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Department ofPolitical Science


Cristin Orr Shiffer

Cristin Orr Shiffer

9 moves, 6 states, 5 jobs, 3 countries, 2 kids, 1 husband, and a kickin’ career.

It's hard to have a meaningful career and personal success in a crazy world where there's a lot you can’t control, but there is more than one way to create your brand and achieve professional success while honoring your personal goals.

I had plans for a dizzying rise on Capitol Hill, but life intervened. I fell for a Navy pilot at the end of senior year of college and then worked for the House Foreign Relations Committee in DC while he attended flight school in the Deep South—living The West Wing meets Top Gun. Then 9/11 happened, everything changed, and we got married. It’s hard to get a job in International Relations Policy living in the middle of Maine!

I had to rethink my career plan big time. Making both human connections and interdisciplinary connections across my courses helped me land my first opportunity at the end of grad school. Since then my professional life has been a fast rise, but it wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t had some help seeing how my lived experiences (good and bad) applied to the research and policy program I would create.

Now I help national and corporate leaders understand the relationship between national security and military-family policy. Presidents and generals now talk about military families as part of national security and Hillary Clinton’s defense-policy team included military-family security experts.

Cristin Orr Shiffer is the Senior Advisor for Research and Policy at Blue Star Families.