Where are they now?: Brian Chase (1990-91)
NASA’s man on Capitol Hill
When he took over as 1990-91 Student Congress president, Brian Chase felt qualified to tackle the issues. Not only was he active in his fraternity, but he was also a resident assistant.
“I’d say the key thing that prepared me was the opportunity to deal with a wide variety of people on diverse issues,” he says today. “Elected positions like Student Congress require an ability to work with people under different, and sometimes difficult, circumstances.”
And the most difficult issue he faced?
“At that time, there was a proposal by the Progressive Student Union, which had a number of representatives on Student Congress, to open an abortion clinic on campus. That obviously created sparks on every side of the issue.”
The proposal failed. But Chase still finds himself tackling policy and politics.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in economics in 1994, he continued his work with NASA as a program analyst in the International Space Station Program Office. He also worked as manager of state relations and strategic communications for NASA contractor United Space Alliance in Houston. From there, Chase filled various roles—deputy chief of staff, campaign manager, press secretary and senior legislative assistant—for U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon of Florida.
Chase then moved on to serve as executive director of the National Space Society, which led to the vice presidency of Washington operations for the Space Foundation. Today he serves as NASA’s assistant administrator for legislative affairs, a position appointed by the White House.
Looking back, the 2004 Distinguished Alumnus credits much of his success at UT Arlington to two people.
“Jeff Sorensen was a tremendous mentor and adviser for me. I got to know him when I was involved in Student Congress and the HOSTS (Helping Other Students to Succeed) program. Dr. Kent Gardner was another person who made a huge difference my life. I interacted with him in all of my student leadership capacities and as part of the Residence Life program. Both Jeff and Kent were major reasons my experience at UT Arlington was so rewarding and fulfilling.”
— Susan M. Slupecki