JMU Federal Dukes
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JMU Federal Dukes

JMU Federal Dukes Spotlight: Jamie Jones Miller

The Family Business

Jamie Jones Miller graduated JMU with a B.A. in International Affairs in 1999. Since she graduated, she’s worked for different lobbying firms, on Capitol Hill, and at the Department of Defense. Currently she is a Senior Advisor at The Roosevelt Group, a strategic consulting firm that provides services in the federal, business, defense, technology, intelligence and space fields.

She’s talked about how her experience growing up in third world countries has helped lead her to where she is today. Her dad grew up in Mexico where he lived for 20 years. He went to college in the United States, where he met her mom at the University of New Mexico, and joined the Air Force. In the Air Force, he was a tanker pilot and ultimately went into the intelligence track and became a defense attaché. Now retired, her mom was a civil servant at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Jamie jokes about how she ended up going into the “family business” of public service. Because of her parents’ roles, they had a great adventure traveling all over the world that also shaped Jamie’s own path.

Consummate Communicator

Working at the Department of Defense, Jamie frames her role as a builder and keeper of relationships between the Secretary of Defense and the Hill. A lot was focused on knowing the Department’s strategic plan and goals, then figuring out how to communicate that between the Hill and the Department. When she started at DoD, her responsibility was for House Affairs so her job was to know day-to-day what the House was working on. This entailed knowing: the key stakeholders in the key defense committees, the priorities of the chairs and ranking members, and how they were going to respond to something that the Department of Defense did. A lot of it was collecting information, assessing it, measuring it and communicating it against the Department’s strategic plan, the National Defense Stragey.

Biggest Challenge: The Talent Pipeline

Jamie thinks one of the biggest challenges facing the government today is the talent pipeline.

She explained how some wonderful talent might be turned away from the public sector because the benefits aren’t competitive enough. She gave the example of someone who has a whole bunch of student loans. “It’s hard to meet their financial obligations and live in Washington when they’re getting paid an entry level government employee salary. It’s hard to compete with the private sector which could be offering a salary three-to-four times higher. It’s why they call it the revolving door — right from the Hill to lobbying or from the Department to lobbying or the Department to the Hill.” However, she notes that moving from the legislative and executive branches into the private sector and industry provides valuable experience and that she has benefitted from seeing an issue through different lenses.

A Hybrid Future

Regarding the future of government relations, Jamie talks about how it is a very people-oriented business. Moving from an in-person environment to behind the screen is very challenging. Capitol Hill is currently closed to visitors and very limited for non-official business. As a result, the opportunity to go up and sit in a hearing room and watch how members are interacting with each other, is no longer available. You can only see what is broadcast online. She suspects there will be a continued hybrid, virtual in-person model for the foreseeable future in Congress.

Leading with Others in Mind

She feels very strongly about the idea of anyone being able to lead from where they are. No matter what title you have or what position you’re in, you can be a leader. Whether you’re in a conversation, in a room or working on a project, Jamie recommends asking yourself, “who else should be at this table,” “who else should be in this room,” “who else needs to be a part of this conversation?” The last step is opening the door for those people to actually get in the room. A lot of this has to do with your own self-awareness and knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, Jamie emphasizes the need to build authentic relationships with people and being willing to use your personal capital on someone else’s behalf to help them get there.

Lifelong Learner

Recalling her time at JMU, Jamie says her journey started inside the classroom, but especially, what she learned outside the classroom. JMU helped her build a lot of confidence and taught her to be a lifelong learner. As an alum, she’s had an even more rich experience because of the opportunities she’s had to volunteer for JMU and the network that has opened doors for her.

Jamie Jones Miller is the epitome of a charismatic leader who embodies characteristics we all wish we could develop. She continues to excel and lead in any number of positions she is offered. JMU is honored to have contributed to part of her journey as a leader and strives to push students to make the most of their time in school, like Jamie did.

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