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#SPA80for80 Profiles

The School of Public Affairs had 80 students in its first class in 1934. To celebrate, we profiled 80 SPA alumni, students, and faculty.

Gwen Sykes, SPA/MPA ’01

Gwen Sykes

As CFO of the U.S. Secret Service, Gwendolyn Sykes brings to SPA students years of experience managing financial operations for federal agencies. Read more »

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, SPA/PhD ’95

Tim Huelskamp

Congressman Tim Huelskamp came to AU’s School of Public Affairs with a scholarship, and four years later, left with a Ph.D. in Political Science. Read more »

Mayor Muriel Bowser,

Muriel Bowser

On November 4, 2014, SPA graduate Muriel Bowser was elected as the seventh, and only second female, mayor of the District of Columbia. Read more »

Phil Mendelson,
SPA/BA ’81

Phil Mendelson

Phil Mendelson has built a legacy of public service leading up to his current position as chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia. Read more »

Fred Turner, SPA/BA ’93 and MA ’95

Fred Turner

Fred Turner serves as Senator Menendez's top policy advisor and has oversight of the senator’s offices in Washington and New Jersey.
Read more »

Professor Ryan Moore

Ryan Moore

Ryan Moore’s expertise in statistical methods mixed with his knowledge of politics of social policies helps him explain the changing dynamics of governance. Read more »

Patrick Kelly,
SPA/BA ’15

Patrick Kelly

As a senior in the School of Public Affairs, Patrick Kelly has taken advantage of much that AU and Washington, DC have to offer for students. Read more »

Gina F. Adams, SPA/BA ’80

Gina F. Adams

After joining FedEx in 1992, Gina Adams is now the senior vice president for government affairs, the top lobbying position for the international corporation. Read more »

Michael Galano,
SPA/BA ’94

Michael Galano

Michael Galano, a partner at the international law firm Holland & Knight LLP, designs and implements complex federal government affairs strategies. Read more »

Mark Sylvia,
SPA/BA ’96 & SPA/MPA ’98

Mark Sylvia

Massachusetts has been at the forefront of the clean energy revolution. Directly involved in the state’s progressive movement is School of Public Affairs alumnus Mark Sylvia. Read more »

Andy MacCracken,
SPA/BA ’11 & SPA/MPA ’14

Andy MacCracken

When President Barack Obama decided to move forward on executive actions to support federal student loan borrowers, he reached out to SPA alumnus Andy MacCracken. Read more »

Amb. Kenneth Merten,

Kenneth Merten

Ambassador Kenneth Merten was inspired for a career in diplomacy by a strong interest in the world beyond our borders. Read more »

Bill Davies,

Taryn Morrissey

Bill Davies brings a European perspective to the School of Public Affairs and the examination of the practice of justice, law, and criminology. Read more »

Emily Beyer,
SPA/BA ’11

Emily Beyer

As the deputy press secretary for Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Emily Beyer has learned how to react quickly in Washington. Read more »

Sophia Wirth,
SPA/BA ’15

Sophia Wirth

As AU’s student government president, Sophia Wirth has collaborated with leaders from the university to the White House on issues facing college students nationwide. Read more »

Brianne Nadeau,

Brianne Nadeau

Brianne Nadeau brings to DC's Ward 1 Council a commitment to community activism and expertise in communications and advocacy. Read more »

Lauren E. Beck,
SPA/BA ’94

Lauren E. Beck

After visiting DC at the age of 13, Lauren Beck knew she wanted to attend college in the nation’s capital. She attended SPA and now represents Kellogg Company to Congress. Read more »

Congressman Jim McGovern,
CAS/BA ’81 & SPA/MPA ’84

Jim McGovern

Congressman Jim McGovern (D - MA) got his introduction to politics while at SPA. Today he is a champion for progressive causes in the U.S. House of Representatives. Read more »

Joe Vidulich,
SPA/BA ’08

Joe Vidulich

A 2008 graduate of the School of Public Affairs, Joe Vidulich maintains strong ties to the AU community as an advocate for alumni and students alike through the Alumni Board. Read more »

Vivian Santora,

Vivian Santora

Vivian Santora built a career as fundraising professional and today serves as chief development officer at Women’s World Banking. Read more »

Terry Szuplat,
SPA/BA ’95

Terry Szuplat

Communication is key for Terry Szuplat, the senior director for speechwriting in President Obama's National Security Council. Read more »

Valerie Merahn Simon,
SPA/BA ’94

Valerie Merahn Simon

CLEG major and participant in the inaugural SPA Dean's Leadership program, Valerie Merahn Simon was exposed to career options at SPA that she had never considered before. Read more »

Dr. John Boyer,
SPA/PhD ’89

Dr. John Boyer

After nearly 40 years of experience in healthcare, in both public and private sectors, Dr. John Boyer continues to look fondly on his experiences at SPA. Read more »

Eric Eikenberg,
SPA/BA ’98

Eric Eikenberg

As chief executive officer of the Everglades Foundation, Eric Eikenberg fights with a fervor often reserved for lobbyists and political operatives. Read more »

Mike Panetta,
SPA/BA ’93 & SPA/MA ’94

Mike Panetta

Mike Panetta is an award-winning public affairs campaign strategist who specializes in using digital and social media for creative issue advocacy and grassroots activism. Read more »

Julian Bond,

Julian Bond

Julian Bond brings to SPA a proud history as a leader in the civil rights movement, a voice for social activism, and a facilitator of peace movements all across the country. Read more »

Taryn Morrissey,

Taryn Morrissey

Taryn Morrissey, assistant professor at the School of Public Affairs, works to examine and improve public policies for vulnerable children. Read more »

Ki'tay Davidson,
SPA/BA ’13

Kitay Davidson

Ki’tay Davidson was a champion for disability rights – a passion that was honored at the White House the summer before his senior year at AU’s School of Public Affairs. Read more »

Loren Duggan,
SPA/BA ’00

Loren Duggan

Throughout his career, Loren Duggan has learned from mentors – and then trained a new generation of reporters and analysts – to help demystify the legislative process. Read more »

Elizabeth Suhay,

Liz Suhay

An expert in American politics, Professor Suhay brings to her scholarship a unique curiosity about the formation of political opinions. Read more »

Carlos Vera,
SPA/BA ’15 & SPA/MPA ’16

Carlos Vera

The first member of his family to attend college, Carlos Vera has spent his time at SPA seizing every opportunity that has come his way, and looks forward to the chance to give back. Read more »

Dave Simnick, SPA/BA ’09 and Daniel Doll,
SPA/BA ’08

Dave Simnick, SPA/BA 09 and Daniel Doll, SPA/BA 08

Dave Simnick and Daniel Doll believe the best policy for sustainable global development is soap and water, which they support through their company, SoapBox Soaps. Read more »

Brian Keane,
SPA/BA ’89

Brian Keane

Brian F. Keane, former president of American University’s Alumni Association, is on a mission to promote clean, renewable energy sources through his business, SmartPower. Read more »

Thomas Zeitzoff,

Thomas Zeitzoff

Thomas Zeitzoff’s studies have taken him to some of the world’s most entrenched conflicts, including Israel, Mexico, and Turkey. Read more »

Anna Greenberg,
Research Fellow

Anna Greenberg

What can social media and polling tell us about potential voter turnout and election results? Few people know better than Anna Greenberg. Read more »

Howard McCurdy,

Howard McCurdy

In his forty-plus year history at SPA, Professor Howard McCurdy has covered it all, but perhaps most interesting has been his focus on space policy. Read more »

Davonta Ellis,
SPA/BA ’14

Davonta Ellis

Graduating in December, Davonta Ellis has worked closely with SPA faculty to examine the effects of extra-legal factors upon sentencing outcomes. Read more »

Matthew Pittinsky,
SPA/BA ’94

Matthew Pittinsky

Matthew Pittinsky has combined his experiences in technology, policy, and education to lead two successful education-related technology firms in his career. Read more »

Chris Edelson,

Chris Edelson

When it comes to emergency presidential power and the war on terror, Professor Chris Edelson literally wrote the book. Read more »

Audra Dial
SPA/BA ’94

Audra Dial

Audra Dial, one of Atlanta’s top lawyers, credits the School of Public Affairs with honing her interests in the foundations of the court system. Read more »

Bill LeoGrande,

Bill LeoGrande

Former dean Bill LeoGrande recently completed a book on U.S. relations with Cuba titled Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and HavanaRead more »

Robert Durant,

Robert Durant

In an era of bureaucrat bashing, Professor Bob Durant has challenged students, scholars, and policymakers to see the nobility of a career as a public manager. Read more »

Jennifer Fernandez,

Jennifer Fernandez

2014 Reilly Scholar Jennifer Fernandez paired an early focus on housing issues with a new passion in pursuing environmental policy after joining SPA's MPP program. Read more »

Erdal Tekin,

Erdal Tekin

Erdal Tekin, who studies questions of immediate policy relevance on health and risk behaviors, joined the School of Public Affairs in August 2014 to be in the epicenter of policy decision-making. Read more »

Betsy Fischer Martin,
SPA/BA ’92

Betsy Fischer Martin

After taking advantage of AU's exceptional internship program, Martin went on to a long, successful career with NBC, eventually leading "Meet the Press" as executive producer. Read more »

Lynn Addington,

Lynn Addington

Lynn Addington is now one of the nation’s foremost experts in crime measurement and is working with federal agencies to improve two primary sources of crime data. Read more »

Stephen Bronskill,
SPA/BA ’13

Lynn Addington

Stephen Bronskill joined Teach for America to better understand how the policies he learned about during his time at SPA actually affect people. Read more »

Adam Rosenblatt,
SPA/BA ’06 & SPA/MA ’07

Lynn Addington

Adam Rosenblatt uses lessons from SPA to understand the value of data-driven decision making in today’s political and corporate arenas. Read more »

Richard Bennett,

Richard Bennett

Students, faculty, and academicians alike highly regard SPA Professor Richard Bennett’s scholarship in criminal justice and criminology. Read more »

James Thurber,
Director of CCPS

James Thurber

Since joining SPA in 1974, James Thurber's impact on governmental research has been profound and far-reaching. Read more »

Dante Chinni,
American Communities Project

Dante Chinni

Dante Chinni's research and analysis through the American Communities Project is providing key data for NBC's "Meet the Press" and other publications. Read more »

Hassan M. Aden,

Hassan Aden

Hassan Aden, chief of police in Greenville, NC, has served police departments for nearly 30 years and has used his "SPA experience every day." Read more »

Connie Morella,
SPA/MA ’67

Connie Morella

Connie Morella was driven to public service by the struggle for equal rights, and she served Maryland's 8th district in the U.S. Congress for 16 years. Read more »

David Rosenbloom,

David Rosenbloom

Public affairs programs around the world look to Professor David Rosenbloom's scholarship as a core facet in the study of public administration and policy. Read more »

Chip Griffin,
SPA/BA ’94

Chip Griffin

President of the AU Alumni Board, Chip Griffin is a dedicated AU alumni and successful entrepreneur after founding more than a half dozen companies. Read more »

Anita McBride,

Anita McBride

Anita McBride applies her experience working with three U.S. presidential administrations. Read more »

Morgan Walton, SPA/MS ’14 and Professor Jane Palmer, SPA/PhD ’13

Morgan Walton and Professor Jane Palmer

Morgan Walton and Jane Palmer worked together on an article documenting the national legal support frameworks for sexual assault victims. Read more »

