DC Huskies

How to Make It in DC 2018 Mentors

How to Make It in D.C. is a focused mentoring event featuring UW alumni with a variety of experience working in and around the D.C. area. Participants will experience small group interactions led by up to two mentors per table. The mentors have extensive experience in a number of areas above and beyond the table title and we strongly encourage participants to select their tables not just by topic, but also seek to identify common interests or career journeys.

Past participants have included a wide range of people, including those fresh out of college, people deciding whether or not to stay in D.C., experienced professionals looking for a career change, and everything in-between. The only requirement is a desire to learn and grow!

Our current mentor roster for the 2018 event includes:


Richard Larkins,‘84 | Partner |Ernst & Young
Richard is a Partner in Ernst & Young LLP’s National Tax Department in Washington, D.C. Richard works in the Capital Markets Tax Practice and specializes in the taxation of financial products and transactions. He has nearly twenty-five years of experience in the taxation of financial products and transactions. He currently consults with clients on a range of tax issues regarding the taxation of debt instruments, cross-border financing transactions, debt and equity financing, bankruptcy workouts, debt renegotiations, derivatives, hedging transactions, and securitizations. Prior to joining Ernst & Young, Richard worked for Arthur Andersen, the IRS, and the U.S. Department of Justice.


Jessica Lawrence-Vaca, ‘03 | President | JVL Strategies
Jessica is a senior government relations professional and former Capitol Hill staffer with 15 years of experience in both the government and private sector. She maintains a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of both the legislative and political process as demonstrated by a sustained track record of success for high profile clients including multinational defense companies, a coalition of over 80 solar companies, a US solar raw materials manufacturer, foreign sovereigns, and a large South Asian diaspora organization.

In 2017, Jessica started her own lobbying and consulting firm, JLV Strategies, where she represents the largest general contractor of utility scale solar projects in the United States, as well as two large tier-two U.S. defense contractors. Prior to starting her own firm, Jessica was a Senior Vice President at the McKeon Group, where she managed a diverse portfolio of multinational corporations, Fortune 500 companies and a global foundation. She started her lobbying career at the Podesta Group where was firm’s lead Democrat for congressional and administration outreach on behalf of defense and national security clients.

Prior to entering the private sector, Jessica worked for former Rep. Steven Rothman (D-NJ), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ), where she focused on foreign policy and national security issues. She maintains extensive bipartisan relationships on Capitol Hill, in both the House and Senate.

Sean Newell, ‘03 | Deputy Chief, National Security Division | U.S. Department of Justice
Sean Newell is a Deputy Chief with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), National Security Division (NSD), Counterintelligence and Export Control Section (CES), where he manages DOJ’s strategic and tactical efforts to investigate, disrupt, and deter malicious cyber activities conducted by nation states and their proxies, including their targeting of the private sector and critical infrastructure. Most notably, Mr. Newell is a member of the prosecution team that obtained the first ever criminal charges against state-sponsored cyber actors: the May 2014 indictment of five members of China’s People’s Liberation Army in United States v. Wang Dong et al.

Since then, Mr. Newell has been a member of the prosecution team for, or otherwise managed, the entire portfolio of DOJ’s national security-related cyber prosecutions, including in United States v. Ahmed Fathi et al. (the 2012-2013 DDoS attacks against the U.S. financial sector), United States v. Dmitry Dokuchaev et al. (the Russian FSB directed intrusion into Yahoo, Inc.), United States v. Wu Yingzhuo et al. (the theft of intellectual property by hackers working for the China-based Guangzhou Bo Yu Information Technology Company Limited (a/k/a Boyusec)); and United States v. Rafatnejad et al. (the theft of academic data, research, and intellectual property from over 300 universities worldwide by hackers working for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp.). Mr. Newell also represents the DOJ on interagency policy committees concerning cybersecurity.


Stephen J. Maag, J.D., ‘75 | Director, Residential Communities | LeadingAge
Maag develops and implements public policy for Leading Age residential communities. Prior to joining LeadingAge, Maag was a member and partner with Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland PPLC in Seattle from 1988 to 2006. From 1984 to 1988, he served as the Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs for the Washington Health Care Association, and he was a partner in Mickelson and Maag from 1978 to 1982. For more than 25 years, Maag has presented at national and state seminars on legal and operational issues facing long term care providers and he has contributed to multiple publications on health care topics.


