The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Rockefeller Leadership Fellow: Benjamin Rutan ’17

Ben Rutan '17 is a Government major and Computer Science minor. 

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This series introduces the 2016-2017 Rockefeller Leadership Fellows. Each fellow reflects on why he or she wanted to be a part of the program and what aspects of leadership most interests them.

Leadership is a learning curve, where perfection is unattainable but must be strove for regardless. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is often more important than your abilities themselves, for it is only by knowing one’s limits that one’s leadership potential can be reached.

I find the “push and pull” problem to be the most interesting aspect of leadership. I firmly believe that a balance between acting as a mediator of discussion and asserting strong control is essential for effective leadership. Discussion must be encouraged as it legitimizes whatever choice is made and encourages everyone to “buy into” the final decision. However, an efficient leader must also know when to direct the group towards the implementation phase, particularly when time is of the essence. Navigating this delicate balance of listening and acting is the most challenging part of leadership for me.

I strongly believe that my peers in RLF and the Rockefeller staff are an invaluable source of information and experience. Each person has encountered scenarios I may one day face, and learning how best to approach these situations will be an invaluable experience.

Ben Rutan, a junior from Northborough, Massachusetts, graduated from Algonquin Regional High School. A major in government, Ben specializes in international relations, and has looked into cybersecurity as a computer science minor. Currently, he is the musical director for the Dartmouth Aires, a bass for the Dartmouth Glee Club, and a member of the Ultimate Frisbee B Team. Furthermore, Ben was a first-year trips leader for the Dartmouth Outing Club and serves as a mentor for the Rockefeller Peer Mentoring Program. Previously, Ben worked for the Truman National Security Project as a Rockefeller Center First-Year Fellow, where he published an article in Talking Points Memo on African terrorism, and performed research for Professors Dean Lacy and Jeffrey Friedman at Dartmouth. Ben hopes to work for the government in either a civilian or military capacity after graduation, with an emphasis on national security and international negotiations.

Edited by Rachel Favors '18, Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant for Communications

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