Leadership in Action: Alain Xiong-Calmes, Class of 2018

Alain Xiong-Calmes, Class of 2018, Special Assistant to
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf

Who am I?

I’m an alum from the Class of 2018. I now work for Governor Tom Wolf (D-PA) and am a Special Assistant to the Governor. I was initially hired into the Constituent Services Office, and worked also in the Governor’s Office of Policy and Planning.

I went to American University to become a wonk and now I am professionally a wonk.

What were you involved with in undergrad?

When I was at American University, I studied CLEG. In undergrad, I interned for the Obama Foundation, Senator Bob Casey, and the Forest Service.

I was also involved with music on campus – I was the Principal Cellist of the American University Symphony Orchestra and the President of Mu Beta Psi.

What do you do in your job?

 If you’ve seen the HBO show VEEP, I’m basically Gary, but hopefully more put together and competent thanks to American University.

I travel with the Governor, handle situations as they arise on the road, and communicate between the staff and the Governor while we’re traveling. A cool claim to fame is that I’m the youngest person on the Governor’s Senior Staff!

How has the leadership program prepared you for your current role?

 The leadership program helped me develop skills I use all the time.

A lot of the soft skills the program teaches, like consensus building, negotiating, or goal setting, are skills that are important for the day-to-day of any job. I remember my sophomore year we read Getting to Yes: How to Negotiate Agreement Without Giving In and I still use principals from that negotiating unit just about every week in my job.

What’s a message you have for current students?

I loved undergrad. I would say that you should make sure you’re taking advantage of being in DC. There are so many opportunities I had that you can’t get anywhere else.

The network I developed there is something I lean on. There are so many smart people in DC that you can meet and learn from.

Also, make sure you study hard and sleep enough.

You can reach out to Alain on LinkedIn or Twitter at @Alain_Mower

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