newsId: BB118F87-5056-AF26-BEA898B5DB39B443
Title: Principled and Informed
Author: Gregg Sangillo
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Abstract: Mary Cheney talked with students about partisanship, gay rights, and just being herself.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 01/22/2015
Content:

Mary Cheney may seem like a walking contradiction. But the way she presents herself, there's nothing inherently unusual about being an openly gay conservative. At one point during her appearance at American University on Wednesday, January 21, she echoed a statement from British Prime Minister David Cameron: "I don't support gay marriage in spite of being a conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a conservative."

A daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, she's been both a successful businesswoman and political adviser. Despite her high profile family pedigree, she mainly works behind the scenes now. But she has a number of informed opinions, and she shared them with the student audience on Wednesday night.

"From her first campaign job wearing a 'Honk for Cheney' sandwich board when she was eight years old, to her last as director for vice presidential operations for the Bush-Cheney '04 re-election campaign, Mary Cheney has experience at every level of political campaigns," said Kennedy Political Union Director Tyler Bowders.

The discussion, held in the Abramson Family Founders Room at the School of International Service, was hosted by the student-run Kennedy Political Union. Co-sponsors included the AU College Republicans, AU Student Government, and Student Activities. It was moderated by School of Public Affairs professor Elizabeth Suhay. Cheney's father spoke at a KPU event last year.

The Fight for Same-Sex Marriage

Cheney addressed marriage equality, a personal issue for her. In 2012, she married her longtime partner Heather Poe, and they have two children.

She talked about the sea change in public support for LGBTQ rights. In 2004 "only about a third of Americans said that they supported [marriage] equality," she said. "Fast forward to the present day, and polling consistently shows that a majority of Americans support equality." More than 70 percent of Americans now live in states with same-sex marriage, she added.

"Unfortunately, the Republican Party has not moved quite as quickly as the rest of the country when it comes to embracing the idea of [marriage] equality," she said. Yet more and more Republicans—both elected officials and voters—are endorsing same-sex marriage, Cheney explained.

Cheney touted Pew Research Center numbers showing a majority of younger Republicans now supporting gay marriage. This is "lending a great deal of credence to the argument that the fight over marriage is becoming less of a partisan one and more of a generational one," she said.

Hyper-Partisanship

Cheney remains committed to many conservative principles, such as Second Amendment gun rights and free markets. "For the record, I am a Republican. I am not a Republican with reservations, comfortable with some core convictions but not others. I am not a conflicted conservative," she stated.

Yet she also warned students about intense and growing partisanship, which she blamed on the rise of cable television and the Internet. "In the 1980s, early 90s, most people got their information from the same basic sources: broadcast radio and television and local newspapers," she said.

The new media landscape has created echo chambers, with liberals watching MSNBC and reading Daily Kos and conservatives sticking with Fox News and RedState. "If people are only hearing information from people they agree with, I think that's a problem." These also happen to be the most active voters, she said.

Citing research from Pew, she said a significant number of Democrats and Republicans now think the other party's policies threaten the nation's well-being. "At that point, the other party isn't the opposition. At that point, the other party is the enemy."

Probing Deeper

During a Q&A, Suhay asked Cheney if she's had success changing minds within her party on LGBTQ equality. "The best success I had was just being me," Cheney said. Many Republicans she encountered in the early 2000s had little familiarity with openly gay people. "A lot of times I was the first one they'd ever met."

Cheney showed her steely resolve in a humorous but revealing moment. "I want to talk about feelings. See if I can get you to cry," Suhay said in jest. "I'm a Cheney, do you really think you can?" she quipped. Suhay then questioned how Cheney felt when confronted with anti-gay sentiment in certain GOP circles. "Don't let the bastards win," she responded.

Suhay also probed deeper into Cheney's political ideology. "There are certain libertarian leanings, but I'm not in favor of legalization of marijuana. I'm extremely pro-life. I do believe that there are times when we should engage in foreign conflict," Cheney elaborated. "I do believe that there are times—this is not conservative or libertarian—when the government needs to help those who cannot necessarily help themselves."

Students engaged with Cheney on issues such as campaign finance reform and the recent CIA torture report. In an interview after the event, freshman Andrew Valcarcel said he was "blown away by her intelligence and her people skills." Valcarcel, who describes himself as a Democrat, enjoyed hearing another viewpoint. "I want to hear both sides. I don't just want to hear similar positions to mine all the time."

