USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack '75 Joins Launch of Newest Online Graduate Program, Government Affairs and Advocacy

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GVAA announcement

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack '75 shared words of encouragement as he returned to Albany Law School, albeit virtually, to speak at the launch event for his alma mater’s newest Online Graduate Program in Government Affairs and Advocacy on Thursday, Feb. 10.

“This new effort embarks on providing a preparation for participation in public service and advocacy. What I am confident in is that you will be well prepared to go into government in a variety of capacities and be able to make a difference from the onset,” he said. “It’s just incredibly important.”

Speaking from his home office in Iowa, Vilsack also shared how his Albany Law School education has impacted his storied public service career which includes two terms as Governor of Iowa and two stints as the leader of the USDA.

“None of what [Dean Alicia Ouellette] outlined in her kind introduction would have been possible without Albany Law School—make no mistake about that—everything I did was founded on the great education I got and the opportunity that Albany Law School gave me to practice law.”



The new program that Vilsack was speaking about is the start of the latest chapter in the proud 170-year history Albany Law School has in educating and collaborating with government leaders at all levels. The new Government Affairs and Advocacy program is 100% online and asynchronous which will help prepare both lawyers and non-lawyers to thrive and advance in government affairs, advocacy, and lobbying as they can fit in coursework when it makes sense for them.



Interested in Government Affairs and Advocacy?

Our program builds upon a proud tradition preparing both lawyers and non-lawyers to thrive and advance in government affairs, advocacy, and lobbying!

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“We have a long tradition of graduating lawyers who go on to work in government and public-interest law. We can now extend our impact by offering our expertise and first-hand knowledge of government law to non-lawyers who are currently working in government, are interested in a career in government or who, as advocates, understand the importance of being well-versed in the workings of government in order to effectively advocate for others,” said Albany Law School President and Dean Alicia Ouellette ’94.

In the program, students will gain a core understanding of government affairs and procedures, as well as the advocacy and lobbying tools and strategies needed in order to have a greater impact on public policy. This program prepares students to begin a lobbying career on state and local government platforms or to rise up the ranks of public service within any branch of government.

“The work that you’re going to do, the study that will be done, the teaching that will take place, the capacities that will be created with this new program will enable you all as students from Albany Law to go out into government service and to be able to do it right from the get-go and be assured that those policies and programs you will work on will help people and will also help reestablish trust in government,” Vilsack said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity and I am so proud of the law school for setting this program up. [Albany Law] understands what is going on at the ground level in the real world.”

Government Affairs and Advocacy Launch Event

With a “Government Track,” and a “Lobbying and Advocacy Track,” students take courses in both, but can weight credits according to preference.

Courses include:  

  • Legislative Process and Statutory Interpretation
  • Government Spending and Grants  
  • Government Ethics  
  • Using Law for Social Change  
  • Influencing Policy through litigation strategy  
  • Influencing Policy through public relations strategy  

“Highly-qualified and well-prepared Albany Law School graduates can be found at every level of government, from the governor’s office to the attorney general’s office, to the highest courts and mayor’s offices far and wide,” said Director of the Government Law Center at Albany Law School the Hon. Leslie E. Stein ’81, who is also a retired New York Court of Appeals Associate Justice. “The faculty teaching the courses in this innovative and highly-practical online program represent excellence in public service and public interest law.”

“There is tremendous demand for people in government service,” Vilsack said. “I’m always proud to be an alumnus of Albany Law School. I am deeply grateful for the opportunities that it provided to me in my lifetime and I look forward to seeing this new effort unfold—and to see students come to USDA to practice law.”

With the new program, Albany Law School adds to the most comprehensive array of online legal education programs in New York State for both lawyers and non-lawyers offering LL.M. and M.S. degrees along with advanced certificates in:

  • Cybersecurity and Data Privacy
  • Financial Compliance and Risk Management
  • Government Affairs and Advocacy
  • Health Law and Healthcare Compliance
  • Human Resources: Law, Leadership, and Policy


All of Albany Law School's Online Graduate Programs

Our graduate programs include master’s degree, advanced certificate, and LL.M. degree tracks. Study around your schedule by enrolling in one of our 100% online programs.

  • Cybersecurity and Data Privacy
  • Financial Compliance and Risk Management
  • Health Law and Healthcare Compliance
  • Human Resources: Law, Leadership, and Policy
  • Government Affairs and Advocacy

Find More Here