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Title: Luxembourg Forum Featuring Prominent Judges from the United States and the European Union
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Abstract: American University’s School of Public Affairs and Washington College of Law cohosted the Academic Conference of the 2017 Luxembourg Forum on April 21.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/21/2017
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American University’s School of Public Affairs and Washington College of Law cohosted the Academic Conference of the 2017 Luxembourg Forum on April 21. The Luxembourg Forum is a legal exchange between the U.S. Supreme Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union. The goal is to facilitate dialogue and enhance mutual understanding between the U.S. and EU judicial systems.

SPA Dean Barbara Romzek introduced the “Keynote Conversation” in the afternoon about judges as diplomats in advancing the rule of law. The featured speakers during this session included Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court, and Koen Lenaerts, President, Court of Justice of the European Union.

“We are fortunate in the U.S. and in Europe, that the rule of law is embedded in our way of life,” said Dean Barbara Romzek. “It’s so important, and not just because of the long history of those who fought for it. It’s a powerful anchor for a modern nation in a fast-changing world.”

The program was moderated by SPA Professor Bill Davies and WCL Professor Fernanda G. Nicola.

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Title: High-profile Mass Shooting Incidences Associated with Improved Gun Safety at Home
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Abstract: In the wake of high profile shootings, how do the parents of young children respond with regard to guns in the home?
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 04/20/2017
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In the wake of high profile shootings, how do the parents of young children respond with regard to guns in the home? This is the question that American University School of Public Affairs Associate Professor Taryn Morrissey sought to answer in her recent study published in the journal Preventive Medicine.

Across the US, approximately 20 percent of homes with children have guns, but only two-thirds report always storing them in a locked cabinet, putting family members at greater risk of injury or death from the accidental discharge of guns. Morrissey found that active shooter incidents – a shooting that occurs in a populated, public place – were associated with a subsequent increase in the likelihood that families with young children (2 and 3 years old) stored household firearms in a locked cabinet. The study suggests that public awareness campaigns promoting gun safety may be especially effective at helping to reduce accidental gun discharge in the wake of an active shooter incident.

“Considering the number of young children living in homes with guns, and guns that are not always kept under lock and key, awareness is important,” said Morrissey. “Campaigns focused on the safe storage of firearms may be particularly effective right after an active shooter incident.”

Following several high-profile mass-shooting incidences, parents were as much as 23 percentage points more likely to store household firearms in locked cabinets. She also found that shooting incidents that were closer (within the same state) and more severe (involving one more fatalities) were associated with greater increases in safe gun storage. Media coverage surrounding active shooter incidents may serve as an important safe gun storage reminder to families.

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Title: Service with Compassion: Two AU Students Named Truman Scholars
Author: Gregg Sangillo
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Abstract: Lexi Ivers and Shyheim Snead will get scholarship money for graduate education.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 04/14/2017
Content:

Every year, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation honors a select group of students for their leadership, academic achievement, and commitment to public service. American University recently learned that not one, but two, of its students earned this distinction. Lexi Ivers and Shyheim Snead, both juniors in AU’s School of Public Affairs, are 2017 Truman scholars. As the student awards are designated by state, Ivers is representing her home of Delaware and Snead was selected for his native Connecticut.

“It was [Truman’s] vision to promote young people to enter careers in public service, broadly defined. The criteria are academic excellence, outstanding leadership potential, and the desire to be a change agent,” says Paula Warrick, the director of the AU Office of Merit Awards. “I think these are qualities that AU aspires to see in the members of its student body, because we have such a strong public service ethos.”

Each Truman scholar receives up to $30,000 to use towards graduate study. The students will partake in a week of activities at the Truman presidential library in Independence, Mo., and they’ll also have access to career and graduate school counseling. Next year, they’ll get a summer-long internship opportunity in Washington, D.C.

Warrick effusively praises both Ivers and Snead. “Compassion is a trait they have in common, and a commitment to something beyond themselves,” she says.

Lexi Ivers

When Lexi Ivers got the call about her scholarship, she was in the Ward Circle Building. Elated over the call, she told one of her mentors, associate dean and professor Saul Newman. He hugged her, and Ivers then shared the great news with SPA Senior Associate Dean Vicky Wilkins and SPA Dean Barbara Romzek. “The whole SPA office was so supportive. It was great to be there when I found out,” she recalls.

Lexi Ivers.

Lexi Ivers.

It was an apropos way to celebrate her achievement, as Ivers knows the value of people who care. It all starts with her family.

Born in Philadelphia, Ivers was in foster care until she was two and a half years old. Her parents then adopted her, and she mostly grew up in southwest Philly and the Old City neighborhood. “My parents were the best parents you could ever have. They’re so loving and so supportive,” she says. “I know my life would have been so different had I not been adopted.”

That question—“What if I had stayed in foster care?”—would stick with Ivers throughout her life. And she is now devoting her energy to ensuring that other children find caring families.

During her Philadelphia high school years—her family has since relocated to Wilmington, Delaware—she worked with at-risk children in foster care. While at AU, she started her own organization, Junior Youth Action, D.C., that provides mentorship, professional development, and mental health services for local foster care kids.

“Having stable, loving parents—that’s a privilege, and not everyone has it. Unfortunately, some children were born into really terrible circumstances, and that can set the trajectory for their life. So we try to combat that, and we try to provide a family structure,” she explains.

She’s enlisted other AU students as Junior Youth Action mentors. Since foster children are sadly accustomed to disappointment, Ivers scrupulously chooses mentors who are fully committed to the job.

Ivers is a law and society major with a public administration and policy minor. With her scholarship money, she’s hoping to attend to Harvard Law School—which has a child welfare clinic—and use the law to assist foster children. Again, this decision is partly drawn from personal experience. “Adoption law literally transplanted me from poverty to a really incredible family,” she says.

In her current academic pursuits, she’s working with Douglas Klusmeyer on an independent study on the legal history of the slave trade. Even as she’s currently mentoring young minds, she’s grateful for the tutelage of professors such as Klusmeyer and Newman.