From a student question on Twitter, Cheney was asked to name a political figure she admired on the other side of the aisle. "In terms of sheer political skill, the best person of either party I've seen, ever, is Bill Clinton. I think he lacks a moral compass, but man, he's a good politician." Based on values and policy ideas, she named former Sen. Joe Lieberman (a Democrat-turned-independent).

A student in the audience asked how long it might take before the GOP nominates a presidential candidate who champions marriage equality. "I think it depends on who wins in 2016. I think it could be as soon as 2020. I would be shocked if it's not before 2028."

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Title: SPA Faculty Earn University Research Grants
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Abstract: Four SPA faculty members received Faculty Research Support Grants from the Office of the Provost at American University.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 01/22/2015
Content:

Four faculty members from the School of Public Affairs recently received Faculty Research Support Grants from the Office of the Provost at American University.

Richard Bennett, chair of the Department of Justice, Law & Criminology, earned support for his study on “Retiring from Active Duty: A Pilot Study on How Police Officers Cope with the Transition.” Ryan Moore, assistant professor of government, will investigate “Geolocated Surveys for Contextual Effects.” Jane Palmer, director of the Community-Based Research Scholars program, will research “Civil Legal Needs of Victims of Sexual Assault.” Lastly, Lynn Addington, associate professor of justice, law & criminology, received funding for her group project titled “D.C. Area Survey Pilot Study.” Addington will work with Michael Bader, CAS, Maria De Jesus, SIS, Sonya Grier, KSB, Robin Lumsdaine, KSB, and Nina Yamanis, SIS.

The Office of the Provost provides competitive intramural research grants to support faculty research, scholarship, professional, and creative activities. This support mechanism provides support for time and direct costs to increase research productivity. Research is defined as creative works, experimental investigations, professional projects, archival studies, and other scholarly endeavors that advance knowledge in the applicant’s discipline, field, or profession.

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Title: New SPA Group Builds Connections at Annual Minority Brunch
Author: Anders T. Rosén
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Abstract: Recently started student organization, BRIDGE, builds new connections at the School of Public Affairs' Annual Minority Recruitment Brunch
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 01/13/2015
Content:

Students, faculty, and staff at the School of Public Affairs (SPA) continually dedicate their time to provide our community with access to Washington, D.C.’s innumerable opportunities—from internships and lectures, to networking and service activities.

In fall 2014, a group of students led by Master of Public Administration candidates Arie Giles and Crystal Dully developed BRIDGE, a new organization specifically targeted to improve community engagement among SPA students.

Short for Building Relationships while Improving Diverse Graduate Experiences, BRIDGE is on a mission to “Bridge the Gap” between current graduate students at American University, alumni, professional organizations, and the community. It is a multicultural student organization that engages students across the Washington, DC area, hosting social events, connecting students with alumni of similar interests, and being the catalyst for social opportunities across the graduate community.

BRIDGE took its own opportunity to address the School of Public Affairs’ prospective minority students at the Annual Minority Recruitment Brunch. Giles (who also serves as president of BRIDGE) and Dully spoke about their organization’s intent to bring together diverse graduate students at AU for academic, professional, and social development and community engagement. The Minority Recruitment Brunch, which is held on the first weekend every December, is SPA’s only school-wide event, inviting faculty, students and staff from every program and department. For BRIDGE, the brunch was the first step toward its mission to bridge the gap.

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Title: #SPA80for80: Gwen Sykes, SPA/MPA ’01
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Abstract: As CFO of the U.S. Secret Service, Gwendolyn Sykes brings to SPA students several years of experience managing financial operations for federal agencies.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 01/08/2015
Content:

Gwendolyn Sykes brings to SPA students several years of experience managing financial operations for federal agencies.

Sykes currently serves as chief financial officer of the United States Secret Service, where she is responsible for the execution, development and stewardship of the Secret Service’s resources. She currently manages a financial team that includes budget, financial management, relocation, and financial systems experts.

Sykes began working with the Secret Service in May 2012, bringing with her a wealth of financial management skills and talent for organizational transformation and enhancement.

Sykes is the first African-American female to serve as CFO at NASA, a $16-billion agency. At NASA, Sykes led more than 500 finance professionals, located across ten geographically dispersed locations throughout the United States, in the development and execution of financial policies, processes and procedures.

