newsId: 32A415B2-5056-AF26-BE1DE58CEB1F8BC4
Title: Professors Eisenstadt, Edelson, and Lane Win Elections in AU Faculty Senate
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Abstract: SPA congratulates Professors Todd Eisenstadt, Chris Edelson and Ruth Lane on their elections in American University’s Faculty Senate.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 04/14/2015
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SPA congratulates Professors Todd Eisenstadt, Chris Edelson and Ruth Lane on their elections in American University’s Faculty Senate.

Professor Eisenstadt was elected to the Senate’s leadership, and will serve as Vice Chair. Professor Edelson was elected to serve in a role for at-large tenure line or term faculty, and Professor Lane was elected to the faculty hearing committee.

The faculty senate plays an important role in giving faculty a strong voice in the governance of the university. Its representatives are elected by their fellow faculty members to ensure excellence and equity in policies and practices that affect faculty and students throughout the university.

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Title: Professor Johnson’s BleakHouse Publishing Releases Powerful Poetry Collection
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Abstract: The independent press recently released a collection of poems deconstructing delusions of race in the criminal justice system.
Topic: Liberal Arts
Publication Date: 04/14/2015
Content:

BleakHouse Publishing, an independent press founded by School of Public Affairs professor Robert Johnson, recently released a collection of poems deconstructing delusions of race in the criminal justice system.

Black Bone: Poems on Crime and Punishment, Race and Justice is the first published work by AU undergraduate senior Alexa Marie Kelly. Her work is striking a chord among readers.

“Each poem brings us face- to-face with hurt and loss, open wounds for everyone - and especially persons of color - touched by crime and punishment,” Johnson wrote of the collection.

Playwright and AU Professor Caleen Jennings also reviewed Black Bone. She praised Kelly for her ability to empathize with those who have been “incarcerated and forgotten.”

“Reading her work one can’t help but share her sorrow, outrage and compulsion to change things for the better,” Jennings wrote.

Kelly’s poems address topics such as racial profiling, the death penalty, and mass incarceration. Each first-person poem humanizes America’s institutions and their inhumane consequences.

BleakHouse Publishing, founded by Johnson in 2006, is devoted to providing creative space for social justice. Primarily American University students staff the press, and Kelly began working with BleakHouse Publishing three years ago. Its mission is to publish works that shed a humane light on the nether world of penal institutions, as well as other repressive settings, practices, and beliefs.

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Title: Laura Bush Honored as the 2015 Wonk of the Year
Author: Gregg Sangillo
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Abstract: The former first lady talks about education, family, and a lifetime of service.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/09/2015
Content:

Laura Bush was a popular and dedicated first lady, showing a commitment to education, global health, and human rights. And she's shown no signs of slowing down since leaving the White House. As chair of the Women's Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, she's focused on female empowerment in Afghanistan, Africa, and the Middle East. American University has recognized her efforts to enact meaningful change, and on Wednesday night Bush accepted the 2015 Wonk of the Year award. The event was held in Bender Arena and presented by the AUSG Kennedy Political Union.

Addressing the AU Community

After introductory remarks by AU President Neil Kerwin and KPU Director Tyler Bowders, Bush took the stage. She addressed the AU community with a thoughtful, heartfelt speech.

Bush talked about the importance of family. Her father-in-law, former President George H.W. Bush, celebrated his 90th birthday by skydiving, while mother-in-law Barbara still walks her dogs on the beach every day during the summer. They "are both happy and in good spirits. George and I believe that they're showing us the way to age with grace," she said. And she mentioned the newest member of the family, granddaughter Mila Hager.

She also showed a humorous and humble side, bringing out the "Laura Bush bobblehead doll" that a friend found for her in a gift shop. "It was on the clearance shelf," she joked. And she then recounted how the media pressed her to define herself early in the Bush presidency. The question emerged: Would you rather be Hillary Clinton or Barbara Bush? "My answer was always the same. 'I think I'll just be Laura Bush,'" she said.

Bush, who co-founded the National Book Festival, spoke eloquently about one of her lifelong passions. "I believe that every child in America should learn to read. And I believe that literacy is an essential foundation for democracy. And from my own experience, as a reader and librarian, I know that books have the power not just to move people as individuals, but to shape our journey as a nation," she said, noting the historical significance of Uncle Tom's Cabin and To Kill a Mockingbird.

She subsequently drew on her early experiences as a school teacher in the inner-city. "I wasn't prepared for the poverty I saw there," she recalled. "I wanted to help those children so badly—to somehow reach into their lives and make a difference. But it was an uphill fight."

Bush then provided a moving anecdote. One day while taking students to an amusement park in Houston, they arrived at a little boy's house to pick him up. But he was still in his underwear, and his mother didn't come to the door to give them permission to take him. "We had no choice but to leave him there. All I could do was hug him goodbye with an extra squeeze," she remembered.

And she still wonders what may have happened to that boy. "Did he manage to escape that dilapidated house in Houston with the mother who wouldn't come to the door? Did he find another teacher who cared for him?" she asked, ruminating about all of the possible outcomes of his life. "Never forget that little boy. Never forget that one friendly smile, one reading lesson, one consoling touch, one check written, or one busy hour given over to someone who needs you—these are the things that can make all the difference in the world."

Fielding Questions

Anita McBride, an executive-in-residence at AU's School of Public Affairs and a former chief of staff to Laura Bush in the White House, moderated a question-and-answer session.

In response to a question from an AU alum, Bush discussed expanded opportunities for women in Afghanistan since the 9/11 attacks. "Many, many Afghan girls are in school now. And virtually no Afghan girls were in school in 2001," she said.

One student asked how advances in women's rights can be derived from empowering first ladies around the world. She pointed to work done by the Bush Institute's First Ladies Initiative for Africa and efforts to promote testing and treatment for cervical cancer there.

Some AU students sought suggestions about navigating their college years, and Bush offered the same advice she's given to her daughters. "Take advantage of all the many opportunities you have as a college student here at American University, and don't let anything great pass you up."

