newsId: F83C8264-5056-AF26-BE7155E9860BB272
Title: President Obama to Deliver Foreign Policy and Iran Speech at AU
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Subtitle:
Abstract: Obama extends AU’s tradition of presidential visits.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 07/31/2015
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President Barack Obama will give a foreign policy address with a particular focus on the Iran Deal at American University's School of International Service on Wednesday, August 5. The White House chose American University, because it is where John F. Kennedy made his famous 1963 speech on nuclear disarmament and world peace.

Obama has made several appearances at American University in recent years.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Kennedy family members, including the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. and current U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, endorsed Obama for president at a rally in Bender Arena.

In July 2010, President Obama gave a major immigration speech at SIS, calling for a system that "reflects our values as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants." In December 2013, Obama did a wide-ranging interview on MSNBC's political show Hardball with Chris Matthews. In front of a packed crowd of AU students at the Greenberg Theatre, Obama offered his thoughts on health care, the NSA wiretapping controversy, Pope Francis, and high-stakes battles with House Republicans.

The speech will be streamed live on the White House website, and archival video of the speech will be provided on American University’s website. Follow on Twitter at @AmericanU and @WhiteHouse, and join us on Facebook.

American University has a long tradition of presidential visits extending back to the school's founding:

In 1914, when American University opened, President Woodrow Wilson gave the dedication.

In 1934, President Franklin Roosevelt appeared at the launch of AU's program to help train federal employees in new methods of public administration. Today, AU's School of Public Affairs offers undergraduate, graduate, and executive-level programs to help build careers in public service.

In 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower broke ground at the establishment of the School of International Service.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy delivered a historic foreign policy speech at AU's commencement. He called for a nuclear test-ban treaty and mutual understanding with the Soviet Union.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton addressed AU's Centennial Convocation and focused on how the U.S. must exert leadership in the global economy. Clinton returned to AU in 1997 and encouraged equity in accessing higher education.

After leaving office, Clinton appeared at AU in 2012 to accept the school's inaugural Wonk of the Year award. And former President Jimmy Carter launched the bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform at AU.

The nuclear agreement with Iran is of special relevance next week. Thursday, August 6 is the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing; the AU Museum at the Katzen Arts Center is holding a Hiroshima-Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Exhibition through August 16.

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Title: The Real World Effects of Reproductive Rights Decisions
Author: Lee Ivory
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Abstract: SPA Associate Dean Jessica Waters and Ph.D. Student Leandra Carrasco recently published the article "Untagling the Reproductive Rights and Religious Liberty Knot" in the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 07/31/2015
Content:

An article by Jessica Waters, associate dean of the School of Public Affairs (SPA), and Ph.D. student Leandra Carrasco was published in the latest issue of the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism.

Titled "Untangling the Reproductive Rights and Religious Liberty Knot," the article explores how courts in several pregnancy-discrimination cases sided with employers over the civil rights of employees.

Waters and Carrasco connect their analysis to the recent Hobby Lobby case, in which the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled that for-profit corporations with sincerely held religious beliefs do not have to provide a full range of contraceptives at no cost to their employees via the Affordable Care Act—commonly known as Obamacare.

The case also involved Conestoga, a cabinet-making company, which had challenged the so-called contraceptive mandate. Conestoga and Hobby Lobby claimed the mandate forced them to either violate their faith or pay ruinous fines.

"Using employment-law context, I looked at religiously based schools and the question of whether they can, for example, fire a woman who is pregnant out of wedlock, because being pregnant out of wedlock is a contradiction to the school's values or religious beliefs," Waters said.

The outcome of the Hobby Lobby case could impact millions of working women across the country.

"If courts recognize religious liberty for an organization, like a religious school, how far does that trickle down? Are employees bound by their employers' religious beliefs?" Waters asked. "The article looked at real world implications. It's one thing to look at a Supreme Court decision about a contraceptive mandate in Obamacare and it's another thing to look at actual cases and look at a woman who was fired for being pregnant, which is what our article did."

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Title: SPA Doctoral Student Publishes Article Prioritizing Global Surgical Services
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Abstract: An article by SPA doctoral student Yusra Shawar on prioritizing global surgical services was recently published in the medical journal, The Lancet.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 07/30/2015
Content:

An article that examines the prioritization of surgical services on the global agenda was published this month in The Lancet by School of Public Affairs (SPA) doctoral student Yusra Shawar.

The article – titled "Generation of political priority for global surgery: A qualitative policy analysis" – was co-authored by Jeremy Shiffman, a professor in SPA’s Department of Public Administration and Policy (DPAP), and David Spiegel, an orthopedic surgeon and professor at University of Pennsylvania.

“Despite the high burden of surgical conditions and the potential for basic surgical care to reduce this burden, surgical provision remains a low priority on the global health agenda,” said Shawar, a Ph.D. student in DPAP. “Our research investigates this puzzle.”

Specifically, she said, her team examined the factors that shape political priority for global surgical care. The article presents both challenges and opportunities, with the aim of sparking productive discussion among the global surgery community.

Shawar said that a lot of work has to be done to get proper surgical services for people around the world, especially in low and middle-income areas.

First, she said, an effective governance structure needs to be built that links people working on the issue and promotes effective collective action. Currently, surgeons and others who have worked to advance the cause widely understand present structures to be inadequate, causing frustration and mistrust. 

Shawar said that consensus also needs to be reached on solutions in the global surgery community. Although there is agreement regarding problem definition—that surgical care is a grossly neglected issue—disagreements persist regarding what needs to be done, she said.

Lastly, Shawar said, public positioning of this issue needs to resonate with existing positions of policymakers and other stakeholders, with particular attention to overcoming prevalent misperceptions surrounding the cost and complexity of surgery.

Shawar and her team presented the findings in multiple conferences, including the World Congress of Surgery, Obstetrics, Trauma, and Anesthesia (Trinidad & Tobago, 2013); the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management annual conference (Washington, D.C., 2013); John Hopkins University’s Film Screening and Discussion: The Right to Heal (Baltimore, 2014); the first Lancet Commission on Global Surgery Meeting (Boston, 2014); the Consortium of Universities for Global Health annual conference (Washington, D.C., 2014); and the International Studies Association annual conference (New Orleans, 2015).

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Title: AU to Host Regional Mock Trial Competition in 2016
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Abstract: The regional competition – to be held February 6-7, 2016 – is a qualifier for the opening rounds of the national Mock Trial competition.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 07/17/2015
Content:

American University will host a regional Mock Trial competition in the Spring 2016 semester—a first for the school.

The regional competition—to be held February 6-7, 2016—is a qualifier for the opening rounds of the national Mock Trial competition and will feature about 24 teams from the around the country.

AU’s Mock Trial team is among the Top 1 percent in the United States. The team made it to the national competition two years ago, finishing fourth in its division and eighth overall.

Jessica Waters, associate dean in the School of Public Affairs (SPA), said the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA) asked AU to host the tournament, adding that it’s a clear sign of how well regarded the AU Mock Trial team is. AU’s team is only seven years old.

“It’s exciting because it’s a very young team and in only seven years they have risen to the Top 1 percent. They’re a great group of students,” Waters said.

Typically, teams pair off in a tournament, with each being assigned to try a case for either the plaintiff/prosecution or the defense. The more points a team earns, the more ballots it wins and the better it places in tournaments.

Waters said AU has three competitive teams, but not all are expected to compete at the regional.

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Title: The Red Planet
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Subtitle:
Abstract: SPA professor talks about the challenges of sending people to Mars.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 07/14/2015
Content:

Few events captured the American imagination like the moon landing on July 20, 1969. It was undoubtedly one of the great moments of the 20th century, a testament to national will and human progress. As we approach the 46th anniversary of the first walk on the moon, another adventure looms on the horizon: a mission to send people to Mars. Could this be NASA's—and humanity's—signature achievement of the 21st century?

Howard McCurdy, a professor at American University's School of Public Affairs, is a space policy expert familiar with NASA's thinking on this issue. In a recent interview, he discussed the prospect of a human spaceflight to the Red Planet.

Challenges and Capabilities

McCurdy says NASA's plan is travel to Mars in the next 20 years or so. "There's no Mars landing program underway right now. But what is underway is the development of capabilities, with the funds that they have," he says. "When we get to the end of the capability development phase, we'll look at how much it costs to actually send cargo and crews to Mars. And somebody will have to make that decision at that point."

One substantial challenge for any mission would be how to land on Mars. A large spacecraft (about as big as the International Space Station) might go into Mars' orbit and release a smaller lander, with a crew of about five or six people. That lander, possibly bus-sized, would descend at about 12,000 MPH onto a planet with an extremely thin atmosphere. "The science of flight is really the science of atmospheric dynamics," he says. Even that 12,000 MPH figure might be understating the speed, if an alternative method of propulsion is used.

The time it takes to get to Mars is another concern, McCurdy says. Utilizing similar technology to a moon trip—massive tanks of hydrogen and oxygen and burning those fuels—you'd need to go about 25,000 MPH to push out of the gravitational well of the Earth. Allowing for varying speeds, this trip could take about 9 months, he explains.

"By the time you get to Mars, the Earth has gone around the Sun, relative to Mars. And you can't come back," he says. "You've got to wait 26 months or so before the two planets get close enough to each other for a return voyage of 8 or 9 months." Ideally, he says, you'd like to make this a less time-consuming trip.

Traveling to the moon first could be advantageous, serving as a fuel depot to propel the spacecraft to Mars. Yet McCurdy says that a moon fuel depot would probably eat up too much of NASA's budget, and a direct flight to Mars may be more cost-efficient.

Costs and Risks

Some observers think SpaceX or another private company could make it to Mars before NASA. McCurdy says that commercial enterprises might be able to pull off a Mars mission because, unlike the U.S. government, they'd have less impetus to return to Earth. And as crazy as this might sound, McCurdy notes that it's part of an exploratory tradition.

"The Irish who migrated during the Potato Famine knew when they hugged each other in Limerick, that was the last time they were ever going to see each other," he says.

This entrepreneurial spirit may be laudable, but it could result in more controversial ventures like Mars One, a Netherlands-based organization hoping to set up a human colony on the Red Planet. NASA, conversely, bears a responsibility to bring astronauts home safely.

McCurdy, who leads the new Public Policy for Innovation Initiative, argues that the financial costs of the Apollo missions have been wildly exaggerated. The most expensive Apollo mission was about $450 million, he says. And with production lines in place, the costs came down with subsequent trips. "People misread what Apollo cost. And it scares off a lot of people who say, 'Oh my god, if Apollo cost $25 billion, which is $250 billion today, how can we afford to go to Mars?'" McCurdy explains. He believes that if the Apollo program was economically feasible, the U.S. can also complete a mission to Mars at an affordable price.

Learning from Mars

Though some people are skeptical of a Mars mission, McCurdy succinctly explains why it's a worthwhile endeavor: "You would like to know as much about another planet as you know about the Earth. Just studying the Earth is like trying to take a statistical sample that predicts the outcome of a presidential election by asking one person."

NASA is currently planning a robotic mission to Europa, an icy moon of Jupiter that could show evidence of extraterrestrial life. That's also a reason to explore Mars. Yet given the apparent similarities between Earth and Mars, there is even more to learn.

"We would like to know why Mars lost most of its atmosphere. We would like to know where the water went. We would like to know, 'Were there just puddles of water, or were there oceans of water?'" he says. "What happened to that planet that made it turn out the way it turned out, while ours turned out the way ours turned out? And are those dynamics still present on the Earth?"

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Title: MSOD Hosts Professor Marshak for Discussion on New Book
Author: Lee Ivory
Subtitle:
Abstract: On June 27th, AU SPA Professor and author Robert Marshak joined a group of students, faculty and alumni to discuss his new book on organization development.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 07/10/2015
Content:

On June 27th, AU SPA Professor and author Robert Marshak joined a group of students, faculty and alumni to discuss his new book on organization development.

The event was hosted by the Master of Science in Organization Development Program (MSOD), of which Marshak is a founding faculty member.

Marshak - Distinguished Scholar in Residence at SPA – and Gervase R. Bushe are co-creators of the concept and term “Dialogic Organization Development” or Dialogic OD. They are co-editors of the first book on the subject: Dialogic Organization Development: The Theory and Practice of Transformational Change.

“It was a wonderful event filled with alums of the MSOD program, who wanted to know the latest thinking about the field of Organizational Development,” he said. “I think I had taught or worked with just about every one in the room, so it was almost like being in the classroom with them again, and, in some cases, after a few intervening decades!”

Marshak gave a presentation on the new book, which explains that Dialogic OD is a compelling alternative to the classical action-research approach to planned change. Dialogic OD spells out how leaders and consultants can help foster change by encouraging disruptions to taken-for-granted ways of thinking and acting and the use of generative images to stimulate new organizational conversations and narratives. The book offers a new conception of OD based in the Interpretive and Complexity Sciences that differs in significant ways from the orthodoxies found in most text books in the field.

Recognized as one of the top programs in the country for OD, AU’s MSOD experiential learning program has defined the field for more than 35 years. Eighty two percent of recent MSOD graduates have obtained positions in their desired career path within a year of graduation or are actively using their degree within their current positions.

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Title: Shaping the Future of Nonprofit Data
Author: Lee Ivory
Subtitle:
Abstract: The School of Public Affairs recently brought together an engaged group of scholars from to explore better ways to collect and use data from nonprofits.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 07/07/2015
Content:

The School of Public Affairs (SPA) recently brought together an engaged group of scholars from the United States and around the world to explore better ways to collect and use data from nonprofits.

SPA Professor Lewis Faulk and the Urban Institute’s Teresa Derrick-Mills co-hosted the June 27-28 meeting – called Shaping the Future of Nonprofit Data (NPD) Symposium. It was sponsored by the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, SPA and the Metropolitan Policy Center at American University.

Faulk said 40 institutions were represented at the meeting, which featured a diverse mix of participants - senior scholars, junior scholars, Ph.D. students and other students.

Faulk explained that most data in the United States is collected via the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), but the tax forms don’t include information on many factors that influence nonprofits - such as why they grow or shrink over time, how they respond to emerging public problems or specific ways they relate to businesses, other nonprofits and government.

“The purpose of the symposium was to tap into the collective knowledge of researchers around the country who have an interest in improving the types of data collected on the nonprofit sector, begin to build a collaborative learning community and generate ideas on how to make this new source of data a reality,” he said.

Faulk went to say that the symposium was very successful and that discussions there generated a number of ideas about how to structure data-collection efforts, strategies for the scholars to work together and thoughts about how to engage stakeholders.

Faulk said that he has received a faculty research grant from the Metropolitan Policy Center in SPA (with AU sociology professor Mike Bader) to test some of the ideas from the NPD in a pilot survey project in Washington, D.C., in 2015-2016.

The symposium was co-hosted with the Urban Institute, he said.

Faulk said the idea for the NPD project was spearheaded by Derrick-Mills and other researchers at the Urban Institute.

“The partnership between AU-SPA and the Urban Institute is bringing the NPD to a reality,” Faulk said. “We came away with a clear indication that the research community has the capacity and inclination to propel this project forward.”

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Title: SPA Master's Degree in Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy Ranked Among Top Programs
Author: Lee Ivory
Subtitle:
Abstract: SPA's Master's program in Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy was recently ranked among the top programs in the U.S. and U.K. by Forensic Outreach, a London-based website.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 06/30/2015
Content:

American University is ranked 10th among the Top 12 colleges and universities in the United States and the United Kingdom that offer degrees in conflict, security and counterterrorism.

That's according to the London-based website, forensicoutreach.com. The website was started in 2001 "to introduce forensic science as an integrative and cross-disciplinary approach to science education," and has research partnerships in the U.K. and the U.S.

Forensic Outreach pointed out that AU has developed a master's degree in Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy through its Department of Justice, Law and Criminology Department.

"Their approach to security issues is through the social sciences, and is informed by law enforcement and criminology," the website reported. Forensic Outreach also added that SPA's program emphasizes "strategic policy-based solutions on a diplomatic scale."

"In addition to these and many other (programs), there are several institutes that both support educational establishments or provide forums for academics to publicize research papers."

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Title: "Running From Office" Goes to the Capitol
Author: Lee Ivory
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Abstract: On Thursday, June 18, SPA professor Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox went to the Capitol to present their new book in a discussion with CNN anchor John King.
Topic: Government & Politics
Publication Date: 06/25/2015
Content:

An engaged crowd of students, policy practitioners, and more turned out recently for a book signing and discussion. Jennifer Lawless, director of SPA’s Women & Politics Institute, and Richard L. Fox, political science professor at Loyola Marymount University, spoke about their new book, Running From Office: Why Young Americans Are Turned Off to Politics.

The discussion was held on Thursday, June 18 at the Capitol Visitors Center in downtown Washington, D.C., and was moderated by CNN anchor John King. SPA covered the event live on social media. Also attending were two former members of Congress: Connie Morella and Barbara Kennelly.

The book is unique in that it uses a national survey to mine the opinions of more than 4,000 high school and college students, as well as more than 100 in-depth interviews, to show that the overwhelming majority view the political system as ineffective and unappealing.

The data showing young people’s apathy about politics as a career is startling, considering there are more than 500,000 elective offices in the United States, many of which serve as stepping stones to higher office.

“Young people are interested in saving the world. They care about making their communities a better place. But they don’t consider electoral politics a way to achieve those goals,” said Lawless, whose book was published by Oxford University Press.

In one set of questions, Lawless and Fox gave students four career options—business owner, teacher, mayor of a city or town and salesperson—and asked them which they would most like to be, assuming that each paid the same. Nine of 10 chose a career other than mayor as their first choice. Nearly 40 percent reported that it would be their least desired job.

In their book, Lawless and Fox suggest five ways to get young people excited about running for office.

  • YouLead Initiative is a national service program with the message that young people are needed to foster new leadership.
  • Playstation for Politics is a way to engage young people on a platform where they already spend a lot of time: video games.
  • Political Ambition—Put That in Your Bong and Smoke It proposes making political engagement – following current events and policy debates - a fundamental part of the college application experience.
  • Girls Uninterrupted—Increase College Women’s Political Ambition would mentor and encourage young women to consider running for elected office. College men in the survey indicated they are twice as likely as college women to run for office.
  • The Go Run App would identify all elected offices throughout the country. Users would enter their zip code and learn what elected positions are available in that community, the responsibilities associated with each and the nuts and bolts involved in running for them.

For Lawless and Fox, these tools represent the first set of positive actions that can raise interest in their greater goal: Helping young people run for office, instead of running from it. “If young people saw politics as a vibrant, effective way to engage with and improve their communities and society,” Lawless and Fox said, “then more of them would not be turned off by the thought of entering the fray.”

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Title: Professor Anna Amirkhanyan to Receive Robert Cleary Award for Excellence
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Abstract: SPA Professor Anna Amirkhanyan was selected to receive the Robert Cleary Award for Excellence in Public Affairs Research.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 06/17/2015
Content:

School of Public Affairs Professor Anna A. Amirkhanyan has been selected to receive the Robert Cleary Award for Excellence in Public Affairs Research.

The annual $5,000 fellowship is named in honor of Robert Cleary, professor emeritus, who also was once interim president of American University. The award is given to a School of Public Affairs (SPA) faculty member for an exemplary research publication related to the non-profit sector.