She has also served as Yale University’s chief financial officer, the first in that university’s 306-year history, and chief financial officer for Morehouse College.

Her government career began three decades ago with experience in the Department of Defense and the Congressional offices of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens.

She holds a BA in accounting from Catholic University and an MPA from American University. She has been recognized for her achievements by Black Enterprise, Newsweek, the Today Show, and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.

#MySPAHistory

“The School of Public Affairs provides a fantastic opportunity to build your personal leadership tool kit in order to foster a more responsive and dynamic organizational culture that will thrive in these challenging times.”

Tags: School of Public Affairs,Public Administration & Policy,Alumni,Key Executive Leadership Program
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Title: Adjunct Faculty Help Bridge Academia and Public Arena
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Abstract: SPA’s adjuncts bring a special advantage to the school, Dean Romzek explained during a recent breakfast for adjunct faculty.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 01/08/2015
Content:

Dean Barbara Romzek hosted a breakfast on January 7th for SPA Adjunct Faculty. SPA’s adjuncts bring a special advantage to the school – as top experts in their respective fields with years of experience in the “trenches,” adjuncts give AU students a true advantage as they prepare to enter the workforce.

During breakfast, the adjuncts discussed ways in which they might help cultivate strategic partnerships between SPA and policy organizations, think tanks, and non-profits.

“We are focused on broadening our reach in academia and the public arena,” said Dean Romzek. “And our adjuncts can serve as a bridge to help further connect both worlds.”

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Title: The Key Executive Leadership Program announces new diversity initiatives
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Abstract: Recently, the Key Executive Leadership Program announced the formation of a Diversity Advisory Council to foster a diverse, collaborative, and rigorous learning environment.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 01/08/2015
Content:

The Key Executive Leadership Program recently announced the formation of a Key Diversity Advisory Council, which through focused initiatives will seek to provide a supportive and inclusive environment for staff, faculty, coaches, students, alumni, and stakeholders regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, personal appearance, gender identity and expression, family responsibilities, political affiliation, source of income, or veteran status.

Serving on the front lines of public policy and program implementation, public sector leaders are responsible for the impact of executing policy and programs to a diverse citizenry, including traditionally underrepresented groups. This makes sensitivity to, and relentless pursuit of, diverse and inclusive environments a top priority.

“I am excited about the opportunity to serve on the Key Diversity Advisory Council. Based upon the dynamic policy issues facing our nation, it is critically important that we develop government leaders who are equipped to examine and engage various perspectives from an increasingly diverse workforce and citizenry,” Key Diversity Advisory Councilmember Troy Williams shared. “Furthermore, the interests of the government are best served when its leadership is inclusive and reflects diversity in its composition. I look forward to contributing towards the Council's efforts to advance its stated objectives."

Working with the Director, the three person council will focus on three major areas: 

  1. Outreach - to include events, speakers, and articles on demographics in the public sector
  2. Integration – to include curricula, content, and maximizing the power of the cohort approach.
  3. Evaluation – to include measurement of the climate in our program evaluation tools.
Initial activities suggested by the committee include:
  • Utilizing recruitment efforts that draw from a diverse array of students, faculty, and staff.
  • Offering opportunities for additional training to faculty and staff on topics related to diversity and inclusion to increase their level of cultural competency.
  • Encouraging faculty to include diverse perspectives on material taught/discussed in the classroom.
  • Reviewing curricula each year for opportunities to integrate topics on diversity and inclusion.
  • Including topics related to diversity and inclusion in program offerings outside of the MPA (i.e. Speaker’s Series, Key Leadership Conference, Leadership Forums, Guest Speakers).
  • Building a Key culture that does not tolerate cultural, gender, racial, and ethnic stereotypes and strives to promote cross-cultural understanding among staff, faculty, coaches, and students.

"It is great to be part of a Council that continues to grow the Key Executive [Leadership] Program with diverse leaders to meet the emerging challenges of our future," shared Diversity Advisory Councilmember Gwendolyn Sykes, adjunct professor and alumna of the Key Executive Leadership Master of Public Administration. 

To read the full statement, please visit the Key Diversity Advisory Council Statement.

Tags: Key Executive Leadership Program,School of Public Affairs,Leadership
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Title: #SPA80for80: Fred Turner, SPA/BA ’93 and MA ’95
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Abstract: Fred Turner serves as Senator Menendez's top policy advisor and has oversight of the senator’s offices in Washington and New Jersey.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 01/06/2015
Content:

Fred Turner was drawn to American University’s School of Public Affairs for its excellent reputation and Washington, DC, location. After earning his BA and MA in 5 years, he knew that Washington was the place for him.

Turner landed his first job on Capitol Hill just a few months after finishing grad school. Twenty years later, he serves as chief of staff to U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, New Jersey’s senior senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. As chief of staff, Fred serves as the senator’s top policy advisor and has oversight of the senator’s offices in Washington and New Jersey.

“Over the past 20 years,” Turner explains, “I’ve had a series of positions each of which has led to the next.” 

He joined Senator Menendez after serving as chief of staff at the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Jointly appointed to that position by Senator Ben Cardin and Congressman Alcee Hastings, Turner served at the Commission for seven years. While there, he advised commissioners on foreign policy matters; shaped policy approaches for commission hearings, and organized and participated in more than two dozen Congressional delegations abroad.

Prior to that, Turner served for more than 12 years on the staff of Congressman Hastings, the last seven as chief of staff, and as legislative director for Congresswoman Karen McCarthy. He also served as an associate staff member of the U.S. House of Representatives Rules Committee, Democratic staff director of the Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, and Democratic staff director of the U.S. House of Representatives International Relations Subcommittee on Europe.

Turner graduated with honors from SPA, where he earned his BA and MA in political science. Turner has also returned to AU in recent years as an adjunct professor of government at SPA.

#MySPAHistory

“My time at AU was transformative in many respects. Not only were my fellow classmates as interested in the world as I was, but we were being taught by some of the brightest academic minds in the country – those professors who were not full-time academics were leading practitioners in their field. To this day, I still maintain relationships from my time at AU that benefit me both personally and professionally.”

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Title: #SPA80for80: Professor Ryan Moore
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Abstract: Ryan Moore’s expertise in statistical methods mixed with his knowledge of politics of social policies helps him explain the changing dynamics of governance.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 01/06/2015
Content:

Ryan Moore’s expertise in statistical methods mixed with his knowledge of politics of social policies helps him explain the changing dynamics of governance in the 21st century.

“Cutting-edge methods and data collection techniques are revolutionizing politics and policy—in academics, governance, and where they intersect,” said Moore.

By continually combining quantitative with qualitative research, Moore’s scholarship innately goes beyond the page. Methodologically, he has developed and implemented methods for political experiments, ecological data, missing data, and causal inference. He has built and developed software packages that are available for other researchers to use on his website, ryantmoore.com.

Moore joined SPA’s Department of Government as an assistant professor this fall. 

Previously, Moore served as an assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis. From 2010 to 2012, he was in residence as a Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of California, Berkeley as a Robert Wood Johnson Fellow.

He is the author or co-author of 12 refereed journal articles and four invited contributions. Recent publications include “Blocking for Sequential Political Experiments,” in Political Analysis; “Overcoming Barriers to Heterogeneous-Group Learning in the Political Science Classroom,” published in PS: Political Science & Politics; and “Driving Support: Workers, PACs, and Congressional Support of the Auto Industry,” published in Business and Politics.

Moore received his PhD in government and social policy and AM in statistics from Harvard University, and his BA in political science and mathematics from Yale University.

#MySPAHistory

“SPA has been an exciting, vibrant place to be -- a place that supports ambitious, state-of-the-art research and that values undergraduate and graduate teaching.”

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Title: #SPA80for80: Gina Adams, SPA/BA ’80
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Abstract: After joining the FedEx Corporation in 1992, Gina Adams is now the Senior Vice President for Government Affairs, the top lobbying position for the international corporation
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 01/05/2015
Content:

Gina F. Adams has been a lobbyist, a federal liaison, and an information resource for Congress.

As senior vice president for government affairs at FedEx Corporation, Adams is responsible for shaping and promoting the interests of all FedEx Corporation operating companies, including FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight, and FedEx Services in the political and policy arenas.  

As a lawyer and the company’s top lobbyist, she works with administration officials, members of Congress, the diplomatic community, and industry associations on domestic and international commerce and transportation issues. Adams also oversees one of the largest corporate PACs in the United States for her company, which serves more than 220 countries and territories and relies on 300,000 team members worldwide to make more than 9 million shipments each business day.