A Real Conversation

Several students interviewed were impressed with Bush's presentation. "I loved learning about the different initiatives from the Bush Institute," said freshman Sarah Mallon. "She's an amazing role model for women everywhere, and for me personally."

Sophomore Jennifer Reyes Cuevas is a political science major with an interest in education policy. "I really liked how she said the empowerment of women in other countries comes through education," she said. "When she spoke about volunteering with children, it kind of made me think I should really go out and volunteer."

"I like how she put a lot of humor into it. It wasn't just, 'Oh, here are my accomplishments.' It was like talking to a real person," said Jamie Nunziata, a sophomore and vice president of AU College Republicans. "It was really like a conversation."

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Title: European Union Court of Justice Officials Visit SPA Class
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Abstract: Two officials from the Court of Justice of the European Union, Europe’s high court, spoke to a group of School of Public Affairs students on Friday, April 3.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/09/2015
Content:

Two officials from the Court of Justice of the European Union, Europe’s high court, spoke to a group of School of Public Affairs students on Friday, April 3.

The two officials, known as referendaires, vistited campus on March 30 as part of a daylong conference hosted by AU’s School of Public Affairs, School of International Service, Washington College of Law, the Italian-American Law Student Association and the European Law Association. The conference invited renowned speakers to address issues related to the use of foreign law in constitutional judgments in the Court of Justice of the E.U. The conference was co-organized by Prof. Fernanda Nicola (WCL) and SPA Professor Bill Davies. The two officials, William Valasidas, Director of Communications at the Court, and Costas Popotas, Legal Secretary in the Chambers of the Court’s President returned to campus on the invitation of Prof. Davies.

The conference was inspired by a 2005 event at AU’s Washington College of Law, in which Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer sparked an international debate on the use of foreign law in domestic legal decisions. Last week’s event sought to address how to apply international law in domestic courts.

The referendaire position in Europe is almost exactly like the position of clerk in a U.S. court, with the significant difference between the Supreme Courts of the U.S. and E.U. being that the Europeans are in a career position, not a 1-2 year stay as in the U.S. For example, one of the speakers, Costas Popotas, is in his 27th year at the Court.

The referendaire title comes from the French judicial system and translates most literally as "judicial assistant," but their function is to draft opinions and coordinate between judicial offices in much the same way as clerk in the US system.

Professor Davies has researched and written about E.U. courts extensively in his work. He received both PhD and undergraduate degree in European Studies from Kings College London, and has travelled the continent in his research on Europe’s constitutional system.

Tags: Justice, Law & Society,School of Public Affairs,European Studies,Undergraduate Students
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Title: Announcing the 2015 AU Summer Scholars & Artist Fellowship Award Recipients
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Abstract: We are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2015 AU Summer Scholars & Artist Fellowship Awards.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 04/06/2015
Content:

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2015 AU Summer Scholars & Artist Fellowship Awards: Alya Shaiful Bahari, Miles Brickley, Fabienne Demmerle, Nick Depuy, Emily Ferraro, John Oldham, Mike Romadka, and Aria Wiseblatt. Each was selected for submitting an exemplary and unique research proposal.

The eight winners will be awarded $4,000, funded by the Office for Undergraduate Studies, to conduct full-time research with a faculty mentor over the summer that leads to significant scholarly or creative work. Recipients also have the opportunity to take summer courses that aid in their research.

Faculty mentors assist students in identifying the knowledge and skills required to complete their selected project and in defining research phases and deadlines. During the summer, they will collaborate with the students, provide feedback, and help them find appropriate venues for sharing the results of their research.

In the past, projects have covered a broad range of issues, from Go-Go and gentrification in D.C., and the political discourse in Salsa music, to addressing international central bank transparency and researching medication for the epidemic of antibiotic resistance.

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Title: Study: Effects of Community Traumatic Events Can Reduce Student Performance
Author: Daniel Kuhn
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Abstract: Traumatic community events can reduce student achievement, according to a new study conducted by SPA faculty members Erdal Tekin and Seth Gershenson.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 04/02/2015
Content:

Community traumatic events can reduce student achievement, according to a new study conducted by AU School of Public Affairs faculty members Erdal Tekin and Seth Gershenson.

The study, released by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), analyzes the 2002 “Beltway Sniper” attacks as a natural experiment, identifying harmful effects on student achievement in the Virginia public school system. The paper speculates that reductions in student achievement may be driven by reduced time in the classroom caused by teacher and student absences, school closures, increased stress, and other disruptions of classroom routines.

The findings indicate that the attacks significantly reduced student performance in schools within five miles of the attack, with the most significant results in third grade reading, and third and fifth grade math proficiency. Altogether, the event caused a decline in school proficiency rates of about five to nine percentage points. The effects appear to be entirely driven by lower achievement in schools with higher minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged students.

The study also found that the negative effects of the trauma faded in ensuing years. The results have the potential to assist communities in addressing the fallout of community traumas by being proactive in properly supporting students, particularly at the elementary level, inside and outside of the classroom.

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Title: 13 SPA Students Named Finalists for Prestigious Presidential Management Fellowship
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Abstract: AU ranks first among qualifying schools in overall Presidential Management Fellow Finalists for the class of 2015.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 04/01/2015
Content:

The School of Public Affairs is proud to announce that 13 of its graduate students have been named Presidential Management Fellow Finalists for the class of 2015. This represents a nearly 100 percent increase over last year’s SPA finalists. It is a testament to the quality of the students, faculty, and advisors within the SPA program.

For the past 30 years, the Presidential Management Fellowship has annually awarded 2-year federal appointments to accomplished students, who demonstrate the leadership qualities necessary to serve within the federal government. The three-stage application is highly competitive—this year, out of approximately 7,800 applicants, only 600 were named finalists.

The large increase in SPA’s PMF finalists from SPA correlates with American University’s overall upward trend of success. In 2013, AU ranked third among qualifying schools with 19 finalists. Last year, it ranked second with 34 finalists. This year, with 43 finalists, AU ranks first.

