newsId: 27344E21-A2FF-1649-C27685A775BB47BD
Title: Anita McBride Re-Appointed by President Obama to Fulbright Board
Author: Will Pittinos
Subtitle:
Abstract: McBride, executive in residence at the School of Public Affairs, will be the longest-serving active member.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 07/29/2014
Content:

President Obama announced that Anita McBride, executive in residence at the School of Public Affairs, will be reappointed to the 12-person Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

"It is an incredible honor to serve our nation's largest exchange program," McBride said. "I look forward to continuing to promote the incredible impact of Fulbright participants around the world."

President Obama announced McBride's reappointment along with other key administration posts and said, "I am grateful that these impressive individuals have chosen to dedicate their talents to serving the American people at this important time for our country."

Sponsored by the Department of State, the Fulbright program has granted more than 325,000 awards and is active in more than 155 countries.

McBride was first appointed to the board in 2009, and she will be the longest-serving active member. She has served at the White House in various capacities across three administrations, including assistant to the president and chief of staff to First Lady Laura Bush from 2005 to 2009. She also served as senior advisor to the secretary and White House liaison at the Department of State from 2001 to 2003, and as senior advisor in the Bureau of International Organizations at the Department of State in 2004. From 1987 to 1992, she was director of White House Personnel under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

McBride is a also member of the U.S. –Afghan Women's Council and serves on the boards of the White House Historical Association and the National Italian American Foundation. Earlier this year, she was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations.

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Title: Congratulations to 2014 Zauderer Scholarship Winner, Amir Paul
Author:
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Abstract: Congratulations to Amir, a student who embodies the Key mission and values.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 07/29/2014
Content:

Succeed despite your circumstance. That is the motto of scholarship winner Amir Paul’s life. Born in Washington, DC to a native Washingtonian and Vietnam Veteran father whose PTSD caused him and his four siblings to enter foster care at the age of 10, Amir Paul remained dedicated to succeed despite the circumstances in which he found himself.  At the age of 15 Amir received admittance into The Groton School in Massachusetts, which as he recalls “was the polar opposite from the streets of DC—from eating mumbo sauce to hollandaise.” Amir eventually went on to attend and graduate from Ohio Wesleyan University where he served as a mentor, member of the student government, rugby player, and fellow “social-scene enthusiast”.

Upon graduation, he began working full-time at the Department of Commerce in downtown Washington, D.C. while taking care of his 13-year old brother. Remaining true to his commitment in helping others, Amir worked one night a week for a non-profit dedicated to helping DC youth gain entry into college, which boasts a 90% success rate. After a year at the Department of Commerce, Amir married and moved on to the Department of Veteran Affairs, where he is today. Amir shared, “I am now the proud father of a 6-month old baby girl whose nickname varies based on her situation (i.e., fussy baby, sleepy baby, smelly baby). My career mission is to work for agencies that need hard-working employees to improve their current state-of-being to improve the services they provide and increase morale.”

“I am forever grateful to Pam Spearow—who is a Key graduate and the person who not only told me about the program, but encouraged me to apply” shared Amir. “Not only has this program made me a much better employee, it has made me a better father and husband through understanding myself better.”

“When [Director] Bob [Tobias] told me that I won the Don Zauderer scholarship, I was speechless. I became even more humbled to receive this award when I learned more about all that is Professor Zauderer, whose transformational leadership and ‘professor wit’ has made a tremendous impact on all of his endeavors. By no means do I consider myself worthy of this award but I guarantee that I will do everything that I can to become worthy of an award that honors Professor Z.”

Congratulations to Amir, a student who embodies the Key mission and values.

 

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Title: Jane Palmer to Advise on National Study
Author: Dave DeFusco
Subtitle:
Abstract: Jane Palmer, professiorial lecturer, will take part in a 42-month national study to assess the rate of violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 07/15/2014
Content:

A national study funded by the National Institute of Justice will assess the rate of violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women.

