newsId: FCC6DC9A-BD94-8619-49ECFE6DD71D8312
Title: Talk on School Violence Fifteen Years After Columbine
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Abstract: Lynn Addington, an associate professor in the Department of Justice, Law & Criminology, suggested that the Columbine incident constituted a cultural shift in how the public viewed school violence.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 04/15/2014
Content:

Lynn Addington, an associate professor in the Department of Justice, Law & Criminology, presented the talk, “Cops, Cameras and Students Under Surveillance: The Long-term Effects of Columbine and Deadly School Violence," as part of Georgia Southern University's 2nd Annual Criminal Justice Lecture on April 10.

Addington said that while the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999 were not the first act of deadly school violence in the United States, the incident constituted a cultural shift in how the public viewed school violence.

“This change occurred largely due to the pervasive and graphic media coverage spurred by cable news channels and the emerging role of the Internet as a news source,” she said.

The fear and concern generated by Columbine, she said, prompted a rash of demands for greater safety, including the use of visible security measures in public schools. However, relatively little is known even now, she said, about the use of school security across grade levels or about schools that opt to use particular measures, such as cameras or metal detectors.

“Critics argue the overzealous use of security measures in relatively safe schools can negatively impact students and their school environment,” said Addington. “In contrast, advocates point to the necessity of these same measures in troubled schools struggling with serious violence.”

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Title: Mandi Stewart Named Penn Social Impact Doctoral Fellow
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Abstract: Mandi Stewart received a prestigious fellowship that brings together doctoral students to critically examine issues in the nonprofit sector.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 04/14/2014
Content:

Mandi Stewart, a doctoral student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy, has been chosen as a 2014 Penn Social Impact Doctoral Fellow.

This prestigious fellowship brings together a small number of doctoral students to critically examine issues in the nonprofit sector, typically in the areas of nonprofit management, volunteerism, international civil society, social entrepreneurship and philanthropic studies.

Fellows work for four weeks under the direct guidance of Dr. Peter Frumkin, a highly respected nonprofit scholar, to generate a publishable research article.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Mandi,” said Edmund Stazyk, assistant professor & PhD coordinator in the Department of Public Administration and Policy.

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Title: Terrorism Expert Wins Morton Bender Prize
Author: Dave DeFusco
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Abstract: Joseph Young, an expert on terrorism and homeland security at American University’s School of Public Affairs, has been awarded the Morton Bender Prize.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 04/10/2014
Content:

Joseph Young, an expert on terrorism and homeland security at American University’s School of Public Affairs, has been awarded the Morton Bender Prize.

The prize recognizes the important research and professional achievements of a newly tenured associate professor, and is designed to facilitate the faculty member’s progress toward full professor.

“Joe Young is an extraordinary scholar, teacher and colleague,” said Dean Barbara Romzek. “He embodies the type of passionate researcher and high-achieving scholar that the Morton Bender Prize seeks to recognize.”

Young will receive the prize at the Faculty Recognition Dinner on Sunday, April 27. It is the second time in as many years that a faculty member from the School of Public Affairs has been awarded the prize. David Pitts, chair of the Department of Public Administration & Policy, was last year’s recipient.

Since receiving his doctorate five years ago, Young has authored or co-authored 24 peer-reviewed publications prominent in the field. His research focuses on political violence; transnational and domestic terrorism; interstate war; human rights; foreign aid; and civil war and insurgency.

His paper, “Lying About Terrorism,” which he co-authored with two students in the School of Public Affairs, will be published in Studies in Conflict and Terrorism in May. It explains why terrorists strategically avoid truthfully claiming responsibility for an attack.

Young serves as an investigative and research affiliate with the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, and has been a recipient of many grants. In 2009, he received a National Science Foundation Minerva grant for a project titled, “Terror, Conflict Processes, Organizations and Ideologies: Completing the Picture.” He is a regular contributor to the blog, Political Violence @ a Glance, and an associate editor of the International Studies Quarterly blog.

He was instrumental in developing the curriculum for a master’s concentration in Terrorism and Security Policy, and a master of science degree in Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy that will debut in the fall. Both are offered by the Department of Justice, Law and Criminology.

“Joe has been a scholarly dynamo, an exceptional teacher and an involved and genial colleague,” said Jonathan Gould, chair of the Department of Justice, Law and Criminology. “He richly deserves this award.”

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Title: BleakHouse Press Honors Outstanding Writers
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Abstract: BleakHouse Publishing, an independent, not-for-profit press devoted to social justice, hosted its annual awards ceremony to honor the most outstanding BleakHouse writers of the year.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 04/08/2014
Content:

BleakHouse Publishing, an independent, not-for-profit press devoted to social justice, recently hosted an annual awards ceremony to honor the most outstanding BleakHouse writers of the year.

