Ten Minutes with Bridget Serchak ’84
Inspector General Chief of Public Affairs
A self-described “Army brat,” Bridget Serchak ’84 moved twelve times and attended eight schools before enrolling at Mount Holyoke. A politics and history double major, she interned at the Pentagon and was a research assistant for Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen before earning a master’s in integrated marketing from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. After working in public relations at Amtrak and in communications at the Intelligent Transportation Society of America and International Council of Cruise Lines, she spent five years on the nationwide accident investigation team at the National Transportation Safety Board. Since January 2012, she’s been chief of public affairs for the inspector general (IG) of the US Department of Defense.
Sitting in classrooms with professors Penny Gill, Joe Ellis, Chris Pyle, Tony Lake, and Michael Burns, I remember being invited to share my views—no matter how contrary.
Bridget Serchak ’84
On the responsibilities of the job:
A key mission of all seventy-three federal inspectors general is to uncover fraud, waste, and abuse within their respective agencies. IGs also have an opportunity to identify best practices and promote economy and efficiency in the federal government. In my daily work with the national, local, and trade media, I like to emphasize our preventive efforts that come in the form of our recommendations for improvement. I also work closely with our hotline investigators and our whistleblower protection ombudsman to educate our stakeholders.
On making connections:
One of the best parts of my job has been connecting with other communications professionals within the IG community. After just a few months on the job, I reached out to my counterpart at Health and Human Services IG. Together we formed a network across the federal IGs—now totaling more than 100 members. We communicate regularly via a listserv, hold quarterly meetings featuring outside speakers—such as the government rep for Twitter—and spotlight great work done by our members.
On how Mount Holyoke prepared her:
My career path has taken me in many industry areas dominated by men. I never saw being the only female in a meeting or on a project or at a company as an obstacle to overcome. Probably the most significant legacy MHC gave me is the ability to speak up without fear and express my views. I have been in countless situations where I am not only the only woman asking questions or offering comments but also the only person—male or female—to challenge a proposal or brainstorm new ideas. At Mount Holyoke I was encouraged to engage in debate as part of creating a more complete discussion of the issue at hand. It’s a skill that comes in very handy in a town like Washington, DC, where differing opinions on just about every subject are a fact of life.
This article appeared in the spring 2014 issue of the Alumnae Quarterly.
Read more about alumnae in their careers.
Each month, students and alumnae are invited to follow the Twitter hashtag #MtHolyokeAtWork as an MHC alumna tweets about her day, gives advice and information about her career, and answers questions from followers. See a recap of the alumnae who have participated in this program.
April 17, 2014