Pablo Sanabria,
SPA/PhD ’12

Pablo Sanabria

Sanabria's path of public service has him educating Colombia's future leaders and continuing on a mission to modernize Colombia's public sector workforce. Read more »

Erin Fuller, SPA/BA ’93 and SPA/MPA ’94

Erin Fuller

Erin Fuller, FASAE, MPA, CAE, is a leader in nonprofit management, and credits her experiences at AU's School of Public Affairs with preparing her. Read more »

Duilio Correa,

Erin Fuller

Duilio Correa, a native of Peru, has never let his physical limitations hold him back -- in the classroom or on the job. Read more »

Keith Thirion,
SPA/BA ’08

Keith Thirion

Leading the cause to prohibit transgender discrimination, Thirion blends academics and action selflessly as an SPA alumnus. Read more »

Jessica Waters,

Jessica Waters

An enthusiastic member of the SPA community, Waters envisions a new model of 21st century education, and constantly seeks to improve the student experience. Read more »

Allison Bawden,

Allison Bawden

For 10 years Bawden has served at the GAO, where she focuses on important national security issues, specifically nuclear security and cleanup. Read more »

Jonelle Williams,
SPA/BA ’09

Jonelle Williams

When FDR founded SPA, he envisioned great opportunities for future students. Jonelle Williams epitomizes those ideals. Read more »

Zachary Rybarczyk,

Zachary Rybarczyk

Zachary Rybarczyk believes his Boren Fellowship in Morocco will teach him “the successes and challenges of providing urban and rural populations with clean water and adequate sanitation.” Read more »

Jodi McCarthy,

Jodi McCarthy

Director of the FAA's Air Traffic Control Facilities Directorate, Jodi McCarthy is using her experiences from SPA to lead a number of high profile government projects. Read more »

Tricia Bacon,

Tricia Bacon

Tricia Bacon brings 11 years of counterterrorism experience at the State Department and her award-winning research on terrorist-group alliances to American University's classrooms. Read more »

Derek Hyra,
Director, Metropolitan Policy Center

Derek Hyra

Playing basketball in Harlem during the 1980's, Derek Hyra witnessed the problems of inner-city development. Now director of SPA's Metropolitan Policy Center, Hyra's experiences translated into public policy initiatives. Read more »

Deon Jones
SPA/BA ’14

Deon Jones

Deon Jones has represented the spirit of service and commitment to young people since his first days at the School of Public Affairs.
Read more »

Marguerite Jimenez, SPA/PhD ’13

Marguerite Jimenez

Marguerite Jimenez, recently named one of 15 White House Fellows for 2014-2015, says she joined SPA "because of the school's historic commitment to public scholarship," and it was "among the best decisions I've ever made." Read more »

Jennifer Lawless, Director, Women & Politics Institute

Jennifer Lawless

Jennifer Lawless has a fundamental question that drives her research at the School of Public Affairs: Why are there so few women in positions of political power? Read more »

Yuval Levin,
SPA/BA ’99

Yuval Levin

Yuval Levin, founder of National Affairs journal, is an accomplished political thinker and prolific writer who found his niche in Washington, DC during his undergrad studies at American University's School of Public Affairs. Read more »

Matthew Waskiewicz, SPA/BA, CAS/BS ’16

Matthew Waskiewicz

A double-major between SPA and CAS, Matthew hopes to use his education and experience, including a Fulbright scholarship to study governance in Wales, to affect policy change in his home state of Massachusetts. Read more »

Sarah McBride,
SPA/BA ’13

Sarah McBride

From being the first openly transgender woman to working 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. Read more »

Vicky Wilkins,
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Vicky Wilkins

When it comes to academic work, Vicky Wilkins covers all the bases. When she joined SPA in July, SPA Dean Barbara Romzek noted Wilkins as "an experienced administrator, accomplished teacher and nationally recognized scholar." Read more »