The ceremony featured readings from Chandra Bozelko's new book, Up the River, and from Zoe Orfanos' new book, An Elegy for Old Terrors; the launch of Tacenda Literary Magazine; the presentation of literary awards for best book, play, short story, essay, poems and artwork, and the Social Justice Advocacy Award, and the naming of the Victor Hassine Memorial Scholars, Distinguished Writers and Artists Guild and BleakHouse Fellow.

The press, founded in 2006 by Robert Johnson, editor and a professor of justice, law and criminology, publishes creative writing that sheds a humane light on men and women entangled in the justice system. Many of its published writers are current or former prisoners. American University students and alumni play active roles at the press as staff members, poets, bloggers and creative thinkers.

"The creativity and resilience of our authors reveal an often unacknowledged side of incarcerated Americans," said Johnson. "Seeing criminals through a softer lens, the works we publish raise questions about our system’s harshest punishments." 

Johnson said BleakHouse explores a range of topics, "all of them hopeful variations on the bleaker qualities of human existence"--from addiction, to violent crime, to the existential challenges of everyday life. "There is no issue bearing on the human condition—that to live is to suffer—that BleakHouse contributors will not engage," he said.

BleakHouse Awards

Aubrey Rose, BleakHouse Fellow for academic year 2013-2014, with Alexa Marie Kelly, BleakHouse Fellow for academic year 2014-2015, and Robert Johnson.

BleakHouse Awards

Zoe Orfanos reads from her new book with BleakHouse, An Elegy for Old Terrors.

BleakHouse Awards

Joanna Heaney and Nora Kirk, recipients of the Victor Hassine Memorial Scholarship, with Robert Johnson.

BleakHouse Awards

Sonia Tabriz, Liz Calka, admitted to the Distinguished Writers and Artists Guild, with Robert Johnson.

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Title: The “L” Word
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Subtitle:
Abstract: Despite the negative stereotypes, AU professors and students explain the merits of lobbying.
Topic: Government & Politics
Publication Date: 04/04/2014
Content:

The K Street lobbying industry is sometimes labeled a fourth branch of government. Yet despite possessing Washington’s most valued currencies—power, influence, and actual currency—lobbyists also have an image problem. They’re in the cross hairs of the public, inclined to hate all things Washington. They’re also derided by politicians—the same ones who employ future lobbyists while often preparing for lobbying careers of their own.

But are lobbyists being unfairly targeted? After all, the right to petition your government is protected under the First Amendment. Yet how exactly a lobbyist exerts influence on legislation and regulatory policy is the main point of contention. American University’s School of Public Affairs (SPA) explores some of the gray areas through the Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute (PAAI), part of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies (CCPS). School of Public Affairs professor James Thurber started PAAI, and SPA professor Patrick Griffin is currently PAAI’s academic director.

The institute is an intensive, two-week course that examines major aspects of lobbying and political influence. Additional advanced workshops are offered in specific lobbying areas, such as direct mail and grassroots.

“We don’t shy away from the controversy that surrounds lobbying, some of which is well-founded in dealing with the scandals that have emerged. But we also talk about the reforms that are being generated and implemented,” says Griffin, who served in the Clinton White House as assistant to the president for legislative affairs.

Thurber also organized an international “Conference on Lobbying Reform in the U.S. and the E.U.,” which took place on March 17th and was cosponsored by the School of Public Affairs and the School of International Service.

Loopholes and Corruption

The idea behind the conference was to compare and contrast how lobbying is handled in the United States and Europe. In an interview, Thurber talks about resistance to lobbying reforms on both sides of the Atlantic. Europeans rely largely on voluntary transparency from their lobbyists, and while the U.S. has regulations in place, Thurber says enforcement has been weak.

Some U.S. reforms were enacted in 2007 following the scandal of disgraced super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff (“Casino Jack”), but Thurber still sees a system that’s been corrupted. 

With worries about violating the law, many lobbyists have de-registered as a way to avoid scrutiny. “If you registered and then you break the law, you can go to jail. If you don’t register, there are no consequences for it,” Thurber says. Some senior government relations professionals consider themselves “advisers” or “consultants,” which enables them to evade lobbying registration. 

Thurber says some rules, including restrictions on flight travel with members of Congress, are too narrow in scope.

“There can’t be a registered lobbyist in the plane. But the CEO of Boeing can be in the plane, and he gives all the money. The lobbyist doesn’t,” Thurber explains. 

Thurber also describes lavish spending and aggressive lobbying that would make House of Cards’s Remy Danton blush. 

“There were probably 26 different corporations and law firms that bought townhouses on Capitol Hill. What are those about? Those are about a member of Congress being able to walk across the street, go into the townhouse, and have a fundraiser. And then go back and vote,” Thurber says. “[They’re] going back to the floor and voting on issues that the people who held the fundraiser for them are interested in. And that’s a scandal.”

In Defense of Lobbying

Yet AU students also learn the merits of lobbying and advocacy. “I wouldn’t be involved in teaching lobbying if I didn’t think it was an honorable and important profession. I think it’s a very sophisticated one. It takes a lot of thinking and doing to be effective at it,” Griffin says.