Adams joined the FedEx Corporation in 1992, and has since held a number of important positions – managing attorney of the International Regulatory Affairs Office, staff director, and staff vice president for International Regulatory Affairs. In 2001 she was promoted to senior vice president for Government Affairs, and she is a two-time recipient of the FedEx Five Star Award, the highest employee achievement award at FedEx.

After receiving an LLM degree in international and comparative law from Georgetown University Law Center, her law degree from Howard University School of Law and a bachelor of science degree from American University, Adams began her career as a lawyer in the Attorney Honors Program at the U.S. Department of Transportation and spent nine years in the Office of the General Counsel. While at DOT, she was selected as a Department of Transportation Fellow and later served on the Advisory Committee for the DOT Fellows Program. She has since taught at George Washington and served on the Governing Committee of the American Bar Association's Forum on Air and Space Law.

Adams is extremely active in the Washington, D.C., area and continually supports numerous projects and events that target education, health, our youth and the arts. She sits on a number of boards including American University, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Town Hall Education Arts & Recreational Campus (THEARC), National Museum of Women in the Arts, Fight For Children, the Global Virus Network, and the DC Public Education Fund. Past board memberships include the Council for Excellence in Government, the American Red Cross, the Meridian International Center, the Beauvoir School (National Cathedral's Elementary School), the Washington Performing Arts Society and the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, including a stint as Chair in 2010. 

She has also been honored by many organizations and has been featured in local and national publications for her ongoing commitment to her community. These recognitions include the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, Jack and Jill, Inc. (current president of the DC Chapter), Girls Inc., a 140-year old philanthropic organization that promotes education and opportunities for young women of all socio-economic backgrounds, the National Women of Color and the Black Women's Agenda, the Minority Enterprise Executive Council, and the Network Journal.

#MySPAHistory

“The curriculum offered at the School of Public Affairs was a wonderful foundation for the varied things I've been able to do in my career as a lawyer, a government official and now a corporate executive.”

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Title: #SPA80for80: Phil Mendelson, SPA/BA ’81
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Abstract: 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.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 01/05/2015
Content:

Phil Mendelson was raised in a family where public service is a core value. His mother was a national crusader for nursing home reform during the 1960s-1980s, and his grandmother was appointed to the Federal Office of Price Administration by President Roosevelt. From those roots, Mendelson has built a legacy of public service leading up to his current position as chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia (DC Council).

Mendelson’s participation in politics began in 1975, the year after he left SGPA (now SPA). As a member of the McLean Gardens Residents Association, Mendelson battled against efforts to destroy the housing complex. He won his first elected office in 1979, serving on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC), an office he would lead as commissioner before joining the DC Council.

Elected as an at-large councilmember in 1998, Mendelson engaged in oversight of the District’s public safety agencies, as well as legislation impacting criminal laws in DC. In 2012, he was elected overwhelmingly to the chairmanship of the DC Council.

"What I like about being on the Council, and as chair of the Council," he said, "is the ability to not only work on important policy issues, but also the day-to-day interaction with citizens. Many times I’m able to help somebody, and it’s very gratifying and rewarding."

The DC Council has witnessed the approval of a wealth of significant bills under Mendelson’s leadership. Among the bills were reform of, and updates to, the District’s gun laws; marriage equality; medical marijuana legislation; the establishment of an elected Attorney General; an overhaul of DC’s drunk driving laws and a significant increase to the minimum wage. He has imbued throughout his leadership a philosophy that Washington, DC, as the nation’s capital, should be a model of service delivery–in public education, public safety, and public health.

"A lot of folks ask me why I think DC is the greatest city in the world and there are a number of reasons I can give," Mendelson advances, praising the diversity, economic vitality, and social vibrancy of the city he publicly serves. "It’s a great place to live, work, and play."