“Existing research indicates that violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women is a critical public health and public safety issue,” said Jane Palmer, a technical advisor to the study and professorial lecturer at the School of Public Affairs at American University.

The Violence Against Women Act of 2005 mandates that the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), in consultation with the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women, conduct a national baseline study on violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women living in Indian country.

The 42-month study, which is the first comprehensive national effort of its kind, will examine domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking against American Indian and Alaska Native women; identify factors that place these women at risk for victimization; evaluate the effectiveness of federal, state, tribal and local responses to violence; and propose recommendations for improving effectiveness of those responses.

Under the direction of the NIJ, American Indian Development Associates (AIDA) based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will partner with Palmer, Michelle Chino, an associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and RTI International to implement the study.

Palmer worked on a national baseline pilot study for three years as a doctoral student and will assist in instrument refinement, field interviewer training, data analysis, and report writing and dissemination.

National and regional studies have found that violence against women is more widespread and severe among self-identified American Indian and Alaska Native women than among other North Americans. There are 566 federally recognized tribes in the United States, and at least 300 additional tribes have petitioned for federal and state recognition.

“Accurate, comprehensive and current information on the incidence, prevalence and nature of crime and victimization is critically needed,” said Palmer. “The national baseline study will improve our understanding of the programmatic, service and policy needs of the women in these communities, and it will educate and inform policy-makers and the public about the threat to their health and well-being.”

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newsId: 4C906210-D2FE-70DD-DF16EDF0E991D974
Title: SPA Ranked Among Top Universities for Institutional Impact on Research
Author:
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Abstract: The Journal of Public Affairs Education released a new index that awarded SPA high marks in research in the field of public administration.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 07/15/2014
Content:

American University's School of Public Affairs is ranked 5th worldwide, 3rd in the U.S., and 1st in the Washington, DC area for institutional impact on research in the field of public administration, according to a new study published in the Journal of Public Affairs Education.  

To create the index, study authors surveyed public administration journals to determine quantity of articles published by an institution's faculty, quality of the journals in which those articles appear, and overall institutional impact. The score is based on five years of manuscripts published in Thompson Reuters Journal Citation Report-indexed public administration journals.  

American University was ranked 4th for quality of journals in which articles appear and 9th for quantity of articles published. The results also indicate the University's upward trajectory in recent years –data broken out by year shows American University's ranking climbed steadily from 31st to 5th over the five years of the study.  

"School of Public Affairs faculty members share a commitment to world-class teaching and high-impact research," said Barbara Romzek, dean of the School of Public Affairs. "To see that commitment come to life in our ranking in this index is truly exciting."

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Title: Jon Gould to Join National Science Foundation
Author: Dave DeFusco
Subtitle:
Abstract: Gould will join the National Science Foundation as a visiting director of its Law and Social Sciences Program.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 07/11/2014
Content:

Professor Jon Gould, chair of the Department of Justice, Law & Criminology and director of the Washington Institute for Public Affairs Research in the School of Public Affairs, has been named a director of the Law and Social Sciences Program at the National Science Foundation. His one-year appointment begins in September.

"This is a tremendous honor for Jon, recognizing as it does his leadership in the field of law and society and his experience in grant-funded research," said Barbara Romzek, dean of the School of Public Affairs. "It also benefits us in the long run, helping to raise the profile of the school in such circles and bringing Jon's heightened experience back to SPA when the position ends."

Gould will help steer $6 million in grant money toward research in the fields of law and social sciences. "It will be a chance to immerse myself in research on law and social sciences and help support future scholarship in those areas," he said.

He will remain director of the Washington Institute for Public Affairs Research (WIPAR) and chair of Justice, Law & Criminology through the end of July. While on leave at NSF, he will continue to advise and work with SPA doctoral students.

WIPAR serves as a bridge between academic researchers and the public affairs community, including public agencies, corporations, private foundations, nonprofit organizations and media. It advises faculty in conceptualizing and operationalizing their research and assists researchers in grant-funding.

