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Title: AU Students Tour Solar Power Farm Set To Supply University
Author: Ravi Raman and Sam Sheline
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Abstract: Students visited the largest of three solar power sites that together will provide 50 percent of American University's electricity needs by the end of 2015.
Topic: Environment
Publication Date: 10/28/2014
Content:

"This is the best field trip I've ever been on!" beamed Leah Carriere, moments after disembarking from a Bell 429 helicopter, its rotors winding down behind her. Carriere was one of ten graduate students who joined Chris O'Brien, director of the Office of Sustainability, in Elizabeth City, NC, for a tour of Capital Partners Solar Project, the largest non-utility solar installation east of the Mississippi. The students, from the Kogod School of Business, College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of International Service, visited the largest of three solar power sites that together will provide 50 percent of American University's electricity needs by the end of 2015.

AU's ambitious goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2020 requires the university to devise innovative ways to bring green electricity to the campus. To that end, the arrangement that created the Capital Partners Solar Project is a landmark achievement for type and scope. Teaming up with George Washington University and the George Washington University Hospital, AU brokered a deal with Duke Energy Renewables – the utility company handling power distribution – to create three large solar farms within the three entities' grid system. This means that while the actual electrons created by the solar panels will be used in and around Elizabeth City, they in turn reduce demand for coal and gas-fired "brown" energy in the same grid system from which AU and its partners at George Washington draw their power. This switch is equivalent to taking 12,500 cars off the road annually.

The deal also makes financial sense for AU and its partners. Traditional, extraction-based power generation faces market volatility and increasing regulatory pressure. The cost of the raw materials for brown power generation can be quite high and make unpredictable swings. Sunlight is free. The 20-year deal with Duke provides fixed-commodity pricing at a rate lower than the current mix of "brown" sources of electricity. Factoring in an increase in brown power prices over time, the solar purchase could yield $14 million in total savings throughout the 20-year deal.

AU currently buys renewable energy credits (RECs) equivalent to 100 percent of its electricity. But those RECs are from a mix of projects across the U.S. and those sources change over time. Those RECs are "unbundled" from the green power that produces them. By committing to purchase the power and the RECs from the Capital Partners Solar Project, AU has locked in its green power supply for two decades at a fixed price. In this way, the supplier is guaranteed to have a customer, which reduces risk and results in a better price.

"In addition to securing our own green power supply, the bigger benefit of this project is that it can be used for education," according to O'Brien. "AU's own carbon footprint is small when compared to the climate challenge as a whole. But if we can teach students to understand the opportunities created by this challenge, they can replicate projects like this one, and innovate new solutions of their own. That is where an educational institution can really have an impact."

The students on the field trip are studying sustainability in various disciplines, including business, science, policy, and development. They met with representatives from Duke Energy Renewables and SunEnergy1, the contractor handling construction. Sustainability faculty and staff from Elizabeth City State University also joined the group to learn how the University of North Carolina system of schools might replicate this landmark deal to provide renewable energy for their own campuses.

The students also looked forward to touring the installation site. However, their enthusiasm turned to excitement when they found out that the tour would not only include a walk-through of the active construction site, but an aerial view by helicopter as well.

From aboard the helicopter, the students got a breathtaking view of the late afternoon sun glinting off the small area where the installation of solar panels had already begun. Teams of about a dozen workers were mounting self-rotating, three-foot-by-five-foot polychrystalline panels to their housings. The panels were wired up 10 to a row, 40 to a group, and repeated across the landscape. Although less than one-fourth of the panels were installed at the time of the students' visit, all of the panels were expected to be in place within three to four weeks. The entire site spans more than 400 acres of what was previously agricultural land. In all, the three separate installation sites will house 243,000 panels and produce 52 megawatts (MW) of power.

The first site will begin power generation later this year and the other two sites will be online by the end of next year, when AU will be able to enjoy power without a carbon footprint made possible by this landmark green energy deal.

Tags: Office of Finance & Treasurer,Sustainability Programs,College of Arts and Sciences,Kogod School of Business,School of International Service,Business,Environment,Green
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Title: Kogod Alum Launches Career with Raytheon
Author: Alexa Marie Kelly
Subtitle:
Abstract: As a member of Raytheon’s Financial Leadership Development Program, Kogod alumna Eliza Morgan will work in four finance roles in two years.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 10/28/2014
Content:

A recent Kogod graduate hopes to learn in two years what some professionals learn in ten. 

Eliza Morgan, BSBA '13, works for technology leader Raytheon as a member of its Financial Leadership Development Program (FLDP). This elite opportunity allows a select group of young professionals to navigate four Raytheon finance roles in two years. 

"I now have multiple perspectives rather than coming into one role, one type of finance. I'm getting the whole picture," Morgan said. 

She started at the core of the company, working on its defense products. Conducting cost, profit and other analyses, Morgan learned the ins and outs of Raytheon Missile Systems. In her second FLDP role, Morgan worked in Financial Planning and Analysis with Raytheon's Space and Airborne Systems (SAS).

Morgan now works for Raytheon's Corporate team. As a member of the Global Business Services group, she helps create a more efficient, global company. She expands her knowledge every day. Morgan will bring this enthusiasm for growth to selecting her final FLDP rotation before finishing the program in July 2015.

"I'm excited about what the future holds at Raytheon," she said.

Raytheon helps prepare its FLDP participants for being leaders in their careers beyond the program as well. The FLDP organizes finance and leadership training sessions, which continue throughout the two years. Morgan has found this unique aspect an incredibly valuable piece of the program.

During one challenging project, she helped prepare a presentation for David C. Wajsgras, Raytheon Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and Kogod alum, MBA '89. The presentation covered financial highlights and performance for the SAS business and was well received by the Corporate Finance team.

"Hearing positive feedback from him [Wajsgras] as well as my team and leadership was one of the highlights of my time here," she said. "The entire assignment was an incredible learning experience."

An active member of the Kogod Advisory Council, Wajsgras asked Morgan how she felt about Kogod. 

"I told him I couldn't imagine a better place to have earned my degree, and he was really excited to hear that," Morgan said. 

Morgan benefitted from Kogod's close relationship with Raytheon, a top recruiter of AU business students. She discovered the FLDP through the Kogod Center for Career Development's website. This led to on-campus and follow-up interviews with Raytheon and her eventual acceptance into the program. 

"I learned a lot about Raytheon through Kogod. It doesn't surprise me that it was so easy to go from Kogod to Raytheon," Morgan said. 

She credits her career success to a stellar foundation from Kogod. Taking the lead in Kogod class projects, Morgan now steps up in the workforce. The scholar athlete also took charge on the lacrosse field at AU. 

"I'm expected to be a leader [at Raytheon], and that is not easy if you don't have practice doing it. I'm not nervous to speak up in a meeting even if I'm brand new," she said. 

Morgan's advice to college students?

"Get uncomfortable. If you feel uncomfortable then it's right. You challenge yourself to grow," she said. This attitude, along with giving "110 percent every day", has propelled Morgan through her still-young career.

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Title: Kogod Hosts Global Experts at Sovereign Wealth Funds Conference
Author: Alexa Marie Kelly
Subtitle:
Abstract: Kogod hosted an international discussion on sovereign wealth funds, featuring executives from around the world.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 10/17/2014
Content:

The Kogod School of Business hosted an international conference on Oct. 9 to discuss sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), investments owned by governments.

The one-day-conference, The Contributions and Impact of Sovereign Wealth Funds, allowed experts to share their views on the shifting global economic climate.

"Academics must start vital conversations about SWFs," said Kogod Executive-in-Residence and event organizer Ghiyath Nakshbendi. "Their impact on the global economy cannot be overlooked."

Nakshbendi also noted the crucial timing of the conference. As the annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings begin, now is the time to explore pressing business issues, he said.

Speakers at the conference included Carol Bertaut, chief of the Global Financial Flows section in the International Finance Division of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; Mohammed Jaham Abdulaziz Al Kuwari, ambassador of the State of Qatar; and former U.N. analyst Celeste Lo Turco.



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Title: Ready to Launch
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Subtitle:
Abstract: American University is a place for budding entrepreneurs.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 10/15/2014
Content:

The Kogod School of Business recently launched a new Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative. It’s a way to cultivate entrepreneurial minds and ventures dedicated to economic, environmental, and social progress. A key component of this initiative is the new Entrepreneurship Incubator in Mary Graydon Center. To celebrate the Incubator’s official launch, there was a ribbon cutting in late September with AU President Neil Kerwin, Provost Scott Bass, Kogod Dean Erran Carmel, and AU alum Mark Bucher, a restaurateur who helped finance the remodeling of the Incubator space.

American University has a variety of great programs for budding entrepreneurs, and this new initiative reflects a campus-wide commitment to innovation.

Kogod and the New Initiative

In an interview, Kogod Professor Stevan Holmberg details the evolution of entrepreneurship education at AU. The business school had its first entrepreneurship course in 1987, with many more courses added in the decades since. By 2012, the School of Communication and Kogod forged a partnership with a master’s program in media entrepreneurship. In 2013, AU schools (Kogod, SIS, and SOC) announced a strategic partnership with 1776, a startup hub in downtown D.C. Kogod offers an entrepreneurship MBA concentration, and it recently added a minor in entrepreneurship for non-business majors.

AU’s curriculum on entrepreneurship is already experiential, with students practicing business pitches. But there was room to do more through this new initiative.

Holmberg_Ribbon_Cutting_NOID

“We were looking to expand the student learning experience by moving even further down the road towards having students actually live entrepreneurship and create new ventures,” says Holmberg, director of the Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative. He also says that AU students—typically passionate, with the desire to enact change—gravitate towards entrepreneurship. “It can be a business venture, or it can be entrepreneurship in terms of a nonprofit or social venture,” he explains.

Kogod’s Tommy White and Bill Bellows are co-directors of the nascent Incubator. Student teams trying to devise their own startups submit applications for an initial review, and White and Bellows will provide feedback for all applicants. Teams with more fully developed startup proposals will then present to a larger panel. Selected teams would have access to working space, a faculty coach, an outside mentor, and legal assistance. Through an entrepreneurship fund, AU faculty and business advisers will help students explore opportunities for seed capital and other sources of revenue.

“It’s great that we are getting a mix of applications from all the different schools, since the purpose is to make the Incubator an American University initiative,” says White.

AU is an ideal setting for cross-unit collaboration on a multifaceted subject like entrepreneurship. “It allows you to tap into multiple skill sets around the university,” Holmberg says. “So if we have a team doing a technology app, they could go to somebody in computer science for help with coding. Or they could go to somebody in film who might be doing video clips or documentaries.”

AU Pipeline

Young student entrepreneurs have received crucial guidance from professors in the past. While earning his MBA here, Tommy White took an entrepreneurship course on managing small and growing businesses taught by Kogod Professor Barbara Bird. “I just loved it, and it was exactly what I needed. I was in the middle of my startup, called the Institute for Public-Private Partnerships,” he says. The business succeeded and was sold to the infrastructure services firm Tetra Tech in 2008. Now he’s a full-time AU faculty member in Kogod’s Management Department.

Media Entrepreneurship

At the School of Communication, Amy Eisman discusses her role as director of the MA program in media entrepreneurship. “It is the intersection of media and business,” she says. “This is media defined broadly—it can be entertainment, sports; it can be an app.”

American University School of Communication Professor Amy Eisman

Since media companies are struggling mightily to navigate the current economic landscape, the startup culture in Washington, D.C. has exploded, she says. This makes the program attractive to mid-career professionals, who take classes in both SOC and Kogod.

“What we learned is that a lot of entrepreneurs are actually serial entrepreneurs. So they really like the game. They like to try new things,” she says. The projects in this program have run the gamut, with one student establishing an Indonesian cooking website and another student creating DeafTV.com.

Eisman explains the philosophy faculty members convey to students. “Let’s try, rather than think it’s not going to work. And let’s be able to change up if something is not working,” she says. “We’re perfectly fine if somebody discards an idea. That means the student has learned something.”

Social Enterprise

Robert Tomasko heads the social enterprise MA program at the School of International Service. Started in 2011, the program merges management with the study of social change and innovation. He says about half the students in the program have business backgrounds, while the other half are liberal arts-oriented. “Each of them comes to the program wanting to know what the other side knows. And there’s a lot of sharing.”

At the beginning of the SIS program, student pairs take a “plunge” by getting assigned to help a D.C.-based nonprofit or social enterprise. They’re tasked with helping this organization solve a pressing problem. Some organizations keep coming back each year to work with SIS students, he says.

Social enterprise is now an emerging sector of the economy. Tomasko says frustration with both the public and private sectors led to greater interest in the nonprofit world. “But there are issues with nonprofits, too. Many people flee to that sector because they don’t want anything to do with money. But if you talk to people who work at nonprofits, they spend all their time raising money,” he says. “With those three areas of discontent, I think social enterprise is offering students a way to pick some of the best from each of the sectors to try to remedy the problems.”

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

If you’ve plowed through the Steve Jobs biography or watched re-runs of Shark Tank, you might get an itch to start a business. But what makes somebody go the extra mile to actually do it?

Barbara Bird has studied entrepreneurial behavior, and she identifies certain attributes most entrepreneurs possess. “You can’t start a business if you don’t have high energy level, and if you don’t have a certain tolerance for risk. And it really isn’t even necessarily just tolerance of risk, it’s tolerance of ambiguity.”

Barbara Bird ID

Thomas Kohn argues that while the risk is undeniable, it’s a personal investment worth making. “I’ve mentioned to students that, in my opinion, there’s not as much risk associated with startups as some of them think there is. Right out of school, you can make almost as much in salary as you can with a big company,” says Kohn, an executive-in-residence in the Management Department. “Once you are an owner of a company—even if it’s just stock options—you feel totally different. You have a lot more incentive to work hard and to care.”

White adds that while entrepreneurship may not be innate to some students, it can certainly be taught. “Someone may really be a good idea person. But you might need someone to help shape that, manage that, and execute that,” he says.

And the goal of making money is within reach. “I do believe that entrepreneurship is one of the most likely pathways to wealth,” Bird says. “True ability to rise above the social and economic status you were born into is likely to come from starting a business.”

Brave New World

Advances in technology have made becoming an entrepreneur much easier. You don’t need to make huge capital investments and, say, open up a factory. You can run a profitable company with one laptop.

“I wish I had these tools 25 years ago when I was starting my company. It was expensive to start companies then,” White says. Now, he says, you have many different modes of communication, analytics, and social media tools to understand the marketplace and identify potential customers.

But as several professors warn, lower barriers to entry equals a lot more competition. “There are a lot of companies that won’t make it,” Kohn says. “But fortunately in this country having a failure—or two or three—under your belt is almost a badge of honor. It’s not a negative. And you learn a lot.”

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Title: Kogod Student Jumpstarts Career with White House Internship
Author: Alexa Marie Kelly
Subtitle:
Abstract: Kogod prepared Kaelyn Lynch, BSBA ’14, for a once-in-a-lifetime internship with Michelle Obama.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 10/14/2014
Content:

Kaelyn Lynch has managed White House volunteers, controlled chaos during an East Room event, and written letters on behalf of First Lady Michelle Obama.

But Lynch, BSBA '14, isn't a full-time White House staffer. In fact, she's still a college student, due to complete her degree this December.

Lynch interned for Mrs. Obama from January through May 2014.

"She's an extremely humble woman to work for," Lynch said.

Near the end of her internship, Lynch ensured reporters knew where to go and what to look for during the Turnaround Arts Talent Show.

Student performers from across the country dazzled audiences at this first of its kind event. The show combined Lynch's passions for education and marketing. The event's guiding principle: Arts create student success.

"I value education. It's something I hold very closely and being at the event brought everything full circle," Lynch said.

Dancers, singers and even xylophone stars shared the stage in the East Room of the White House. The talent show highlighted how the arts can help "turnaround" academics at vulnerable schools across the country.

"The work that I was doing, and that the First Lady does, really is important and affects kids," Lynch said.

The First Lady’s office spans six departments, which all coordinate to serve Mrs. Obama's goals. Lynch explored two areas, customer relations and press.

Her business classes challenged her to problem-solve and work well with others, skills she needed as a White House Intern.

"Kogod paved my way to the White House," she said.

The annual Kogod Case Competition also provided Lynch with valuable experience. Each year, students strategize to solve a business dilemma.

"The competition represents in the work world how you might get a problem, and find ways to tackle the problem in a time frame," Lynch said. "It helped prepare me for things I faced everyday at the White House."

Lynch now works as an intern for the Democratic National Committee. Though Lynch is not sure about her post-graduation plans, she knows her experiences in the nation's capital will lead to a fulfilling career path. Her networking connections won't hurt either.

"DC, it's an international hub. You meet so many people," she said.

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Title: It’s Official: Kogod Incubator Now Open for Small Businesses
Author: Laura Herring
Subtitle:
Abstract: The Kogod Incubator opened its doors to up-and-coming companies. Mentors will guide these entrepreneurs to business success. 
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 10/14/2014
Content:

American University President Neil Kerwin and Provost Scott Bass joined Kogod Dean Erran Carmel and Professor Stevan Holmberg, director of Kogod’s Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative, to cut the ribbon on the university’s new small business Incubator on Friday, Sept. 26.

Five teams of AU students and alumni will be using the Incubator this year. In addition to a physical space in which to work, teams in the Incubator receive mentor guidance and support. The teams are:

Agora: a digital communications company, bent on providing webinar experiences based on virtual reality.

Qoral Tech: a computer design company that will provide low-wattage, energy-efficient workstations to the workforce.

unFused: a free tutoring service that pairs high school students with college students for online conferences.

Lightcharge: a technology company with a goal of providing a better charging solution for all smartphone users.

SquadBuilder: a platform development company, creating a better way for student startup ventures to connect with like-minded innovators.



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Title: Tweeting with the Stars: Kogod Students Boost Local Musicians to New Heights
Author: Alexa Marie Kelly
Subtitle:
Abstract: Kogod students apply their business savvy to helping local musicians manage their up-and-coming careers.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 10/10/2014
Content:

Artists at the Music Center at Strathmore can compose, perform, collaborate, and entertain an audience. But can they tweet?

"I’ve been singing my whole life, but I’m working on my twittering," jazz pianist Mark Meadows said to a room full of Kogod students.

Located in Bethesda, Maryland, Strathmore nurtures young artists and pushes them out of their comfort zones. Like his fellow Artists in Residence (AIR), Meadows may not have social media skills, but that is where Kogod’s Representing Talent: Managers, Agents and Lawyers (MGMT-303) course comes in to play.

Students in the class, a required course for students in the agency track of the Business and Entertainment (BAE) program, dive into the day-to-day lives of entertainment professionals.

They will learn first-hand what talent managers, well, manage. Six student groups work with six AIR musicians to help boost their careers through brand awareness, outreach, and other business goals.

"I think [the project] is a little scary because we are dealing with someone's career, [but] I think it's going to be really interesting to get first-hand experience as to what managers and agents work on everyday," said Mandy Shimizu, BAE '16.

Shimizu and her classmates will create press kits, flyers and other materials to help the AIR musicians. Students will analyze the artists' online presence and make suggestions to improve their websites, videos, Twitter accounts, and other digital platforms.

Stephanie Deischl, BA/SOC '15, loves the chance to "get to know a totally different field", apart from her typical public relations classes. Deischl was among the first to register for a minor in Business and Entertainment.

Working with mentors, AIR musicians experiment with genres they do not usually try. For Meadows, this means singing without a piano.

"I don't know what I'll do with my hands," he joked to Professor Simson's class.

"Like everyone [here], I don't really belong to one style only," AIR guitarist Cristian Perez said. The Argentinian musician pulls inspiration from around the globe, from Indian sitar to Japanese harp.

Faculty Program Director of the BAE John Simson was inspired to start this partnership after he guest-lectured for Strathmore. He realized the young musicians needed management help.

"Some of the artists were asking for assistance with press kits, writing bios and the kinds of things that a management team would handle," Simson said. He approached AIR director Betty Scott with the idea for a partnership with his class.

"She spoke with the artists, and they were enthusiastic, so we're moving forward to see how it works," Simson said.

Students will be graded on the publicity materials they create for the Strathmore artists throughout the semester, and teams will deliver final presentations at the conclusion of the project in December.

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Title: Never Too Late: Final Semester Course Guides Alumna’s Career Path
Author: Alexa Marie Kelly
Subtitle:
Abstract: Christyn Enser, BA/SOC/CAS ’14, learned IT skills from Kogod that she uses everyday in her job at the Associated Press.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 10/07/2014
Content:

Most creative minds cringe at the thought of technical fields. Working with numbers and figures day in and day out seems like a nightmare.

But these industries provide unexpected opportunities for some savvy professionals. For a lucky few, they can even turn into a dream job.

Christyn Enser, BA/SOC/CAS '14, majored in Print Journalism and minored in Spanish, but it was a Kogod elective that helped her land a job in IT.

After graduation, Enser started at the Associated Press (AP) in New York City as an administrative assistant. Everyday she uses skills she learned in Kogod's ITEC-200, Edge of Information Technology, class.

"Without the class, I would have had much more of a learning curve at my job," Enser said. "I would have felt pretty lost, but instead I felt really confident going into it."

Enser assists fellow AU alumna and AP Chief Information Officer Lorraine Cichowski, MA/SOC '76. In this role, Enser also acts as an officer manager for the company's technology department.

The class, taught by Kogod Assistant Dean for Digital Initiatives and New Programs, Jill Klein, introduces students to business tools like databases and spreadsheets. Two hands-on lessons in Microsoft Excel and Google Analytics especially aided Enser in her career.

"I take a look at Google Analytics, and I use Excel to create graphs and charts of AP web performance," Enser said. "So if someone is so busy, like my boss, it's clear and easy to read charts when they have to make decisions."

Enser appreciated Klein's hands-on approach. Students completed projects that mirrored the real-world workplace. Enser now knows first-hand just how practical those lessons were.

"When you see how powerful an IT tool is in your day-to-day, it makes something like budgeting so much easier," she said. "In class, we searched for an emerging technology tool, looked at its benefits and drawbacks and made a nice presentation. That's similar to what project managers do at the AP."

Enser plans to continue to hone her skills and eventually move up to be a project manager herself. These managers act as "connective tissue" between external vendors and company upper management, according to Enser.

She feels prepared to tackle this future job thanks to her decision to branch out beyond her major and take a class in Kogod. Enser took Klein's class as a senior, proving its never too late to build new skills in college.

"I asked myself, 'What would make me more marketable?'" she said. "I didn't have those IT skills, so I took the class, and it definitely paid some dividends."

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Title: Ernst & Young Executive Talks Global Accounting at Kogod
Author: Alexa Marie Kelly
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Abstract: James J. Alex makes accounting regulations accessible for Kogod students in debut of “Business in the Capital” series.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 09/29/2014
Content:

Kogod's new Business in the Capital event series kicked off September 19, with James Alex, a principal accountant with EY, formerly Ernst & Young LLP, addressing the changing world of accounting auditor independence.

Tapping into the Business in the Capital pillar of Compliance and Regulation, Alex's talk showcased Kogod's commitment to business in the nation's capital. Other pillars of the series are Health and BioTech, Business to Government, and Entrepreneurship and Tech.

Alex admitted that the topic might seem dry, but said auditor independence rules are "profound in terms of how we operate as a firm." Accounting titans rank auditor independence among their top three worries, he said.

They fear the high risk of auditing, a service that accounts for about 40 percent of a firm's revenues—breaking auditor independence rules can result in major fines for a company. As the regulatory landscape shifts, these intricate rules will be harder to manage, Alex believes.

Already the European Union has passed laws that stretch auditor independence. A key component is mandatory auditor rotation. European companies have to hire new auditors every 10 to 24 years, depending on the business.

Many U.S. companies with European divisions will also follow these rules. With only a small number of global accounting firms like EY, Alex thinks it might be difficult for companies to rotate auditors.

Jessica Davis, BSA '16, appreciated the opportunity to learn from a top accounting professional.

"I thought it was very well articulated and easy for students to understand," Davis said of Alex's presentation. New European regulations especially interested Davis.

"It will be interesting to see how that plays out with strengthening [big accounting firms], or weakening them, allowing other smaller firms to rise up and become stronger," she said.

The Business in the Capital events series will continue throughout the academic year, connecting the classroom to the boardroom in the nation's capital.

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Title: Building the Knowledge Network
Author: Gregg Sangillo
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Abstract: Meet American University’s 23 new tenured and tenure track faculty members.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 09/17/2014
Content:

American University has amassed a talented crop of 23 new tenured and tenure track professors for the upcoming year. As part of the AU 2030 project, the university has invested significant resources in key subject areas that cut across departments. The new faculty will help foster an environment of academic excellence.

College of Arts and Sciences

Though the substance of his work delves into indecision, Mark Laubach has a clear idea about the research that animates him. "I like trying to figure out decision-making. How does the brain resolve a decision?" Laubach poses. "And how do you learn from one occasion to the next to do something better next time?"

Laubach is a new associate professor of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences. Along with other professors, Laubach hopes to collaborate with Terry Davidson, director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience.

Laubach has been working with a National Science Foundation grant to understand brain circuits for executive control. Through Klarman Family Foundation support, he's been conducting research to comprehend neuronal circuits that control food-seeking behavior.

Originally from Bergen County, New Jersey, Laubach did his undergraduate work at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. He was initially inclined towards marine biology, and one summer in Oregon he did a research project on crabs and their claws. He refocused his attention to neuroscience and neurobiology, eventually earning his Ph.D. from Wake Forest University.

American Univeristy associate professor of biology Mark Laubach.

Most recently, Laubach was an associate professor of neurobiology at Yale School of Medicine. He's made the move to Washington with his wife, Bernadette—a chemist and a preschool teacher—and their daughter and son. True to his North Jersey roots, Laubach is still loyal to the New York Mets and the New York Giants. But he's open to some of the local teams, and he's already started going to games with his sports-fanatic son.

Given his academic field, does he think about the neurons in his brain while he's fulfilling routine chores? "No, when I do my own decision-making, I do not think about my brain's role in it. But when I drive my car home, I end up having my best work-related ideas."

Other new CAS faculty:

Nicole Angotti is a new assistant professor in the Sociology Department. She's also a faculty affiliate at AU's Center on Health, Risk, and Society.

Michael Baron, who previously taught at the University of Texas at Dallas, is now a professor in the Mathematics and Statistics Department. Also teaching math and stats is assistant professor Kristina Crona.

John Bracht is now an assistant professor in the Biology Department. His research interests include genomics and cell biology.

Catherine Anne Claus is a new assistant professor in the Anthropology Department. Her teaching interests have included ocean studies and political ecology.

Joshua McCoy is an assistant professor in the Computer Science Department. He's focused on new video game experiences through game technology, design, social science, and artificial intelligence.

Ying-Chen Peng is a new assistant professor in the Art Department. She's researched late imperial and modern Chinese art history, globalization in art, and Asian material culture.

Jennifer Steele is an associate professor in the School of Education, Teaching, and Health (SETH). She's an urban education policy researcher and she formerly worked at the RAND Corporation. Also joining SETH is assistant professor and nutritional neuroscientist Kathleen Holton.

Kogod School of Business

Andrew Schnackenberg, a new assistant professor of management at the Kogod School of Business, is not one to accept received wisdom. He's explored areas of the informal economy, discovering that industry consensus sometimes obscures a much more complicated reality.

He observed a dramatic shift in the discourse surrounding medical marijuana, and a certain amount of industry myth making. "[The industry has] repositioned the product as being less a threat to public well-being and more of a benefit to public health," Schnackenberg says. "There's evidence that marijuana is good for your health, but there's also a lot of evidence that it's not so good for your health."

He's also studied payday lending, an industry that he says is increasingly stigmatized. Much of his earlier research was on corporate transparency.

Schnackenberg was born and raised in Japan. He was heavily influenced by the experience, and it's even reflected in his research choices. "I've been interested in this idea of transparency because in Japan things were very nontransparent," he says. "With these controversial issues I've studied, there's a tremendous amount of symbolism and myth making that goes on. And this is something that I think happens all the time in Japan."

He did his undergraduate studies at University of Nevada, Las Vegas and started working at a private equity firm. He then went back overseas to complete his MBA in Australia. Upon returning to the U.S., he says he wasn't "satisfied with the answers to the compelling questions that business professionals have around these kinds of issues." He subsequently entered academia and earned his Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University this year.

Other new Kogod faculty:

Shuai Ma is a new assistant professor in the Accounting Department. He's delved into issues such as tax reporting and corporate governance.

School of Communication

Benjamin Stokes is an incoming professor at AU's School of Communication. Stokes is currently doing his postdoctoral work at University of California, Berkeley, and he'll start at AU as a full-time faculty member in the fall of 2015. He's listed as a civic media research fellow at AU's Center for Media & Social Impact, and he'll be part of the AU Game Lab with SOC professor Lindsay Grace and others. His research and teaching revolve around civic learning and technology.

Incoming American University School of Communication Benjamin Stokes.

Stokes was born in Montana, but grew up in Ashland, Oregon. Even in high school, he was building online virtual field trips for kids. He got his bachelor's degree in physics from Haverford College. While living abroad, he studied West African drumming in Senegal.

Before launching a full-time academic career, Stokes worked in the nonprofit world. This included online education work on global poverty. "Increasingly, I got pulled into games," he says. While dealing with global interdependence and global citizenship, the biggest challenge was getting people engaged. "We discovered that games were a powerful way to build some of that cause and effect learning." He later joined with colleagues in launching a nonprofit, Games for Change, which facilitates gaming for social impact.

In designing games—particularly for mobile devices—he emphasizes the human component and game interactivity with everyday life. It's not just about advanced technology and coding, he says.

"The intersection around media that is partly online and partly face-to-face is really exciting. And it's a really good time for this right now. The technology makes it possible with phones. We're bringing the Internet back into the physical world."

School of International Service


Miles Kahler has been teaching on the West Coast since 1986. So moving across the country to take a new job at AU's School of International Service is certainly a big life change. Yet Kahler is no stranger to the area: He grew up near Baltimore, Maryland, and he spent time in Washington in the 1980s. In 2012-2013, he was on sabbatical and serving as a fellow at the D.C.-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Among other activities, he attended conferences at AU and met with SIS Dean James Goldgeier. "I was just very impressed with the trajectory of the institution," Kahler says.

Kahler will serve as a distinguished professor at SIS as well as a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He's an expert on international politics and international political economy, with a focus on global governance and international monetary cooperation. He previously taught at University of California, San Diego.

During the Vietnam War era, Kahler became curious about international conflict. "It did get me interested in the question of imperialism, and why great powers or superpowers get involved in wars with much weaker powers," he recalls. When he eventually prepared his doctoral dissertation at Harvard, he focused on decolonization in Great Britain and France.

Kahler maintains many other intellectual passions, and he has an enduring connection to China. He was part of an early academic delegation there in 1979, around the time the U.S. formally recognized the rising nation. In 1980, he undertook his first teaching stint in Shanghai. "China was just opening again to the international economy and to the world," he says. "And meeting the students—who in many ways had their entire lives set back by the Cultural Revolution—was really quite an important experience for me." Kahler would return to Shanghai to teach in 2009.

In conjunction with his latest research, Kahler will teach an undergraduate senior seminar this spring on emerging economies, including Brazil, China, and India, and global governance. SIS has developed impressive faculty expertise to address issues related to governance at all levels, Kahler adds.

"'What is the most efficient, just means of governing an interconnected world?' is one of the critical questions that we face in the coming decade," he says.

Other new SIS faculty:

Adam Auerbach, a new assistant professor, recently received the 2014 Best Dissertation Award from the urban politics section of the American Political Science Association.

Austin Hart is now an assistant professor. He specializes in political campaigns and public opinion, with a focus on Latin America.

Sarah Snyder, also an assistant professor, is a historian of the Cold War and U.S. human rights policy.

School of Public Affairs

Derek Hyra is an associate professor in the School of Public Affairs and he will serve as the director of SPA's new Metropolitan Policy Center. "One of the missions of the center is to do interdisciplinary, collaborative research, but also to show and highlight AU's engagement in Washington, D.C.," says Hyra.

Hyra was first drawn to urban studies not in the classroom, but on the basketball court. Hyra grew up in Somers, N.Y., which he describes as a mostly white, middle-to-upper income suburb. Yet he played competitive basketball through an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team based out of West Harlem. "I saw Harlem in the late 80s and early 90s, when it was still coming off the crack epidemic. And there were a lot of abandoned buildings and vacant lots," he recalls. "A lot of what I learned through developing relationships with my teammates, who were mostly African-American kids from Harlem and the Bronx, really taught me about race in America." Hyra notes the overall value of this experience. "I didn't know it at the time, but it had a very dramatic impact on what I eventually did as a career."

Hyra ended up going to Colgate University, where he played Patriot League basketball for four years. He also discovered the writings of sociologist William Julius Wilson and learned about the historic conditions creating urban blight.

He's had a rich and varied career since that time, working at both the Housing and Urban Development Department and the Treasury Department. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Earlier this year, he ran in the Democratic primary for a U.S. House seat in the Northern Virginia-based 8th District. Though he lost, Hyra feels like he elevated the discussion on affordable housing.

"I try to look at how you can bring redevelopment to a low-income area, but do it in a way that's equitable," Hyra says of his research. He's examined gentrification and economic transformation in Harlem in New York and Bronzeville on Chicago's South Side.

For a forthcoming book, he completed a five-year ethnographic study of the redevelopment of the Shaw-U Street neighborhood in D.C. Outside of work, Hyra is a fan of jazz—one of the great cultural traditions of this Shaw-U Street area.

Other new SPA faculty:

Ryan Moore is a new assistant professor and his research interests include the politics of health, pensions, and welfare.

Elizabeth Suhay is an assistant professor of government. Her specialties have included political psychology and public understanding of science.

Erdal Tekin, a new professor, is an expert on health economics and policy. He comes over from Georgia State University.

Vicky Wilkins is a professor in the Department of Public Administration & Policy and an associate dean for academic affairs.

Thomas Zeitzoff is a new assistant professor. He's conducted research on political violence and political psychology.

American University Washington College of Law

AUWCL has several new faculty leadership appointments. Lia Epperson, an expert on constitutional law and civil rights, is now associate dean for faculty and academic affairs. Jenny M. Roberts has been appointed associate dean for scholarship. A former public defender and law clerk, she's done research on issues of right to counsel and indigent defense. Amanda Frost is the new director of the Doctor of Judicial Science (S.J.D.) Program. Frost has published widely and has been a frequent contributor to SCOTUSblog.

Tags: Biology Dept,College of Arts and Sciences,Featured News,Gamelab,Management Dept,Media Relations,School of Communication,School of International Service,School of Public Affairs,Provost,Public Administration & Policy
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newsId: 0D408C01-921E-548A-EB4181E6207C7945
Title: Social Innovation with a Global Focus: How Tighe Wall makes an impact
Author: Nina Cooperman, SPA/MPA '15
Subtitle:
Abstract: Tighe Wall, Kogod/MBA ’11 shares his thoughts on his time at AU and how his experience at Kogod helped him find a career with a truly global reach in social and digital strategy.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 11/05/2014
Content:

As an editor and writer for the Princeton Review, Tighe Wall, Kogod/MBA '11, edited the guidebook to the 191 Best Business schools. When it came time to select a graduate program for himself, American University's Kogod School of Business was at the top of his list. Now, as a managing consultant in the social business global center of competence at IBM global business services in London, Tighe credits AU's global perspective to his success. Coming to AU, he says, gave him the opportunity to "build a small international business base in the U.S. and gain entrepreneurial skills."

During his time at Kogod, Tighe worked as an innovation and entrepreneurship research assistant with Professor Stevan Holmberg and interned with IBM. He says his experience "supplemented what I was learning with real world experience. AU has a real campus and all of the other attributes of living in the city are at your fingertips." 

Tighe continued to excel at Kogod and, as the commencement speaker for the business school's graduate students, urged his classmates to "keep taking chances and embrace new experiences."His work caught the attention of the social business group, a small global group consisting of experts in the field within IBM who shape the company's point of view on the application of social networking tools and culture to business roles, processes and outcomes. He now works in London and has a portfolio of clients all over Europe.

Though he's moved to London, Tighe stays connected to the university. He is a member of the Alumni Board and serves as an alumni admissions volunteer. He sees these opportunities as ways to give back to the university, and as someone who went to AU for graduate school at Kogod, he brings a unique voice to the group.

According to Tighe, "Going through Kogod changed the way I think of the larger business community and global business. It broadened my perspective and fundamentally changed the way I understand how the business world works –the curriculum and the professors and thinking of business functions as a piece of how a larger organization operates." That global perspective has paid off.

Tags: Admissions,Alumni,Alumni Board,Entrepreneurship,Kogod School of Business
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newsId: DFFD8673-B6D2-D0DA-B948D65411B0F821
Title: Luchs Family Scholarship Recipient Molly Fallon Reaps Rewards of Hard Work, Giving Back
Author: Mike Rowan
Subtitle:
Abstract: Her appreciation for debate aside, Molly Fallon can agree with her scholarship donor on one of their core values—the importance of giving back and paying it forward.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 05/29/2014
Content:

As commencement festivities took over campus and fellow classmates fondly reminisced about the best times of their college years, Molly Fallon, Kogod/BSBA ’14, recalled a different kind of memory—arguing.

Not just any kind of arguing, however. “I’ve really appreciated the disagreement and the debate that some of these classes have spurred from us,” said Fallon. “We’ve begun to disagree with one another in very constructive ways and bring some of our convictions forward.”

A Des Moines, Iowa native concentrating in marketing and finance, Fallon was chosen as the undergraduate speaker for the Kogod School of Business 2014 commencement. “Ironically, my fondest learning moments are not about agreement,” she shared with the Bender Arena crowd of faculty, family, and her fellow graduates. “While we might seek comfort in group settings, what we actually need is discomfort.”

For all her talk of discord and dissent, Fallon proved herself a natural collaborator in her time at AU. As a peer consultant in the Kogod Center for Business Communication, she assisted Kogod students with business writing and presentation skills. She also served as treasurer for the sorority Chi Omega, and worked together with about 30 students to oversee a portfolio of $350,000 in AU’s Student Managed Investment Fund. On top of that, she earned one of the school’s most prestigious group accomplishments—her team took home first place in the 2014 Annual Kogod Case Competition.

Recalling the case competition, she admitted, “That should have been one of the most stressful weeks of my life but it really was one of the most fun, honestly. It was a really great moment to leverage everything I had learned in the past four years here and have fun with it.”

Fallon’s leadership skills and community-oriented spirit were rewarded when she was named a recipient of the Luchs Family Scholarship for the 2013-2014 academic year. The application process for the scholarship asks students to provide evidence of deep involvement in the Kogod community. Humble, but attuned to the scholarship’s meaning, she reflected, “I think that my history of giving back to fellow students while at Kogod was something that identified me as a strong candidate.”

“I didn’t stand out in terms of numbers,” she shared. “To know that I was recognized for doing hard work, and that hard work wasn’t going unnoticed, [the fact that] it could be rewarded, and I could help myself through college by doing good work was a lot of positive reinforcement for me.”

A couple of days before giving her commencement address, Fallon had the opportunity to meet one of the benefactors of her scholarship, Kenneth J. Luchs, over lunch. The two found that they shared a passion for giving back.

“You can contribute in different ways,” Luchs said. “Money is only one way. Time is another way. Be a mentor to somebody.”

A strong history of civic engagement runs through Kenneth Luchs’ family. From the time his grandfather founded the family’s real estate business, Shannon & Luchs, in 1906, the family has been active in the growth of Washington, taking on leadership roles in various community organizations—a tradition that Luchs himself has carried on. A one-time American University student—taking night classes in real estate while he helped to run the family business by day—Luchs went on to serve on the AU Board of Trustees for 12 years. His afternoon with the recipients of his family’s scholarship marked 50 years—nearly to the day—since his father first introduced him to AU.

“I’d like [the recipients] to know that I’m available to be a mentor, and that I want them to be available as mentors to future students,” said Luchs. “It’s our duty to pay back whatever schools we’ve been educated at.”

Said Fallon after meeting Luchs, “He further instilled in me the belief that we can all do something to give back to those who have profoundly impacted our lives.”

Even as she found inspiration from getting to know her scholarship donor, Fallon had already been taking Luchs’ message to heart. While treasurer of Chi Omega, Fallon brought more scholarships to her sisters, stepping up efforts to identify and publicize existing opportunities, and creating new need-based awards by making minor budgeting adjustments. She has also taken it upon herself to be an advocate, often urging her sisters and students she advises as a peer consultant to apply for certain scholarships. She notes that students don’t realize what great candidates they are, and all they need is to know that the opportunities exist.

“I think that’s something really important—the idea of students helping students find and seek out scholarship opportunities,” said Fallon. “I am glad to have left that legacy.”






 

Tags: Center for Business Communications,Commencement,Giving,Kogod School of Business,Scholarship
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newsId: 03DCA440-F399-8A8D-CB557FB2BB853C68
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.

Tags: Alumni,Kogod School of Business,School of Public Affairs
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newsId: 3831F1B2-EEBA-1613-3AF966FAECEFF341
Title: Building Upon a Family History
Author: Mike Rowan
Subtitle:
Abstract: After her valuable AU experience—and now her daughter’s—Mary McCarthy Hayford and her family are helping lay the groundwork for the university’s next generation.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 03/27/2014
Content:

Stroll along the west side of the quad, passing Frisbees floating across the grass and cheerful student organizations camped outside of Mary Graydon, and at either end of campus you will find a building that has been transformed within the last five years. Across the street from the Katzen Arts Center, the Kogod School of Business opened a 20,000-square-foot expansion in 2008. A few hundred yards down, next to Bender Library, stands the newly reopened McKinley building, the state-of-the-art new home of the School of Communication. Though housing separate schools, and situated on opposite ends of campus, there’s a strong thread connecting the two of them—the Hayford family.

Mary McCarthy Hayford, Kogod/MBA ’78, did her graduate work at AU’s business school, but when she attended, it did not yet bear the Kogod name. It was simply called the School of Business Administration. Classes were housed in the Ward Circle Building, and offices were in the cozy quarters of the Hamilton Building (known then as Hamilton Hall).

“I remember picking AU based on my perception that the administrators and faculty were more accessible,” McCarthy Hayford shares as she recalls her AU experience. “I look back not only on the great full-time professors in subjects which appeal to me, but also on several adjunct professors who imparted real world experiences. For me, that exposure to professionals working in industry was essential to seeing how the theoretical was applied in the real world, and to envisioning the type of career I would want to pursue.”

When the Kogod School of Business announced plans for its expansion campaign, Mary and her husband, Warren, signed on to help by making a major contribution to the building. Their generosity is marked by a plaque adorning one of the new classrooms inside, which displays their names.

Then, three years later, when the effort to renovate McKinley began, the Hayfords were there again, eager to give back once more, naming the facility’s new audio editing suite.

Why jump in to support another major project, especially when the family had so significantly dedicated themselves to an effort close to their hearts just a few years earlier? One reason is that their daughter, Margaret, SOC/BA ’13, just finished a very positive undergraduate career in the School of Communication.

“We feel strongly that SOC and AU provided Margaret with the experience she needs to pursue her career goals,” McCarthy Hayford articulates. “AU was one of few schools where she could study film and graphic design while still broadening her education in history, science and social science. She capped off her SOC experience with a semester in the film school in Prague where she worked with a small group to create a professional-quality film.”

In addition to Margaret, the Hayfords are parents to Amanda, a 2006 alumna of Oberlin College, and Warren, who graduated from George Washington University in 2012. Ms. McCarthy Hayford’s husband, Warren John Hayford, is the president and managing director of the software company RatioServices, and is a director of the Warren J. and Marylou Hayford Family Foundation, which his parents founded. The foundation has been instrumental in the Hayfords’ gifts to American University.

Though she has graduated—as have her children—McCarthy Hayford remains an avid learner. While embarking on a path toward starting a new career, she has been steadily auditing courses at the university. “Wherever that takes me, I hope to keep close ties to AU.”

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Title: Legal Eagle Utilizes AU Education to Establish Domestic and International Niche
Author: Milt Jackson
Subtitle:
Abstract: AU alumnus’ expertise in law impacts domestic and international cases.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 03/15/2013
Content:

Philadelphia attorney and Kogod class of ’71 alumnus Theodore “Ted” Simon is having a wonderful career. Among other achievements, he has obtained reversals in the Pennsylvania and United States Supreme Courts. In addition to his longstanding successful representation of individuals and corporations locally, nationally, and internationally in state and federal trial and appellate matters (“white collar,” “blue collar” and “no collar”) he is a recognized authority on the subject of international extradition requests, and he has provided advice and counsel to multiple Americans abroad who have found themselves in challenging legal straits.

Accordingly, while accomplishing these achievements and elevating his law practice into a respected national and international niche – he also has become a “go-to guy” for advice and adept handling of high profile media driven cases - where he credits his AU experiences for assisting him to consistently achieve and maintain success.

After graduating from AU, and later, Temple University Law School, Ted joined the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and began to exercise his passion for litigation and criminal law. His drive, focus, creativity, and comprehensive approach eventually earned him a listing as one of Philadelphia Magazine’s “Best Lawyers in Philadelphia;” a selection as a “Pennsylvania Super Lawyer,” and an invited membership in the National Trial Lawyers Organization (a group composed of the top 100 trial lawyers from each state).

Additionally in 2012, he was sworn in as first vice president of the NACDL, a position he relishes because it allows him to play a more specific part in ensuring justice and due process and at the same time recognizing the important and noble work of criminal defense lawyers around the country.

Communicating his passion for justice and due process is another of Ted’s many talents. His most recent appearance, as a guest on CNN and Soledad O’Brien’s “Starting Point” is a case in point. On the show, Ted presented an articulate and seasoned perspective on the complex legal considerations surrounding bail for Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius – who is currently accused of murder in South Africa.

He told O'Brien that Pistorius was a good candidate for bail. He is called upon as a legal expert by honing his speaking as a sought-after speaker for legal seminars across the nation and his numerous on-camera appearances on all major networks and shows including NBC’s The Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS’s The Early Show, Larry King Live, Oprah Winfrey Show, ABC’s 20/20, and NBC’s Dateline.

As a result of his recognized communications skills and legal ability, Ted’s client list has included Michael Fay (Singapore caning), Amanda Knox (college student acquitted of murder in Italy), boxing promoter Don King, Gregory Porter (college student accused but all charges dismissed in 2011 protest in Egypt), Chipper Jones (civil defense), New York real estate heir Robert Durst (favorable resolution of federal firearms offenses in Pennsylvania after acquittal in Texas murder and dismemberment case), NBA forward Dante Cunningham (dismissal of alleged drug and other criminal offenses), Drexel’s starting guard Derrick Thomas (dismissal of assault charges) as well as other clients involved in high-profile legal matters.

Ted credits AU for helping to provide a solid academic foundation for his success. He says, “I was just 16, leaving home for the first-time, and the American University environment, the teachers and classmates, soon to be life-long friends could not be more warm, welcoming and supportive. In hindsight it provided the absolute perfect opportunity to grow, excel academically, and provide a rich and enduring network of beloved friends that began the first day and happily remains so today.”

When asked about how he feels about the practice of law after nearly 40 years, he answered, “I feel the same, but more so - it is a gift to be a lawyer, providing care, assistance, and representation in some of the worst of times, whether a person is criminally facing loss of liberty or civilly and entitled to redress and compensation.”

In response to Ted’s appreciation of American University and for all the university has done for him, Ted recently offered his network, time, and support in assisting with planning of an alumni engagement event in downtown Philadelphia. The event was a resounding success due to the participation of Ted and other alumni.

While the law is clearly his personal and professional passion, Ted's continued relationship with his AU Zeta Beta Tau brothers is primarily a personal passion. He says “primarily” because privilege and privacy protects their confidentiality as even here he has been called upon professionally in “life-altering situations.” Ted couldn’t have been happier “to have their back when they needed it most.”

His relationship with the “ZBT Powerhouse of Excellence” brotherhood began when he attended AU and has only strengthened since then. Ted is everlastingly thankful and appreciative of his classmates who have remained truly supportive of his work, accomplishments, and resulting national and international presence in the law.

So the next time you hear the words, “legal expert” mentioned during a news broadcast, pay close attention. It may be that an AU alumnus, by the name of Ted Simon, is about to hold court.

Tags: Alumni,Kogod School of Business,Law
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Title: Real-Life Experiences of AU Alumnus Hits the Big Screen in Blockbuster Hit Argo
Author: Stephanie Block
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Abstract: American University alumnus Mark Lijek, Kogod/MBA ’76, has lived quite the adventure—one big enough to create Hollywood Oscar buzz.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 12/12/2012
Content:

American University alumnus Mark Lijek, Kogod/MBA ’76, has lived quite the adventure—one big enough to create Hollywood Oscar buzz. Lijek was one of six employees lucky enough to escape the protests and attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Iran more than 30 years ago. Their story is the premise of the blockbuster movie Argo.

Lijek arrived in Iran in July 1979 and was only there a few short months before he nearly missed becoming a hostage. With his wife, Cora, by his side along with five others, the group became known as the “houseguests” of the Canadian Embassy for about 10 weeks before leaving the country posing as a film crew and making it back to safely to the U.S.

It was not fear as much as boredom that got the best of Lijek. “Boredom was one of the hardest things to face,” Lijek says. The group played scrabble, and he read many books, writing each title down as he completed it to help record the passing of time.

A recent story published on MyNorthWest.com chronicled details regarding the sequence of events leading to Lijek and the other officers escaping the embassy. Interviews with Lijek and other houseguests will be a special feature of the DVD release of Argo next year. However, as with any film, there is only so much time to share the story. “The movie is a slice of the real story which was why I wrote the book The Houseguests: A Memoir of Canadian Courage and CIA Sorcery,” Lijek says.

Lijek completed a Master in Business Administration at AU, attending class part-time in the evenings while he served in the United States Army during the day. “As an administrative officer for the State Department, I used my graduate degree a fair amount. It prepared me quite a bit,” he says.

Lijek moved to Washington, D.C. from Seattle to complete his undergraduate degree at Georgetown University. He retired from the Foreign Service to spend more time with his wife and children. He lives just outside of Seattle and keeps busy by promoting his new book and managing his website, marklijek.com.   

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Relations,Alumni Relations (KSB),Alumni Update,Kogod School of Business
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Title: Alumni Offer an Unconventional Introduction to Shanghai
Author: Melissa Bevins '02
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Abstract: Jamie Barys and Kyle Long met while studying abroad and have turned their passion into a business.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 11/15/2012
Content:

When Jamie Barys, SOC/BA ’07, and Kyle Long, Kogod/BSBA ’07, studied abroad together in Beijing during their junior year, they left knowing that they wanted to return to China. 

Upon graduation, Kyle moved to Shanghai to teach. Jamie had a corporate job in Washington, D.C. for a while before deciding that it wasn’t for her and moving to Xiamen, China to work as a food writer. The two reconnected and decided to start a business together in Shanghai. 

Both recalled hearing the age-old advice that success comes with doing something about which you are passionate and decided that they wanted to love what they do. Jamie loves to eat. Kyle loves to run and eat. Both love finding off-the-beaten-path places and sharing their findings with friends and family. 

These shared passions led them to start UnTour Shanghai, an urban adventure tourism company specializing in unique and personal day tours, including jogging sightseeing tours, culinary tours, and cultural excursions. Jamie serves as the Chief Eating Officer while Kyle serves as the Chief Running Officer.

Jamie recalls that her first dinner in Beijing was a bad experience. She didn’t speak the language and couldn’t order, and the person who was ordering for her party decided to play a practical joke on the group. She wants to help others avoid that experience and to take the guesswork out of eating well in Shanghai.

“I know how intimidating it can be,” says Jamie, of traveling to a new city and trying to partake in the local foods without speaking the language. To avoid this and help tourists get off on the right foot, UnTour Shanghai provides all its customers with a welcome package that includes restaurant and dish recommendations in the neighborhood.

UnTour Shanghai offers a schedule of weekly public tours as well as several options for private group tours. All tours have a limited number of spaces, as Jamie and Kyle aim to keep them intimate and personalized. 

December 1 will mark the two year anniversary of UnTour Shanghai. Both Jamie and Kyle are excited to celebrate the milestone and look forward to what the future holds for the company they’re growing together.

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,China,School of Communication,Kogod School of Business
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Title: Young Alum Builds on Valuable Relationships
Author: Rebecca Youngerman, SPA/BA '00, SPA/MPA '12
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Abstract: Rich Golaszewski, Kogod/BSBA ’07, has aspired to achieve since he first came to American University.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 10/10/2012
Content:

Rich Golaszewski, Kogod/BSBA ’07, has aspired to achieve since he first came to American University in 2003 as a freshman from Philadelphia.

