A conversation with Representatives Terri Sewell '86 and Derek Kilmer '96 about navigating politics, a pandemic, and calls for social justice.
The Princeton in Washington (PIW) program brings students, alumni and experts together for exclusive events, to foster connections and provide opportunities to learn about alumni career paths. This year, all events will be virtual.
This event is open to all current Princeton undergraduates and graduate students. Please RSVP on Handshake.(link is external) The zoom link will be sent to registered students the day of the event.
Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell is in her fifth term representing Alabama’s 7th Congressional District. She is one of the first women elected to Congress from Alabama in her own right and is the first black woman to ever serve in the Alabama Congressional delegation.
Congresswoman Sewell sits on the exclusive House Ways and Means Committee and the distinguished House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence charged with the oversight of our national security. In her short time in Congress, Sewell has held several leadership positions, including Freshman Class President in the 112th Congress.
This current term, she was selected by Democratic leadership to serve as a Chief Deputy Whip and sits on the prestigious Steering and Policy Committee which sets the policy direction of the Democratic Caucus. Congresswoman Sewell is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and is Vice Chair of the New Democrat Coalition. She is also Co-Chair of the Voting Rights Caucus.
Prior to her election in 2010, Congresswoman Sewell was the first black woman partner in the Birmingham law office of Maynard, Cooper & Gale, P.C., where she distinguished herself as one of the only black public finance lawyers in the State of Alabama. A proud product of Alabama’s rural Black Belt, Congresswoman Sewell was the first black valedictorian of Selma High School. She is an honors graduate of Princeton University and Oxford University and received her law degree from Harvard Law School.
Derek Kilmer serves as the United States Representative of Washington’s 6th Congressional District. With over a decade of experience working in economic development in the Puget Sound region, Derek Kilmer is focused on getting the economy and Congress back to work.
Derek grew up on the Olympic Peninsula and has worked to promote local economic development and to be responsible stewards of our natural resources. The son of two school teachers, Derek was taught to appreciate the value of education. Derek wanted to make a difference in his community, so he chose to study public policy, looking for ways to help economically struggling communities. He received a BA from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairsand earned a doctorate from the University of Oxford in England.
Derek put his education into practice in Washington, first as a business consultant for McKinsey & Company, where he helped businesses, non-profits, and government agencies run more efficiently. He moved closer to the community he was raised in so he could put his experience in economic development to use helping to retain jobs and attract new employers during the decade he worked for the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.
He served in the Washington state House from 2005 to 2007 and the state Senate from 2007 until he was elected to the US House in 2012. While in Olympia, Derek was the principal writer of the state’s capital budget, and helped author a bipartisan infrastructure package that has been credited with creating 18,000 jobs. He also led a successful bipartisan effort in the Washington state Senate to balance the budget and reduce state debt. Derek was reelected to a third term in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016 and chosen by his Democratic colleagues to serve on the House Appropriations Committee, one of only four ‘exclusive’ committees in the House. Derek serves on the Interior and Environment Subcommittee and Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee. Derek has learned that addressing the challenges facing our nation will require an end to political brinkmanship and a focus on finding common sense, practical solutions. He’s a member of organizations like the Bipartisan Working Group which works to bring Democrats and Republicans together to forge greater consensus on a wide variety of issues. In his four years serving in the House of Representatives, Derek has returned over $300,000 from his office budget to help pay for deficit reduction. In his time in Congress, Derek has been recognized by a wide variety of groups for his effectiveness and advocacy. He’s been awarded the U.S. Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest honor a civilian not employed by the Navy can receive from the Secretary of the Navy. Derek has also received a Silver Helmet award from AMVETS and a Friend of the National Parks award from the National Parks Conservation Association, been named a Hero of Main Street by the National Retail Federation, an Outstanding New Member by the Voices for National Service, and a Humane Champion by the Humane Society. Derek and his wife Jennifer live in Gig Harbor with their daughters Sophie and Tess and their Australian Shepherd Truman.