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25 Faces 25 Years: Eli Gilman

By Mary Caparosa ’16
Photo by Andrew Pellegrino ’18

Eli Gilman
Eli Gilman, Director of Administration and Development, Foreign Policy Research Institute


April 17, 2017

“I’m always inspired to learn,” says Eli Gilman, an alumnus of Drexel’s Center for Public Policy. “That’s what drives me, regardless of the field.”

After graduating with a degree in political science from George Washington University, Gilman made his way to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he landed a job with the Office of Homeland Security working in risk assessment and critical infrastructure protection.

“Many days, I would go into my boss’ office and say, ‘OK, I’ve done this, what else can I do?’ As they realized I could do more and more, they gave me more and more. Within six months, I was drafting the Strategic Plan for the Commonwealth [of Pennsylvania].”

Although the experience was invaluable, he eventually decided he’d gone as far as he could on his bachelor’s degree and started researching graduate programs back home in Philadelphia.

“Drexel’s Public Policy program fit perfectly with where I wanted to go in my career. It was one of the biggest things that helped me conceptualize large institutional momentum and how to make change,” he says.

Gilman also kept in touch with connections he’d made throughout his career, including the executive director of the Center for the Study of Terrorism at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) in Philadelphia. Before graduating from Drexel, he began putting his coursework into action as a research associate at FPRI. He published articles on emergency management and homeland security issues, and worked on research projects for the Commonwealth and the U.S. Department of Defense. He was soon promoted to director of administration and development.

“Because of my degree, I was able to step right in and perform strategic planning, communications and other duties to help grow the organization into what it is today,” Gilman says.

His successes and experience led to an appointment on Governor Tom Wolf ’s Transition Review Team in 2014 for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

The diverse team of emergency management, homeland security, fire department officials and a former state legislator reported on organizational structures, budgets and other policy and legal issues.

“We were responsible for making recommendations to the Governor-elect and his team about potential changes and future policies he might want to implement in those areas,” Gilman explains. “It was an honor to be asked to serve.”

Back at FPRI, Gilman is growing the Foreign Policy Roundtable for Rising Philadelphians, an event series geared toward young professionals who want to discuss international issues with leaders in the field. He hopes to educate and encourage youth to think critically about U.S. foreign policy and international affairs.

“We operate on the premise that a nation should always think before it acts,” Gilman explains, “which is why it’s important to get young people involved and doing the same.”

This article originally appeared in the College of Arts and Sciences' Ask magazine feature story, "25 Faces, 25 Years." For more Ask stories, visit