“I’ve had lots of professors who have pushed me beyond just memorizing,” she says. “I’ve really been pushed to think.”

Shyheim Snead

Prior to this announcement, Shyheim Snead already had some impressive achievements at AU. He’s in the prestigious Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars program. As student trustee, he introduced incoming AU President Sylvia Mathews Burwell to the AU community in January.

Shyheim Snead.

Shyheim Snead.

Still, he was shocked about being named a Truman scholar, one of 62 students out of 768 university-nominated candidates. “I felt all the emotions of my family. I thought of being a first-generation college student, and coming from a fairly low-income family. I felt the weight of all that they had sacrificed for me,” he explains. “It was amazing.”

Snead grew up in Bridgeport, Conn. The area has been beset by economic distress, crime, and struggling schools, he notes. “Statistically, I’m not supposed to be sitting here,” he says about discussing his Truman scholarship.

Yet his mother and grandmother stressed the importance of education, and he received guidance from teachers along the way. “I think it was the combination of my faith and my family that really propelled me here,” he says.

Snead arrived on the AU campus in 2014, which turned out to be fortuitous timing. The D.C. mayoral race was underway, and he was inspired by candidate Muriel Bowser’s inclusive message. He volunteered on her campaign, worked on her transition team, and later joined the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services.

He also feels indebted to his fellow students in FDDS. “That program has provided me with the space to bounce ideas off of people, and be challenged, and to challenge myself,” he says.

Snead is a political science major, with a minor in education studies. In a transformative experience, he led an Alternative Break in New Orleans—specifically looking at access to education in a post-Hurricane Katrina environment.

Through that passion for education, he’s grappling with how life outside the classroom can influence student achievement. After graduation, he plans to earn his master’s in public policy, with an interdisciplinary focus on urban communities.

Long term, he’s considering nonprofit work on poverty and educational access issues. And while hoping to help other cities, he’d like to return to Bridgeport.

“At what point are we going to attack these problems when cities like this are left out of the national conversation? I see a void in that space, and I think I could play a role in the community.”

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Title: SPA’s Key Executive Leadership Program Publishes New Book
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Abstract: Federal leaders have a new tool to help them navigate the changing nature of their work, thanks to a new book from AU School of Public Affairs’ Key Executive Leadership Program.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 04/07/2017
Content:

Federal leaders have a new tool to help them navigate the changing nature of their work, thanks to a new book from AU School of Public Affairs’ Key Executive Leadership Program.

David Rosenbloom, Patrick Malone, and Bill Valdez have teamed up to publish a new book, The Handbook of Federal Government Leadership and Administration: Transforming, Performing and Innovating in a Complex World. It was released in November by Routledge academic press.

The book includes 13 chapters written by a mix of authors who are currently federal leaders or have had long careers with the government. Topics range from adaptive leadership to organizational change to relationships with political forces.

For instance, the chapter on marketing and communication examines particular strategies to get the message out about what the federal government is doing well.

“The men and women that work in government service have very exciting jobs,” said Patrick Malone, executive in residence in the Department of Public Administration and Policy and Director of American University’s Key Executive Leadership Programs.

Since bureaucrats can’t make autonomous executive decisions, they need to bring coalitions together to be successful and that takes a tremendous amount of skill, says Malone.

“The primary reason we created the handbook was because we thought there was a huge gap between actual practice and theory in the administration and leadership of the federal government,” says Valdez, who spent 20 years working in government and now is an adjunct professorial lecturer in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. “It is an attempt to bridge that knowledge divide and begin the process of educating federal leaders and workforce the importance of understanding the larger issues within the context of their daily operating environment.”

The book focuses on the need for leaders to adapt to change.

“There is a constant state of vulnerability in government and how you get leaders comfortable with that to deliver the services that the public depends on is a common theme throughout the book,” says Malone. “All they want to do is serve their nation – that’s their goal,” he says. “They are not getting help now from elected officials so maybe this book will help them with the resources they need to be more effective.”

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Title: AU's Stake In the Twin Cities: Irene Quarshie, SPA/MPP '00
Author: Adrienne Frank
Subtitle: Vice President, Product Quality and Responsible Sourcing, Target
Abstract: Vice president, product quality and responsible sourcing, Target
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 04/06/2017
Content:

Every day millions of Americans make a Target run. Irene Quarshie ensures that everything on their shopping lists—from clothes to furniture to paper plates—meets the retail giant's standards for product safety, quality assurance, and responsible sourcing.

"I love the scope of my job," says Quarshie, who oversees about 400 employees (or "team members," as Target calls them) around the globe. "It's complex because we're dealing with all product categories, but I love being close to the business and influencing how guests interact with our products and building their loyalty."

The first Target location opened in 1962 in the Minneapolis suburb of Roseville. Today, the company—headquartered in Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis—is the second-largest general merchandise retailer in the country with 1,802 stores and more than 340,000 employees. Even former First Lady Michelle Obama is a fan of the cheap-chic brand. In September 2011, she was photographed cruising the aisles of an Arlington, Virginia, Target; a year later she sported a $39.99 dress by Jason Wu for Target.

"We are known for democratizing style, for making quality, affordable designs available for the average American," says Quarshie of Target's offerings, which frequently include collaborations with high-end designers like Wu.

A native of Montgomery County, Maryland, Quarshie joined Target in 2005. Although she misses her family and her beloved Redskins, she's come to enjoy Minneapolis and serves on the boards of several local nonprofits, including the YWCA. Her focus on philanthropy meshes nicely with Target's corporate culture, which stresses not just selling to people in the community, but serving them as well.

A foodie, political junkie, and Vikings supporter (except when the Skins are in town), Quarshie has grown to love life outside the Beltway: "It's not about working until 3 a.m." The relaxed Midwestern pace, it seems, is right on target.

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Title: Experts Share Perspectives on Current Global Terrorism Threat
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Abstract: A panel of experts discussed the global terrorism landscape at an event hosted by the AU’s School of Public Affairs on March 29.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/06/2017
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With an increase in recent terrorist incidents, questions are being raised about who is carrying out and inspiring the attacks – and possible connections. A panel of experts discussed the global terrorism landscape at an event hosted by the AU’s School of Public Affairs on March 29.