Dale Learn, Esq., ‘93 | Vice President/Principal, Federal Government Affairs | Gordon Thomas Honeywell et al
Dale Learn, Esq., ‘93 – Vice President/Principal, Federal Government Affairs, Gordon Thomas Honeywell et al. Mr. Learn is the Managing Partner of the DC office of the Washington state-headquartered law and government affairs firm of Gordon Thomas Honeywell (GTH). The firm represents a wide variety of clients in both the private and public sectors. Prior to GTH, he spent more than six years as a senior advisor and legal counsel to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, and two years as a senior advisor to U.S. Rep. Adam Smith.

Jordan Evich, ’09 | Deputy Chief of Staff | Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler
Jordan Evich is the Deputy Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. Serving in different capacities, Jordan has worked on the Hill for over 7 years. A native of Washington state and an alumnus of the University of Washington, Jordan now lives in Washington D.C. with his wife.


Dawn Yamane Hewett, ‘00 | Of Counsel | Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
Dawn Yamane Hewett is an arbitration and litigation advocate with a decade of experience successfully representing clients in complex investment treaty and commercial international arbitrations, litigations, and government investigations. She represents both investors and sovereign governments in international disputes all around the world, including in Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. She has particularly deep experience in investor-state arbitrations, including those administered by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Ms. Hewett also has experience representing clients in matters involving federal bribery, criminal antitrust, and obstruction of justice statutes.

Prior to joining Quinn Emanuel, Ms. Hewett was Deputy General Counsel for Strategic Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Commerce, where she handled a broad range of legal issues for the Department, including anti-corruption, commercial rule of law, appellate litigation, trade and investment, intellectual property, export controls, digital economy, responsible business conduct, and a number of presidential initiatives. Prior to her appointment to government, Ms. Hewett practiced at a large, international law firm in the international arbitration and white collar practice groups. Ms. Hewett also served as a law clerk for the Honorable M. Margaret McKeown on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Throughout her career, her pro bono legal work has spanned everything from immigration, voting rights and elections law, non-profit law, civil rights, constitutional law, to public international law matters.

Jeff Roberson, ’01 | Deputy Chief Counsel | U.S. Department of Commerce
Jeff currently holds the position of Deputy Chief Counsel of the Economic Development Administration (EDA), a bureau within the Department of Commerce. For the past six months he has also acted as the Chief Counsel of EDA, managing a team of geographically dispersed attorneys as they provide legal review of over $260 million in annual grants plus $600 million in emergency grants designed to help the country recover from the devastating 2017 disaster season. Prior to working in EDA, Jeff served as the Acting General Counsel for the Restore Council, a federal agency tasked with helping the Gulf of Mexico recover from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He has also worked as a Senior Counsel in the Department of Commerce’s General Law, Federal Assistance Law (grants), and Real Property, Energy and Environmental Law Divisions. Prior to his work at the Department of Commerce, Jeff worked at the Environmental Protection Agency and as a Legal Fellow in the House of Representatives.

Jeff received his JD from New York University School of Law and from the University of Washington holds both a BS in Cellular and Molecular Biology and a BA in Political Science.


Dr. Sheila Brooks, ‘78 | Founder, President and CEO | SRB Communications, LLC
Dr. Brooks is an Emmy-award winning journalist, entrepreneur and dedicated advocate for minority and women’s issues and small businesses. In 1990, she founded SRB Communications, LLC, a full-service advertising and marketing communications agency specializing in multicultural advertising, public relations, media relations and broadcast production. Prior to starting her firm, Brooks built a distinguished television career as a news director, reporter, anchor and documentary producer at CBS, NBC and PBS affiliate TV stations across the country and the DC Fox network owned-and operated station. She is a sought-after speaker and author, releasing her first book, “Lucile H. Bluford and the Kansas City Call: Activist Voice for Social Justice,” in Spring 2018.


Greg Ulses, ’90 | Program Manager | Leidos
Greg Ulses is a Deputy Program Manager for two programs at Leidos, providing acoustic training, high fidelity simulation, and tactical decision aids for the United States Navy.

Greg’s career began with his graduation from the University of Washington in 1990, and commissioning through the Navy ROTC program. After a distinguished 25-year career in the United States Navy, retiring at the rank of Captain, Greg transitioned to the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography community. Before beginning his work at Leidos, Greg served as the Vice President and Director of Ocean Observing Programs at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. He also served as the Program Director for the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI).

Greg has earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Oceanography from the University of Washington, and a Master’s Degree in Meteorology and Physical Oceanography from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. He is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval War College with a Master’s Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies.