MPA Graduate Serves on the Hill as National Security Advisor

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In early September, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky spoke before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations as a leading voice against military intervention in Syria. For the millions of viewers watching on C-SPAN and other news outlets, they might have noticed an advisor seated just over Rand’s shoulder. While Greg Archetto might not be familiar to the uninitiated, the 2005 Rutgers–Camden MPA graduate is quickly becoming a fixture on the Hill.

Archetto currently serves as a security assistance officer within the Department of Defense. However, in his capacity as a 2013 Brookings LEGIS Fellow, he is on loan to Paul for a year and provides him with sound strategic advice on global national security and foreign policy issues. Among his responsibilities, Archetto regularly drafts policy memos, researches legislation, and attends briefings and hearings by administration officials. He also meets directly with constituents, assists with op-eds and press releases, works with relevant Foreign Relations Committee staff members, and provides vote recommendations for the senator.

Among his most memorable experiences thus far, the Buena native recalls that he was serving in the office less than a month when Paul engaged in his epic filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA. The filibuster, Archetto explains, was in response to the Obama administration’s refusal to answer the question of whether it believed it had the authority to use a drone to kill an American citizen on American soil.

“After the filibuster, we got our answer: no,” says Archetto, noting that he had the “fulfilling experience” of writing portions of Paul’s introductory statement. “I was able to be a part of that event live, staying into the wee hours of the morning, running briefing books down to him on the floor, watching other senators come to his aid, and seeing congressmen gather in the cloak room to offer moral support,” he recalls. “There really was nothing like it.”

g soloArchetto acknowledges that one of his biggest daily challenges is reacting to the 24-hour news cycle. As he puts it, staffers are never truly “off the clock.” He also considers it a challenge to adapt to the environment on the Hill, noting that the legislative branch is very different from his prior experience serving in the executive branch. “Learning arcane Senate procedure also takes time, but after a few months, you can understand what is happening on the Senate floor and do your own ‘play-by-play’ while watching C-SPAN,” says Archetto.

As for a typical day? “There is no such thing,” says Archetto, matter-of-factly, “and that is part of the appeal of working on the Hill.” He explains that one minute he is preparing a briefing book for a committee hearing, and the next, distributing a statement outlining the senator’s position on a particular issue. “You learn very early that politics and procedure trump policy in the senate, and you can’t succeed without being an expert in all three,” he says.

Archetto first arrived in Washington in 2005 as a Presidential Management Fellow, working as a Foreign Affairs officer for the U.S. Department of State. The fellowship program offers a two-year provisional employment status within the federal government. During that time, fellows can rotate to different agencies, departments, or branches to broaden their career experience. After two years, fellows convert to full-time federal employees.

During the course of his fellowship, Archetto spent time at the Pentagon and worked briefly as a staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives. As a Middle East specialist, he traveled extensively throughout that region, working to facilitate and maintain military-to-military cooperation between the United States and its allies.

Archetto credits his MPA degree from Rutgers–Camden for providing the academic foundation to understand politics and policy as it is applied in the real world, and the context to put it into historical perspective.

Interested in politics and governance since he was a teenager, Archetto recalls that he was on track to become a city administrator before serving his Presidential Management Fellowship. It also helped, as he recalls, that he liked to “argue with anyone about anything.”

In addition to his MPA degree, Archetto received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Rowan University in 2000, and a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College in 2011.

greg n jeanette aus embUpon completing his Brookings fellowship in February, Archetto will return to his position in the Department of Defense. While he enjoys serving in the department, he also sees a career in politics and/or teaching on the horizon. “The education and experience I’ve received over the years provides a lot of opportunities, and I’m very grateful for that,” he says, adding his personal mantra, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”

Archetto is married to Jeanette Hand Archetto, whom he met in class at Rutgers–Camden. She is a 2007 graduate of the Rutgers–Camden MPA program, where she served as president of the Public Administration Student Association.  She is a contractor with the federal government. They currently reside in Arlington, Va.

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