Griffin believes citizens have gotten a skewed view of lobbying from both political leaders and the press. “It becomes a whipping boy. And I think the public is not served by that. People need to know what makes sense about the role of lobbying and advocacy, and what needs to be carefully monitored. We’ve never had that discussion. It’s just kind of stupid, one line bumper sticker comments.”

Though Thurber criticizes aspects of lobbying, he encourages his students to consider it as a profession. “We’re producing people who are going to go out and advocate,” he says. “We have the right to do this. It’s a profession. And we should produce professional people who have internal codes of ethics and know the law.”

Career Plans

Politically-minded AU students are certainly exploring careers on K Street. Demetrios Festa is a senior political science major set to graduate in May. He’s also currently a public policy intern with Patton Boggs, giving him the chance to observe savvy lobbyists in action. 

“I’ve been able to work hands-on and develop not only communication skills, but just learn more about the process,” Festa says.

Festa is planning to attend law school in the fall, but he’s strongly considering a career in lobbying after he finishes school. He took the PAAI course with professor Griffin. “He brought in all sorts of different speakers and took us to visit all different types of firms, and that really provided a more in-depth look into the field,” he says.

“It was one of the best classes I’ve taken at AU.”

Awesta Sarkash is earning her master’s degree in political science in the School of Public Affairs. Taking the PAAI course bolstered her interest in lobbying, and now she hopes to land a job in the field.

“When I took that class, we had to develop a lobbying plan regarding a particular issue. And in our case, it was comprehensive immigration reform. And you have to get a lot of data, you have to get a lot of research, you have to do polls and surveys,” she explains.

This same campaign forced her to deal with a real-world dilemma that many lobbyists confront: arguing for a cause you don’t necessarily agree with. “It’s smart because I’m for immigration reform, but I was on the team that was against it. So you have to be creative,” she says.

Sarkash is well-aware that the term lobbying has a pejorative connotation, but she feels it’s easy to combat the negative stereotypes. “All it really takes is like a two-minute conversation about what lobbying really is, that we’re granted that right by the Constitution,” she says. “It’s here for a reason. We have lobbying because people have specific interests, and they need a connection to Congress and to be able to influence policy. It’s because citizens don’t have that many outlets.”

More Voices

Now citizens are finding more and more outlets for advocacy. The traditional image of the lobbyist is a well-dressed man hobnobbing at the Palm Restaurant for corporate interests. But plenty of lobbyists fight for charitable causes, such as ensuring veterans’ care or eradicating child poverty. And through technological advances, a greater number of people can have their voices heard in Washington. 

An AU alumna, Caroline Goncalves earned her undergraduate degree in political science from SPA, and she’s now getting her master’s in public policy there as well. She’s currently working as associate director of federal advocacy for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She notes how technology has transformed the lobbying world.

“I think social media has actually been a huge, huge game changer. We ask our members to tweet or Facebook their members of Congress,” says Goncalves. “It’s really hard as a smaller association to get face time with a member of Congress. But if you can get their attention on one little thing, perhaps they have a personal connection to something we’re talking about.”

“It’s empowering,” Thurber says. “And a bunch of young people who have an idea about something can really get organized.”

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Title: Clinton Ambassador to Deliver Perlmutter Lecture
Author: Dave DeFusco
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Abstract: Stuart Eizenstat will discuss major geopolitical, economic and security challenges that are reshaping the Jewish world.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/04/2014
Content:

Stuart Eizenstat, an ambassador to the European Union and an undersecretary in the Clinton administration’s State and Commerce Departments, will discuss “The Future of the Jews, How Global Forces are Impacting the Jewish People, Israel, and Its Relationship with the United States” as the Amos Perlmutter Memorial Lecture on Wednesday, April 9, at 7:30 p.m. in the Mary Graydon Center.

Eizenstat’s talk, based on his 2012 book of the same name, published by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, examines how major geopolitical, economic and security challenges are reshaping the Jewish world and its relationship with the United States. He will discuss how shifting global power away from the United States and Europe to the emerging powers in Asia and Latin America poses challenges for the Jewish community and the relationship between Israel and the United States.

More Information

Please RSVP here for the conference »

Follow AU_SPA on Twitter for live updates of the talk »

In addition to Eizenstat’s talk, a student will be presented with a scholarship honoring the legacy of Rita Simon, a former American University professor and widely published author.

The event is hosted by the School of Public Affairs and Center for Israel Studies. For more information, contact Eric Fleddermann (ericf@american.edu). 

Eizenstat has a lengthy record of government service, having been director of the White House domestic policy staff under President Carter, as well as Deputy Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton Administration. A native Chicagoan and graduate of Harvard Law School, he is an attorney with the Washington, D.C., law firm of Covington and Burling.

