanda Karhuse

Member Spotlight

Emily Duncan

Amanda Karhuse

Director of Advocacy, National Association of Secondary School Principals

Hometown: Arlington, VA

Fun Fact: I was a French major in college and spent a memorable summer living with a family in Montpellier who spoke no English.

About Amanda: I'm a passionate advocate for public education, having worked at NASSP for over 13 years. In my free time, I love to spend time with my family and volunteering at my son's elementary school where I am treasurer of the PTA. I love cheering on all the DC sports teams (Go Nats!), and I am your go-to source for winery recommendations in Loudoun County.

What attracted you to WGR and how has it helped you personally and professionally?
I have had a number of informal mentors and colleagues who gave me great advice when I first started my career on Capitol Hill and love to pay it forward, so WGR was an obvious fit for me. I helped form the WGR Education Working Group, which was then elevated to task force status two years later, which helped me build my network and my leadership skills. Through WGR relationships, I've hired staff and built connections that have helped our education coalition efforts at NASSP and enhanced our brand.

What was your original career path and how did you end up in Government Relations?
I graduated from college with a double major in French and International Affairs and absolutely no idea how to find a job in DC. Fortunately, a family friend encouraged me to intern on Capitol Hill and I was able to secure a job as a staff assistant in the House a few weeks later. When my boss lost her re-election in 2002, I worked for the Women's Congressional Policy Institute on a wide range of topics from women's health and child care to education.

What is the biggest challenge you faced in your career and how did you prevail?
When my boss lost her re-election, I was unemployed for about six months and found the job hunt really discouraging. I spent a lot of time networking and was amazed by the support I received by people I hardly knew. I also tried to read a lot of motivational books and kept myself knowledgeable about the issues. Ultimately, it was my connections through the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues that landed me the job at the Women's Congressional Policy Institute. I'll always be eternally grateful for the opportunity they gave me, and it's one of the reasons I always say "yes" when other people reach out to me for networking interviews.

What advice do you have for young women entering the field?
GI would encourage them to do everything they can to expand their network - apply for the WGR mentoring program and going to coffee with other women in their field. You never know who your connections may know and what great advice they have to share!