Audrey Nicoleau '01, Political Communications Strategist

“I went with the best undergraduate institution in Florida because it reinforced my sense of self-reliance and bolstered my ability to take on any and all challenges by working smarter, not harder.”

AOC: Political Science/History

Miami native Audrey Nicoleau honed her public service skills in Washington, D.C., before branching out on her own as a political communications strategist who helps her clients heighten their public profile. Shortly after graduating from New College in 2005, she was hired for an internship by Congressman John Conyers and became his legislative aide. She later joined Congressman Alcee Hastings’ office as a senior policy advisor, with a legislative portfolio that included appropriations, judiciary, international relations, health care and education policy. While in D.C., she pursued a master’s degree in government from Johns Hopkins University.

After almost two years serving the 23rd district of Florida, she transitioned to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) leadership office and worked as a communications advisor, assisting with rapid response efforts. There, she got the opportunity to staff the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and to co-chair a Congressional Delegation to Belgium and France, where she moderated several discussions with European Members of Parliament on political inclusion of minorities and vulnerable populations in EU countries.

Nicoleau then joined the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) as a program officer. Her duties included travel to Macedonia to train legislative staff from Georgia, Macedonia, Mongolia, and Kosovo on using the internet and social media for public engagement, as well as staffing former OECD Ambassador and Congresswoman, Constance “Connie” Morella (R-MD), on an assessment trip to Burkina Faso for a women’s political leadership training program geared toward national and local leaders.

Not bad for someone still in her 20s! How did she do it?

Has your career path varied from your original expectations?
I studied political science, international relations and history, and it was always my plan to relocate to DC following graduation. I thought I’d have a great start as a research assistant for one of the many local think-tanks on foreign affairs. Luckily a good friend of mine saw a future for me working in Congress. The rest is history.

What do you like about what you do?
Each position I’ve held since graduation has been enjoyable because I have been provided with opportunities to expand my functional knowledge of our country’s legislative process. My job at the NDI charged me with understanding the process behind building and strengthening legislatures in developing countries worldwide through regular interaction with MPs and Parliamentary staff from around the world. Such an undertaking pushes me to consider the various forms of democratic governance that can and do exist.

What has been the biggest thrill of your career so far?
As a policy advisor, I took the lead on authoring a bill that created a partnership between community colleges and juvenile detention centers to offer children involved in gangs a chance to improve their lives through education. The legislation received bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, and was signed into law within a year after introduction.

Why did you select New College for your undergraduate education?
I went with the best undergraduate institution in Florida because it reinforced my sense of self-reliance and bolstered my ability to take on any and all challenges by working smarter, not harder.

Favorite classes and memorable moments?
My favorite classes were International Relations and Transitions to Democracy with Prof. Barbara Hicks and Organizational Theory with Prof. Eugene Lewis. These three courses helped guide me to my current career that combines politics and process. My most memorable moments at New College were serving chopped mangoes on toothpicks at my thesis defense, and sipping Thai Iced Tea while studying at the Four Winds Café.

What advice do you have for current students?
Use your time at New College to explore what your likes and dislikes are. The more you learn about yourself during this crucial time, the more prepared you will be to enter your profession of choice post-graduation.

What are you most passionate about?
Learning about our country’s legislative process so I can teach others how to understand and navigate the system.




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