Home>Report on the US Sciences Po Alumni Award 2020 and 2021 ceremony


Report on the US Sciences Po Alumni Award 2020 and 2021 ceremony

On June 3, the Sciences Po American Foundation honored Emilie Mazzacurati ('02), Global Head of Moody's Climate Solutions and Mike Schmuhl ('15), Chairman at Indiana Democratic Party and former presidential campaign manager for Secretary Pete Buttigieg, at the 2021 Alumni Award. The ceremony began with a conference on the Impact of Climate Change on the Midwest and beyond led by Sam Miles, the first laureate of the Michel David-Weill Scholarship and current PhD student at UC Berkley. The event concluded with networking sessions for Sciences Po alumni, who joined virtually from across the globe. 

After an introduction by the Foundation’s Chairman, Stephan Haimo, the conversation began with Schmuhl’s role in Biden’s American Rescue Plan tour in Indiana, the state Schmuhl called “the crossroads of America,” and Mazzacurati’s work at the intersections of climate change and business analytics at Moody’s and FourTwentySeven. Zooming in on the Midwest, the honorees agreed that climate change could have devastating economic effects on both agriculture and manufacturing, though the Midwest is less exposed to threats such as wildfires and sea level rise. Miles also engaged the two honorees on the subject of the interplay between local and national politics when addressing climate change. 

A video from Science Po’s European Chair of Sustainable Development, Dr. Shiv Someshwar, introduced attendees to the driving principles behind the development of the chair: first, understanding how to have socially inclusive climate neutrality in Europe and second, how Europe can be a global leader in this socially inclusive climate neutrality. Dr. Someshwar expressed his eagerness to work with American leaders to achieve these goals, reinforcing the transatlantic camaraderie that was tangible throughout the evening. 

Returning to the honorees, Miles broached the question of leadership in the face of climate change. Mazzacurati suggested that Europe and China lead global efforts; though the US has a lot of catching up to do, she reminded the audience that change will not happen without the US, a country with a chance to “reclaim a strong, bold leadership role.” Schmuhl discussed sources of US domestic division—including politics, geography, and generation— but reiterated Biden’s commitment to American leadership on the global stage. 

Miles expressed his admiration for the honorees’ ability to work steadfastly despite the grim threat of climate change and concluded the climate change discussion by turning toward the future, asking Mazzacurati and Schmuhl to envision what their lives might look like in the year 2050. Mazzacurati shared her fears for her young daughter’s future, yet also her increasing hope that due to the renewed energy she already sees toward tackling climate change, 2050 will see widespread technology that allows us to have a “quality of life that we enjoy.” Schmuhl described his commitment to a life of service, first in his town and then the state of Indiana, and his future hopes to serve the United States, to make it the global partner he believes it can be. 

Miles asked the honorees about the professional relationships that have shaped their careers and the advice they would give to young alumni. Schmuhl described the pivotal example of his professional mentors, including former US Senator Joe Donnelly and the late NBC journalist Tim Russert, and he advised alumni to make mentorship a two-way street by giving opportunities to younger generations of professionals. “Don’t pull up the ladder as your career advances,” Schmuhl added. Mazzacurati emphasized the importance of alumni networks, especially her Sciences Po community. “Being part of that community was incredibly useful when I was a recent graduate,” she said.

Cover image caption: Cour Gribeauval, 1 place Saint-Thomas, Paris (credits: Marta Nascimento)