"I am delighted to see Professor Amirkhanyan receive this recognition and support," said SPA Dean Barbara Romzek. "The fact that her research has appeared in the top journals in the field is testament to the high quality of her scholarship. The expanding role of nonprofits in the delivery of social services makes her high-quality research especially valuable for its ability to impact the world of practice as well as theory."

Amirkhanyan received the award for co-authoring, The Performance Puzzle: Understanding the Factors Influencing Alternative Dimensions and Views of Performance, which was published in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (January 2014).

"It is an honor for me to receive an award that recognizes Professor Robert Cleary and his 36 years of dedicated service to the American University," Amirkhanyan said. "While I haven't had a chance to work with Professor Cleary, who retired in 2001, many of my colleagues remember Bob as a fantastic scholar and exceptional colleague."

"The fact that this is an anonymous gift from an SPA graduate makes this award particularly meaningful to me. It reflects SPA's continuous commitment not only to high-quality research but also to excellent teaching," she added.

Amirkhanyan's research and teaching focuses on public and nonprofit management, public sector reform, organizational performance, social policy, research methodology and intellectual history of public administration. Her articles have been published in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory; Public Administration Review; the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management; the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly; the Journal of Public Management and Social Policy; and the International Journal of Public Administration.

Amirkhanyan received her Ph.D. in Public Administration from Syracuse University; M.S. in Nonprofit Management from New School University; and B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Yerevan State University.

The Cleary Award was established through the support of an anonymous graduate of the School of Public Affairs. The gift honors Cleary's contributions to American University and its School of Public Affairs.

In his many years at AU, Cleary was a faculty member, interim president, provost and dean of SPA.

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Title: Dedicated to Diversity: Alumna is United Way’s Chief Diversity Officer
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
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Abstract: Darlene Slaughter’s love of people and teaching, plus her AU degree, fuels her passion for inclusion.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 05/15/2015
Content:

“Having more diversity in the workforce will give a company or organization better results, have people collaborating better together, and ultimately impact the bottom line,” says Darlene Slaughter, SPA/MSHR ’93, who was recently named chief diversity officer at United Way Worldwide after spending many years at Fannie Mae, where she was also chief diversity officer.

The United Way is the world’s largest privately-funded nonprofit organization. Its mission is to create community solutions in support of education, income, and health. United Way is engaged in nearly 1,800 communities across more than 40 countries and territories worldwide.

At United Way Worldwide, the leadership and support organization for the global network, Darlene is responsible for ensuring diversity and inclusion are valued both at United Way Worldwide as well as all local United Ways. She represents the United Way at conferences, highlighting its efforts to reach across cultural boundaries. She also helps recruit and develop talent for the organization and travels to local United Way offices as a guest speaker or to create a strategy if they are struggling to reach a particular community of people.

“It’s a dream job because it encompasses everything from being the classroom teacher, to helping organizations think about how they are designed, to mentoring, and being a spokesperson for the United Way. … It’s an honor,” Darlene says.

Darlene’s dedication to diversity stemmed from her lifelong desire to be a teacher. She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Howard University, and although she never taught in a classroom, Darlene always found herself in jobs that required her to educate others. She loved working with and teaching people, so it only seemed natural to pursue her master’s degree in human resources and organizational development.

“You learn about organizations and systems and human behavior but ultimately, the program itself is all about you, the individual, and what role you play in the world and how you create change in the world. It was enlightening to learn about yourself and what makes you the way you are, and then how you can use yourself as a tool to help others. It’s very powerful,” she says. “You are the change agent that organizations need; that’s what the degree is all about.”

Darlene has returned to campus and spoken to current students in the program through her friendship with Professor Mark Clark. She has also mentored students she met in Professor Clark’s classroom, always happy to answer questions or offer advice. She likes to give back, she says, because, “To this day, I look back and see that the work I am doing today absolutely is informed by everything I learned at AU.”

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Title: Key Alumna Helps Lead U.S. Response to Ebola and Other World Crises
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
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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
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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
Subtitle:
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.”

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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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