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Featured Alumnus: Kurt Couchman (ICPES 02)


Kurt CouchmanWhile attending The TFAS Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems in 2002, Kurt Couchman interned with the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s “American Democracy and Bioethics” project as a research intern.

“ICPES was an all-round great experience,” said Couchman, who had just switched from studying music to political science and economics when he enrolled in ICPES.  “The classes were stimulating and the internship was challenging, but the best part was getting to know my fellow participants who came from all over the United States and around the world.”

After graduating from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, he moved to Washington and served in the office of Congressman Gil Gutknecht (R-MN).  He then worked in the federal government relations offices of Sunoco, Inc., and at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.

This past September, Couchman joined the Cato Institute as Manager of Government Affairs. In this position, he serves as a liaison between Cato’s scholars and policymakers on the Hill.  He works to promote Cato’s mission through their publications, personal outreach and coalition building.  In addition, Couchman also coordinates educational briefings on Capitol Hill.

Currently pursuing a master’s degree in economics at George Mason University, he intends to remain in public policy.  As he says, “My reason for graduate studies in economics was so that if I’m ever in a position to make public policy decisions, I’ll be able to evaluate trade-offs properly and do the right thing.”

Couchman was among the first class of TFAS Fellows who were selected last January to attend conferences and events throughout 2007.  The TFAS Fellows program is a year-long networking and education program designed to develop young leaders with a shared commitment to helping improve public policy and support free-market economic principles.

Having attended retreats in Charlottesville and Annapolis, as well as the TFAS Annual Conference and various other events, Couchman has been able to connect with other young professionals and distinguished leaders in the public policy field.

“I’ve enjoyed the career and intellectual development seminars in Washington, but the weekend trips were especially good for allowing us to focus on each other,” said Couchman who will finish up his Fellowship year next month.

Active in almost every facet of TFAS, Couchman also serves as a mentor for students of the summer and semester Georgetown Institutes.  “I’ve become friends with a number of people I’ve met through TFAS; The Fund always seems to attract a lot of interesting and energetic people,” Couchman said. “I can’t think of any organization with a broader network of pro-freedom contacts.”

Couchman and his wife Elizabeth live in Arlington, Virginia.


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