December 06, 2019

John McCarthy with former Vice President Biden

“John McCarthy is one of the very few students I have known in my 30-year tenure here who has lived up to the slogan ‘Do It All,’” commented John Kenneth White, politics professor, referencing a previous University tagline.

McCarthy, B.A. 2013, currently serves as deputy political director for former vice president Joe Biden and was recently named to Forbes' "30 under 30" Law and Policy list. 

McCarthy, who continues to stay engaged with the University as a member of the alumni board of governors, says he owes a lot to his Catholic University education. He says it was “first-rate training in political science, offered through the lens of the Catholic faith.”

“The fact that the national University of the Church is located in our nation's capital opens countless doors,” he says. “As a student I had the opportunity to hear from the biggest names in my field, participate in internships across the government, and get to be a first-person witness to history: from papal visits to presidential inaugurations.”

Even before graduation, McCarthy established a name for himself in the political community — on and off campus. He founded a non-profit to help empower high school students to be more engaged in their communities and the political process. At 18, he was elected chair of his local democratic party. He became head of the CUA College Democrats. 

McCarthy and his politically minded friends became well known for their civility and ability to transcend political divisions. McCarthy's best friend (and roommate), Peter Rescigno, was head of the College Republicans on campus. 

Even as a freshman in his introduction to American government class, White says McCarthy stood out. 

“John was engaged, asked penetrating questions, and showed an all-consuming interest in politics,” recalls White, who had McCarthy in his National Elections course in 2012. Then, in 2016, the one-time pupil returned to White's classroom as a guest speaker, sharing with students his experience of working on the Hillary Clinton Campaign. 

The respect flows both ways between White and McCarthy. McCarthy says he took every class that White offered.

“He was one of the best teachers I had on public opinion polling and historic trends in the presidential nominating process,” says McCarthy. Though he had many great professors, he says he finds himself citing White and (now retired) Professor Stephen Schneck daily. 

Prior to his current role with the Biden presidential campaign, McCarthy served as the youngest chief of staff on Capitol Hill (during the 115th Congress) for Congressman Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania.