TFAS has seen many changes in its programs over the past 45 years. Each summer holds something new for the students. But, with every passing summer, there is one element of the programs that will always remain a fundamental component for TFAS students –“lifelong friendships” – a term that comes up repeatedly when alumni discuss their TFAS experiences.
For Chris Hull, “lifelong friendships” continued to bloom well after graduating from the Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems (ICPES) in 1991.
While a TFAS student, Hull became acquainted with Maureen Suda, who returned to TFAS the summer after she participated in the Institute on Business and Government Affairs (IBGA) to serve as a program advisor for the incoming class.
“Although our friendship included the typical mutual interest in music, movies and the like, the foundation of the friendship was more closely related to the mission of TFAS,” said Suda.
Chris and I share a desire to be part of the public debate and feel a responsibility to make a positive difference in the world, specifically supporting a free-market economy through our public affairs and public relations efforts for our clients.”
“We definitely have had a bipartisan collaboration since the beginning,” said Hull. “Our politics are different but our goal remains the same.”
After college, both alumni worked in Washington where they were able to continue their friendship until Suda moved away in 1995 to pursue graduate studies in Boston, and Hull returned to Iowa in 1997 to run the State Senate majority staff.
Over the years the two focused on their careers and on their families, and after relocating several times they eventually lost touch. Hull ultimately returned to Washington to purse his Ph.D. while working in public affairs, and Suda found herself in New York working in public relations.
In 2007 Suda was thrilled to read an update on Hull in a TFAS newsletter. Soon after, she contacted her lost friend. By this time, the two were at points in their careers where they were seeking to connect with people of shared ideas and similar value systems. Soon the rekindled friends were bringing together ideas and building connections to further their careers.
“Currently Maureen and I pursue projects together in the biotech, pharmaceutical and life science sectors – industries which are dependent on government policies that promote innovation, reward breakthrough science and enable life-saving products to come to market,” said Hull. “Though Maureen specializes in biotech PR services, and I do public policy strategy more generally, we’re always on the lookout for ways to work together and help each other out.”
Today Hull is executive vice president of the public affairs strategy firm Baron Public Affairs, and Suda serves as principal of Suda Communications LLC. Giving back to TFAS is important to them. Hull has taught the public affairs internship seminar for the ICPES program, while Suda is active on the Alumni Council.
The two intend to continue fostering their friendship that was established at TFAS many years ago. “You can’t make new old friends,” said Suda.