“From the small class sizes to the close-knit community of faculty and staff, Wesleyan ensures that every student gets the support they need in the classroom and beyond. This allowed me to work very closely with my peers and heads of our academic departments to do independent studies to explore my career interests further and pursue fellowships and internships that were essential stepping stones to where I am today.” – Morgan (Whitney) Pierstorff ’10
Executive Director for Kentucky’s European Representative Office in Hamburg, Germany, since Oct. 2017
B.A., Kentucky Wesleyan College, Interdisciplinary Studies (focus on international relations) with minor in Political Science (Completed Fellowship in Public Policy and International Affairs at Carnegie Mellon University prior to senior year at Wesleyan)
M.S., Carnegie Mellon University Heinz College, Public Policy and Management
Currently enrolled in Executive MBA program at Kühne Logistics University, Hamburg, Germany
What are your responsibilities as Executive Director for Kentucky’s European Representative Office?
“I am the chief economic development representative for Kentucky in Europe and lead the Commonwealth’s efforts to recruit and retain European investment across a variety of industry sectors. The goal of our office is threefold and includes:
1) Aftercare for our over 220 European-owned facilities in Kentucky which represent investments from 16 different countries and employ over 37,000 Kentuckians
2) Lead generation and recruitment of new investors across Europe
3) Marketing Kentucky’s advantages as a destination for European business investment.
“My role in leading Kentucky’s Europe office is to develop and execute a strategy that achieves these objectives in an effort to diversify and grow Kentucky’s economy via increased foreign direct investment.”
What was your career path to your present position?
“I have always had an interest in international affairs and development. Initially, I pursued this interest in Washington, D.C., and worked at the U.S. Department of State as a global intergovernmental affairs liaison. It was a great experience, but I quickly realized I was more interested in international business than in international diplomacy. It also became clear through my work with U.S. governors and mayors while at the State Department that there is a tremendous amount of international work being done at the state level. So I decided to make a transition from federal to state government.
“I had the opportunity to return to Kentucky to join the Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ policy team under the leadership of Secretary Audrey Haynes in the early days of Affordable Care Act implementation and the establishment of Kentucky’s Health Benefit Exchange.
“This was another excellent opportunity that allowed me to leverage my policy analysis background, but soon I was offered a position to join the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development as a project manager focusing on international trade promotion. I couldn’t refuse. That was five years ago and taking that position ultimately put me on the path to my current role. I worked my way up by organizing trade missions, supporting economic development missions abroad, and supporting international clients with their investment projects. In 2016, I moved to Germany to support our Europe Office and a year later I was named executive director.”
Why did you choose Wesleyan?
“I grew up with Wesleyan to a certain extent, driving past the front lawn with my parents as a child and visiting my sister (Kristin Whitney ’06, an Owensboro attorney) on campus while she was a student here. I thought I wanted to go to a bigger school for a while but upon visiting a large state university campus, I was overwhelmed at the size and began to think something familiar and more intimate would be a better fit for making the transition to college life.
“From my sister’s experience, I knew Wesleyan had a great political science department, and then everything just started to fall into place. I received an academic scholarship and was able to join the cross country team. I realized Wesleyan was exactly the environment I needed to thrive and determine what path my career would take.”
What are special memories of your years at Wesleyan?
“The Political Science Department was my life at Wesleyan. I have great memories of attending American Political Science Association conferences in Chicago and Toronto and preparing for debates with the Stanley Reed Pre-Politics and Law Society.
“Dr. William Conroy taught me how to think critically and approach difficult public policy issues. I cannot say enough about his influence on my professional career. He had a way of challenging me through his lectures and coursework that helped me grow as an individual. I really needed that at the time. He was demanding and his students were the better for it.”
Tell us about life in Germany.
“Germany is a fascinating place, and I love being immersed in a completely different culture. I love change and being challenged. Every day I am navigating something new. Northern Germany is completely different from the south in everything from language to cuisine, so it is fun to explore what makes each of Germany’s 16 states unique. I love the accessibility – being able to so easily and cheaply travel through Europe. Also, the nature of my job requires that I travel quite a bit. I’ve been to over 25 countries in the last 22 months.”