Dylan Hewitt (C’14, G’15) has always been civic-minded and politically active. In high school, he led a town-wide dance marathon fundraiser, and he was vice president of both Penn Dems and a sexual assault prevention group as a student at the University of Pennsylvania. In fact, he learned about Annenberg’s undergraduate program by attending a protest during his sophomore year. There, he met a fellow Penn student who was majoring in Communication, and after learning about the Communication and Public Service (COMPS) concentration, Hewitt was in.
Hewitt, who will be the alumni speaker at the Annenberg School’s 2019 Communication Major Graduation Ceremony, has been named one of New York’s “40 Under 40 Rising Stars” by City & State magazine in 2017 and is currently the Director of Intergovernmental Relations for Scott M. Stringer, New York City Comptroller.
Hewitt cites Lecturer David Eisenhower’s mentorship as being particularly impactful during his undergraduate years.
“I’d struggled to find a department that matched my interests in studying political history and public policies, and how these affected people across this country,” says Hewitt. “Then I found out about COMPS and met David Eisenhower, and the rest is history.”
Hewitt’s four years as a Penn undergraduate set him on a path for public service. His coursework challenged him to consider how democracy should be theoretically and practically implemented, which inspired him to funnel his civic passion into a career in government and politics.
After receiving his master’s in public administration from Penn’s Fels Institute of Government, and working with former U.S. Representative Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky — who also has been an Annenberg School Lecturer over the years — Hewitt served as Deputy Director of Press Advance for Hillary Clinton during her 2016 campaign for president. He says this experience, which included traveling to 35 states with the Clinton campaign, is one of the highlights of his career.
“I was very fortunate,” Hewitt says, “to have the opportunity to help Secretary Clinton and Senator [Tim] Kaine bring their vision for America across the country.”
In his role for the New York City Comptroller, Hewitt is involved in public policy work addressing government corruption, economic inequality, electoral reforms, affordable housing, criminal justice reform, and fossil fuel divestment. Recently, he advised the New York State Compensation Committee, which ushered in sweeping ethics reforms for New York legislators.
“I’m proud to be working on initiatives that ensure elected officials are focusing on serving the people,” Hewitt says.
As a senior at Penn, Hewitt wrote a paper under Eisenhower’s guidance in which he studied the speeches of Hillary Clinton’s career. He examined how political losses, like the 1994 battle over healthcare, caused Hillary Clinton to find her own voice and to become an empowered First Lady and later an elected official in her own right.
“I think a lot about that paper and the long hours I spent speaking with David Eisenhower about presidential history in his office,” says Hewitt. “My career has always been focused on not only finding my own voice but making sure that the voices of others who have been historically silenced or disenfranchised or ignored are heard.”
Dylan Hewitt will speak at the Communication Major Graduation Ceremony on May 19, 2018 from 10-11am at the Zellerbach Theater of the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut Street, in Philadelphia.