“There is a lot of difficulty parsing through the nature of the threat that we face in the U.S. and Europe and it’s a complexity that is probably only going to grow as ISIS continues to lose territory,” said SPA Assistant Professor Tricia Bacon.

Seamus Hughes, deputy director for Program on Extremism at George Washington University, shared what he has learned tracking ISIS-related cases in the U.S., talking with prosecutors, individuals charged, family members, and observing online terrorism recruiters. There have been 117 people arrested or charged in the U.S. since 2014, with 63 in 2015, another 35 in 2016 and four in 2017, Hughes said.

“There is no method to the madness,” said Hughes. “There’s no typical profile of an ISIS recruit. They are old, young, college educated and high school drop outs.”

About 89 percent are male and the average age is 27.

Hughes said the driver for many was traveling to the so-called caliphate and just one-third expressed and domestic terrorism plotting. The downward trend in recruits may be linked to restricted travel, ISIS suffering significant losses, and difficulty getting content online, Hughes told the audience.

While Twitter has taken down some terrorism content, the scene has moved to another group chat site, Telegram.

“The numbers are going down online, but the guys that are left are really true believers,” said Hughes. Those active in ISIS now are a mix of new virtual entrepreneurs acting solo and those part of old-school style group attacks.”

Also on the panel was Jytte Klausen, professor of international cooperation at Brandeis University, who has collected data on jihadists and argues that there is no such thing as homegrown terrorism, except possibly in the U.S. Teams of recruits are deeply connected with others and networked as they carry out attacks, she said.

“We are in a new era of terrorism with the emergence of transnational force of terrorism,” said Klausen. “It is built on a deep bench of social capital, networks, knowledge of each other, and friendships.”

Fernando Reinares organized the event for SPA. He is currently a visiting scholar from Madrid, Spain, where he is a Full Professor of Political Science and Security Studies at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos as well as a Senior Analyst on International Terrorism at Elcano Royal Institute. Between 2004 and 2006 he served as Senior Advisor on Antiterrorism Policy to Spain's Ministry of Interior and subsequently as Chairman of the European Commission Expert Group on Radicalization.

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Title: Annual Awards Ceremony Celebrates Environmental Champions
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Abstract: Nearly 200 people gathered at the AU Katzen Art Center on March 30 for the 5th William K. Reilly Awards for Environmental Leadership.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/05/2017
Content:

Nearly 200 people gathered at the AU Katzen Art Center on March 30 for the 5th William K. Reilly Awards for Environmental Leadership. This year’s event honored individuals doing innovative work in the nonprofit sector and two outstanding SPA graduate students.

“Environmental protection, in my mind, is in more jeopardy now than it has been since the start of the modern environmental era in 1970s,” said Dan Fiorino, director of the Center for Environmental Policy at AU in his introductory remarks. “But with the leadership and commitment of the people in his room and the future leaders we recognize and nurture, we know we will get past this. But there is a great deal of work to be done.”

The first winner to be recognized, Claire Barnett, started the Healthy Schools Network in 1995. While many think of environmental protection being associated with outdoor natural resources, her work has focused on improving the indoor environment in the nation’s 133,000 school buildings serving 55 million children.

“Claire Barnett is a real visionary,” said Tim Fields, a CEP advisory board member. “She has challenged the nation to ensure that schools are environmentally responsible to all children, to personnel and to communities. The network is the nation’s leading voice for children’s environmental health at school.”

From mold in classrooms to tainted drinking water and the use of pesticides and lead paint, Barnett has called attention to problems in the nation’s aging -- often contaminated – school buildings. As executive director of the national 501(c)3, she has set up a clearinghouse to share information, produced reports on school health and safety, and has advocated for improvements at the local, state, and federal level.

“We know indoor air is 5 to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air,” said Barnett. “Most exposures occur in indoor environments. Children are particularly vulnerable to environmental health hazards.”

Barnett, whose own son was pesticide injured at school, said many children don’t recover from exposure environmental hazards. The answer lies in prevention.

“In our estimation, all children are at risk of additional health and learning issues due to solely to the unaddressed risks in their schools – and it’s across all states,” said Barnett, of New York. “We have piles of problems that affect children’s health and their ability to grow, think and learn.”

On April 4, the 15th annual Health Schools Day will be celebrated, thanks to Barnett’s efforts, to highlight these issues to policymakers and the public.

The second Reilly Award was given to Ben and Vanessa Henneke to honor their work with farmers in Tanzania, Kenya, India, and Uganda to address reforestation and provide opportunities to local communities. Although the Maine couple did not have a background in sustainable international development, they channeled their business skills and commitment to helping others to establish The International Small Group and Tree Planning Planting Program. What started as 75 farmers planning trees on degraded land in the late 1990s with the then new concept of carbon credits, TIST now has grown to involve 77,000 farmers and over 16 million trees planted.

The program trains local farmers – half women and half men – to plant trees that can grow fruits and nuts, produce shade, and provide firewood. TISTS collects and tracks data on the trees, which over time have benefitted struggling farmers and villages adversely affected by climate change. The also offset the sources of climate change by growing trees for storing carbon.

“Their enthusiasm for this work is totally contagious,” said Janet Peace, CEP advisory board member in her introduction of the Hennekes. “Two people with a good idea, one tree at a time, one farm at time, one village at a time – and they’ve made a real difference.”

Setting up TIST has been step of faith and more farmers want to join, said Vanessa Henneke upon accepting the Reilly award.

“We bring some good best practices, great seed bed information and conservation farming information, but I am far more educated by the people with whom I work in the countries than what we bring to them,” said Henneke.

William Reilly presented the SPA student scholarships to Lisa Flores, a first year student in the MPP program, and Nick Nayak, a first year student in the MPA program. In addition to the academic scholarships, SPA students may be placed in internships with environmental non-profit organizations under the Reilly program.