With WIPAR's encouragement and support, research proposals generated by SPA faculty and the amount of grant funding have increased steadily over the last three years, and almost all of SPA's new faculty have submitted research proposals on some project that has been funded.

"This appointment is a natural progression from WIPAR," Gould said. "At the NSF, I'll be helping to support research and advance important projects of scholars across the country. I'll see part of the grants process from the other side."

A lawyer and social scientist, Gould combines empirical research with policy advocacy to promote government reform and administration. His work focuses on civil rights and liberties, justice policy and legal change, helping to make academic research relevant and accessible to policymaking. Over the past three years, he has led the Preventing Wrongful Convictions Project. Funded by the National Institute of Justice, Gould directed a team of nine in examining how the criminal justice system avoids wrongful convictions.

He has published on the subjects of wrongful convictions, hate speech, sexual harassment, criminal defense, police compliance with the Constitution, and judicial treatment of race and gender. His first book, Speak No Evil: The Triumph of Hate Speech Regulation, was a co-winner of the 2006 Herbert Jacob award for the best book in law and society. His second book, The Innocence Commission: Preventing Wrongful Convictions and Restoring the Criminal Justice System, was named an Outstanding Academic Title for 2008 by the American Library Association. Gould has been a U.S. Supreme Court Fellow, is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and has served on multiple scholarly and policy boards. He has won awards for his scholarship, teaching, and service.

Gould sees his NSF appointment as an opportunity to share with his SPA colleagues the ideas and areas in social sciences that are being funded, the pressing scholarly issues that should be addressed, and the ways to make faculty research more visible.

"It will also be a chance to give back to American University," he said.

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Title: SPA Dean Barbara Romzek to Receive Gaus Award
Author: Dave DeFusco
Subtitle:
Abstract: Romzek, an expert in public management and accountability, was chosen for “a lifetime of exemplary scholarship in the joint tradition of political science and public administration.”
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 07/07/2014
Content:

Barbara Romzek, the Dean of the School of Public Affairs at American University, has been selected to receive the 2014 John Gaus Award from the American Political Science Association (APSA). Dean Romzek, an expert in public management and accountability, was chosen for "a lifetime of exemplary scholarship in the joint tradition of political science and public administration."

In August she will give the 29th John Gaus Distinguished Lecture at APSA's annual meeting in Washington, D.C. The full text of her lecture will be published in an upcoming issue of PS: Political Science & Politics.

Dean Romzek has written extensively on issues of management and accountability in the bureaucracy. She has published three books and scores of journal articles, book chapters and monographs on public management in complex work settings, including NASA, Congress and the Air Force, as well as state agencies, local governments, nonprofit agencies and collaborative networks of service providers.

A 1987 article that she co-authored with Melvin Dubnick, "Accountability in the Public Sector: Lessons from the Challenger Tragedy," was cited in March by the American Society for Public Administration as one of the 75 most influential articles in the history of the journal Public Administration Review. The article, which continues to be among the top 10 most accessed articles of the journal, identified multiple types of public sector accountability that operate simultaneously for public officials.

She is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, and has held numerous leadership positions within professional associations of political science and public administration. They include the public administration sections of the American Political Science Association and the Midwest Political Science Association, public and nonprofit section of the Academy of Management, and executive councils of the American Political Science Association and the Network of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration.

Dean Romzek is the third faculty member from the School of Public Affairs to win the Gaus Award, joining Robert Durant (2013) and David Rosenbloom (2001), both experts in public administration and policy.

The American Political Science Association is a professional organization of political science students and scholars that serves more than 12,000 members in over 80 countries. In addition to PS: Political Science & Politics, it publishes the journals American Political Science Review and Perspectives on Politics.

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newsId: 235BA021-B3C8-FD1F-6BA50A17D7697BBB
Title: Vicky Wilkins Joins SPA as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Author:
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Abstract: Vicky Wilkins, a nationally recognized scholar in public management, joined SPA on July 1 as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 07/01/2014
Content:

Vicky Wilkins, a nationally recognized scholar in public management, joined SPA on July 1 as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

"Vicky is an experienced administrator, accomplished teacher, and an innovator in curriculum, student services and fundraising," said SPA Dean Barbara Romzek.

