Welcome to the United States Senate Youth Alumni Association!
Founded in 1999, the USSYAA is dedicated to serving and maintaining connections among the more than 6,000 alumni of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation’s United States Senate Youth Program.
Sponsored by the United States Senate and funded by the Hearst Foundations, the United States Senate Youth Program is a unique educational experience for outstanding high school students interested in pursuing careers in public service. Held each year in the spring in our nation’s capital, the program’s Washington Week brings students from across the country together to learn about the federal government up close, meet our national leaders, share their love of politics and public service, and develop life-long connections.
All student delegates attending the program’s Washington Week are automatic lifetime members of the USSYAA. Military mentors selected to attend the program by the Department of Defense, Hearst Foundation staff, and other invited guests are also eligible for associate membership in the USSYAA.
Our members include United States senators, members of Congress, governors, federal judges, cabinet secretaries, ambassadors, candidates for president, business leaders, public officials, respected academics, prominent lawyers, media personalities, and students from across the country and around the world. Many of our members, whether they attended in the 1960s or the 2020s, fondly trace their interest in government and politics back to the United States Senate Youth Program, and to our beloved “Mom” Hearst.
The United States Senate Youth Alumni Association was formed in tribute to Mrs. George Randolph Hearst, Sr., and we continue to honor her memory by fostering communication and collaboration among our members, by celebrating with each other in Washington every spring, and in supporting our members’ academic and professional pursuits in public service.
For alumni who weren’t fortunate enough to meet Mrs. Hearst in Washington, we continue to honor her legacy as the core mission of our organization.
The Mission of the United States Senate Youth Alumni Association was crafted specifically to continue Mrs. Hearst’s work. The USSYAA has three basic missions:
- Building and maintaining avenues of communication among program alumni;
- Providing financial assistance for professional educational needs of program alumni; and
- Supporting the William Randolph Hearst Foundation’s United States Senate Youth Program.
In addition to our annual Alumni Weekend celebrations in Washington each spring, the USSYAA hosts events across the country every year, grants academic support to our members in the form of scholarships, encourages philanthropy through public service missions, and maintains a deep network of alumni connections dating back to the program’s first session in 1963.
Today, we’re celebrating more than 6,000 members
We Stay Connected
with our members across the country and the world through professional development and social events, networking tools online, and by celebrating our achievements. Each year, the USSYAA holds a reunion and awards dinner at the Mayflower Hotel, our “home” in Washington, to coincide with the United States Senate Youth Program’s Washington Week. Alumni members support the program by mentoring new delegates, providing professional and personal support, and carrying our mission forward with each new class of members. Welcome!
Founding Members of the United States Senate Youth Alumni Association
John Selmon Blakley, Sr. (MI 1976)
Wendy Jo Peterson (WA 1978)
Michael S. Sundermeyer (MO 1969)
Jonathan Lee Morton (AL 1990)
Megan Nelson (WA 1998)
Scott Shapiro (WA 1988)
Norman L. Fortenberry (LA 1979)
Craig W. Hulvey (ID 1968)
Kirby Lee (IN 1993)
Michael Buckley (MA 1985)
Dan Brown (MS 1987)
David F. Zavadsky (WI 1990)
Robert R. Middleton (DC 1966)
Randy L. Brantley (NC 1981)
Chandini Margaret Bachman (AZ 1970)
Christine Drager (AK 1988)
Nathan J.A. Humphrey (CA 1990)
Christopher Trott (FL 1999)
James T. Molloy, Doorkeeper, US House of Representatives
Gladys S. Hundley, Assistant to Mrs. George R. Hearst
Celebrating Our Distinguished Alumni Members
U.S. Senator Susan Collins (ME-1973)
Senator Susan M. Collins was elected to the United States Senate in 1996 from the state of Maine. She has earned a national reputation as a thoughtful, effective legislator, who works across party lines to seek consensus on our nation’s most important issues. Senator Collins is the 15th woman in history to be elected to the Senate in her own right. Senator Collins is the chair of the Senate Special Committee on Aging and also serves on the Appropriations, Intelligence and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committees. Now in her fifth term, Senator Collins has been a valued contributor to both the US Senate Youth Program and the USSYAA.
