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The Federal Coach: Timothy Wirth on Leadership: A Conversation with the UN Foundation President and Former U.S. Representative

Timothy E. Wirth has been the president of the United Nations Foundation since its inception in 1998. Wirth began his political career as a White House Fellow under President Lyndon Johnson and was deputy assistant secretary for education in the Nixon Administration. He is a former U.S. senator from Colorado and was also a member of the House from 1975 to 1987. Following two decades of elected politics, Wirth served in the U.S. Department of State from 1993 to 1997 as the first undersecretary for global affairs.

What do you think are the obstacles to attracting a new generation to public service? How can federal leaders help overcome these obstacles and inspire them to serve?

Mentoring is a big component [especially] in terms of selection. I feel enormously grateful for the mentoring that I had, and I want to do all that I can to help pay that back. You have to spend time thinking about who you’re going to bring in and what you’re going to have them do. When I was on the Hill, I tried to make sure we had real jobs for these kids. It’s not just having them come in and say, “Gee whiz, I had an internship.” You want them to say, “I want to work for the government.” Public service is a great thing.

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