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Alumni Spotlight

Max Slutsky

BA in Judaic Studies and Political Science, 2010

Special Assistant to the Administrator at the Federal Aviation Administration, Washington, DC

 

Job responsibilities:

I work closely with the Federal Aviation Administrator on operational and policy matters. In this position I draft, edit, and review briefing materials in support of the Administration’s priorities and coordinate policy matters between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation. I also serve as an advisor on policy decisions presented to agency leadership.”

About studying at the Frankel Center:

“U-M’s Judaic Studies program offered a balance between traditional religious-oriented classes and courses that addressed social, cultural, and political issues relating to the Jewish community. This balance reflected my academic interests and drew me into the program. In particular, one of my favorite courses was Professor Karla Goldman’s ‘Jews and Social Justice,’ where we examined Jewish involvement in different social and political movements.

“I graduated in 2010 and almost immediately went to Israel for a government fellowship through the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. After that, I worked for the Obama campaign as their national Jewish outreach coordinator. And that's how I wound up in my position at the FAA, as an appointee of the Obama administration. I used what I learned from both of my majors—political science and Judaic Studies—in both my jobs in Israel and in the United States.”

Special projects:

My position ends when the Obama Administration concludes in 2017 and so, for better or for worse, I know the end date of this position. But in a way knowing when the experience ends keeps me motivated to get things done between now and then. One topic I'm currently working closely on focuses on unmanned aircraft systems, more commonly known as drones. These could range from extremely small systems to those operated for much larger tasks, like fighting wildfires. There are many different ways to use drones, which presents challenging questions like, how do you balance the needs of two vastly different aviation communities—manned and unmanned—with limited airspace and also maintain an environment where innovation is able to thrive? We are spending a lot of time and resources on this, and that's something I will continue to work on very closely throughout the year.”

Advice to students who are considering studying Judaic Studies:

Focus on the things that you are going to enjoy and want in the future. If you are interested in rabbinic or scholarly work, focus on biblical classes. If you are more interested in the social sciences, I recommend courses from Professor Goldman and Professor Dash Moore. I occasionally get a strange look from people when they hear they I work for the FAA, but have a Judaic Studies degree. My experience in the Judaic Studies program helped me develop as a writer and analytic thinker—skills needed no matter what industry or in what sector you work. I would highly encourage those to consider this program whether you intend to pursue a career in the Jewish communal sector or elsewhere.”