Energy Expert Jackie Kempfer (’17) Speaks at 2020 MIS Commencement

Jackie Kempfer.

Jackie Kempfer (MIS ’17) was the featured speaker at the 2020 master of international studies commencement ceremony last week. As a senior policy advisor with Third Way Climate and Energy Program, and a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, Jackie designs and advocates for policies that will drive innovation and deployment of clean energy technologies, with a focus on advanced nuclear reactors.

Jackie was happy to come back to NC State, albeit virtually, and speak to the MIS graduates about her own experience in the program, the impact it has had on her career, and share advice on how they can forge ahead with their career goals, even in these unusual and challenging times.

In her speech, she advised the 2020 graduates to: “Ask questions. If you approach every situation as an opportunity to learn and build your expertise, you’ll be sought after as someone who gets things done and makes an impact. I know that with your MIS program experiences, you’ve been prepared to do just that.”

After the ceremony, we caught up with Jackie to ask her about how her graduate studies at NC State prepared her for what she’s doing now. 

What did you love about NC State?

I love the small feel of the program and the access to your professors. For such a large university, NC State has a way of making students feel like they are all an important part of a close-knit community.

What was unique about your experience in the MIS program?

I was able to participate in two different simulation exercises with other universities that allowed a small group of students to navigate a multinational crisis scenario in real time. Students took on the role of heads of state, foreign ministers, and intelligence agents as we operated in teams to take on a two-day long exercise. It was a great experience.

What advice do you have for current students, especially those who want to work in your field?

One of the biggest benefits of attending graduate school are the opportunities you have outside of your official program to gain experience in your field. Take advantage of internship opportunities, attending and speaking at conferences, joining national and regional organizations, and reaching out to meet and speak with leaders in the field you hope to build a career in. You have a small window where your title of “graduate student” will open doors that will never be available again after you leave school. So build those networks and resumes up as much as you can while you are in school.

Prior to her current positions at Third Way and the Atlantic Council, Jackie was an associate with the Nuclear Security Program at the Stimson Center, where she worked with the private sector performing analyses to develop comprehensive nuclear security standards and incentivize industry stakeholders to reduce the risks posed by nuclear terrorism.

Throughout her career, Jackie has published and presented with various organizations including the International Nuclear Law Association, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Institute for Nuclear Materials Management, and the World Institute for Nuclear Security. She regularly briefs the U.S. Congress on matters related to the development of advanced nuclear reactors, and the application of nuclear security and safeguards.

Recently, Jackie was featured on Vox’s podcast for politics and policy discussions called The Weeds. She and Third Way’s Josh Freed discuss a path forward for low-carbon policy in a time of divided government. Listen to the talk here: The Next Four Years: an optimistic climate agenda.

Jackie focused her graduate studies on nuclear nonproliferation and science policy. If you’re interested in doing what Jackie does, the School of Public and International Affairs now offers a 12-hour graduate certificate in this topic. For more information about the MIS program at NC State visit the website



One response on “Energy Expert Jackie Kempfer (’17) Speaks at 2020 MIS Commencement

  1. Lexanne says:

    What an honor, Jackie! SO very proud of all you’ve accomplished, and very excited for all the blessings 2021 will bring your way. Xoxo

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