The Georgetown University College Democrats presented their Alumnus of the Year award Tuesday to Ron Klain (COL ’83), a professor in the government department who formerly served as the chief of staff to Vice Presidents Biden and Gore.

The award, which honors high- profile alumni, is also designed to connect political and community leaders to their roots on the Hilltop.

“It’s important for current students who are looking into politics to connect with people who were students [and] who are currently in politics,” College Democrats President Joseph Vandegriff (COL ’14) said. “For us, it’s cool to see a chief of staff to the vice president like Ron Klain and hear from someone who went from where we are to where they are. For [the alumni], they reconnect with students back at Georgetown.”

The award was created in 2008 to recognize extraordinary contributions of former GU College Democrats to the American political system, the Democratic Party or the university community.

Past recipients are former South Dakota Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (COL ’93, LAW ’97, GRAD ’98), Associate Dean of the College Fr. Ryan Maher, S.J. (COL ’82), University Associate Vice President for Federal Relations Scott Fleming (SFS ’72) and White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer (COL ’98).

During his acceptance speech Tuesday, Klain encouraged students to engage in the public sector as early in their careers as possible.

“There is nothing that really compares to the satisfaction you get from public service, knowing that the only reason you’re there is to make the country a better place,” he said. “Do the work, do the job, have the experience and have the exposure when you are young and when you have all the flexibility in your life.”

Klain, who teaches the government course “Presidential Debates,” served as vice president of GUDC his freshmen year. Aside from meeting his wife, Monica Medina (COL ’83) at Georgetown, Klain said being a part of the College Democrats was one of the defining memories of his undergraduate experience.

For Fleming, who received the alumnus award in 2010, his experience in working for three different Democrats in Congress and as assistant secretary of education during the Clinton administration allowed him to facilitate political dialogues when he returned to campus.

“Since returning to Georgetown 11 years ago, I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the Georgetown College Democrats, and I have taken particular pride in working with them on efforts that have promoted civil dialogue here on campus,” Fleming wrote in an email.

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