In his 2004 memoir, Imperfect Justice: Looted Assets, Slave Labor, and the Unfinished Business of World War II, Eizenstat draws on his experiences negotiating reparations for Holocaust survivors who were persecuted in the postwar period.

Rita Simon

Dr. Simon, who died last year at the age of 81, joined the American University faculty in 1983. She was the former editor of three scholarly journals, American Sociological Review, Justice Quarterly and Gender Issues. She wrote or edited more than 60 books and 325 articles on immigration, public opinion, and racial and gender justice.

For 19 years before joining American University, she was a professor of sociology at the University of Illinois. She also taught at the University of Chicago and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She served on the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics created by the Secretary of Education.

Amos Perlmutter, a Washington-based political scientist, author and commentator on Middle Eastern affairs, was a beloved professor at American University from 1972 until he died in 2001. He was the author of 15 books and many articles and essays about strategic studies, military sociology and comparative politics in the Middle East.

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Title: Health Economics and Policy Expert to Join Faculty
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Abstract: Dr. Erdal Tekin, an expert on health economics and policy, will join the Department of Public Administration & Policy as a professor in August.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/03/2014
Content:

Dr. Erdal Tekin, an expert on health economics and policy, will join the Department of Public Administration & Policy as a professor in August. He currently is a professor of economics in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University, specializing in health economics, demographic economics and applied microeconomics.

Dr. Tekin’s research has appeared in many of the top journals in the field, including Review of Economics & Statistics; Journal of Human Resources; and Social Science & Medicine. His research has been funded by organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, Administration for Children and Families, Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management and Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. His work has been cited over 1,200 times in the research literature and profiled by a variety of media outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Forbes magazine.

He has conducted extensive research on the determinants of criminal behavior among youth and adults; effects of child care subsidies and prices on employment, welfare decisions by parents and children’s development; effect of food stamp benefits on the labor market; link between child neglect and future criminality; and causes and economic consequences of obesity.

He is a research associate in the health economics and children’s programs of the National Bureau of Economic Research and a fellow of the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). He is a co-editor of the Journal of Population Economics and an associate editor of IZA World of Labor and IZA Journal of Labor Policy. He also serves as a co-organizer of the annual international workshop on the Economic Analysis of Risky Behaviors. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Title: Prolific Author on Public Service to Deliver Levine Lecture
Author: Dave DeFusco
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Abstract: Paul Light, a prolific author on government reform and public service, will discuss “The National Commission on the Public Service at Twenty-Five Years and Counting” at the Fifth Annual Charles H. Levine Memorial Lecture.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 04/01/2014
Content:

Paul Light, a prolific author on government reform and public service, will discuss “The National Commission on the Public Service at Twenty-Five Years and Counting” at the Fifth Annual Charles H. Levine Memorial Lecture on Wednesday, April 9, at 6 p.m. in the Butler Board Room of the Mary Graydon Center. 

The talk is free and open to the public, and sponsored by the Department of Public Administration & Policy. For more information, contact Eden Waller (waller@american.edu) or Bob Durant (durant@american.edu). 

Light, the Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service in the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University, was a senior advisor to the staff of the National Commission on the Public Service, also known as the Volcker Commission, which issued a report in 1989 on the changes needed to restore vitality and credibility to the public service. 

Before joining New York University, he was vice president and director of governmental studies at the Brookings Institution and founding director of its Center for Public Service. In addition to the Volcker Commission, he was senior adviser to the U.S. Senate Governmental Affairs Committee from 1987 to 1989. 

He is the author of 25 books, including works on social entrepreneurship, the nonprofit sector, federal government reform and public service. His most recent book, Government by Investigation: Presidents, Congress, and the Search for Answers, 1945-2012, published this year, examines the 100 most significant investigations of policy failures, bureaucratic mistakes and personal misconduct undertaken by the federal government between 1945 and 2012. 

Charles Levine, a political scientist who was an expert on the civil service, was a Distinguished Professor of Government and Public Administration at the School of Public Affairs and deputy director of the National Commission on the Public Service. He died in 1988 at the age of 49. 

A champion of the civil service, he lamented what he saw as a decline in morale of federal workers. He assailed the frequent attacks on the civil service by politicians and government officials and the increasing use of political appointees to fill top civil service jobs. 

A native of Hartford, Dr. Levine earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Connecticut and master’s and doctoral degrees in political science at Indiana University. 

He was the author of nine books, the most noted of which was Managing Fiscal Stress. The book dealt with the many techniques used by cities and counties to deal with fiscal crises. His books and articles in that field were considered at the time seminal contributions. 

He was also widely published in leading journals of public administration and policy. He was the founding editor of the journal Administration & Society, served on the National Council of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA), and received ASPA’s William E. Mosher Award for Scholarship.

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Title: MSOD Student Receives North Carolina’s Highest Award for Volunteer Service
Author: Phil Agar
Subtitle:
Abstract: Current MSOD student Atrayus Goode (Cohort 69) will receive the North Carolina Governor’s Medallion for Volunteer Service.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 04/01/2014
Content:

Current MSOD student, Atrayus Goode (Cohort 69), notified American University’s MSOD program last Thursday that he will receive the North Carolina Governor’s Medallion for Volunteer Service, the state’s highest award for volunteer service.

“The MSOD program has helped deepen my ability to make a greater impact,” said Goode. He joined AU MSOD’s cohort 69 this spring after having a great experience with a past leadership coach. “I wanted to find a program to enhance my skill set.”

Already an award winning mentor, motivational speaker and public servant at the young age of 28, Goode will be awarded again for his work with his organization, Movement of Youth, a comprehensive education mentoring program for middle and high school students. 

“I was tremendously humbled by receiving this honor,” said Goode. “It will give me a larger platform to impact more people.” 

Goode started Movement of Youth his junior year at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, based off a program he went through with 100 Black Men of America. “I felt an overwhelming urge to give back,” said Goode. It consisted of 11 students in 2006 growing to 200 students across 4 counties over time.

In 2006, the North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service created the Governor’s Medallion for Volunteer Service recognizing only the top 20 volunteers in the state. In order to receive the medallion Atrayus was nominated at the county level and evaluated by a panel of community service leaders across the state.

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Title: Cheney Visits AU
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Subtitle:
Abstract: The former vice president sits down for a wide-ranging discussion in Bender Arena.
Topic: Government & Politics
Publication Date: 03/28/2014
Content:

Few people have amassed as much high-level government experience as Dick Cheney. Before serving as President George W. Bush’s vice president and trusted adviser, Cheney was White House chief of staff to President Gerald Ford, a member of Congress representing Wyoming, and secretary of Defense under President George H.W. Bush. So the battle-tested Cheney had plenty of knowledge to impart to students at a Kennedy Political Union (KPU) event on Thursday, March 27th at American University.

Controversy surrounding the Iraq War and post-9/11 counterterrorism policy has made Cheney a lightning rod for criticism, and there were protests both inside and outside Bender Arena on Thursday night. But Cheney is also revered by many conservatives, and a hospitable AU crowd of approximately 750 attentively listened to his remarks on Russia, Iran, gay rights, and other issues.

Welcoming Cheney

Though KPU has hosted politicians who would later become vice presidents—Joe Biden while he was still in the Senate, for example—Cheney’s visit marks the first time a former vice president has appeared at one of the political union’s events.

“Vice President Cheney has a long and thorough résumé when it comes to Washington. From his time as House minority whip to serving under several presidents, he has seen it all,” said KPU Director Chandler Thornton. “While one may not agree with everything he has done, he has been extremely influential in shaping the policy of the United States domestically and abroad for decades.”

Founded in 1968, KPU is the non-partisan, student-run lecture series on campus. The Cheney event was cosponsored by the American University College Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation.

Conservative students were clearly excited to have Cheney at AU. Lucy Lohrmann was just seven years old at the time of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. She’s originally from Hasbrouck Heights in Bergen County, New Jersey, only about 15 minutes away from New York City and Ground Zero.

“I was a young girl feeling unsafe in this country that I have grown to love,” she said. “I feel—not just as a Republican, but also as an American—that the Bush administration kept us safe during such a horrible, scary, uncertain time.”

Fast forward to 2014, and Lohrmann is an AU sophomore and president of the College Republicans. She still appreciates how Cheney handled the terrorist threat, and she was enthusiastic about him coming to campus.

In response to some anti-Cheney sentiment, Lohrmann discusses the value of diverse viewpoints.

“I think [AU] strives to bring about diversity, not just in a racial sense or an ethnic sense, but also a diversity of thought, diversity of political affiliation. Obviously, college campuses just by their nature are more liberal, and that’s totally fine. But I think it’s very important to also have that diversity, and to bring somebody like Dick Cheney here,” she said.

In His Own Words

In his introductory statement, Cheney wasted no time confronting the contentious issue of NSA surveillance.

“There are all these allegations and charges that the NSA is deeply involved in intercepting and violating people’s civil rights. That’s not true,” said Cheney. He said he worries that current political considerations could dismantle vital NSA work. If the NSA surveillance program had been in place before 9/11, he opined that “we might well have been able to intercept the hijackers.”

The event was moderated by Richard Benedetto, a former White House correspondent for USA Today and now an adjunct professor in the School of Public Affairs and the School of Communication. Benedetto read questions that students submitted online.

Early on, Benedetto asked about Cheney’s health. The former vice president reflected on a long struggle that included his first heart attack at age 37 and his heart transplant two years ago. He mentioned how scientific advances have significantly reduced the incidents of death from heart disease. “It’s a great story. It’s not my story. It’s a story of technology and the remarkable progress that’s been made with modern medicine.”

To some laughter, Benedetto said the students have an impression of Cheney as a “rather dark personality.”