In her new position, she will be responsible for graduate education and all matters pertaining to the faculty. Before joining SPA, she was an administrative leader and faculty member at the University of Georgia for 11 years, four of them as director of graduate studies. As director of the Master of Public Administration program, she replaced an outdated essay exam with a case-based one, allowing students to fully demonstrate their skills. She also developed a three-day socialization event to welcome incoming students that culminated with a day of service and interaction with local officials and leaders. Working with the Seoul Metropolitan Government, she led the development of a course that enabled students to study Seoul's response to urban problems.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Jan Leighley for her invaluable contributions over the past two years as interim associate dean," Romzek wrote, "especially her work revising graduate methods curriculum and strengthening and clarifying procedures for faculty governance and faculty actions across the school. SPA could not have made nearly as much progress as we have without her help these past two years."

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Title: Taking the Freedom Ride
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Subtitle:
Abstract: Two AU students will attend a special commemoration of the Civil Rights Act.
Topic: Government & Politics
Publication Date: 06/30/2014
Content:

The Civil Rights Act was signed a half century ago, but it's still a living, breathing law for millions of people. Two American University students have certainly contemplated its legacy. Tatehona Kelly and Daniel Sweig will take part in a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the landmark law on July 2 through the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

Get on the Bus

As part of this event, Kelly, Sweig, and other college students will ride a bus with some of the original Freedom Riders from Washington, D.C. to Richmond, Va. Along the way, the bus will make brief stops at several sites that symbolize the struggle for racial equality. This will include the U.S. Supreme Court, where the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation case was decided in 1954, and the Lincoln Memorial, scene of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963.

"I'm excited to be on the bus. I know the first leg of the trip, you sit by someone specific, and then they switch you around so you get to talk to everyone. So I'm excited to see what kind of dialogue occurs," says Kelly, a rising senior in the College of Arts and Sciences.

In 1961, the Freedom Riders bravely rode buses in the American South to challenge segregated transportation facilities. One of those activists was Dion Diamond, then a student at Howard University. More recently, he spoke to one of Kelly's AU classes, and now he's scheduled to take part in the upcoming celebration. Other Freedom Riders expected to attend include Rev. Reginald Green and Joan Trumpauer Mulholland.

"As a history major, I just love people's stories. And as a writer, I love people's stories. So I just want to know the Freedom Rider experiences, and learn about things that can be transplanted to today's work," says Kelly.

History Lessons, Family Roots

Kelly's family history is emblematic of the African-American experience in the 20th century. "My great-grandmother was 102 when she passed, and when I was growing up, she used to tell us about working in Mississippi and sharecropping," Kelly recalls. Like so many African-American families, they journeyed north during the Great Migration, eventually settling in Ohio. But, as was often the case, discrimination persisted, and both of Kelly's parents dealt with busing and segregation.

Her father's intellect helped shape her consciousness. He is a history buff, and he inspired Tatehona to learn about the nation's tumultuous past. "'Jeopardy!' was on every night, and we would sit and watch the History channel. And we talked all the time about what he experienced growing up, being born in the 1950s, and seeing all of that transition," she says.

The allure of Washington, D.C. brought her to American University. In addition to her coursework in the History Department, she's a minor in public administration and policy in the School of Public Affairs. She's also had valuable internships with the Innocence Project and the Congressional Black Caucus. She's currently writing a grant proposal for the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Kelly is a member of the Black Student Alliance, and she's volunteered for the DC Books to Prisons Project.

Sweig is a nontraditional student, having worked for a number of years before enrolling at Harry S Truman College in Chicago. He transferred to AU in January, and he's currently working with faculty to craft his own interdisciplinary major, "The politics and economics of criminology."

