Jed Perry ’92

May 13, 2024

Jed Perry ‘92 moved to St. Johnsbury in 1983 from Brownington, Vermont, which is about 15 miles from the Canadian border. He recalls, “Brownington was a very small, rural town, so moving to St. Johnsbury was like moving to the big city.”


At SJA, “history was, hands down, my favorite class. I was fortunate to have Judy Kelly (former social studies faculty) as my history teacher twice. While I was a decent student, I struggled with my writing. Judy was very patient (I spent many afternoons after dismissal in her classroom), and she walked me through how to improve. She nominated me to go to Boys State between my junior and senior years. It was there that I discovered politics, and that set in motion my major in college and, ultimately, my entire career.”


Outside of the classroom, Jed ran cross-country and was the team captain his senior year. He also played baseball, primarily second base. “At several points, my coach for both sports was Peter Wright ‘84 (current mathematics faculty), who at the time was a relatively new teacher at the Academy. Peter was always extremely positive and kept things fun. He was never the kind of coach who yelled at his players. Instead, he worked with us to find ways to improve and then gave us the space to enjoy what we were doing.”


“Musically, I participated in nearly everything the Academy had to offer at the time. I was in the band and stage band, playing saxophone in both, and sang in the chorus and Hilltones. I was also in the pit orchestra a couple of times for the annual musical. I started playing saxophone in the fourth grade, and Alan Rowe ‘72 (current performing arts faculty) became our teacher the following year. He was the band director for all the elementary schools, the middle school, and the Academy for a while. Alan eventually moved to teaching full-time at the Academy starting in 1988, but because of his previous coverage, he was my band teacher from fifth grade through my senior year. Of any teacher I had growing up, Alan provided a sense of continuity throughout. Regardless of any challenges I had during school, the various music groups were where I was most happy.”


After graduation, Jed attended American University in Washington, D.C. “While I really enjoyed the experience, it was a huge transition from small-town Vermont to a large metropolitan area. I was fortunate to find an excellent group of friends, including my now-wife, who helped this small-town kid learn how to navigate the city. As a political science major, I took full advantage of Washington, D.C., completing five separate internships. They all provided a far bigger glimpse of the world than I had experienced growing up.”


Currently, Jed is the Head of U.S. Public Policy and Government Relations at UCB, a Belgian biopharmaceutical company. Before this job, he worked in political campaigns, at policy consulting firms, served two stints as a Congressional staffer, worked at the Texas Department of Insurance while in graduate school, and finally, at four different pharmaceutical companies. “Everything I’ve done has been focused on politics and public policy. While I was in graduate school at LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, I developed a particular interest in healthcare policy. Many members of my family have had serious healthcare conditions. I’m not a scientific person, so I was never going to be a healthcare practitioner. Instead, I wanted to ensure people can access the healthcare they need. My job today is largely about making sure that people have access to the therapies my company provides.”


His favorite part of the job? “I very much enjoy meeting with Members of Congress and their staff to explain certain aspects of healthcare policy. I love the challenge of walking through a really complicated issue and helping them understand why it should matter to them and their constituents. As a former Congressional aide, I know what it’s like on the other end, trying to provide guidance for your boss on a million issues. I enjoy being able to provide that bit of insight for them.” The most challenging part of his job tends to be explaining the U.S. healthcare system to colleagues in Belgium: “No one can believe how our ‘system’ is built.”


After attending American University in D.C., Jed decided that was where he wanted to spend his career. “I often joke that I’m very qualified to work in Washington, D.C., but not really anywhere else. My background and training are all about public policy, so it makes sense that D.C. is where I would work and live.”


His advice for current SJA students? “I would strongly encourage students to take advantage of the Academy’s alumni. Whether you continue to live in St. Johnsbury or move elsewhere, the alumni network is huge — with people living throughout the world. If you plan to go to college, there are often alumni who have attended that school and would be willing to provide insights. If you are starting a new profession, there are alumni willing to serve as mentors or provide connections to get you started. You may attend high school in a small town, but you don’t have to feel all alone when you graduate. There are many people who are there to offer you support.”


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