Alumni Network

Close Up Foundation’s alumni network spans the globe and is growing every day!

  • Join Close Up Conversations to hear unique perspectives on current issues, policy, and politics!
High school students meeting with their representative on Capitol Hill Shadow

Our alumni come from a variety of backgrounds and fields.

Close Up alumni have been inspired to run for office, become advocates for specific issues, become teachers, or simply commit to staying informed on current policy issues. We are proud to include the following in our alumni network:

  • Close Up students and teachers
  • Close Up board members
  • Close Up guest speakers
  • Former Close Up program instructors
  • Close Up staff
  • Educational partners

Their dedication and commitment have helped to serve our cause, enrich our programs, and fulfill our mission for nearly 50 years.


Register in our alumni database and learn about opportunities to give back to Close Up.

Get Involved >

Alumni Spotlights


Alumni find many ways to put the skills they learn through Close Up programs into practice. We are shining a spotlight on former students, teachers, and staff who are doing extraordinary things and want to share their experiences and accomplishments.

Elia Quintana – Student 1993


July 2021

Growing up in California’s Central Valley as a first-generation migrant student, Elia Quintana never envisioned traveling far from home, let alone getting on a plane. But everything changed during her time at Arvin High School, when she was lucky enough to have two opportunities to attend Close Up programs in Washington, DC.

Read Elia Quintana’s Full Interview >

Patrick Sheehan – Student 1994


May 2021

In preparation for his Close Up alumni interview, Patrick Sheehan dug through his memorabilia to find the Close Up Current Issues notebook he used during his January 1994 program.

Read Patrick Sheehan’s Full Interview >

Alton Nelson Head Shot

Alton Nelson – Student 1981


February 2021

Nelson’s Close Up trip created in him a strong foundational belief in the importance of citizenship. Once you see the government and democracy in action, it is “like proof of life,” and you truly understand its significance.

Read Alton Nelson’s Full Interview >

Carin Kale – Student 1978


July 2020

Close Up was Carin Kale’s first exposure to people making a national impact from Washington, DC.

Read Carin Kale’s Full Interview >

Lara Bergthold – Student 1985


May 2020

Lara Bergthold’s time in Washington, DC, with Close Up was the initial spark for her political action career.

Read Lara Bergthold’s Full Interview >

Sheila Babauta – Student 2005


May 2020

“When I look back to how I got to this seat and this office, I think about all of the experiences that got me here.” In just two weeks, Close Up changed Sheila Babauta’s life and helped her grow as a person.

Read Sheila Babauta’s Full Interview >

Louis Aguirre – Student 1984


February 2020

For Louis Aguirre, the Close Up experience helped bring academics and history off the pages of textbooks and into real life.

Read Louis Aguirre’s Full Interview >

Bryan Henry – Teacher 2015, 2018, 2019


February 2020

Bryan Henry began his Close Up experience as a teacher, bringing students from Kingwood High School in Texas.

Read Bryan Henry’s Full Interview >

Loaitza Esquilin-Garcia – Student 2001


November 2019

Loaitza Esquilin-Garcia always wanted to impact her community in Puerto Rico. Close Up showed her that she also had the power to make a difference in other parts of the United States.

Read Loaitza Esquilin-Garcia’s Full Interview >

David Roghair Alumni Spotlight

Hon. David Roghair – Student 1993


October 2019

While on Close Up, David Roghair learned how accessible the government is to its citizens. Now, as a magistrate judge, Roghair makes his courtroom accessible to his community.

Read Judge Roghair’s Full Interview >

Verenice Castillo Alumni Spotlight

Verenice Castillo – Student 1994


September 2019

Verenice Castillo’s devotion to her community took her from being a Close Up student in front of the White House to a dinner guest at the White House.

Read Verenice’s Full Interview >

Scott McDonald Alumni Spotlight

Scott McDonald – Student 1990-1991 | Speaker 2018


July 2019

As a student, Lt. Col. Scott McDonald contemplated having a role in government. After Close Up, he knew that he could have a role in government.

Read Scott’s Full Interview >

Collen Creighton Alumni Spotlight

Colleen Creighton – Student 1990 | Program Instructor 1999-2001


April 2019

After her first encounter with Close Up, Colleen Creighton returned as a Program Instructor, and again as a speaker with Close Up. Now, Creighton is making an impact on national policies through her work with the American Association of Suicidology.