Wrapping up the event, Jay Faison gave a keynote talk on the need for energy innovation and support for research projects. Faison is the founder and chief executive officer of the ClearPath Foundation, which is focused on accelerating conservative clean energy solutions. He talked about the constraints on the rapid growth of renewable energy and argued the case for focusing on technology to help industry produce electricity in new ways. Faison said the country needs to diverse its energy sources, set big goals, and invest in public-private partnerships.

The annual William K. Reilly Awards – which are named after the former EPA Administrator and lifelong environmental champion – are presented annually at American University. The event promotes values that reflect focus, pragmatism, integrity, creativity, and the mentorship of future leaders

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Title: Renowned Psychiatrist Visits SPA, Talks About Creating a Culture of Health
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Abstract: Renowned psychiatrist and public health expert Mindy Fullilove Ph.D. spoke at the Metropolitan Policy Center’s annual spring lecture at AU’s School of Public Affairs on March 29.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/05/2017
Content:

Renowned psychiatrist and public health expert Mindy Fullilove Ph.D. spoke at the Metropolitan Policy Center’s annual spring lecture at AU’s School of Public Affairs on March 29.

Improving public health will take more than narrow campaigns against smoking, teen pregnancy, or obesity, she said.

“Targeted health programs are ineffective,” said Fullilove. “It’s not the right way to solve the problem.”

She explained that the landscape is more complex and with the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, Fullilove, is developing new approaches to promote a culture of health in American cities. Research has led to her to focus on a variety of factors, such as education as it affects housing, income, and health.

Studying inner city neighborhoods, including Harlem and the Hill District in Pittsburgh, Fullilove said she has learned that the level of poverty and crisis cannot be addressed with separate, siloed campaigns brought in from outsiders. She spoke about “serial forced displacement” of diverse neighborhoods through urban renewal projects and lessons learned as low-income areas are undergoing development today.

James Wright, Liz Mariapen, Danielle Krachie, Carlie Smith, and Will Perkins.

James Wright, Liz Mariapen, Danielle Krachie, Carlie Smith, and Will Perkins

Improving health is about more than providing healthcare, said Fullilove. That is one of the underlying principles in the new approach to addressing the culture of health. Also, the effort needs to include everyone in the community.

“No one can be left behind,” she said.

Fullilove said county rankings underscore the need for broad solutions as they show employment, education and income account for 80 percent of health status in an area and healthcare just 20 percent.

First, there must be an agreement on the idea that health is important, she said. Just how to get there is unknown.

“We are inventing this together,” she said.

It’s a particular challenge at a time when the nation is “fractured” and hate has been legitimized, she added. Fullilove sees hope in some projects that leverage technology to promote civic engagement and agency, such as newly developed app for residents to report police violence.

Along with SPA Associate Professor Derek Hyra, Fullivlove is a studying the impact of gentrification in Orange, NJ, and Washington, D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood. The project, Making The Just City, uses leadership and training, which Fullilove says are encouraging new solutions in Orange as resources are shared and people are connecting. Upcoming events include a youth voices forum, block party at a local school, and music festival that showcases the diverse genres and communities. The situation may be complicated, but Fullilove said it’s important to pinpoint small steps and maneuvers toward the larger solution.

Before focusing on housing and community development, Fullilove was one of the first researchers to focus on place, rather than individuals, to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS.

"In her latest book, Urban Alchemy, she inspires policymakers and scholars to think creatively about ways to bring people together to reconnect the fractured, urban social fabric," said Hyra. “She brings so many perspectives and hope into the community."

Christopher Thorn, SPA/’18, a double major in CLEG (communications law, economics, and government) and public relations, said he tries to attend a few of these events each semester and appreciates the outside perspectives, including Fullilove’s take on public health.

“I was astonished,” said Thorn. “I didn’t realize just how crucial education is – if you don’t have education, you have a whole host of issues.”

Thorn was also struck by the potential value of the music event in Orange, NJ that Fullilove described.

“I never put together how taking people’s specialties in music can elevate the community’s health – it is so interconnected,” he said.

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Title: SPA Professor Receives Prestigious Judicial Award
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Abstract: SPA Professor Jon Gould was recently awarded the Administration of Justice Award from the U.S. Supreme Court Fellows Association for his contributions to the Obama Administration.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 03/22/2017
Content:

AU School of Public Affairs’ Professor Jon Gould was recently awarded with the Administration of Justice Award from the U.S. Supreme Court Fellows Association for his contributions to justice reform. Gould was presented the award during a dinner in February with three Supreme Court Justices present.

“To have the policy practitioner world recognize the work that I have done is not only an honor, but it also gives me even greater enthusiasm and motivation as I come back to my academic work and research,” said Gould.

Gould returned to SPA in January 2017 after more than two years on leave, first as director of the Law and Social Sciences Program at the National Science Foundation and most recently as a Senior Policy Advisor at the U.S. Department of Justice during the Obama Administration. The award acknowledged his work on criminal justice reform in that post, his service on the Ad Hoc Committee to Review the Criminal Justice Act Program, as well as his research on erroneous convictions and indigent defense as it pertains to the federal death penalty.

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Title: Fresh Fruit, En Route
Author: Brad Scriber
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Abstract: Molly Amelia My Street Grocery Portland Oregon
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 03/20/2017
Content: Illustration of fruit stall

Behind the wheel of a trolley named Molly, Amelia Pape is bringing the grocery store to Portlanders in need.

One in six Oregonians lacks access to affordable, nutritious food, a predicament Pape, SPA/BA '05, is trying to change. She's the founder of My Street Grocery, a mobile market that offers meat, dairy products, pantry staples like peanut butter and pasta, and a rainbow of seasonal produce—corn, cantaloupe, plums, peppers, avocados, asparagus—to low-income residents of underserved neighborhoods in the state's largest city. Four days a week, Pape or one of her colleagues steers Molly, painted the same shade of green as the pines that line the city, to Portland health clinics with whom she's partnered to provide patients with prescriptions for an apple a day. (Or kale, or hummus, or 100 other, mostly organic, offerings.)

