Ex-Staffer Goes Global

Former Hillite Opens International Advisory Firm

Posted May 14, 2004 at 3:35pm

To say that Jonathan Miller has had a colorful professional career might be a bit of an understatement.

After having worked as an intern for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, serving as the fifth employee of the Congressional Budget Office, directing Peace Corps initiatives in Africa and once even owning a microbrewery, Miller opened the doors last week to Bluemont International, a new global business and government advisory firm.

But even the first week of business for his new company, where he serves as president, didn’t keep Miller in one place for too long. He jetted off to Africa on Sunday because he’s helping put together a service that would outfit private airplanes to move scarce medical supplies more efficiently across Ghana and Botswana in an effort to battle the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

With a five-person staff and a small office on I Street Northwest, Miller’s new firm will focus on market access, assessing political and economic risk, governmental affairs and helping companies take advantage of business opportunities, especially in emerging foreign markets.

“I keep that little office as a necessary evil,” he said. “I go there as little as possible because all my work is international.”

Miller said he hopes to build on his career as an international business consultant and on his government relations experience to help clients, particularly in East and South Asia, Africa and Latin America.

During his time in government, Miller served in the National Security Council, the State Department and the Agency for International Development. He also served as deputy political director to George H.W. Bush’s 1980 presidential campaign and as administrative assistant to former Rep. Bill Goodling (R-Pa.), who remembered Miller as “a fine young man who came over to me from the White House.”

Coming from “many generations of Republicans,” Miller got the Washington bug early, and his internship with the Senate at age 19 gave him his first taste of foreign relations work. After working as a special assistant to the CBO director in 1975 at age 22, he attended law school at the University of Kentucky and eventually found his niche in international policy with the executive branch.

“I couldn’t do what I’m doing now without having the experience I had on the Hill and at the executive branch,” Miller said. “But when you get that experience it’s up to you to decide what your values are.”

Miller said that after his government work, he received offers to work at a large D.C. law firm and local lobbying shops but found his heart wasn’t in that type of work. He went on to work for seven years as a partner and director of the Brock Group, set up by former Sen. Bill Brock (R-Tenn.) to advise foreign and domestic companies on international trade policy.

“I have intentionally tried to gravitate away from doing lobbying work. Everyone in this town does lobbying work, and I have no desire to do that.”

He said starting his new small firm allows him to handpick his projects and do pro bono work. It also gives him the ability to devote time to his passion, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, which helps injured race horses in his hometown of Paeonian Springs, Va.

At 51, “I’m at a stage in life that if you don’t use your skills to do something good, then what’s the point of it all,” Miller said.