Louie Al-Hashimi is driven by service. It started in high school, he said, when his history teacher encouraged him to get involved in community service and he began volunteering at a local food pantry, supporting road cleanup projects, and organizing school concerts for charity.
“That, coupled with my studies, encouraged me to pursue public service,” said Al-Hashimi, who earned his master’s in public administration from George Mason University in 2020. “Having the opportunity to build or facilitate a connection with other people—that’s what I’m drawn to.”
In November 2019, the Pittsburgh native learned he was a finalist for the prestigious Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF), administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Through the fellowship, he also secured a position with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in March 2020.
“It’s a great honor to be able to serve my country in this way, to be in a position of public service, and to be part of a program to grow within the federal government,” said Al-Hashimi, who works as a management and program analyst at the CDC, helping with staffing and human resources, data management, and process improvement efforts.
“The PMF is the premier fellowship program within the federal government and carries a lot of prestige with it,” said Duane Bradshaw, director of career development at Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government.
The two-year program designed to mentor and bring graduate-level talent into federal service is also highly competitive. In 2019, nearly 8,000 people applied, with around 600 becoming finalists, Bradshaw said, adding that Mason had eight finalists.
“[The fellowship has] been really valuable, and Mason paved the way for me to be part of it,” Al-Hashimi said. “I don’t think I could have gotten to where I am now without the support of [the Career Development Office].”
In mid-December Al-Hashimi said he also had the chance to work on the CDC’s COVID-19 response, providing operational support for the Vaccine Task Force.
It was insightful and eye-opening, Al-Hashimi said, to see a pivotal response in action, and to witness how changes in presidential administrations influence the approach to the response.
“Having the chance to contribute to the broader efforts that are addressing the current pandemic and be a part of the solution to hopefully bring it to an end, that’s what was most appealing to me,” he said.
Al-Hashimi’s Mason experiences have also been influential.
“Since starting the MPA program, my understanding has grown both in the way government works and in my own approach to public service,” said Al-Hashimi, who has also worked for Fairfax County in the Department of Family Services and the Department of Neighborhood and Community Services.
In particular, he enjoyed courses by Schar School professor James Conant, with whom he partnered on policy research projects.
Conant said he was impressed by Al-Hashimi’s intellectual curiosity, and his diligent work collecting and analyzing data on their research regarding local governments and Virginia’s Medicaid expansion program.
“I had the pleasure of recommending Louie for a position in the CDC,” Conant said. “It is a good position for Louie, and I am confident he will be able to make important contributions.”