Erik Jensen

Erik Jensen BA '81

Degree and Class Year

BA ’81


Lincoln, Nebraska

Current City

Portland, Oregon


Political Science


Student Government (Judicial Board), Intramural Volleyball

Overseas study

Soviet Union, 1979

Job Title, Organization

Principal, Jensen Strategies, LLC


U.S. Department of State, 1981

Continuing Studies

MPA, Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Washington, 1989

What three words would you use to describe L&C?

International, Student-Focused, Strategic

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

I wanted to go to a liberal arts school because I was not clear on my preferred path of study and L&C had an academic scope to accommodate my broad range of interests.

What have you been doing since graduation?

I have worked in varied roles related to public policy and governance. I began my career working as staff on multiple national, state, and local campaigns. Later, I worked as a public affairs consultant conducting large-scale public involvement and strategic planning processes before going to work in the city government as a policy development project manager and subsequently a public administrator. After departing the public sector, I started a management consulting firm specializing in local government.

How did Lewis & Clark prepare you for your career?

L&C taught me how to problem solve, build decision-making frameworks, and adapt to a changing world and circumstances. It gave me the core tools of communication, organization, and strategy development that helped me navigate many jobs and work environments.

What’s your favorite part or most memorable experience of serving on the Board of Alumni?

I enjoy serving on the board with a collegial and supportive group of alumni who are committed to continuing and enhancing the college’s success. Helping bring the voice of the greater alumni community—a key L&C stakeholder group—to inform the work and decisions of the college is important to its continued success.

How do you stay connected to Lewis & Clark as an alum?

Through participation on the BOA, engaging in alumni weekend and reunions, and connections with longtime college friends.

Have you been to Alumni Weekend or other programming, like Homecoming, etc.? What did you enjoy about the event(s)?

Yes. I most enjoy seeing the continued and growing vibrancy of the college, and catching up with former classmates.

How do you encourage other alumni to give back to the college?

  • Stay informed about current happenings and events through the L&C Magazine, social media, and other college communications.
  • Attend L&C alumni events to reconnect with the college and your classmates such as alumni weekend and local chapter get togethers.
  • Volunteer your time and expertise with a local alumni chapter in your area, become an L&C network advisor, serve on a class reunion committee, and many other opportunities.

How do you describe the liberal arts?

Liberal arts is an approach to study that goes beyond the expertise of a particular field, allowing exploration of different subjects while developing skills that broach across disciplines.

Why did you major in political science?

I majored in political science after exploring other areas of study including mathematics and international affairs. It was an iterative process of exploration until I found the field that was of most, but not the only, interest to me.

What was your favorite class? How did it expand your knowledge?

My favorite and most influential class was one taught by Professor Bob Mandel on the impact of perceptions in international relations. It was one of those courses, with a unique and inspiring professor, that shaped my approach to both my professional and personal life. Understanding the impact that perception has on shaping decision-making and actions is even more important today than when I took the class in the late 1970’s.

Where did you find your community on campus?

The Forest residence hall, as well as the political science and international affairs departments.

Who was your mentor on campus? Why do you consider this person your mentor?

I had several mentors on campus including Professors Bob Mandel, Don Balmer, Doug Morgan, and Donna Seifer.

If you studied overseas while at Lewis & Clark, how did you choose your program? What did your overseas study add to your L&C experience?

I chose to participate in L&C’s first overseas program to the Soviet Union in 1979. As someone who had lived overseas most of my life and as a political science student, I was intrigued by the Soviet Union both as a culture and a world political power. This trip was one of the most influential experiences I had at L&C.

Political Science