Alumni Spotlight: Q+A with Ben Beachy ’04 from the White House

Ben Beachy ’04, from the halls of the White House

Since November 2023, Ben Beachy has worked in the White House as Special Assistant to the President for Climate Policy, Industrial Sector and Community Investment. In this role, Beachy, a 2004 Goshen College graduate, has played a critical part in shaping President Biden’s climate and industrial policies that prioritize support for communities facing economic challenges.

When Beachy was a Goshen College student, he studied peace, justice and conflict studies, and he was involved in Student Senate, The Record and PAX Club leadership. He went on to receive a master’s degree from Harvard Kennedy School, studying public policy, international trade, finance and development. Before this role, Beachy had worked in roles at Public Citizen, Sierra Club and Bluegreen Alliance.

Q: What specific challenges have you addressed in your role as Special Assistant to the President?

Beachy: “We face intertwined crises that require integrated solutions: climate change, economic insecurity and structural injustices. We have a generational opportunity and responsibility to tackle all three at the same time. Addressing the climate crisis requires mobilizing trillions of dollars to transform our economy.”

Q: How have you approached these challenges to ensure positive outcomes for both the environment and affected communities?

Beachy: “Properly guided, that wave of investments can flow into good union jobs and locally-defined benefits for communities confronting racial, economic and environmental injustice. A well-designed climate strategy is also a jobs strategy and an equity strategy. That trifecta — climate, jobs and justice — has guided us in fighting for and implementing the largest climate investment in history.”

Q: What aspects of your education and experiences at Goshen College do you believe have been particularly instrumental in shaping your career path?

Beachy: “Goshen offered a workshop to try my hand — alongside friends — at organizing people behind a vision for change. Whether you’re based in the White House or Kratz dormitory, you’re looking at the same essential toolkit for achieving impact. Experimentation with organizing, advocacy and strategic communications was perhaps the most instrumental element of my GC education.”

Q: Are there specific lessons or values instilled during your time at GC that you find yourself drawing upon in your current role as a Special Assistant to the President?

Beachy: “Goshen also invited us to answer the question, ‘What would a just society look like?’ This practice — finding a societal north star — has guided my economic policy work for the last two decades. Debating how to align means with ends was a useful practice run for tackling tangible and consequential issues in the real world.”

Q: What are a few key experiences at GC for which you are particularly thankful?

Beachy: “When I got to Goshen, the campus [tagline] was ‘Uncommon.’ The college asked its students to be themselves and pursue a vocation that honored our inner drive. That freedom to pursue our intrinsic interests, to craft a bespoke career and to be true to ourselves — it’s one of the best gifts Goshen offered.”

Q: How have those experiences contributed to your personal and professional growth?

Beachy: “My path from Goshen to the White House took me through Nicaragua, India, grad school and DC, where I practiced advocacy and movement building to effect policy change. A continuous thread throughout this journey is my commitment to build community and transform unjust structures. My experiences at Goshen reinforced the connection between community and justice, guiding my work for the last two decades.”