Daniel Greenland: 2014 PMF
One of the great things about the PMF Program is that it allows Fellows to get outside of their comfort zone to apply their skills to new problems. My expertise prior to the PMF Program was in economics, with a regional focus on Southeast Asia. This is a relatively niche skill-set, so I was fortunate to find a home at the U.S. Department of the Treasury in the Office of International Affairs where I use my expertise on a daily basis, and I have been lucky enough to secure a permanent position here. Still, I was interested to see how I could apply my quantitative skills to other policy priorities facing the United States during my tenure as a PMF.
Like many of my peer Presidential Management Fellows, I was afforded the opportunity to attend graduate school because I had access to student loans. After I graduated, however, I found that meeting my student loan obligations was complicated by the entire process of choosing a repayment plan, dealing with my student loan service provider, and deciding on a repayment strategy. After some research, I discovered that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) had a team dedicated to helping student borrowers like me, so I contacted the CFPB Students team to help me efficiently utilize my repayment options. At the time, I was purely focused on resolving my own student debt and not really thinking about my PMF rotation, but after some more research on CFPB's website, I found their work advocating on behalf of student borrowers interesting and the issue of student debt quite fascinating. I was familiar with analyzing macroeconomic issues and sovereign debt crises as part of my work at Treasury, but had never considered applying those international skills to a domestic policy issue that directly impacted my daily life.
I decided to make contact with the CFPB and was offered a rotation with their Students team. During the course of my PMF rotation to the CFPB, I had the opportunity to work with a team of dedicated and welcoming professionals who were focused on making the student loan market work better for average American student loan borrowers. Rather than examining balance of payments in Thailand and bilateral trade with Vietnam, I was able to use my skills to analyze the student loan market in the United States and help the team, if only briefly, address issues facing both individual borrowers and the market as a whole. I was particularly proud of the work we did to promote more transparency and data availability in the student loan market, so that policymakers can address the student loan policy issue with better information going forward. I was extremely lucky to work with such a great team, and brought back a valuable new understanding of domestic financial regulations to Treasury.