The food Rx program is the first of its kind in the Rose City—and it's getting results. More than 90 percent of food prescriptions are redeemed (drug prescriptions average 60 percent, nationally) and recipients, many of whom have diet-related chronic illnesses, report shrinking waistlines and fewer cases of depression.

"I work part-time and don't have a whole lot of extra money, so I have to be very careful with what I do have," says a regular named Tim. "I sometimes get to the end of the month and don't have fresh vegetables. So this is nice. Last time I was here I bought mainly vegetables. It makes my food stamps go much further."

Pape set out to tackle food insecurity, a cause near and dear to her heart: like 51 percent of Oregon youngsters, she was on the reduced lunch program as a kid. But soon enough, she discovered her project wasn't even about hunger alleviation anymore. "It was more than me, more than My Street Grocery, more than the food we brought," she said during a PDXTalks event last fall sponsored by Portland State University. "It was bonds being formed. It was community being created.

"Food is the hook, but community is the glue."

Pape, who describes herself as an "accidental entrepreneur," came up with the idea for a mobile grocery service in business school at Portland State in 2009. Tasked with finding and fixing a market failure, she turned to her personal passion: food. After reading up on food deserts—communities with a corner store but no full-service grocery store with fresh offerings—she was convinced this was a health issue that the right kind of business could fix.

"Not all market failures are social problems," she says, "but many social problems are market failures."

Pape focused her MBA work on social enterprise, businesses that make money but also make the world a better place. Along the way, she researched the mobile grocery concept and entered it in a business plan competition. She walked away with some prize money, and a revelation: "this is what I wanted to do."

A market on wheels was an unorthodox approach for the grocery business, so there weren't a lot of examples of how it might work. Nevertheless, Pape kept driving forward, encouraged by what she considers the most helpful advice she ever received: "the best thing I could do for my business was to start it."

Along with her competition prize money, the concept also netted about $13,000 from a Kickstarter pitch that surpassed its target goal. "This business that I had dreamed would be for the community was built and invested in by the community," she says, "and that felt really right."

Pape put the seed money toward an old bread truck, and in 2012 she hit the road. "It was my goal to start this business, learn about it, bootstrap it, and never have the mission be jeopardized," she says. But after a year, Pape wanted to do more and decided it was time to look for an investor. She knew it would be difficult to find someone willing to put money behind a for-profit enterprise that wasn't solely focused on the bottom line. She turned to a member of her advisory board who was in the leadership of Whole Foods Market to get some advice about how to find a partner who would respect the mission.

The answer was basically: you're looking at him. Whole Foods had been eager to help the business grow, but it was important to them that Pape initiate the partnership.

She drew up a formal proposal. Then, knowing that panel interviews are an important part of the Whole Foods culture, she asked for one and wrote her own job description, spelling out exactly what she wanted. They agreed. With that, Pape became Whole Foods' inaugural food access coordinator—and My Street Grocery became its first-ever mobile market.

At the top of Pape's to-do list: buy a trolley. After a year of driving a bread truck she learned that she needed a vehicle that would allow people to step inside while they shopped. Portland is a rainy city, and a grocery store that's only open on sunny days wouldn't make a big enough difference in the lives of her food-insecure customers.

The trolley also allowed her to offer more than produce. She recognized that people leave home not necessarily when the fruit bowl is empty, but when they run out of milk, bread, and eggs. To carry a more diverse array of foods, Molly is equipped with refrigerators and freezers, offerings for pantry building, and "a whole bunch of beautiful fresh produce," all in a warm, dry, mobile shop.

The natural gas-powered trolley that once shuttled tourists around Fort Worth, Texas, now parks near Portland schools and clinics. Although Pape has partnerships with social service agencies, healthcare providers, and faith-based organizations that have deep relationships with the community, everyone's welcome at the market. Kids grow wide-eyed when they see Molly cruising through Nob Hill or Slabtown, and people of all ages wave. Pape has even driven the trolley in a neighborhood parade.

That familiarity helps everyone feel welcome at My Street Grocery, which Pape now sees as vital to improving access in a state that's historically had one of the highest rates of food insecurity. (Oregon was the ranked the hungriest state in the union when the US Department of Agriculture began releasing reports on the topic in the late 1990s.) "We have a mantra: food is community," she says. There's even a sign with that slogan on the trolley, tailor made for selfies.

As she deepens relationships in the same neighborhoods where she launched the business, Pape increasingly sees her success as part of a larger social enterprise movement.

She's given classroom talks and keynote addresses on social enterprise, and serves on the advisory board for a Portland incubator program that helped her early on. When other aspiring mobile groceries around the country have reached out, Pape's been happy to offer advice—along with a Kickstarter pledge—and her formal consulting has boosted clients from Canada to India to Vietnam. "If we can find ways to use business to solve the world's intractable social problems, that's the biggest win-win [of all]," she says.

As Pape has discovered, bringing food into a community with limited access isn't the end—it's just the beginning.

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newsId: 614A9C95-5056-AF26-BE9E2F597E99E3CA
Title: Granddaughter of a slave, Justice Audrey Collins to receive Beacon of Justice Award
Author: Nicholle Granger
Subtitle:
Abstract: Only two generations removed from slavery, she has dedicated her career to supporting underrepresented people and communities.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 02/09/2017
Content:

As a youth, Associate Justice of the California Board of Appeals Audrey B. Collins, SPA/MA '69, would have never guessed that she would forge a history-making career. An American University School of Public Affairs graduate, Collins became the first African-American woman to serve as Head Deputy, Assistant Bureau Director, and Assistant District Attorney after joining the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office in 1978.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton appointed Collins to the United States District Court for the Central District of California, and she served as Chief Judge of the Central District from 2009 to 2012. During that time, Collins became the first judge to declare a portion of the 9/11-inspired Patriot Act unconstitutional based on language that she found to be in conflict with the First Amendment. In 2014, she was appointed to the California Court of Appeal, where she remains today.

Over the years, Collins has been acknowledged for her many contributions to public service and social equality. On April 5, the Friends of Los Angeles County Law Library will present her with the 2017 Beacon of Justice Award, recognizing her exceptional commitment to expanding access to quality legal services for low-income people and communities.

Collins's story is unique in that not only did she come of age during the Civil Rights Movement, but she was also the granddaughter of a slave. To be only two generations removed from slavery is "very unusual for someone my age, now 71," says Collins. She was born in Chester, Pa. in 1945. But both her grandfather and father married later in life, which explains her proximity to slavery. After being freed sometime in the 1860s, her grandfather, Furman Lawrence Brodie, worked his way through school, eventually becoming a minister and teacher. "He didn't learn to read until he was 16," says Collins.

Collins was first inspired to pursue a career in law by her family's strong tradition of public service. Her father was a dentist who built a community-based practice in Chester, and her mother was a teacher. Collins describes her mother as a "brilliant woman who graduated from Howard University at the age of 20." Collins is convinced that had there been an opportunity, her mother would have become a lawyer. But growing up in Norfolk, Va., her mother experienced segregation and overt racism, something Collins encountered only when she visited. By choosing to raise Collins in Yeadon, Pa., her parents were able to shield her from that and ensure that she had the best educational opportunities possible.

Collins's interest in law became more apparent during her undergraduate studies in political science at Howard University. While she was not involved in the Civil Rights Movement directly, it was then that she recognized the need for equitable legal representation for African-Americans, especially protesters who were being detained by police. "It occurred to me at that time that the most fascinating and meaningful thing for me to do was to go to law school," says Collins. "I think, especially being at Howard, it was clear that lawyers were there on the front lines of what was happening in the Civil Rights Movement."

After completing her MA in government and public administration at American University, Collins went on to obtain a JD from UCLA in 1977, throwing her legal career into full swing. Collins would have never predicted that she would be where she is today. "I'm not a fan of the five-year plan," she says. "You don't have to have your whole life worked out. I think if you find something you love to do, something you're enthusiastic about doing, and do well, it will reveal itself."

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Title: AU Launches Crowdfunding Platform
Author: Joanna Platt
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Abstract: UFUND is a platform the AU community can use to directly fund projects and initiatives.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 12/15/2016
Content:

American University's Office of Development and Alumni Relations recently launched UFUND, a crowdfunding platform just for the AU community. This is a new way for alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends of the university to directly fund the projects and initiatives they care about most.

AU faculty, staff, and students are planning ventures to shape the future of the community, nation, and world. By making a gift, donors support the development and success of these projects.

Currently, UFUND features five initiatives – The Eagle Innovation Fund, the DC-Area High School Ethics Bowl, an Alternative Break in Cuba, the Skills for Success Career Seminar, and production of the documentary In The Executioner's Shadow.

Members of the AU community are invited to submit new projects to be featured on UFUND.


 

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Title: An Eviction Notice Sparks an Award-Winning Career
Author: Heidi Hokanson, SOC/BA ‘15
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Abstract: Michael Worley is the recipient of two awards this year, for the political communications agency he started as a junior at AU.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 03/10/2016
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Michael Worley, SPA/BA ’12, is the President and founder of MDW Communications, a political consulting firm based in Fort Lauderdale. He has worked on campaigns from the municipal to congressional level, from South Florida, to Georgia, to New England. The firm has won two awards this year, the 2016 Campaigns & Elections Magazine Reed Award for Best Overall Direct Mail Piece, and a Pollie Award. At 25, Michael is one of the youngest people ever to receive a Reed Award. Today it seems everything is going right for Michael and his business, and it all started from a moment of financial desperation in Michael’s junior year at AU.

Michael was an over-worked, underpaid college student with a passion for politics. A national board member for the College Democrats of America for two years, Michael transferred to AU from Miami “to be closer to the action.” To get by financially, he had three different part time jobs and an internship. But all of a sudden in late 2010, Michael learned that his roommate hadn’t been paying rent for months, and they were about to be evicted. To make matters worse, his roommate abandoned the apartment and left town, leaving Michael to take responsibility for the debt.

At a loss for what to do, Michael sought advice from his boss at a Tenlytown cigar shop. His boss suggested he monetize his communications skills and start his own business. Inspired by the idea, Michael got to work right away. He ran a search through AUCareerWeb for companies hiring paid interns, and sent each of them a business pitch, offering his services as a professional social media marketing consultant who could provide better results than an intern could, for a lower rate than an agency would charge. Among his first clients were FroZenYo, American Tap Room, and the cigar shop in Tenleytown. “Things added up so quickly,” Michael says, “I was able to get out of debt and support myself for the next two years in college.”

Now Michael has worked on almost 100 campaigns. He has three full time employees, and produces everything from advanced digital marketing, to direct mail, and now television advertising as well. “Today we produced two direct mail pieces, produced a radio spot, and placed a digital ad, all before 11 a.m.” Michael says. His team is in the thick of municipal campaigns for elections this month. “We are involved in campaigns at all levels, but the local level is where you get to really make a difference. What people don’t realize is that if you don’t vote in municipal and state elections you have no seat at the table. Real policy making and impact on the community happens in the local level.”

Michael credits his AU experience for giving him the resources he needed to succeed as an entrepreneur. “AU was a catalyst for all the things that happened,” says Michael, “AU brought together people who had [started a business] successfully, who were living proof that you can do this if you work hard enough.” When Michael graduated, his decision to continue with his business was influenced by some advice from Chip Griffin, SPA/BA '94, who was president of the AU Alumni Board at the time, and is an experienced entrepreneur. He continues to get new opportunities from fellow AU alums in the political community. Michael is an active member of his local young alumni chapter, and he regularly gives back by volunteering for new and prospective student events.

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Title: Lori Interlicchio, SBA/BA ’15: Tinder leads to a Living Gift
Author: Patricia Rabb
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Abstract: After meeting on Tinder, Lori Interlicchio surprised her girlfriend with the gift of a kidney.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 02/09/2016
Content:

“I hope that someone out there sees our story and makes the decision to donate their organs or become a live kidney donor,” says Lori Interlicchio, SPA/BA ‘15, while describing her gift of a kidney to girlfriend, Alana Duran, whom she met last August on Tinder.

