Wilson Center Newsletter, November 2011

Alumnus of the Month

Phillip Harman '92
Director of Congressional Relations for SRI International

Phillip Harman graduated from Hampden-Sydney in 1992 and immediately went to work on Capitol Hill for U.S. Senator John Warner.    Phillip spent six years on the Hill covering multiple legislative areas, especially subjects related to national security.  He left Capitol Hill to become an advocate for institutions in the science and technology fields.  Phillip worked for Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), two organizations that were involved in basic research that was important to technology development.    

Since 2003, Phillip has been the Director of Congressional Relations for SRI International, which is an R&D non-profit institute based in California.   SRI International uses technologies developed by the institute on a daily basis.    The institute developed the computer mouse and has been responsible for important advances in Internet technology.  SRI is one of the largest recipients of research funding from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and recently received significant attention with the release of Siri, the virtual assistant application that Apple has included in its latest Iphone.

On behalf of SRI, Phillip advocates for robust research and development funding from the Federal Government.    Much of the technologies currently in use were developed through Federal R&D funding.   While the Federal Government is looking for ways to save or trim the budget, Phillip works to ensure that science and technology, the driver of innovation and job creation, is not compromised.  

What Phillip finds most amusing is that he spent four years avoiding Gilmore Hall and the science department only to become a strong advocate for the sciences at the legislative level. 

Over the past several years, advocating congressional issues have received less than positive press.   However, Phillip, like others in his field, is quick to defend his profession.    It is imperative to educate Members of Congress and their staffs on issues that are important not only to one's company, but also to what affects you as an individual and the country as a whole.