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#SPA80for80: Fred Turner, SPA/BA ’93 and MA ’95

Fred Turner

Fred Turner was drawn to American University’s School of Public Affairs for its excellent reputation and Washington, DC, location. After earning his BA and MA in 5 years, he knew that Washington was the place for him.

Turner landed his first job on Capitol Hill just a few months after finishing grad school. Twenty years later, he serves as chief of staff to U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, New Jersey’s senior senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. As chief of staff, Fred serves as the senator’s top policy advisor and has oversight of the senator’s offices in Washington and New Jersey.

“Over the past 20 years,” Turner explains, “I’ve had a series of positions each of which has led to the next.” 

He joined Senator Menendez after serving as chief of staff at the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Jointly appointed to that position by Senator Ben Cardin and Congressman Alcee Hastings, Turner served at the Commission for seven years. While there, he advised commissioners on foreign policy matters; shaped policy approaches for commission hearings, and organized and participated in more than two dozen Congressional delegations abroad.

Prior to that, Turner served for more than 12 years on the staff of Congressman Hastings, the last seven as chief of staff, and as legislative director for Congresswoman Karen McCarthy. He also served as an associate staff member of the U.S. House of Representatives Rules Committee, Democratic staff director of the Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, and Democratic staff director of the U.S. House of Representatives International Relations Subcommittee on Europe.

Turner graduated with honors from SPA, where he earned his BA and MA in political science. Turner has also returned to AU in recent years as an adjunct professor of government at SPA.


“My time at AU was transformative in many respects. Not only were my fellow classmates as interested in the world as I was, but we were being taught by some of the brightest academic minds in the country – those professors who were not full-time academics were leading practitioners in their field. To this day, I still maintain relationships from my time at AU that benefit me both personally and professionally.”