U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (CO-1993)
Senator Cory Gardner was elected the United States Senate in 2015, becoming the second USSYP alumnus to serve in the United States Senate. He served as a USSYP Senate Co-Chair for the first time in 2016. Prior to coming to the Senate, he became the first USSYP alumnus to serve in the United States House of Representatives when he was sworn in in 2010. He has served in the Colorado state legislature where he created the Colorado Clean Energy Authority and was selected by his colleagues as the Colorado House minority whip. In the Senate, he continues to pursue common sense energy policy as a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee. In addition, Senator Gardner serves on the Foreign Relations Committee, and the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. He serves as chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy. Senator Gardner is a fifth-generation Coloradoan with family roots dating back to 1886.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg (IN-2000)
Pete Buttigieg currently serves as the 19th Secretary of Transportation, becoming the first USSYP alumnus to serve in a Cabinet position. Prior to joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Secretary Buttigieg served two terms as mayor of his hometown of South Bend, Indiana. He is a graduate of Harvard University and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and served for seven years as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He took a leave of absence from the mayor’s office for a deployment to Afghanistan in 2014. Running for president in the democratic primaries in 2019, he became the first openly LGBT person to launch a major presidential campaign. Throughout 2020, he campaigned for the election of the Biden-Harris ticket and served on the advisory board for the presidential transition. In December 2020, President-elect Biden named Buttigieg as his nominee to be Secretary of Transportation, and he was confirmed on February 2, 2021 by a vote of 86–13, making him the first openly LGBT Cabinet member in U.S. history. Nominated at age 38, he is also the youngest Cabinet secretary in the Biden administration and the youngest person ever to serve as Secretary of Transportation.
Ambassador Richard Burt (UT-1965)
Ambassador Richard Burt is a managing partner at McLarty Associates. Before joining Kissinger McLarty Associates in April 2007, Ambassador Burt was Chairman of Diligence LLC, a commercial information and security services firm based in Washington, D.C., London, and Miami. He was United States ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany from 1985-1989 and was stationed in Germany while working for the State Department as assistant secretary. While at the State Department, Ambassador Burt was director of Politico-Military Affairs, assistant secretary for European and Canadian Affairs, and chief negotiator for the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) with the former Soviet Union from 1989-1991.
Chief Judge Robert Henry (OK-1971)
Judge Henry was nominated by President Clinton and confirmed by the Senate in May 1994 to serve as a judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. He served as chief judge from 2008 – 2010 when he was named as the 17th president and CEO of Oklahoma City University, a role he held until his retirement in 2018. His career also includes being elected a state representative in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the appointment of State Attorney General for Oklahoma. Judge Henry’s undergraduate and law degree both were received from the University of Oklahoma. He is a regular speaker during the United States Senate Youth Program, usually launching the official speaking roster at the Monday morning session, giving the students special insight to the judicial branch on the day they visit the Supreme Court.
Governor Chris Christie (NJ-1980)
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was sworn in as his state’s 55th governor on January 19, 2010. Previously Governor Christie was named U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey in 2002. As the chief federal law enforcement officer in New Jersey , Governor Christie earned praise from leaders in both parties and drew national attention for his efforts in battling political corruption, corporate crime, human trafficking, gangs, terrorism and polluters. His office amassed an impressive record – winning convictions or guilty pleas from over 130 public officials, both Republican and Democrat – without losing a single case. Governor Christie holds an undergraduate degree from University of Delaware and attended Seton Hall University School of Law and is the first USSYP alumnus to be elected a governor.
Chairman Jamie Harrison, Democratic Party (SC-1994)
After attending the Senate Youth Program, Jamie was able to earn a scholarship to Yale University and attend Georgetown Law. After college, Jaime came back home to Orangeburg to teach at his old high school, then worked to help empower disadvantaged kids to attend college. Jaime also served as an aide to legendary South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn. In 2013, Jaime was elected the first African American chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, a position he held until 2017, when he was appointed by DNC Chair Tom Perez as an Associate Chair of the DNC. In 2020, Jaime ran for the U.S. Senate from South Carolina, building a national grassroots movement and setting a fundraising record for the most raised by a Senate candidate. Jaime and his wife Marie live in Columbia, South Carolina, where they raise their two young sons.
Chief of Staff Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty, III (AR-1964)
Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty, III (born June 14, 1946) is a prominent Arkansas business and political leader and former White House chief of staff for U.S. President Bill Clinton. He is the chairman of McLarty Associates, as well as chief executive officer of the McLarty Companies. McLarty was born in Hope, Arkansas and graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1969. He has a distinguished record of business leadership and public service, including various roles advising three presidents: Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. McLarty worked with President Carter as a member of the Democratic National Committee and was appointed to the National Petroleum Council and the Council on Environmental Quality. He served as White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton from 1993 until 1994 and as Clinton’s special envoy for the Americas. He also served for five years on the National Economic Council.
Karl C. Rove (UT-1969)
Karl Christian Rove (born December 25, 1950) was deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush until August 31, 2007. He headed the Office of Political Affairs, the Office of Public Liaison, and the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives. Since leaving the White House, Rove has worked as a political analyst and contributor for Fox News, Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journal. For most of his career prior to his employment at the White House, Rove was a political consultant almost exclusively for Republican candidates. Rove’s election campaign clients have included George W. Bush (2000 and 2004 presidential elections, 1994 and 1998 Texas gubernatorial elections), Senator John Ashcroft (1994 U.S. Senate election), Bill Clements (1986 Texas gubernatorial election), Senator John Cornyn (2002 U.S. Senate election), Governor Rick Perry (1990 Texas Agriculture Commission election), and Phil Gramm (1982 U.S. House and 1984 U.S. Senate elections).