Read Colleen’s Full Interview >

Brent Rudell Alumni Spotlight

Brent Rudell – Program Instructor 1999


April 2019

Brent “BJ” Rudell spent just one season as a Close Up Program Instructor, but the experience validated his desire to help youth find their political voice.

Read Brent’s Full Interview >

Jaylin McClinton Alumni Spotlight

Jaylin D. McClinton – Student 2012


December 2018

After his 2012 Close Up participation, Jaylin D. McClinton’s academic and career choices have been grounded in a strong belief in the power of civic engagement and social justice.

Read Jaylin’s Full Interview >

Brianne Nadeau Alumni Spotlight

Brianne Nadeau – Student 1997


September 2018

A longtime resident and civic leader in Washington, DC, Councilmember Brianne Nadeau remembers one of her first experiences in the District was a 1997 Close Up trip.

Read Brianne’s Full Interview >

Paul Schreiber Alumni Spotlight

Paul Schreiber – Student 1995


August 2018

Paul Schreiber came from Burlington, Ontario, to Washington, DC, in 1995 for Close Up’s High School Program. Today he is a successful storyteller, organizer, and engineer who has been involved in numerous projects focused on the intersection of civic engagement and technology.

Read Paul’s Full Interview >

Anita Ortiz Alumni Spotlight

Anita Ortiz – Student 1988


July 2018

Anita Ortiz has a passion for media and politics that inspired her participation as a student in three televised Close Up Forum programs. She continues to put her passion into practice at Viacom, Inc. as an executive working on issues of diversity and inclusion.

Read Anita’s Full Interview >

Jeff Spoeri Alumni Spotlight

Jeff Spoeri – Student 1983 | Program Instructor 1987


April 2018

As a Close Up student in 1983 and Program Instructor from 1987-1989, Jeff Spoeri developed valuable skills that have served him well personally and professionally.

Read Jeff’s Full Interview >

Maya Nieto Alumni Spotlight

Maya Nieto – Student 2009


April 2018

Maya Nieto drew inspiration from the historic crowd when she attended the 2009 Close Up Inauguration Program as a high school senior.

Read Maya’s Full Interview >

Randy Schipper Alumni Spotlight

Randy Schipper – Student 1977 | Program Instructor 1983


December 2017

Randy Schipper first came to Close Up in 1977 and returned to work as a Program Instructor in 1983. He could fill volumes with Close Up memories.

Read Randy’s Full Interview >

Geoff Browning Alumni Spotlight

Geoff Browning – Student 2004


December 2017

Geoff Browning found a spark of inspiration to pursue a career on Capitol Hill during Close Up programs in 2004 and 2005.

Read Geoff’s Full Interview >

Amy Sue Vruwink Alumni Spotlight

Amy Sue Vruwink – Student 1993


December 2013

“I think that the most important civic activity for young people is to participate at any level of government.”

Read Amy Sue’s Full Interview >

Leon Harris Alumni Spotlight

Leon Harris – Student 1979


August 2012

Currently the anchor of the evening newscasts at WJLA Channel 7 in Washington, Leon Harris remembers his Close Up week fondly and believes that today’s young people must become civically engaged to succeed.

Read Leon’s Full Interview >

Frank Mora Alumni Spotlight

Dr. Frank Mora – Student 1981


March 2012

Dr. Frank Mora says he would encourage any young person to attend a Close Up program!

Read Frank’s Full Interview >

Notable Close Up Alumni

Members of the 117th Congress
Formerly serving in Congress or the Executive Branch
Teachers on Capitol Hill Shadow

Looking to learn more about history and current issues?

Close Up is proud to offer four exciting programs designed specifically for adults!  These programs are great for lifelong learners and adult family members who are looking for more than just a tour. You’ll have a chance to meet other adults from around the country while you enjoy the sites and explore exciting cities across the U.S. with Close Up’s Adult Program Specialists.

We arrange private charter buses, all meals, event tickets, hotel rooms, and even your flights if you bring a group. Join the more than 900,000 Close Up alumni and see why Close Up is the nation’s premier educational travel organization!  Program options include: