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When Democratic leaders wanted to increase the diversity of congressional staff, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called upon attorney Martina Bradford, CAS/BA ’73, to design, implement, and manage new and robust recruitment and hiring processes and procedures assisting the majority leader’s office in identifying and ultimately hiring congressional staff. As a result, individual members of the Senate added a then-record number of minorities and women to staff positions in their offices.
A scholarship targeting Washington, DC, students enabled Bradford to study economics at American University. The 1970 graduate of Anacostia High School said her scholarship cohort “did well” thanks to wonderful supports provided by the university.
In 1973, Bradford graduated in three years from AU and in 1975 added a law degree from Duke University. From her first job as an intern for the Department of Defense, Bradford was on a tear through the federal government: as staff counsel for both the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Government Operations Committee, regulatory attorney for the Interstate Commerce Commission, and chief of staff to the vice chairman of the Interstate Commerce Commission.
After a number of years as a lawyer and business executive in the private sector, Bradford returned to the US Senate as senior advisor to Reid and, finally, deputy sergeant at arms. Wedged in between was 25 years as a regulatory lawyer and business executive, rising to become the first African American woman corporate officer at AT&T. She repeated the same feat at Lucent Technologies.
Following her career for these two Fortune 500 companies, she was named partner at the DC-based law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld.
Today, Bradford has built her political consulting firm, Palladian Hill Strategies, upon her lifetime of expertise in government relations, strategic planning, and legal and public policy advocacy.
Over the years, Bradford has remained close to her alma mater. She served as an AU trustee from 1996 to 2000. Recently, she engaged with the School of Education to advance educational opportunities for AU students from the District of Columbia and with the School of Public Affairs’ Women & Politics Institute to empower women leaders in the fight to end tobacco use.
A longstanding supporter of AU, Bradford has named the university a beneficiary of her living trust, joining a community of alumni participating in the Change Can’t Wait campaign. Her gift will create an endowed fund in support of the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars program, the AU program she participated in during the early 1970s. This fund will benefit AU students for generations to come.
“Your scholars are just remarkable young people,” she said. “Their interests and their ambitions are inspirational to us all.” And we know that students from the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars program will continue to graduate from AU to career trajectories and accomplishments that, like those of Martina Bradford, make the AU community and the nation proud.
Join the Campaign For Change
Change Can’t Wait is American University’s fundraising campaign to empower our community to take on society’s most pressing issues. With a $500 million goal, Change Can’t Wait aims to create transformative educational opportunities for students, advance research with impact, and build stronger communities. Contact us to learn how you can get involved today.
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