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Title: AU 2030: Elizabeth Suhay
Author: Gregg Sangillo
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Abstract: SPA professor studies political psychology, public opinion, and how science gets politicized.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 03/26/2015
Content:

*This is part of an ongoing series focusing on the AU 2030 project. American University has invested significant resources in key subject areas that cut across schools and departments. SPA professor Elizabeth Suhay's research falls under the category of decision science for policy. Through her work, she seeks to understand why people hold certain political beliefs.

The late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y. wisely said that you're entitled to your own opinions, but you're not entitled to your own facts. But when science and politics collide, partisan warriors often cherry pick facts that feed into their own ideological biases. Their resulting arguments can look more like Stephen Colbert's "truthiness" than truth.

Science and the Battle for Truth

American University School of Public Affairs Assistant Professor Elizabeth Suhay has researched the politicization of science. Activist Democrats and Republicans frequently view scientific evidence through the lens of party politics, she says. "When science or factual knowledge becomes wrapped up with a policy area, like in the case of climate change, you get people who are rejecting or accepting scientific arguments based on what their political groups, quasi political groups, or close peers in their communities believe," Suhay says.

Scientific reports with political implications are now met with a frenzy of supporting arguments and counter-arguments. With so much technology at our fingertips via the Internet, information—regardless of its accuracy or scientific merit—is readily available for any citizen willing to wage a fight.

Recent scholarship shows that the left and the right in the U.S. are growing further apart, and partisanship is becoming more pronounced. "With that distance and intensity comes this feeling that the stakes are much greater," she says. "People are much more motivated to get science on their side, because science is a way of backing up their policy beliefs. And now, more than ever, they feel that it's very important to get their policies implemented and have the other side's policies shut down."

Conservatives are frequently criticized for denying sound science on climate change, but Suhay says that the manipulation and politicization of science is a bipartisan problem. Even amongst like-minded ideological cohorts, there are differences in how people interpret information. Since social conservatives are often motivated by religious convictions, they may express skepticism towards stem cell science or evolution. Economic conservatives are probably less resistant to this same science, she says.

Decision-Making and Public Opinion

Suhay has argued against "rational choice" theory, in which individuals make decisions that maximize benefits and minimize costs. You still hear politicians talk about people "voting with their pocketbooks." Yet a growing body of research shows that political decisions are often based on emotions, and not on any (often arbitrary) notion of rationality.

"What a lot of people are finding these days is that political views are driven much more by social identity," Suhay says. This can be manifested through one's feelings about race and religion, and it's also contributing to the polarization of the electorate. "If you have an individual who's Republican, that person is going to be much more accepting of a policy that comes from a Republican. And you can experimentally show this. If you have the same policy, but you say a Democratic legislator is proposing it, the typical Republican citizen will reject it."

Failing to Persuade

Suhay has also found that the obsession with "getting science on your side" can be unnecessary. She recently co-authored a paper titled, "Science, Sexuality, and Civil Rights: Does Research on the Causes of Homosexuality Have a Political Impact?"

Suhay and her colleague discovered that liberals were more persuaded than conservatives by claims that homosexuality is innate. Conservatives were more persuaded by the argument that homosexuality is the result of choice or social environment. However, after participants were presented with biological and non-biological influences on homosexuality, the researchers found no evidence that people altered their attitudes towards homosexuals or their support for gay rights.

"If you get some scientific studies out there that show, 'Oh, for some people, there's a choice component, or for some people there's some impact from social environment,' liberal activists might be concerned that this would cause a backlash against gay rights. And what we're saying is, 'No. So, let's all calm down about politicizing this.'"

Distinguishing Herself

Suhay was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After growing up in the suburban towns of Plymouth and Birmingham, she returned to Ann Arbor for college at University of Michigan. She graduated with high honors before spending five years working in the book publishing industry.

Though technically a detour from her academic pursuits, she learned a few things from her publishing experience. With a plethora of titles published every year by her employer, University of Michigan Press, she realized the importance of distinguishing yourself and the value of being interdisciplinary. "Many people were working on similar themes, and not talking to one another across disciplines," she says.

She earned her Ph.D. from University of Michigan and most recently taught at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania.

Suhay came to American University in 2014, and she's enthusiastic about AU's emphasis on research. She's also incredibly impressed with her students. "It's so fun getting to interact with graduate students who have these real jobs in D.C.," she says. "I get to learn some from them, and hopefully they learn some from me." And she's noted how her undergraduate students are quite knowledgeable about politics: "They are also an unusually participatory bunch. As a result, the quality of conversation in my classrooms has been very high. This makes teaching a lot of fun, and perhaps easier than it should be."

Though highly-motivated and energetic, she tries to relieve stress through yoga or watching a comedy movie with her husband. Suhay is also enjoying life in the nation's capital. Upon moving here, she set a goal of meeting former Obama campaign adviser Stephanie Cutter and Politico journalist Mike Allen within a few years. To her surprise, she met both of them within months of her arrival.

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Title: #AUTakesNI: Scholars Program Students Study Civil Rights in Northern Ireland
Author: Lee Ivory
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Abstract: Students met with politicians, policymakers and activists to learn about Northern Ireland's notoriously segregated education system.
Topic: Education
Publication Date: 03/25/2015
Content:

While many students were relaxing over Spring Break, 15 students from American University’s Scholars Program spent the week traveling across Northern Ireland.

The students – led by Professor Kimberly Cowell-Meyers of the School of Public Affair’s (SPA) Department of Government – met with politicians, policymakers and activists to learn about Northern Ireland’s notoriously segregated education system.

With only a population of 1.8 million, Northern Ireland has a complex and fragmented education system in which more than 90 percent of students attend schools that are either controlled by Catholic or Protestant authorities, according to the U.S. State Department.

To learn more about the makeup of the schools, SPA students visited all three types of schools (Catholic, Protestant and integrated), interviewed students, faculty and administrators, listened to debates between the Social Democratic Labour Party (SDLP), the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Independent Unionist parties, visited the Stormont Parliament and had presentations from academics leading the campaign to reform Northern Ireland’s schools. They also spent an evening with education majors at Queen’s University of Belfast and spoke with policy leaders such as Deputy Chair of the Education Committee in Stormont, the Ulster Unionist Party’s Danny Kinahan.

Students also met with officials at Nerve Centre, a youth organization in Londonderry/Derry, to learn more about the divide. The class has partnered with the Nerve Centre to help them expand the use of their curriculum for teaching divided histories in the secondary schools in Northern Ireland and plans to conduct two separate surveys on their behalf.

“The students seemed to have a great experience. They were very open to learning and wonderfully engaged,” Cowell-Meyers said. “They saw up close what a deviling or ‘wicked’ problem reconfiguring the segregated education system in Northern Ireland poses and came to appreciate the logistical, financial, cultural, educational and religious challenges of reform.”

In addition to active participation on the ground, students shared photos, lessons and updates on their itinerary using the hashtag, #AUTakesNI.

Their coverage provided visibility and engagement worldwide. The pictures were a spectacular porthole that illustrated daily life in Northern Ireland, including the culture and politics in rural and urban areas of the country.

“The students asked great questions and puzzled and probed and learned as we went,” Cowell-Meyers said. “They were terrific ambassadors of AU abroad and I was enormously proud of them.”

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Title: Chris Edelson Awarded Outstanding Teaching in a Term Appointment
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Abstract: School of Public Affairs faculty members are being celebrated with this year’s prestigious American University Faculty Awards.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 03/25/2015
Content:

School of Public Affairs faculty members are being celebrated with this year’s prestigious American University Faculty Awards.

Of note, Chris Edelson of SPA received the Outstanding Teaching in a Term Appointment award.

“I am thrilled to win this award,” Edelson said. “Since I was in high school, my goal has been to be a college professor and to teach and write about issues that interest me. I feel very lucky to have found the opportunity to do just that at American University, and to have amazing students who make the experience especially fulfilling and rewarding.”

In addition to the Faculty Awards, Provost Scott Bass recognized several teachers who have reached milestone anniversaries ranging from 25 to 45 years of service, as well as the faculty who will retire this year.

Award winners will be honored April 26 at the annual Faculty Recognition Dinner at the National Press Club.

“My congratulations goes out to all of our faculty recognized this year,” said SPA Dean Barbara Romzek. “It’s wonderful to have faculty with such talent and institutional knowledge who have made sustained contributions to AU. We are especially proud to see Professor Edelson’s passion for teaching recognized through the University-wide awards.”

SPA Faculty with 25 Years of Service: 

  • Caroline Cooper
  • Candice Nelson
  • David Rosenbloom

SPA Faculty with 40 Years of Service:

  • Neil Kerwin

SPA Retiring Faculty members:

  • Robert Durant
  • Katherine Farquhar
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Title: Key Alumna Helps Lead U.S. Response to Ebola and Other World Crises
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
Subtitle:
Abstract: Mia Beers recently returned from West Africa where she helped support the U.S. government's response to Ebola.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 04/09/2015
Content:

When a catastrophic disaster hits a region of the world and the United States is sending assistance, chances are American University alumna Mia Beers, SPA/MPA '10, is a crucial piece of the puzzle. 

This past year, she says, has seen an unusually high amount of disasters, which means that instead of staying in D.C. to coordinate the government response, Mia and many other USAID staff have been deployed in the field.

In November and December of 2014, Mia was asked to lead the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) tasked with helping coordinate and support the U.S. government's response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Mia was based in Liberia but oversaw teams on the ground in that country as well as Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Mali.

As team leader, she worked in partnership with the CDC, U.S. Public Health Service, and Department of Defense to provide treatment units, medical supplies such as personal protective equipment, and direct funding to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and United Nations agencies. Her team also provided critical information to teams on the ground and the media, monitoring the outbreak and reporting on the evolving situation.

"There is a really incredible group of people from the U.S. government -– USAID and other agencies –- responding to Ebola in West Africa," Mia says. "I was just one of many people working on the response. The United States should be proud of its efforts in West Africa."

In any given year, USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance will send humanitarian aid to people on behalf of U.S. citizens in response to between 60 and 80 disasters. Four major efforts at the moment include: helping West Africa respond to Ebola, aiding those affected by the South Sudan conflict, working with victims of the Syrian conflict, and assisting displaced populations in Iraq.

When she isn't part of the on-the-ground response, Mia heads USAID's Humanitarian Policy and Global Engagement team, which supports U.S. disaster assistance. Her team helps with strategic communication and information dissemination, facilitates inter-agency relationships, coordinates funding, and makes policy recommendations to the U.S. government and United Nations.

Mia's interest in international affairs was sparked during her undergraduate education. After graduating from George Washington University, she got a job in Africa. "I thought I would be overseas for a short time; so did my family, but [while working for CARE in Somalia] I 'got the bug,' and didn't officially come home until 14 years later," she says. During those years, Mia worked for NGOs and USAID.

"I loved working in the field with an NGO having direct contact with communities, and when I moved to the U.S. government, I was really drawn to public service. ... My colleagues and I are proud of what we do. To say you are part of the U.S. disaster response and represent the American people is pretty amazing," she says.

When she returned to the U.S., Mia wanted to "to become an extraordinary leader -- one who inspires people to do their best and willing to take more risks." A recipient of the Donald G. Zauderer Scholarship, she enjoyed learning from her fellow students in the Key Executive Leadership Program at AU. 

"You learn from the faculty but also from each other. I learned as much from other federal managers as I learned from professors because we had so many shared experiences," she recalls.