Sweig traces his interest in civil rights to his idiosyncratic family background. His father was an American Jew who roped in rodeos, while his mother was a non-Jew born in wartime Germany in 1944. They had him late in life, and Daniel was always grappling with his mixed background.

"I was cognizant of the fact that there was a lot of stress in the family regarding my father's marriage to my mom," he says. "And since I grew up in Boulder, Colorado, naturally I went to a Buddhist preschool. So if I wasn't confused already!" he jokes. "Part of my passion for civil rights is my own pursuit of my identity. So I got very interested in history at a very young age, in attempt to figure that out."

He did a congressional internship with Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and he's currently working with One by 1 Inc., a nonprofit focused on reducing recidivism and empowering youth.

Bill of the Century

Among other things, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination in hotels, restaurants, and similar public accommodations, and it encouraged the desegregation of public schools. "No single act of Congress can, by itself, eliminate discrimination and prejudice, hatred and injustice," said President Lyndon Johnson, regarding the bill he would sign. "But this bill goes further to invest the rights of man with the protection of law than any legislation in this century."

Both Kelly and Sweig applied for and were accepted to be part of this special ceremony. They're not only appreciative of the Civil Rights Act's successes, but they believe it should be enhanced to combat current inequities.

"I think it needs improvement. It's still relevant, and it needs to be fluid for today's growing issues—like the resegregating of schools and districts," Kelly opines.

"We still haven't addressed so much, in terms of predatory lending and artificial devaluation of minority communities through predatory foreclosure practices," says Sweig.

Social justice advocates believe much work needs to be done. This commemoration should offer a bridge between two generations of civil rights activists. King's impassioned speech in Memphis just before his assassination still rings true, and still offers hope: "I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land."

Tags: Black Student Alliance,College of Arts and Sciences,Featured News,History,History Dept,Media Relations,Public Administration & Policy,School of Public Affairs
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Title: 2014 an Outstanding Year for National Scholarship Success at AU
Author: Devin Symons
Subtitle:
Abstract: American University students’ passion and persistence pay off in competitive awards.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 06/18/2014
Content:

Fulbright. Boren. Udall. Pickering. Truman. What do these names have in common? Two things: they’re all prestigious national scholarships and fellowships, and American University (AU) students and alumni earned all of them in 2014.

This was a banner year for AU students and alumni, who were named recipients, alternates, and finalists for nationally competitive scholarships in more than 100 instances. Those recognized represent a variety of programs and majors at AU, highlighting the strength of the university’s academic diversity and the support provided by faculty and staff.

“When a student wins a national scholarship, it is a tribute to his or her vision, time management skills, and willingness to make sacrifices in pursuit of a potentially life-changing opportunity that may or may not come through,” says Paula Warrick, director of the Office of Merit Awards. “The variety of interests our recipients have attests to the broad range of academic departments at AU that are providing great instruction and mentoring.”

Record-Breakers

A record 23 AU students were awarded Boren Scholarships and Fellowships this year. Twelve undergraduates received Boren Scholarships and 11 graduate students received Boren Fellowships, making the university number one in the nation in combined Boren recipients for the second consecutive year.

Boren recipients receive funds to study and conduct research in languages and areas of the world that are deemed critical to U.S. interests. These regions include Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Continued Success

Last year AU was named a Top-Producing Fulbright Institution, with 11 recipients and three alternates. Fifteen AU students have been awarded Fulbright Grants through the U.S. Student Scholars program. In addition, an alumna has been named an alternate for the Fulbright Clinton Fellowship.

The Fulbright Program offers participants—chosen for their academic merit and ambassadorial qualities—the opportunity to study, teach, or conduct research around the world. Previous AU Fulbright recipients have traveled to such diverse places as Spain, Venezuela, South Korea, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil, India, New Zealand, and Ethiopia.

One AU, Many Schools

The recipients of these nationally competitive scholarships are representative of the diverse range of schools and programs at AU and of the student body as a whole.

