Dennis Worden

Ethics and Compliance at a

Fortune 500 Company

When did you attend the UO and what year did you graduate? What did you study at the UO?

I enrolled in 2002 graduated UO in 2006. I studied political geography.

Was there a class that inspired you in a new way while at UO?

Yes, there were several. More accurately, however, there were specific professors who inspired me to think in a new way.

Geography professors Shaul Cohen and Alec Murphy both taught several classes that demonstrated how integral geography is to law and politics and how it shapes so much of our worldview and experience.

My senior year I took a class with Wilma Mankiller, the former principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. Chief Mankiller was the Wayne Morse Chair of Law and Politics and an internationally recognized leader. She inspired me to combine my interest in law and politics and tribal affairs. She passed on a few years later which made me realize how special the class was and how much an impact it had on my life.

Was there an experience offered by UO that opened your eyes to something new (i.e. a passion, a culture, a perspective, etc.)?

I attended a retreat for freshmen hosted by the (then called) Office of Multicultural Academic Support. It is always one of the first weekends of school, so it is one of the first experiences students have on campus. I then served as a counselor for a few years. The experience provided me an opportunity to learn about other students coming from vastly different cultural experiences. It also showed me the deep support network available from the university that helped me succeed.

What was the number one skill you believe you acquired while at UO?

Critical thinking. UO sharpened my thought process, taught me how to think about an issue through multiple angles, and to challenge assumptions made by myself or others in a productive way.

What was something that challenged your way of thinking while at UO?

I am from a small, rural town. The UO dramatically expanded my worldview and my understanding of opportunities beyond what I knew before arriving on campus. It was not a challenge, per se, but it dramatically changed who I am.

Share three words that describe what you like most about the UO today.

Community. Unique. Excellence.

What is your present or past career/occupation and/or what do you do for fun?

Work: I am currently a Director at a Fortune 100 company. I work in Ethics and Compliance. I am building a global program to monitor regulatory changes. I previously worked on Capitol Hill in D.C. and at a few tribal organizations as a government affairs professional.

Play: I recently re-committed myself to golf. I worked at a golf course in high school but stopped playing for several years. It is a great lifelong sport and I enjoy the physical and mental challenge.

How did your time at the UO impact your current experiences/successes?

My experience at UO shaped my career in two big ways:

I learned about the Mark O. Hatfield fellowship at the UO. I was the 2006-2007 fellow, which allowed me to work in a D.C. congressional office. That opportunity shaped the first decade, at a minimum, of my career. If not for the UO, I may not have found the opportunity.

As an alumnus, I had a built-in network when I arrived in D.C. without knowing anyone. Some of the alumni I met are close friends, colleagues, confidantes, and mentors.

What does the word “advocacy” mean to you?

Advocacy is storytelling. As much as good government is based on good policy and good data (true), the reality is that government is comprised of people, who rely on stories to understand complex ideas.

What advice would you give people advocating for the UO about being an effective advocate?

Tell your story! It is simple but not always easy.

What is something you wish people knew about the advocacy process?

-It’s okay to say “I don’t know.”
-Do not assume that the right outcome will happen without your advocacy.
-Legislators need to hear from you. They want to hear from you.
-Like other endeavors that are important, it can be hard and frustrating, but worth it.

Share an example or two of a time you felt successful advocating for something important to you.

In 2009/2010 I worked at a tribal health organization that advocated for inclusion of key tribal health policies in the Affordable Care Act. Tribal communities had worked for years to enact the policies. It was special to advocate on such an important issue.