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,Key Executive Leadership Program,School of Public Affairs
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Title: SPA Alumna Makes Career Move to University of California, Berkeley
Author: Kristena Wright
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Abstract: Rosemarie Rae, SPA/MPA ‘09, joins the higher education field after more than 30 years in the non-profit sector.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 03/11/2015
Content:

Rosemarie Rae, SPA/MPA '09, was recently named associate vice chancellor of finance and chief financial officer at the University of California, Berkeley. As a graduate of AU's public administration and Key Executive Leadership programs in 2009, Rosemarie actually started her graduate work late in her career. "I was in my mid-forties when I joined cohort 36. It was career- and life-changing. But I do contribute the experience I had at American University as a direct link to where I am now," she says.

Coming up on her one-year anniversary at UC Berkeley, Rosemarie actually spent the last 15 to 20 years in the nonprofit sector. "I used a lot of my research experience from my cohort," she says. "So many of the things I learned have really proven to be cornerstones of what guides my work today. I spend most of my time at Berkley in strategic conversation, and I really learned the art of strategic thinking from professor Robert Tobias, director of business development for the key executive leadership program, and other AU professors," Rosemarie adds.

Rosemarie shares that most of her current work is related to finance. Her undergraduate degree is in accounting;she sat for CPA exam and passed, and this has helped her tremendously over the years. However, the brunt of her work focuses on the alignment with other C-level executives at Berkeley and how they think about resource allocations. Additionally, they spend a vast amount of time figuring out the best use of their limited resources and how it supports the institution's strategic vision. 

Prior to beginning at Berkeley, Rosemarie served as the chief financial and administrative officer of The National Trust for Historic Preservation as well as executive vice president, chief strategy officer, and CFO at Volunteers of America. Berkeley is her first job in higher education. She says, "My nonprofit experience was similar in nature to higher education, so I felt well prepared."

Before her career change, Rosemarie went back to graduate school at AU for herself. She says, "I'm originally from the east coast, and I was eager to be in an academic setting and have an opportunity to learn and explore new ideas. It was far more rewarding than I ever thought it would be."

Her advice to students is the same advice she gives now as an administrator: "You have to realize that people really do want to help you. Whether it be your professors or your peers, tap into the resources that are offered to you. Mentorship is a great thing, professors are great, but think beyond the professor to someone who is in your field. Build your career by taking an interest in a range of things that will be helpful for career advancement," she says.

Her final thought for students, "Take a leadership role every chance you get, you'll need to strengthen that muscle if you want to be in a place of power in your future."

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Title: SPA Alumnus Takes Student Leadership to the National Level
Author: Karli Kloss, SIS/MA '15
Subtitle:
Abstract: The National Campus Leadership Council connects student policymakers across the country.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 02/13/2015
Content:

From AU Student Government president to executive director and cofounder of the National Campus Leadership Council, Andy MacCracken, SPA/BA ’11, SPA/MA ’14, has shown a deep commitment to addressing the most pressing concerns facing this generation’s college students. 

At NCLC, Andy and his staff empower student body presidents and their teams to collaborate and tackle major issues like sexual assault, student load debt, student veterans’ affairs, and access to mental health services. NCLC connects these groups to other campuses, policymakers, and the media while providing technical assistance and professional skills trainings to ensure they are effectively lobbying for change. 

Right now, NCLC is running campus outreach for the White House’s “It’s On Us” campaign to stop campus sexual assaults. Working with approximately 300 campuses, NCLC’s role is to support the work students are already doing around education and prevention. 

Speaking of the White House, last year Andy had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to introduce President Obama ahead of the president’s remarks about executive actions that would support federal student loan borrowers. He also visited the White House as a panelist for the “It’s On Us” campaign. 

Andy served as AU’s Student Government president during his junior year. Following, he was involved with different efforts to facilitate greater collaboration among student leaders regionally and nationally. As some of those efforts began to merge into each other, Andy decided it was time to turn this side project into a full-time career.  

“A lot of what I learned in the SPA Leadership Program, Campaign Management Institute, and Public Affairs Advocacy Institute shaped my approach to starting my organization. Each of those programs are top notch in developing critical thinking and mission-focused strategy on top of hands-on experience,” Andy says. 

NCLC’s role in the higher education community continues to grow, as it hosts national student leader summits in collaboration with the White House. Students today face many issues, from employment gaps to soaring student debt, and Andy says NCLC is committed to opening dialogue and access between student leaders and policymakers. 

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Title: The Next Generation of Leaders: Sarah McBride’s Pride for AU
Author: Megan Patterson, SIS/BA ’11
Subtitle:
Abstract: Sarah McBride, SPA/BA ’13, says that her time at AU allowed her to live authentically.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 06/10/2014
Content:

Alumna Sarah McBride, SPA/BA '13, is proud that American University is preparing the next generation of leaders. At 23 years old, the former Student Government president is a remarkable example of what AU's young alumni can achieve. From being the first openly transgender woman to work for the White House, to being instrumental in the passage of Delaware's Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act, Sarah is committed to working toward equality for all. 

Sarah has loved politics since she was a teenager, and she became actively involved in campaigns in her home state of Delaware in 2006. Coming to AU was the right choice for her politically-minded career, she says, because her time at AU "made my love of politics less about 'politics' and more about what politics can do." 

As president of AU's Student Government for the 2011-12 academic year, Sarah championed student interests, including gender neutral housing and encouraging changes in AU's insurance coverage for transgender students. After completing her term as president, Sarah wrote a Facebook note, later edited into an op-ed in The Eagle, titled "The Real Me," in which she came out as being a transgender woman. 

After publishing her story, Sarah received a tremendous amount of support from the AU community. "Only at AU would I have had an experience where every single response to my coming out was positive," she says. "I wouldn't be the person I am today without AU and without my experience there. My time at AU, the relationships I developed, and the lessons I learned allowed me to live authentically." 

Sarah says she felt overwhelmed, but also inspired by the reactions she received by the AU community. "It shows us where our school can be, where our community can be, where our country can be, and that we have the capacity to get there." 

Sarah credits fellow AU students and alumni for instilling in her "a deep passion for social justice." Now an alumna, Sarah has continued to work with the university in promoting equality among students. Along with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Sarah helped champion a new sexuality and queer studies minor at AU, which debuted in fall 2013. 

