Alumnus to discuss extensive background and career path in federal government

Virtual conversation is the third event in the School of Public Policy’s “Profiles” series

The School of Public Policy’s virtual leadership development series, “Profiles,” will feature Wayne Palmer, former principal deputy assistant secretary for Mine Safety and Health (MSHA) in the U.S. Department of Labor, at 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 14. Credit: Penn State / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The School of Public Policy’s leadership series, which spotlights professionals with careers in public policy, continues with Penn State alumnus Wayne Palmer, former principal deputy assistant secretary for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in the U.S. Department of Labor, at 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 14.

Prior to his position with MSHA, Palmer served as senior manager of congressional relations at the Center for Presidential Transition, a nonpartisan source of information and resources designed to assist presidential candidates' transition teams. He has 13 years of experience working in Congress, including as legislative director for Senator George Voinovich and chief of staff to Senate Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum.

Palmer earned his bachelor's degree in political science from Penn State and a master of government administration degree from the University of Pennsylvania, subsequently launching his career in Washington, D.C., as a presidential management fellow at the U.S. Department of Commerce. In that capacity, he rotated through the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Steering Committee and the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Palmer has also held senior roles at AstraZeneca and at a boutique consulting firm, where he launched a new series of bipartisan delegations of U.S. state and local elected officials to China.

Palmer said his decision to pursue federal government work originated from a spirit of public service and contribution.

“The Senate was my sweet spot,” he said. “That's where I really cut my teeth as a legislative staffer and spent four years handling a huge portfolio, where I dealt with Medicare, Medicaid, social security and labor issues. Working with Senator Rick Santorum in my home state of Pennsylvania and Senator George Voinovich in Ohio evolved into leadership positions and brought experience with various legislative agendas.”

“When I was appointed to my most recent position at MSHA, the role was fulfilling in new ways,” Palmer added. “The position provided the opportunity to directly impact the day-to-day safety and long-term chronic health of 300,000 miners across the country. It was a shift in focus to substance and action, which allowed me to address some of the problem areas in mine safety and achieve quantifiable accomplishments that I'm really proud of.”

The April 14 event will be held via Zoom and will consist of a brief interview followed by questions from the audience. Participants will have the option to ask questions during the live discussion or in advance of the presentation by submitting questions to

Wayne Palmer is the third speaker in the School of Public Policy’s “Profiles” series, during which the school welcomes public policy professionals to discuss their careers and share their experiences. Additional details on the series and information on joining the discussions via Zoom can be found on the School of Public Policy website.

Penn State alumnus Wayne Palmer, political science ’86, will join the School of Public Policy's “Profiles” series to discuss his extensive background and career path in both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government.  Credit: U.S. Department of LaborAll Rights Reserved.

Last Updated April 10, 2021