Alumni Tale: Jeff Valliere ’97

What did you study at UNH?

Political Science

What were you doing 1 year out of college?

I was a staff member at the Democratic Governors Association in Washington, D.C., an arm of the Democratic National Committee. My job was a catch-all, which is a perfect way to learn how Washington works. Among other things, I planned fundraisers, policy conferences and summarized news stories for America’s Democratic governors. It was the best entry-level job for someone with an interest in politics, policy and communications.

What were you doing 5 years out of college?

I was preparing to join Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) team on Capitol Hill. She had just been named minority leader, and in the process, made history as the highest-ranking female politician in American history. I joined her leadership office as the first director of online communications, building web-based platforms for Democratic members of Congress and the Congressional leadership. At that point, it was a new and effective way to reach the public, pre-dating the rise of social media.

What were you doing 10 years out of college?

I had just welcomed my son, Nolan, into the world, and was working at a strategic communications, advertising, and PR firm called GMMB, based in Washington, D.C. My professional focus had moved from politics to behavior change communications for progressive non-profits, though the two are very closely linked. My clients included many organizations in the healthcare, automotive safety, and international development arenas. I also co-led the firm’s digital practice, using my experience on Capitol Hill to help these organizations effectively communicate their missions.

What are you doing now?

Today, I am a partner at Threespot, a communications agency in Washington, D.C. We are 40 people, focused on working with mission-oriented non-profits, trade associations, charitable foundations, and government agencies, helping them harness the power of digital strategy, design and technology to do good in the world. Through the firm, I am also serving as communications director for The Kennedy Forum on Community Mental Health, founded by Rep. Patrick Kennedy. The Kennedy Forum’s mission is to unite the mental health community and push for the full and unequivocal implementation of the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, one of Patrick Kennedy’s signature legislative achievements.

How do you feel your time at UNH has had an impact on where you are today?

I am a proud wildcat! I can’t count the ways my time at UNH prepared me for what I am doing today, but I’ll try. UNH has a wealth of opportunities for students to explore their passions, in and out of the classroom. This cultivates the whole person, and sets the stage for a rich academic and professional experience. UNH also teaches you how to think and express yourself. The political science faculty, in particular, helped me consider the world outside my door, which prepared me to thrive in a rapidly changing professional environment. Finally, UNH helped me gather the tools to build thriving professional life…and I met some of my best friends while in Durham, and we’re still in touch more than 20 years later.