She says that she feels a "deep responsibility" to give back to the school that has given her so much. "I want to make sure that the students who go to American for generations to come have as positive an experience as I had. I and my fellow alumni have a responsibility to do that." 

Sarah knows that the university has well prepared the next generation of leaders, saying, "If America was a little more like American, things would be a lot better for people who are currently struggling."

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Title: Business & Public Affairs: A Perfect Marriage
Author: Phil Recchio
Subtitle:
Abstract: Ben, Kogod/MBA ’11, and Christina Macfarland, SPA/MPA ’11, entrepreneurially apply their skills in South Florida, while giving back to AU.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 05/15/2014
Content:

Ben, Kogod/MBA ’11, and Christina Macfarland, SPA/MPA ’11, came to AU together, shortly after getting married in their native state of Florida, to pursue their individual academic and professional interests. Christina’s passion for nonprofit work and supporting her community led her to pursue a Master of Public Administration and,a graduate certificate in nonprofit management, whereas Ben built off his undergrad business degree by focusing his MBA studies on real estate and finance. Since graduation, they have returned to their home state to not only put their degrees to work, but also spread word of AU’s excellence while galvanizing the Florida alumni community. 

This past February, Christina and Ben hosted more than 60 AU alumni, parents, and friends in their Palm Beach home, and had the chance to catch up with their old neighbor, Vice President of Alumni Relations and Development, Dr. Thomas J. Minar. Before Dr. Minar delivered updates regarding campus plans and alumni initiatives within the South Florida community, Christina reminisced about her time working in the AU development department for corporate and foundation giving, and Ben remembered hunkering down in their condo during the infamous Snow-maggedon storm of 2010. 

These types of close relationships serve as a beautiful model for how the Office of Alumni Relations and Development seeks to engage AU alumni, and Christina and Ben are no strangers to the world of philanthropy and volunteering. Christina is a board member for the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, where fellow master’s alumna Jillian Vukusich, CAS/MA ’04, serves as vice president for community investment.  

Christina continues her educational pursuits, and is a recent graduate of "Leadership Palm Beach County," which kept her up to date on the latest trends in philanthropic and non profit leadership. This is especially important for those as involved in their communities as she is. She volunteers and has served on numerous committees for The Flagler Museum, March of Dimes, Historical Society of Palm Beach County, the Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Presently, Christina performs research and writing for Women Corporate Directors, the only global membership organization of women corporate directors which serves as a catalyst for thought leadership and networking.

In addition to serving on his high school’s alumni board and helping to recruit great students to AU, Ben founded a local publication, Palm Beach Philanthropy, to showcase and educate the public to the diverse causes being supported right in their backyard. While philanthropy has always been a passion and a practice for the Macfarlands, Ben also puts his MBA to work running a boutique asset management firm that focuses on investing family office and institutional capital into self storage, student housing, and other special situations in real estate. The firm, where Ben serves as a partner and chief investment officer, has successfully acquired over two million square feet of real estate in the last two years.

The Macfarlands' collective energy and productivity is even more impressive in light of the fact they’ve accomplished so much all while raising their blossoming family. While their two young girls are a handful at home, Ben and Christina have a long standing history of supporting each other through thick and thin. While on campus, they could be seen attending a kick-off event to help rally support for Christina’s successful run for Editor-in-Chief of the SPA journal The Public Purpose, and nowadays they work to balance their busy schedules of business and board meetings with family meals and outings. 

Thankfully, the Macfarlands have continued their tradition of support as alumni by hosting the recent event for the South Florida AU Eagle community. As for the beautiful marriage of Ben’s business degree and Christina’s nonprofit policy focus, its power can be encapsulated by an Arthur Fried quote: “Private philanthropy is the last frontier of unconstrained freedom for private action in the public good.” AU is lucky to count this entrepreneurial and philanthropically minded young couple among its alumni family.

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Title: Board Member Amy Jones Realized Her Dream of Working on the Hill
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
Subtitle:
Abstract: After getting two AU degrees, Amy has her dream job overseeing the House’s education policies.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 05/15/2014
Content:

“I am slightly unusual among many of my friends in that I am doing exactly what I’ve wanted to do since sixth grade,” says Alumni Board member Amy Jones, SPA/BA ’99, WCL/JD ’03. Her sixth grade social studies teacher and a family trip to Washington, D.C. convinced a young Amy that she wanted to work on Capitol Hill one day. “I came to AU for college and law school because I felt it was the best place to study that would expose me to politics and Capitol Hill,” she says.

After earning both her bachelor’s and law degrees from AU, Amy’s dreams came true, and she landed a job on the Hill. She now serves as director for education and human services policy for the majority staff on the Committee on Education and the Workforce in the U.S. House of Representatives. In this role, she oversees the House’s education policies.

Amy says the most rewarding part of her job is knowing that “the policies we are pursuing will help others, particularly the underserved, be able to access and achieve their postsecondary [education] goals,” adding, “I love the energy and the quick pace on Capitol Hill. There is always something interesting happening.”

A visit to campus on Accepted Students Day convinced Amy that AU was the right choice for her. “AU was close enough to the city that I knew there would be a lot of different things to do and see, but it also had the benefit of having a more enclosed campus, which I really liked,” she says. “And I liked my undergraduate experience so much, that I went to WCL for law school.”

As an AU student, Amy was involved in numerous activities. “I participated in the Freshmen Service Experience, played lacrosse during my freshman and sophomore years, worked at the front desk of McDowell Hall, studied abroad in London for one semester, interned on Capitol Hill, and worked at a few different law firms because I was trying to decide if I wanted to go to law school,” Amy recalls.

Of her time on the American University Alumni Board, Amy says, “I have thoroughly enjoyed my service on the AU Alumni Board and becoming a more engaged alumna over the past several years. I am continually amazed by the students attending AU now and love being able to serve as a mentor or resource to them.”