He used that drive to launch a professional career in financial services. Golaszewski works in New York as a vice president at Nomura Securities International—a leading global investment bank—in Equity Derivatives sales and trading.
 
“The encouragement to go above and beyond has been especially valuable,” he said. “At Kogod, I learned the art of networking and the value of relationships, which has proved extremely beneficial in my career.“

On October 20, Golaszewski will receive the Rising Star Award, which recognizes young alumni who are already making significant contributions to greater society through professional or philanthropic work.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award; it truly means a lot…I continue to try to spend my free time on things that I really care about, and Kogod is at the top of the list,” Golaszewski says.

Golaszewski found his niche on campus through academics and a range of student leadership activities. Participation in the Student Managed Investment Fund (then the Kogod Finance Group) was particularly impactful. Gaining valuable skills in investment management and the stock market aided in building industry knowledge, and the leadership roles built softer traits such as public speaking and organization.

For Golaszewski, peers were mentors. He says, “The outgoing student body always had you thinking how you could do more to better your chances at landing the job you wanted, and this really resonated in me and motivated me to explore different industries through internships and challenging coursework.”

Golaszewski has found meaningful and lasting ways to give back to the university. Last fall, he helped conceptualize and launch the New York Finance Network, a new affinity group open to American University graduates working in the finance and real estate industries.

Golaszewski regularly connects with current students, offering guidance and advice about making the most of their time on campus and beyond.

He also has demonstrated his leadership through financial support of the school, and is encouraging others to do the same by serving as a signatory on the recent solicitation for the Kogod Dean’s Fund that was sent to nearly 1,500 fellow supporters.

Golaszewski’s Kogod relationships are very personal. He is the proud older brother of Jesse Golaszewski, Kogod/BSBA ’12, and is newly engaged to a fellow alum, Shannon Westfall, Kogod/BSBA ’07.

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Board,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Relations (KSB),Alumni Update,Alumni Weekend,Kogod School of Business,Kogod Undergraduate Finance Group
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Title: Travis Lay: From AU Basketball Star to Alumni Board Member
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
Subtitle:
Abstract: Once a leader on the basketball court, Travis Lay continues to lead AU as a member of the Alumni Board.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 08/10/2012
Content:

Most alumni remember Travis Lay, Kogod/BSBA ’08, as the men’s basketball captain who led the Eagles to the prestigious NCAA tournament for the first time in 2008, but Lay is incredibly accomplished both on and off the court. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from American University and continues to give back to his alma mater as a member of the Alumni Board. Lay also embodies the AU spirit of service by donating his time to Year Up, a local charity that provides mentorship to disadvantaged young adults.


Unsurprisingly, basketball was a major factor in Lay’s decision to attend AU. “I grew up in Maryland, right outside D.C., so [by attending AU], my family would be able to see me play. I also knew AU had a strong chance of going to the NCAA tournament. … The combination of that and AU’s strong academics and business school was exactly what I was looking for.”

Lay says the support of the AU community helped boost the team to the NCAA tournament in 2008. “It was encouraging to see the university really get behind us as we succeeded in my senior year. … People were proud of the AU basketball team. It was a unique experience – to walk around campus and have so many people recognize me. And it was great to raise the profile of American University to a national level,” he adds.

After graduation, he moved overseas and played basketball professionally, with stints in England and Australia. Lay elaborates, “I never had the opportunity to study abroad, as many AU students do, so that was a great experience for me to live abroad and play ball before settling down in my real career [in finance].”

Currently, Lay works for SC&H Group, where he helps businesses implement financial software tools. He is pursuing his certification in public accounting and credits AU and his externships as a student with Beers & Cutler and Deloitte for preparing him for the world of finance. He also was very close with the late Kogod Professor Sue Marcum.

In his spare time, Lay is a member of the Alumni Board where he represents the young alumni point of view. He also mentors inner-city young adults through Year Up, a charity that helps minority adults, aged 18 to 24, transition from high school to either higher education or a professional career. Lay says that while growing up, he often played sports with teammates from similar backgrounds as the young adults he mentors, so he can relate to them. He even shot hoops with one of his mentees: “I was in my business clothes at the time, but I told [the other players], ‘Just so you know, I’m not awful at basketball.’”

That’s certainly an understatement, but is typical of Lay. He is modest about his accomplishments, crediting God and luck for his accomplishments and skills on the court and insisting that the Eagles’ victorious 2008 season, culminating in the NCAA tournament, was a team effort – the product of four years of hard work and practice together. In fact, the moments spent with his teammates are his favorite memories of AU.

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Relations (KSB),Alumni Update,Kogod School of Business,Athletics
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Title: Taking the World by Storm: Two AU Alumnae Inspired to Travel
Author: Heather Buckner, SPA/MPA '10
Subtitle:
Abstract: Imagine spending Christmas in Germany, New Year’s in Ireland, and your birthday en route from Austria to Italy all in the same year. This dream trip is two AU alumnae’s reality as they travel around the world for their “American Gap Year.”
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 01/14/2011
Content:

Imagine spending Christmas in Hamburg, Germany; New Year’s in Galway, Ireland; and your birthday on a train from Vienna, Austria, to Rome, Italy, all in the same year. This dream trip is two AU alumnae’s reality as they travel around the world for what they’re calling their “American Gap Year.”

The two 2006 AU grads are former roommates Laura Hockensmith, KSB/BSBA, and Stephanie Vavonese, SPA/BA.

Hockensmith had been working for Houlihan Lokey since the summer after her AU graduation, first as a financial analyst and then as an associate. Vavonese had been working for Accountants International since the fall after her AU graduation, first as an associate staffing consultant and then as a staffing consultant. They had both heard about Europeans and other young adults from other countries who had taken “gap years,” but knew few Americans who had followed suit.

“We were both at the points in our lives and careers where we knew we needed a change,” Hockensmith remarks. “We decided that it was ‘now or never’ to take this trip because of limited commitments at the time.”

As Hockensmith notes on their travel blog, “It’s a lot to give up (job, apartment, settled lifestyle, seeing family and friends regularly), but there is definitely so much to gain. This trip will allow me to visit new countries, experience cultures so different from my own, meet people that I would never meet elsewhere and also take some time for myself and develop new perspectives on who I am and what I want to do.”

The two have traveled to a long list of places in North, Central, and South America, Europe, and the Middle East already, as they’re over halfway through their year. Following stops in Mauritius and South Africa, they will next travel to several destinations in Asia before returning home in July 2011.

If you’re thinking that their trip has been all play and no work, think again. “On the road, every moment is a time to do something new, meet new people, etc.,” Hockensmith notes. “So far during our travels, we’ve met so many amazing people, some of whom we’ve met with again around the world after the initial meeting – inspiring us to change our initial itinerary.”

Hockensmith and Vavonese had several experiences traveling prior to this year-round trip, including several family vacations (both domestic and international), study abroad in France and New Zealand (respectively) while students at AU, and other travels together in the years since they met as students at AU.

Hockensmith and Vavonese met through the AU club crew team during their freshman year at AU and have remained close friends ever since. They remained active with AU, often attending events in the D.C. area. Hockensmith also served on the Young Alumni Chapter Board before beginning her travels and even though she is halfway around the world, has agreed to help serve on her five-year reunion planning committee for the Class of 2006 to be held in Washington, D.C. this October.

If you’re interested in getting involved with your class reunion, please e-mail reunion@american.edu with your name, grad information, and how you’d like to get involved.

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Relations (KSB),Alumni Update,Alumni Weekend,Kogod School of Business,School of Public Affairs
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