MA 1996; PhD 2000, Political Science
President and CEO, Global Policy Solutions, Washington, DC
Maya Rockeymoore, president and CEO of Global Policy Solutions (GPS), has always been interested in the way policy affects our lives. After several stints in public service, including serving on the staff of the House Ways and Means Committee, as chief of staff for Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY), and as vice president of research and programs at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, she was ready to apply her research background and experience by starting her own consulting firm. GPS helps companies, agencies, and philanthropic and community-based organizations advance their policy and program goals.
“My biggest wow moment,” she notes, “was landing a multimillion dollar contract to design, implement, and evaluate a national health program focused on supporting elected and appointed officials in their efforts to advance policies related to healthy eating, active living, and childhood obesity prevention.”
On any given day, that opportunity to direct Leadership for Healthy Communities, backed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, might find her discussing childhood obesity and First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” program with Diane Rehm on National Public Radio, doing exactly what she loves—helping make a positive difference in lives and communities through policymaking. To that end, she is also the head of GPS’s newly created nonprofit entity, the Center for Global Policy Solutions, which is dedicated to making policy work for people and their environments.
Looking back, I really appreciate the opportunities I received to teach women’s studies and political science courses as a graduate student. These experiences taught me how to speak in front of audiences and engage in dynamic scholarly inquiry on important issues facing society. I really appreciated the support and encouragement I received from professors such as Rosalee Clawson, Berenice Carroll, Pat Boling, Phoebe Farris, and Lyn Kathlene. These women helped me to navigate the politics of graduate school while serving as role models for how to survive and thrive in academia. Although ultimately I did not choose a career in academia, their inspiration has influenced how I have approached my work experiences on Capitol Hill and in the nonprofit and business sectors.
My favorite Purdue memory was working as the night manager at the old Black Cultural Center and collaborating with a group of undergraduate students to secure the Beering administration’s support for the creation of a new center. I was a proud member of the advisory group responsible for selecting Blackburn Architects and I worked with them to design the new facility.
Purdue is a place where I learned and grew a lot through adversity and triumph. Purdue helped equip me with the skills that I use today to run my for-profit and nonprofit enterprises.
I am most proud that I founded my firm, Global Policy Solutions, and that it’s almost ten years old. I read somewhere that small businesses are more likely to survive after the ten-year mark, so I have been looking forward to this anniversary. My major was political science throughout my schooling, so starting a firm meant learning a lot of additional management and administrative skills that were not a part of my formal educational experience.
Living Person I Admire
I most admire my spouse, U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings. He is a leader of great commitment and passion and he still believes that government service is a viable pathway for making America work for all people.
Idea of Perfect Happiness
Having a significant career that is consistent with my purpose on this planet; having a family that is loving and supportive; having outlets that feed my mind, body, and spirit; and having enough wealth to care for my family and make a contribution to society.
What I’m Reading
I just finished reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, a true story about the African-American woman whose cells have been used to fuel important research discoveries around the world.
Profession I’d Like to Try
At some point, I would like to take advantage of my creative side by writing books, designing jewelry, and painting.