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Board,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,School of Public Affairs,Washington College of Law
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Title: Alumni Board Member Joe Vidulich is Always an Eagle
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
Subtitle:
Abstract: Few alumni embody the phrase “Once an Eagle, Always an Eagle” as well as Joe Vidulich, SPA/BA ’08.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 04/07/2014
Content:

Few alumni embody the phrase "Once an Eagle, Always an Eagle" as well as Joe Vidulich, SPA/BA '08. A member of the American University Alumni Board and men's basketball season ticket holder, Joe continues to support AU as enthusiastically as when he was a student.

"I joined the alumni board because I want to make sure the AU alumni experience is just as good as – if not better than – the student experience, and show alumni that their time at AU doesn't end after four years," Joe says, and it's true: his Eagle pride is inescapable and infectious.

An AU men's basketball jersey bearing the signatures of the 2008 team (the first in AU history to qualify for the NCAA tournament) hangs on the wall of his home, and he is frequently at basketball games and alumni events. Joe even traveled to Boston and Milwaukee this year to watch the men's basketball team win the Patriot League Championship and play in the NCAA tournament, respectively.

"During the Patriot League Championship game, [Boston University's Agganis Arena] arena became Bender Arena North," Joe recalls. "You could hear the cheers of the AU students and alumni throughout the building and on television. It just shows that AU alumni are everywhere, and AU pride far exceeds the boundaries of Washington, D.C. … The fact that this small team of stellar student-athletes achieved an objective no one thought they could speaks to the caliber of the team, Coach Mike Brennan, and Athletics Director Billy Walker. I'm so proud of them, and I look forward to next season."

As a high school student in Long Island, Joe knew he wanted to study politics and policy. He looked at a number of D.C. schools, but decided to apply early decision to AU because, he says, "I fell in love with the campus and the spirit of the community. I saw that AU really believed that given the tools and the knowledge, you can change the world."

As soon as he arrived on campus, Joe began to change the world – or at least AU. As a freshman, he ran for student government and later became student body president. He also joined College Republicans, the Residence Hall Association, ATV, was a resident assistant, and even participated in a production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Joe also interned for Congressman Peter King (R-NY) and the McCain presidential campaign. "I wanted the whole AU experience," Joe says, "And I definitely achieved that."

Perhaps Joe's most lasting legacy to date is as a founder of Blue Crew, the student cheering section at athletics events. After noticing lackluster attendance at AU games, Joe wanted to bolster student support for AU athletes. "It touched me that these young men and women were out there – on a court or turf or field – every day with an AU emblem on their chests that represented me and everything that I stood for. … We [as AU students] might have disagreements on policy or philosophy, but there shouldn't be a disagreement about cheering on fellow students as they represent your university in competition," he says.

Joe regularly interacts with AU President Neil Kerwin, SPA/BA '71, in his duties as an alumni board member, and he recalls Dr. Kerwin's inauguration fondly. As student body president, he participated in the inauguration ceremony, presenting Dr. Kerwin with an AU jersey on behalf of the student body. "It was a really special time. His presidency brought about a rebirth in the AU alumni community, since he is the first AU president who is also an alumnus and he has implemented a strategic plan that incorporates alumni."

When he isn't cheering for the Eagles or networking with fellow alumni, Joe represents the interests of over 650 businesses and half a million employees as vice president of government relations for the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, one of largest chambers in Virginia.

"One of the passions I got out of AU is that a strong economy is central to a strong region. … Every day, I use the skills taught to me by some of the best professors and experts in their fields to advocate and shape policy to make a better Virginia for my companies and the people who work for those companies," Joe says.

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Title: John Tranfaglia, SPA/BA ’13, Providing Solutions to Preserve the Maine Lobster Industry
Author: Pat Rabb
Subtitle:
Abstract: As part of AU’s Roosevelt Institute, Tranfaglia began proposing ideas to strengthen the industry.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 01/07/2014
Content:

"I think the biggest mistake that the lobster industry has made is not being proactive towards marketing the product out of state."

So says alumnus John Tranfaglia, SPA/BA ’13, about his efforts to promote initiatives to save Maine’s most identifiable industry - lobsters. Without changes, many believe that the business of catching lobsters in the state of Maine will die.

John first became involved in the lobster issue as a member of the Roosevelt Institute at American University. As a member of this organization, he was challenged to look at public policy problems and highlight possible solutions that might alleviate them. "I had read in the newspaper a few times about some of the troubles that the lobster industry was having with marketing the product and thought it would be interesting to look into the issue further," says John.

The Roosevelt Institute is the first student-run policy organization or "think tank" in the United States. Its mission is to empower students to create and advocate their ideas for change. Including the AU chapter, there are 8,500 active members and over 80 established chapters in the U.S. and abroad.

John describes how, until recently, there were very few processing plants in Maine to break down and freeze the product so that items such as lobster meat or tails could be sold. ?Much of the lobster caught off the coast of Maine is sent to Canada to be processed. Once it crosses the border, it is marketed as Canadian lobster. This leads to price markups that increase dealers’ profits while shrinking the profits of the lobstermen.

Once caught, a lobster can change hands five or six times before reaching the consumer’s plate. However, lobstermen are getting paid as little as $2 a pound for their catch – while the price can escalate to $18 a pound by the time it reaches a restaurant menu.?

John believes that the best way to raise profits for the Maine lobstermen would be to increase processing capabilities in Maine. "Last year, over 133 million pounds of lobster was caught off the Maine coast but much of that was sent to Canada for processing," he adds.?John thinks that if either the processing costs could be reduced or if lobstermen could co-op with processors, then their wages would increase considerably.

When reflecting on his passion for the Maine lobster industry, John admits that he actually was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. However, his family moved to Cape Elizabeth, Maine, when he was two years old. "I have lived there ever since and it is what I have come to know as home," he says.

In describing why he chose to attend AU, John states that he wanted to go to a school in the city, he wanted to be able to study and work in politics, and he wanted the opportunity to study abroad.?"Going to AU allowed me to achieve all three of these," he remarks.