“Especially after 9/11, I had to spend a lot of time on highly classified material and programs. That was the nature of my job and my responsibility. So there wasn’t anything I could say about what I was doing, anyway,” Cheney explained in response. “I think for all of those reasons I developed this image—part of which was true. I was tough and hard-nosed…I wasn’t running for anything. I was trying to do the job the president had given me.”

Students submitted a number of questions about foreign policy. Cheney warned that if Iran goes nuclear, other nations in the Middle East will follow suit. Regarding the Crimean crisis involving Russia and Ukraine, he argued that the U.S. could take military measures that do not include putting troops on the ground.

There were some lighter moments, and Cheney even fielded a question about trout fishing. His all-time largest catch? A 20-plus pound Steelhead.

At the end of the evening, he addressed the AU students directly and encouraged them to consider public service. “I came to town as an intern to work on Capitol Hill,” he recalled. “And it worked out to be a pretty good deal for me. And I want to encourage those of you who are here tonight at American University. It’s enormously important that we get good people involved, whatever your beliefs are or your political faith.”

Student Reactions

“I thought the questions that they asked were good,” said freshman Sophie Yager. “And for the most part, I think he was truthful in how he answered.”

Freshman Alex Falco also appreciated Cheney’s candor. “He was very frank. And he did make a few very bold statements, like saying the current level of NSA surveillance could have stopped 9/11. That’s just a very bold statement. But overall it was wonderful to hear him speak. Everything was very well put together. And I obviously have very differing opinions from him, but I always enjoy hearing different views.”

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newsId: 6449E296-09D7-C80B-BDA285991D985CC6
Title: Alumni Board Member Joe Vidulich is Always an Eagle
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
Subtitle:
Abstract: Few alumni embody the phrase “Once an Eagle, Always an Eagle” as well as Joe Vidulich, SPA/BA ’08.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 04/07/2014
Content:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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, Distinguished Professor Jim Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, says, “She is a wonderful example to all of our students, but especially women.” 

Kraus, who is keenly focused on empowering young women as she runs one of the largest independently-owned communication consultancies, says that her family is her support system. As a wife, mother, and grandmother, she says that her personal brand of work-life balance would not work for everyone. “I try to be there for the most important things and make up for with experience what I lack in time,” she says. To that end, she has built a family tradition of taking each grandchild on an international trip with her when they turn 10 years old. 

Not surprisingly, Kraus says no day is ever the same for her. “I am up at 5:30. I check everything at home,” she says. “Since we’re a global company, I spend the morning catching up on what’s happening in Asia and Europe, then have meetings all day, and usually attend evening receptions.”  

Despite her intensely busy schedule, which sometimes includes weeks on end away from home, Kraus finds time to give back to AU. “Margery Kraus has been a strong and long-term supporter of American University, the School of Public Affairs, and especially the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies through her generous contribution to our benefactor’s awards, her guidance, and by sharing her wisdom and knowledge with our students and faculty,” says Professor Thurber. He adds that she speaks to students, opens her offices to them as interns and employees, and “has changed the lives of many students in countless ways.”

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Update,Board of Trustees,Capitol Hill,Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies,International Business,Political Science,School of Public Affairs,Washington DC,Washington Semester,Congress
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Title: Legally Blind MPA Student Supports Disabled Workers
Author: April Thompson
Subtitle:
Abstract: Duilio Correa, SPA/MPA '13, credits his AU education with helping him become an analyst at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Topic: Student
Publication Date: 02/11/2013
Content:

Duilio Correa, SPA/MPA '13, came to American University by chance, but stayed by design – for two degrees and counting.

The Peruvian-born student first came to AU in 2005 for a certificate in Spanish translation, but his advisor, the late Jack Child, encouraged him to stay on and pursue a master's degree in Spanish and Latin American studies.

“At first I was doubtful. I was already working as an information specialist for a government clearinghouse, and legally blind from birth – I didn't really know if I could pull it off,” said Correa.

After finishing his MA in 2008, Correa landed a job developing Spanish-language materials at the National Institutes of Health. Yet, he felt he needed a better foundation in management, and found himself again perusing AU's course offerings. SPA’s MPA program seemed like a good fit, but Correa had to think twice about saddling himself with a full load of night classes given his demanding job.

He took the bet, and it's paid off. Graduation is in sight, and Correa has landed a plum position as a management and program analyst at Health and Human Services, a job he says he wouldn't have gotten without his AU education. In his new position, Correa will be working with the human resources team at HHS to recruit people with disabilities and develop programs catering to disabled employees.

“Struggle is necessary for success,” says Correa, who came to the U.S. as a teen with his mother – his driving force and inspiration. “If the opportunity you're looking for doesn't arise, sometimes you have to create it.”

While Correa doesn't feel his disability – a congenital eye condition that limits his central vision – has impeded him personally or professionally, it has required him to be resourceful. The student relies on dictation programs to type documents, an iPad to zoom in on text and software to read passages aloud to him.

The classroom has been fertile ground to learn and grow, according to Correa. “The AU community is very supportive. Professors encourage independent thought, and give you a lot of room to explore academically and express yourself freely.” He feels more poised in the workplace and better equipped to handle difficult situations as a result of his coursework in management.

Ever ambitious, Correa is already thinking about returning for his PhD someday, and eventually becoming a professional coach for disabled individuals. It's hard to imagine a better career for someone so passionate about helping others thrive in the face of adversity.

“You can't focus on your physical challenges or concentrate on your flaws; you have to look at what you do well and how you can improve,” says Correa. “If you fail, there is always another day. The key is never to give up.”

Tags: Public Administration,Public Administration & Policy,School of Public Affairs,Alumni
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Title: PhD Grad to Lead Change in Colombia’s Public Work Force
Author: April Thompson
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Abstract: Pablo Sanabria, SPA/PhD ’12, will put his SPA education to work as he leads a team to modernize Colombia’s public sector workforce.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 01/04/2013
Content:

Professors not only impact students, sometimes their work also can make changes at a national level. Case in point: Pablo Sanabria will put his SPA education to work as he leads a team to modernize Colombia’s public sector workforce.

Sanabria, SPA/PhD ’12, recently won a $700,000 grant from the government of Colombia to design the framework of a comprehensive policy that promotes innovative and effective human resource management in the public sector.

“Colombia's public sector gets a mixed review, with modern HR practices in some organizations and less desirable practices such as cronyism, political patronage, and clientelism in others,” explained Sanabria, a faculty member at the University de los Andes in Bogotá. “The purpose of this grant is to establish a new baseline for Colombia’s public sector and help modernize its human resource management system.”

SPA edge

There was strong competition in the selection process from other schools backed by seasoned researchers, but Sanabria says his doctoral studies in public administration at SPA “gave me the edge. I had state-of-the-art methods and literature at my disposal in developing our proposal.” Sanabria added, “Public administration research in Colombia does not have a strong empirical base, particularly in the use of quantitative and qualitative methods, which we were able to bring to the table with this project.”

“American University’s ideals of serving society and putting ideas into action have shaped me personally and professionally.”


After finishing his PhD in only three years last year, Sanabria joined the faculty of the Alberto Lleras Camargo School of Government at the University de los Andes, Colombia’s top-ranked university and one of South America’s top five. Sanabria’s research team will include nearly 20 faculty members and student research assistants from the schools of government, business, and law to develop a comprehensive view of human resource management in the public sector.

About the project

The two-year project will start with baseline research to understand the state of Colombia’s human resources in the public sector. Taking a bottom-up approach to the research, the team will work with public officials and human resources offices to document current practices and expectations in public sector employment. Simultaneously, the team will undertake a global review of best practices in both theory and practice. The research will culminate in recommendations for the design of a comprehensive human resources policy as well as evaluation methodologies that can be used to measure the policy’s effectiveness in the future.

The project is a natural outgrowth of Sanabria’s PhD dissertation, which analyzed the professional paths of former study-abroad students in Colombia to understand their career choices. Sanabria found that public service motivation, age, and previous experience were among the many factors playing a role in public sector career choice in Colombia.

“Younger workers are more inclined toward public sector, but that changes as people age,” he said. “Many young college graduates are interested in working in the public sector, but discover there is not an easy or well-defined route to getting these kinds of jobs, and they end up finding other ways to satisfy their desire to help society.”

On the other hand, Sanabria found that those who take the public service path can sometimes be demoralized by their work, feeling that their contribution is not significant enough, paid enough, or appreciated enough by society. “It’s important that we make sure that policies and practices are in place to keep public sector workers motivated and feeling valued,” said the researcher.

Service-driven career

Sanabria knows firsthand the lessons and challenges of a service-driven career path. After earning a master’s degree at the London School of Economics, the Bogotá-born professor spent several years in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors before returning to academia, where he felt he could have the greatest impact.

“I realized that I could have a multiplying effect as an academic scholar, especially by helping educate Colombia’s future leaders,” said Sanabria, who is designing two new master’s programs at the university and serves on the board of directors of the International Research Society for Public Management in addition to teaching and research.

Sanabria hopes to have the same impact on his students that AU had on his career trajectory and beliefs about public service.

“American University’s ideals of serving society and putting ideas into action have shaped me personally and professionally,” said Sanabria. “My PhD helped get me where I am today – teaching at a top university, doing research I love, and hopefully making a lasting contribution to public affairs in my country.”

