One of Louisville’s own, Daniel Ensign, is serving an internship with the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs (OPEIGA). OPEIGA is responsible for building relationships with advocacy groups and non-governmental organizations. It is also the primary channel through which the general public relates to the White House, promoting support for and discussion about the president’s agenda.
Ensign said, “At the OPEIGA, my day-to-day tasks vary. Everything I do works toward the goal of making a more open and transparent Obama administration and to continue to improve communication between the administration and the public.”
Now a student at the University of Maryland, pursuing a B.S. in finance at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, Ensign explains that his experiences on campus, his past internships, “and the lessons I learned growing up as a member of the Jewish community really prepared me” for this opportunity.
“Without a doubt, I would not be where I am today without my time in BBYO and the skills I learned through that,” he added. “The leadership opportunities provided to me helped me to develop skills at a young age that I still use to this day.”
A graduate of DuPont Manual High School, Ensign was very involved with B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO), taking leadership roles in his local chapter and at the regional and international levels, and attending many conventions. As the recipient of the 2009 Ellen and Milton Cantor Israel Scholarship, he participated in the BBYO International Leadership Seminar Israel. He also went on the March of the Living in 2008.
He was honored several times by the Jewish Community of Louisville. He received the 2009 Joseph Fink BBYO Community Service Award, a 2008 Stuart Pressma Award and the 2006 Stacy Marks Nisenbaum Award. He also received the Tree of Life Award for recruitment and the Silver Shield of David, the highest award an Aleph (president) can receive, from BBYO.
At Manual, he was a member of the Y-Club (a model government organization with an emphasis on community service) and helped found Action For Africa, a club striving to raise awareness of various crises in Africa with a focus on the “Invisible Children” of Uganda. He also was a volunteer in the 2008 Yarmuth for Congress campaign.
Ensign plans to complete his studies at the University of Maryland in January 2013. He is a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity and served as a member of its executive board. He also served on the Inter-Fraternity Council’s Judicial Board and was president of Terrapin Students for Israel.
He is also very active in Hillel and is one of seven students who sit on the Maryland Hillel Board of Directors. “I also try to attend Shabbat services on campus every week,” he said.
Although he is not sure what he wants to do when he graduates, he said, “I hope to pursue a career in public service, by either working for the government or doing something in the Jewish non-profit world.”
Asked what advice he would offer to today’s high school students in Louisville, Ensign said, “My biggest bit of advice … would be to get involved with something Jewish during your four years of high school.
“Obviously, I am biased towards BBYO,” he continued, “but you can’t go wrong with any of the Jewish youth organizations in Louisville. When you find an organization you are passionate about, find at least two mentors. One should be one of the older kids in the group. Your other mentor should be a staff member or advisor.
“I was very lucky to have Justin Sadle as my advisor in BBYO,” he stated, “and we still keep in contact to this day. Finally, I wouldn’t be doing them justice without thanking my family for their guidance and support, especially my parents, sister, and grandparents.”
Ensign is the son of Julie and Jim Ensign, and has a sister, Sarah. He is also the grandson of Elaine and the late Henry Frank.