Three months after their initial meeting, Lori videotaped Alana opening a box of small presents (including an AU t-shirt) with an “it’s a match” sign hidden at the bottom. The video, viewed over 260,000 times on Facebook, captured the news that Lori was going to provide Alana the kidney she so vitally needed. “I was pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of support that Alana and I received after we posted our video. I expected our family and friends to love the video, but I didn’t think we would go viral and certainly not that quickly,” she says.

Diagnosed at age 12 with Lupus, an autoimmune disease, Alana has required a hip placement, a pacemaker for congestive heart failure, dialysis for kidney failure and has been awaiting a kidney donor since 2011. Alana had no idea Lori was secretly being tested to see if she would be a match to donate a kidney.

On February 2, this long-awaited kidney transplant was successfully completed at Stony Brook Hospital in Stony Brook, NY, and both women are recovering well. “Alana’s kidney function was higher than mine,” noted Lori shortly after the procedure. During their recovery, Lori will take 6 weeks leave from work and needs to avoid lifting heavy objects. For the next 6 months, Alana has to avoid people who are ill since she’s now taking immunosuppressant drugs every day to avoid rejection of her new kidney.

Born and raised in West Islip, NY, Lori decided to attend the School of Public Affairs at American University because she wanted to study political science and felt that Washington, DC, was the best place to do it. “I liked that it had a campus feel while being in the city. It was the best of both worlds,” she adds.

While at AU, Lori was very active as a cheerleader and enjoyed competing with her team at the National Cheerleaders Association championships in Daytona each year. “The team was like my family, and Nationals was the culmination of all of our hard work each year,” she adds. When the weather was nice, Lori recalls meeting her teammates on the quad for impromptu practices where they would “throw each other around”.

One of her most memorable experiences as a student was camping outside of the Supreme Court with a few other AU students to observe the oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that made marriage equality legal in the United States. Lori also led an advocacy group at AU called “Red is in the Rainbow”. This group held blood drives on campus to spread awareness and speak out about the ban on blood and tissue donation from gay men. “It bothers me that if Alana and I were a couple of gay or bisexual men, rather than women, I couldn’t donate blood to her. My kidney would be considered high risk,” she exclaims.

After graduating last May, Lori has spent the past year in her hometown coaching cheerleading at her old middle school and working in a special needs high school while applying to law school. In her spare time, Lori describes herself as “a homebody.” Lori and Alana spend most weekends with their families - reading, playing board games, and working on puzzles together.

Her plans for the future include graduating from law school and passing the bar exam. “After that, I would love to do public service work litigating on behalf of LGBTQ people and families,” she says.

 

 

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newsId: 2105D109-5056-AF26-BE01E51B203116A3
Title: Hyong Yi, Passionate Public Servant and Love Advocate
Author: Melissa Bevins ’02
Subtitle:
Abstract: Assistant City Manager Hyong Yi made headlines giving love notes to strangers to honor his late wife’s legacy.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 01/12/2016
Content:

Like so many of his fellow AU alumni, Hyong Yi, SPA/BA ’94, SPA/MPA ’95, truly loves public service. When you ask him about his role as assistant city manager for the city of Charlotte, N.C., Hyong will tell you, “I love this job. This is what I am meant to do.” In his role, he is able to help run the city on a day-to-day basis, particularly with regards to all things environmental.

In high school, a class trip brought Hyong to Washington, DC from his childhood home in Pennsylvania’s Amish country. That trip combined with his love of politics sealed in his mind the fact that he wanted to attend college in the nation’s capital. In the end, American University was the only school he applied to. 

As a student, Hyong was driven and hardworking. He completed his undergraduate degree in just three years, then went on to complete his MPA in only one more. He was also a member of the University Honors Program, lived in a Living Learning Center in Anderson Hall, and still managed to study abroad in London for a semester. 

When asked to reflect on his time at AU, Hyong extols the virtues of studying abroad and says he thinks it should be mandatory for all college students. Although he was born in Korea, Hyong spent the majority of his life before college living in Pennsylvania, and he loved the opportunity to live overseas for a semester, studying, traveling, and immersing himself in everyday life in London. 

Upon completing his studies at AU, Hyong went on to work in DC government for several years. While living and working in DC, Hyong met the love of his life, Catherine Zanga. He and Catherine eventually settled in Charlotte and had two children, Anna and Alex.

In November of 2014, Catherine passed away after a 16-month battle with cancer. To mark the one-year anniversary of her passing, Hyong wrote 100 love notes and he, Anna, and Alex stood on the street and passed them out to strangers as they walked by. The notes chronicle the love story of Hyong and Catherine and, when read in order, tell the story of their courtship and marriage followed by their struggle with Catherine’s illness and ending with what Hyong wishes he could say to her now. 

The story received international attention in news and media outlets, and Hyong is thrilled. In addition to the physical notes that were distributed, Hyong gathered all the notes along with photos in a digital monument to Catherine’s life that can be found at 100lovenotes.com and plans to turn the project into a book to be released this year. His hope is that part of Catherine’s legacy will be to encourage people all over the world to write their own love notes and share their feelings with their loved ones before tragedy hits and it is too late.

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Title: Steven Leifman Receives Prestigious Rehnquist Judicial Honors for protecting vulnerable populations
Author: Kayla Kennedy, SIS/BA ’19
Subtitle:
Abstract: Judge Steven Leifman, SPA/BS ’81, is at the forefront of a mental illness public policy movement in the criminal justice system.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 12/04/2015
Content:

Upon the 20th anniversary of the William H. Rehnquist Award, Judge Steven Leifman, SPA/BS '81, is the first Florida Judge to receive this prestigious honor, which is presented annually to a state court judge who exemplifies judicial excellence, integrity, fairness, and professional ethics. Judge Leifman not only exemplifies all of those qualities, but his work goes above and beyond to protect the most vulnerable populations in the nation. 

Since 2000, Judge Leifman's work has focused on transforming the way people with mental illnesses are treated in the criminal justice system. Judge Leifman says he realized that "many of the same people who came before [his] court were appearing repeatedly and frequently." These defendants were charged with minor offenses and many exhibited signs of being distraught. Judge Leifman became determined to find a more suitable way to handle cases that affected those most vulnerable in the system. 

