Ian Koski did not expect to be running his own political design company less than one year after graduating from the Graduate School of Political Management in 2004. Today, Koski’s company, On Deck Communication Studio, is a success. His company boasts nearly 30 clients and works with them to create a “visual branding” strategy based on logos, e-mails and Web pages.
“I help (the clients) make choices about on-the-spot visual messages they are putting out either through e-mails or Web pages,” he said. “In the end, my job is to help them get votes.”
Since 1987, the GSPM has matriculated 1,600 men and women, many of whom help candidates for public office win public support and ultimately win votes. With an emphasis on educating “students and professionals in the tools, principles and values of participatory democracy,” GSPM alumni hold important positions in lobbying and political consulting, as well as on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch.
Today, more than 250 students are enrolled in three master’s degree and two graduate certificate programs. Among the school’s faculty are Christopher Shank, minority whip and a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, and Robert Beckel, senior political commentator for the Fox News Network.
Koski credits his time at GSPM for many of his achievements in the private sector.
“(The hands-on approach of GSPM) really does make a difference in this field,” he said. “(Political management) is a practical field . In class you actually generate work product. You are writing and producing TV ads, speeches, press releases . you get exposure to a huge variety of things.”
While attending GSPM, Koski worked as director of public policy and communications at The Performance Institute (PI), a nonpartisan government management think tank. It was also during this time that he began designing political mail pieces on his own. He left PI in December of 2004 to devote his full attention to On Deck Communications.
Roger Limoges knew he wanted to make a difference when he left GSPM in 1999, and he quickly realized that the tough issues are the ones that matter the most. Today, he is director of public policy for Catholics for Free Choice, a pro-choice political nonprofit.
Limoges oversees federal and state governmental relations within the organization. He was first drawn to Catholics for Free Choice because of the opportunity to advance and protect women’s rights, especially women of low income.
“I never wanted to work on something that was easy,” Limoges said. “I like a challenge and the challenging issues are the ones where you can really make a difference.”
Originally, Limoges said he planned to make a career as an elected official. After graduating from GSPM, he decided to launch a different career trajectory.
“You really never know what path your career will take you in,” he said.
Limoges has battled tough issues for his entire career. Before joining Catholics for Choice, he spent five years with The Interfaith Alliance, where he worked on First Amendment and church and state separation issues.
“The two issues I have spent my career on thus far seemed to always be in the middle of the bull’s-eye,” he said.
An especially proud moment for Limoges came in 2002, when he was the co-chair of a large coalition of First Amendment organizations. He played a major role in crafting the legislative strategy that defeated an anti-abortion rights bill that had the backing of Pat Robertson. Through Limoges’ diligent lobbying efforts, the vote of 239 opposed to 178 in favor was one of the few times that the House GOP leadership lost a recorded floor vote in 2002.
Limoges says that the skills he learned at GSPM helped him achieve success in Congress and elsewhere.
“One of the best things you can take away from GSPM, no matter where your career takes you, is your ability to frame issues and communicate them to the electorate or to your targeted members of Congress.”