North Central College - Naperville, IL

Donald Wolfensberger

Class Year: 
1964

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2009

Donald Wolfensberger ’64 is a senior scholar on public policy and congressional procedures after a distinguished career in the halls of Congress. A recognized expert on parliamentary rules and procedures, he played a key role in the House reform proposals implemented during the 104th U.S. Congress, after Republicans took control of the majority in 1995. After 28 years as a staff member in the U.S. House of Representatives, in June 1999 he became director of the Congress Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He has published Congress and the People: Deliberative Democracy on Trial (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000). While at North Central, Don earned his B.A. in English and held editorial positions on The Chronicle and The Spectrum. After graduation, he earned an M.A. in political science at the University of Iowa and then served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania, East Africa, from 1967-1968, which he describes as a “life-changing experience.”

In 1969, Don was appointed legislative assistant to his own congressman, U.S. Rep. John B. Anderson (R-Ill.). He joined the House Rules Committee staff as Anderson’s subcommittee counsel in 1979 and subsequently served on the committee as subcommittee counsel to U.S. Rep. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and U.S. Rep. Lynn Martin (R-Ill.). In 1991, he was named Republican staff director of the Rules Committee and in 1995 he was named chief of staff on the committee. He currently writes a twice-monthly column, “Procedural Politics,” for the popular Capitol Hill Newspaper, Roll Call. He lectures frequently on Congress to student groups, foreign diplomats and executive branch officials. Don and his wife, Monty Tripp, live in Arlington, Va.