Through unwavering dedication and compassion, Judge Leifman has brought astounding results to both local and national courts. He described how "the stigma surrounding mental illness makes it more difficult for people to seek treatment, as a result many end up in the criminal justice system." People with mental illnesses are no more likely to commit violent crimes than people without mental illnesses. In fact, they are much more likely to be victims. In addition, recovery rates for people with mental illnesses have better recovery rates than people with diabetes. Unfortunately, many of our current laws do not reflect modern medical science and research. As a result, the public system often does not pay for all of the services that people need to recover from their illnesses. The challenges that people with mental illnesses face day in and day out are often overwhelming. The system has marginalized this population often making the opportunity for recovery extremely difficult. Judge Leifman notes that "they are just people who happen to have a mental illness and they have the same needs, desires, and ambitions as everyone else. In order to be more successful, we need to develop a system of care that is warmer and more welcoming." 

In 2000, Judge Leifman set out to fix this broken system. He created the groundbreaking Eleventh Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project, which diverts individuals with serious mental illnesses away from criminal justice system and into community-based treatment and support services. According to Judge Leifman "this has resulted in fewer arrests and jail days for people with mental illnesses, improved public safety and saved critical tax dollars." As part of this project, Judge Leifman also developed the nation's largest crisis intervention team training program. He notes that "this program teaches law enforcement offices how to recognize signs and symptoms of mental illnesses and how to respond more effectively to individuals in psychiatric crisis." 

Judge Leifman has also served as a Special Advisor to the Florida Supreme Court, where he developed specialized training programs for judges to help them better handle cases involving people with mental illnesses and has been working with the Florida Legislature to reform Florida's mental health system. In addition, he is working with the Stepping Up Campaign, to help communities develop action plans that can be used to reduce the over- representation of people with mental illnesses in their local criminal justice systems. Judge Leifman notes that "so far about 150 counties in the U.S. have signed up and to "Step Up" against injustices in the criminal justice system." 

It is clear that Judge Leifman has exemplified judicial excellence. However, in the midst of all of his achievements, Judge Leifman believes his greatest success story is "watching people come back from their illnesses, into recovery, and to live meaningful lives."

Before joining the bench in 1996, Judge Leifman came to American University to pursue his undergraduate degree in political science. He had always been interested in public policy. Judge Leifman proclaims that "American University was the ideal university." Not only did AU offer many opportunities, it also helped shape his values by understanding that good public policy can help improve people's lives." Taking advantage of those opportunities, he spent a considerable amount of time refining his passion for public policy by interning on Capitol Hill and organizing events on campus with the Kennedy Political Union. Judge Leifman remarks that he was exposed to an array of issues and says living in Washington, DC was "like living in a laboratory." Indeed, Judge Leifman thrived in this environment, and he was able to apply what he learned in AU classrooms to the real world.

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Title: Alumni Board Member Found Call to Public Service at AU
Author: Kristena Stotts
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Abstract: Making local government a better place one program at a time.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 10/06/2015
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"American University's School of Public Affairs was top 10 in the nation for their public affairs program, and I knew that's where I wanted to be," says Chris Quintyne, SPA/BA '07, of his decision to attend AU. "I was born and raised in this area, but I wanted a unique experience," he adds. Chris didn't have to wait long to find just that.

While a student as AU, Chris was a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Beta Beta Chapter. "I met amazing, lifelong friends. It was a really supportive community and I am still very active with the fraternity today," he says. 

When asked about his academic experience, he remembers the exact moment things clicked for him on AU's campus.

"Dr. Andrea Lang in SPA is the reason I became a justice major. She was very nurturing, and I could bring anything to her and receive great feedback," Chris recalls. "Any class she taught, I was taking it." 

Dr. Lang's mentorship propelled Chris to further his education past earning his bachelor's degree from AU. Chris holds a law degree and master's degree in public administration from Southern University Law Center. During his academic journey, Chris always looked for ways to either intern or work where law and policy intersect. He served as a law clerk in the Louisiana House of Representatives for the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, held internships with the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, and worked as a deputy clerk at DC Superior Court.

Chris is currently the management assistant for the town of Chevy Chase, Maryland. Previously, he served as assistant town administrator for Capitol Heights, Maryland. During that time, he served a period as acting town administrator. He ran the day-to-day operations of the town's municipal government, supervised the department heads and all staff, drafted legislation that went before the Town Council, and secured hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant funding for the town's infrastructure projects. "I think it was that experience in public service that really gave me the opportunity to utilize all of the tools that I acquired from AU and my professional degrees," says Chris. 

"AU ingrained in me a desire to pursue a career in public service by providing me the opportunity to pursue substantive work experience in government while I was a student. That experience was pivotal in shaping my career interests and the work that I am currently doing in local government," Chris shares. Now he is an Alumni Admissions Volunteer, a member of the Black Alumni Alliance, and a member of the American University Alumni Board.

When asked how he manages to balance everything on his plate, Chris reflects on what he tells both himself and students he meets: "To whom much is given, much is required. If you work hard, give back to your community, and try to be a resource to support and be helpful to other people, I believe you will find yourself in a great position."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Title: Key Alumna Helps Lead U.S. Response to Ebola and Other World Crises
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
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Abstract: Mia Beers recently returned from West Africa where she helped support the U.S. government's response to Ebola.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 04/09/2015
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When a catastrophic disaster hits a region of the world and the United States is sending assistance, chances are American University alumna Mia Beers, SPA/MPA '10, is a crucial piece of the puzzle. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,Key Executive Leadership Program,School of Public Affairs
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newsId: 5D2A405D-5056-AF26-BE0F44BC32DC6F9E
Title: SPA Alumna Makes Career Move to University of California, Berkeley
Author: Kristena Wright
Subtitle:
Abstract: Rosemarie Rae, SPA/MPA ‘09, joins the higher education field after more than 30 years in the non-profit sector.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 03/11/2015
Content:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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