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Title: From Mock Trial to Study Abroad, AU Senior Seizes the Day
Author: April Thompson
Subtitle:
Abstract: Eric Fleddermann is proof positive you can have it all as an AU student - from preparing a mock trial case, to editing a peer's résumé, or playing drums in the pep band.
Topic: Student
Publication Date: 12/13/2012
Content:

Eric Fleddermann SIS/BA ’13 is proof positive you can have it all as an AU student. On any given day, you might find the senior preparing a mock trial case, helping a peer write a résumé in the AU Career Center, or laying down a drum beat for the Screamin’ Eagles Pep Band at a basketball game. It’s all part of the rich tapestry that has made up Fleddermann’s “American experience.”

“Being a student in D.C., I can attend court hearings, participate in political rallies, and take advantage of so many other opportunities on a daily basis,” said Fleddermann, a Missouri native pursuing a double major in international studies and business administration, and a minor in Arabic language.

A highlight of Fleddermann’s AU experience has been serving as president of the American University Mock Trial (AUMT) team, coached by School of Public Affairs professor Jessica Waters. The self-proclaimed underdog team made a splash this past semester, beating out national champions at a Columbia University invitational, considered one of the East Coast’s most prestigious tournaments. Fleddermann also took home a top attorney award at the tournament.

“Seeing our team blossom into such a success has been so rewarding,” he said.

His favorite class, Justice, Morality, and the Law, taught by Professor Waters honed his courtroom talent. “We debated controversial legal issues like terrorism, birth control, hate speech, and religious exemption,” said Fleddermann.

“The class taught me to consider all sides of an issue before presenting an argument.”

AU has also offered Fleddermann a gateway to the world. In 2011, he spent six months studying Arabic and business at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, arriving in the heat of the Arab Spring movement.

“I was a child of 9-11 and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, events that affected me deeply and made me want to better understand that part of the world,” said Fleddermann.

Real-world work experience has also been a part of Fleddermann’s life in D.C. He interned at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission among other workplaces, but he found job satisfaction working in AU’s Career Center. There, Fleddermann, a peer advisor since sophomore year, undertook data crunching, résumé writing, as well as marketing and outreach tasks.

“It’s been so rewarding to help other students reach their career goals. I also get to use my oral presentation skills I’ve developed through the mock trial team to speak to classes.”

Fleddermann now faces the exciting challenge of deciding where to apply the “arsenal of skills and knowledge” he has acquired at AU. The senior is contemplating government, law and national security among career paths – all great options for a new grad in the nation’s capital.

“My time at American has helped ground my ideals in reality,” said Fleddermann. “We can create change in the world, but it takes time, it’s hard work, and at end of the day, you may not make a grand change but at least you can change individual lives, and that’s what I hope to do.”

Tags: Mock Trial Association,School of International Service,School of Public Affairs,Career Center,Career Center Services
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newsId: D1BBA94D-B11D-05CF-F73BEBA4AC583296
Title: Alumna Becomes D.C. Judge, Remains Committed to AU
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
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Abstract: Rainey Ransom Brandt was recently sworn in as D.C. Superior Court magistrate judge.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 11/13/2012
Content:

“My entire career has been devoted to public service, the law, and improving the administration of justice,” said Rainey Ransom Brandt, CAS/BGS ’89, SPA/MS ’90, CAS-SPA/PhD ’93, during her Senate confirmation hearing to become an associate judge of the District of Columbia Superior Court.

When announcing her nomination in March 2012, President Obama said, “Throughout her career, Rainey Ransom Brandt has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to justice. I am proud to nominate her to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.”

Although she is still awaiting confirmation from the Senate to become an associate judge of the D.C. Superior Court, Brandt was sworn in as a Superior Court magistrate judge on November 7 after spending 14 years as special counsel to the chief judge of the D.C. Superior Court.

As special counsel, Brandt was the in-house expert on criminal law and prisoners’ rights, handling sentencing issues and answering inquiries regarding law changes. In her new role as a magistrate judge, she will preside over preliminary hearings in domestic violence cases, including arraignments and child support.

While attending American University, Brandt had different plans. The popularity of the show “L.A. Law” piqued her interest in pursuing a career as an FBI agent. But research she conducted at the now-closed Lorton Prison while completing her PhD in justice with a specialization in corrections changed her mind. She decided to go to law school at Catholic University, but no longer wanted to join the FBI.

Brandt taught classes while she was a graduate student and has remained committed to AU as an adjunct associate professor for 21 years – including one year as a full-time professor – and teaches one criminal justice class every semester.

“I learn more from my students than they learn from me,” Brandt says. Moderating classroom discussions has shown her the value of integrating many opinions and points of view, and she hopes her experience as a professor in the classroom will translate to being a judge in the courtroom.

“My students have taught me how to deal with issues and controversy. As a professor, I have always tried to be a calming influence over their chaotic lives. … Having to deal with all those different scenarios over the years has taught me how to be calm and rational under pressure,” she adds.

No matter where her career goes next, Brandt’s dedication to AU and education is unwavering. She says, “I will always remain a professor at heart. … I won’t stop that just because I’m becoming a judge.”

 

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,Justice, Law & Society,School of Public Affairs,College of Arts and Sciences
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