Now that John has graduated from AU with a major in political science and a minor in public administration and policy, he plans to leave Maine and move overseas. "In March, I will be moving to Seoul, South Korea, to teach English for a year," he says.

While in Korea, John will be planning his next step. He has an interest in health policy and has deferred his admission to the University of Melbourne for a master’s degree in public health. "Studying abroad was something that has definitely impacted me throughout my time at AU. I loved Perth and plan on going back to Australia for graduate studies," says John.

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Title: Cameron McCosh, SPA/BA ’07, SPA/MPP ’08, is a Washington Power Broker
Author: Dash Radosti
Subtitle:
Abstract: McCosh recently was named to list of 25 Most Influential Washington Women Under 35.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 11/12/2013
Content:

Cameron McCosh, SPA/BA ’07, SPA/MPP ’08, was recently named to the National Journal’s list of 25 Most Influential Washington Women under 35.

Although only 28, Cameron is chief operating officer of American Action Forum, a conservative think-tank focused on domestic and economic policy.

After finishing her studies at American University with both an undergraduate degree in justice and a master’s in public policy, Cameron interned with Lehman Brothers, working in government relations. Afterwards, John McCain's Chief Economic Policy Adviser approached Cameron about starting a new type of conservative think-tank that would be more reactive to the 24-hour news cycle. The rest, as they say, is history.

In a few short years, Cameron helped grow the organization from a fledgling startup to one of Washington’s most influential center-right policy institutes. As COO, she is involved in nearly all aspects of the organization--from formulating policy to meeting decision makers on the Hill and advancing the forum’s message. Cameron credits her time at AU as being instrumental to her development.

“When I came to AU, I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I knew I loved to learn. Then I took a class from Dr. Jeffery Schaler that really questioned what I believed in, changed my outlook and sparked my interest in public policy,” says Cameron. Later, as a graduate student, another professor, Dr. Sonja Walti, really showed her how public policy influences lives all around us. “Her class really opened my eyes,” Cameron recalls.

While she is unsure about the future (she jokes that she barely has tomorrow planned), Cameron is confident that she’ll be able to seize whatever opportunity presents itself—another skill she credits from her time at AU. Until then, she is working in an area about which she is passionate, including domestic and economic policy, and enjoying life as a newlywed, having just gotten married last summer.

Cameron continues to take advantage of AU’s community. She gleefully boasts about her love of hiring AU students for internships. She also attends an occasional alumni happy hour and sometimes indulges in nostalgic jogs to her alma mater from her house in Logan Circle. Above all, she is impressed by how much the university has grown in the last few years.

“When I was at AU, which wasn’t too long ago, they didn’t even have the [new] SIS building, but more than that, the school’s reputation has grown so much in the last few years. I love the WONK campaign. I think its so fitting.” says Cameron.

Above all, Cameron advises current students to take advantage of their professors and to say yes to every opportunity that presents itself. “I took the opportunity to go back for my master’s in public policy, and I can’t stress how amazing that experience was,” she remarks.

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Title: Stephanie Tinsley Regagnon’s Path to and from Washington included AU
Author: Phil Recchio
Subtitle:
Abstract: Alumna uses conversations to forge new partnerships.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 11/08/2013
Content:

Growing up in Kirksville, Mo., Stephanie Tinsley Regagnon, SPA/MA ’02, was never a stranger to the wide open farmlands of America’s agricultural landscape. After exploring academic options in law, she found her niche in politics and completed her undergraduate work at the University of Missouri. During a visit to D.C., she heard an AU radio advertisement during a cab ride and the following evening attended an open house for the School of Public Affairs. This spurred her matriculation to AU, and despite her family’s desire to keep her close to home, Stephanie traded her car in Missouri for a D.C. Metro card.

Working full-time while she got her master’s degree, Stephanie embodied the AU archetype of putting academic theory into practice. “Once I got to AU, I felt like I was doing what I wanted to do. School didn’t even feel like school; at that point it’s not about college, it’s about the rest of your life,” Regagnon remembers. In the evenings, she learned about advanced political theory and how it has played out in Washington, and the next morning she applied the teaching directly in her work for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

One of Stephanie’s influential professors was Pat Griffin, whose experience as legislative affairs assistant to President Clinton shown through in the classroom. Griffin’s down-to-earth style and gregarious demeanor drove home the fact that Stephanie, a Beltway outsider, could do this work too. Griffin’s successes in bridging gaps between public and private partnerships paved the way for Stephanie to assert her skills in connecting people, ideas, and policies from seemingly disparate communities. 

In her current role as director of sustainable agriculture portfolio strategy at Monsanto, she continues to bridge gaps between local farmers, global tech innovations, and an inquisitive public. Balancing all of the needs and futures of these differing communities is no small feat, and Stephanie continues to rely on one of Pat Griffin’s teachings; “Be up front, be honest and be yourself.”

Having frank and informed conversations regarding controversial topics is part of Stephanie’s critical skillset. Years of having tough conversations around protecting agricultural resources around the globe has prepared her for promoting innovative and collaborative partnerships necessary to moving our collective environmental footprint forward.

Stephanie proudly states the critical role her AU education has played in her successes. Her dedication to education is evident and it continues to be her passion. After a personal family experience with the justice system, Stephanie founded Ava’s Grace Scholarship Foundation. Ava’s Grace has a mission of providing scholarships for higher education to children with incarcerated parents in the state of Missouri. The foundation currently funds two new students per year, giving $5,000 each of their four years in college or university. “In higher education there are scholarships for twins, diabetics and everything in between. There were no scholarships for children with incarcerated parents. As an at-risk population this was a need that wasn’t being addressed. At Ava’s Grace we are seeking to change that one child at a time in Missouri.” 

Academically, professionally and philanthropically, Stephanie is embodying AU’s pragmatic ethos by collaboratively engaging new connections and partnerships, while not shying away from tough conversations.

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