#MySPAHistory

"Although I was scheduled to graduate in 1974 with a BA in political science, I actually had to take longer because I spent too much of my time active in the Student Government. I ran for Student Association Comptroller, and lost, then became active with what was then called the Inter Club Council. There were many lessons learned then, that are still useful to me today."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Title: Alumni Board Member Joe Vidulich is Always an Eagle
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
Subtitle:
Abstract: Few alumni embody the phrase “Once an Eagle, Always an Eagle” as well as Joe Vidulich, SPA/BA ’08.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 04/07/2014
Content:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Title: Turning Leadership and Mentorship Into Success
Author: Alexis Pazmiño, SPA/BA ’11
Subtitle:
Abstract: Marc Bender, SPA/BA ’97, is the chief investment officer at Cantor Fitzgerald Asset Management. During his time at American University, he was not only a student athlete but also a member of the SPA Leadership Program.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 08/12/2013
Content:

Marc Bender, SPA/BA ’97, attributes his success to his experiences as a student athlete and the SPA Leadership program. He is currently the Chief Investment Officer at Cantor Fitzgerald Asset Management, a global financial services firm in New York City.

Looking back at his tenure at AU, Bender considers himself fortunate to have participated in the SPA Leadership Program. “Richard Levick was our director and taught us a great deal about a wide range of areas, including everything from how to speak and articulate yourself in public to how to act around political dignitaries,” Bender says.

Recently, Bender met Margaret Marr, the current SPA leadership director, when he spoke to a group of current students and recent alumni. Bender regards Marr as a terrific leader who provides invaluable opportunities to her students. The SPA Leadership Program allows students to learn real-life leadership skills to pave the way for future success. “The wide reach of skills and walks of life touched by this program in a practical way is second to none in the life lessons you can learn at a young age,” Bender says proudly.

Bender was also a noted student athlete for all four years of his time at AU. During his time on the golf team, he competed against some of today’s best PGA Tour players, including John Rollins. Wade Heinzelman, Bender’s coach, proved inspirational to the young player. Bender recalls, “[Heinzelman] taught us a ton about everything from golf course management to custom golf equipment to having the right disposition on the course and how to focus on specific targets (both on and off the golf course).”

Bender balanced his responsibilities as a student-athlete while enjoying the classroom environment and social aspects of AU. He interned at the Public Defender’s Office where he had an eye-opening experience as he visited clients in all areas of D.C., including local jails.

Bender earned his J.D. from New York Law School immediately after earning his B.A. in Law and Society from AU. From there, he partnered with Donald Erenberg and Michael Friedman at First New York Securities, undertaking a management role in a prospering company.

Currently, Marc Bender is chief investment officer at Cantor Fitzgerald Asset Management. A large part of his role at Cantor Fitzgerald is finding undiscovered investment talent. He says of his work, “I get to constantly learn and enjoy the challenge of not looking at opportunities through rose colored glasses but actually understanding the risk/reward profile of each opportunity.” The position allows him to define truly valuable people and investments that are not only competent but also differentiated. Enjoying his challenging position, Bender notes that “[w]ithstanding the test of time requires hitting singles and doubles, with an occasional triple or home run - but the manager seeking grand slams often suffers big losses or goes out of business.”

Continuing with the sports metaphors (ever the AU athlete), Marc Bender has hit a home run as a leader in his own right.

A native of Great Neck, New York, Bender lives with his wife Rachel and their children in the New York metro area.

 

 

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Title: Alumna and Trustee Margery Kraus honored by Association of Former Members of Congress
Author: Traci Crockett
Subtitle:
Abstract: Kraus, founder and CEO of APCO Worldwide, received the FMC's “Corporate Statesmanship Award.”
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 05/06/2013
Content:

Alumna and trustee, Margery Kraus, SPA/BA ’67, SPA/MA ’71, was recently honored with the “Corporate Statesmanship Award” from the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress (FMC) in recognition of her leadership in the philanthropic community. Kraus, founder and CEO of APCO Worldwide, was recognized at FMC’s 16th Annual Statesmanship Award Dinner.

Kraus says that fellow AU alumna and former Congresswoman Connie Morella, CAS/MA ’67, gave her the news that she would receive the award, “and that was as exciting to me as getting the award.” She says the event was a great reunion for her with many members of Congress whom she had known since they were freshmen on the Hill. “This was especially meaningful because it wasn’t just a group giving me an award. These were people I knew,” she says. “Having people rooting for you and on your side is a very special feeling.”

APCO Worldwide is an independent, global communication, stakeholder engagement, and business strategy firm with more than 600 experts in 30 offices around the globe. Calling her one of AU’s most successful alumni, Dist