Eric Rodriguez, from the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), and Caroline Brazill, from the School of International Service (SIS), became AU’s 10th and 11th Truman Scholars in 10 years. AU is one of only five institutions with multiple Truman Scholars this year. The Harry S. Truman Scholarship is a federal scholarship awarded to outstanding college juniors with a commitment to public service and demonstrated leadership potential. Truman Scholars receive significant funding for graduate school and attend a leadership program.

Rachael Somerville, CAS/SIS/BA '15, was named AU’s 13th Udall Scholar since 2007. AU remains second in the U.S. in the number of Udall Scholars over the past eight years. The Udall Scholarship provides support for sophomores and juniors committed to careers related to the environment, tribal public policy, or Native American health care. Rodriguez, one of this year’s Truman Scholars, was AU’s Udall Scholar in 2013.

Ian Gansler, SPA/BA '17, and Matt Waskiewicz, CAS/SPA/BA '16, were both named Fulbright UK Summer Institute Recipients. The US-UK Fulbright Commission provides opportunities for undergraduates to travel to the UK for an academic and cultural summer program.  

Jalita Moore, SIS/BA '14, became AU’s 12th Pickering Fellow since 2004. The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship provides support and preparation for outstanding candidates to enter the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service, with a special emphasis on students traditionally underrepresented in the U.S. Foreign Service.

This year’s four National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship recipients represent a wide range of majors: Billie Case, CAS/BA '16, is an environmental studies major; Jennifer Makanani Bell, CAS/BA '16, is an anthropology major; Valerie Rennoll, CAS/BA '16, is an audio technology major; and Lindsay Wylie, SIS/CAS/BA '16, is a double major in international studies and mathematics. The NOAA-Hollings Scholarship Program is intended to increase undergraduate training in environmental science and technology and encourage careers in public service and science education. The program provides successful undergraduate applicants with awards that include academic assistance and a hands-on practical internship.

Faculty Support

Students often credit AU faculty with giving them the best possible preparation needed to win competitive awards. Many faculty members volunteer their time and expertise, going beyond their normal academic duties and making themselves available for advising and practice interviews.

“More than 200 faculty and staff mentors assisted candidates in various ways this past year, overseeing students' preparation of proposals, preparing students for interviews, or helping them sharpen drafts of their applications,” says Warrick. “That is an impressive statement of the value our community attaches to student development. Their support is indispensable, because it gives our office a reach it would not have otherwise."

Congratulations to all of this year’s scholarship recipients, finalists, and alternates.

If you are a current AU student or AU alum and you are interested in learning more about award opportunities, please visit the Office of Merit Awards website.

Tags: Alumni,Career Center,College of Arts and Sciences,Kogod School of Business,Office of Merit Awards,Office of the Provost,Scholarship,School of Communication,School of International Service,School of Public Affairs,University Honors Program,Washington College of Law,Study Abroad
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Title: Professor Hardy Receives Grant to Study Income Inequality
Author:
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Abstract: Bradley Hardy, assistant professor of public administration and policy, will study the effects of inequality on macroeconomic and financial imbalances.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 06/13/2014
Content:

Bradley Hardy, assistant professor of public administration and policy, has received funding from the Center for American Progress for a research project on income inequality. He will work with the center's newly created Washington Center for Equitable Growth to study the effects of inequality on macroeconomic and financial imbalances. Among other things, he will have an opportunity to conduct research at the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Washington Center for Equitable Growth was founded to "accelerate cutting-edge analysis into whether and how structural changes in the U.S. economy, particularly related to economic inequality, affect growth." As part of its mission, the center seeks "to build a stronger bridge between academics and policymakers so that new research is relevant, accessible, and informative to the policymaking process."

Earlier in the year, he received an Early Career Research grant from the W.E. Upjohn Institute. He is using the funds to support his project, "The Effect of the District of Columbia's Supplemental Earned Income Tax Credit on Poverty, Employment, and Income Growth."

The Upjohn Institute supports policy-related research on labor market issues. As part of his award, he will complete an academic article, produce a working paper for the Upjohn Institute and contribute to its policy newsletter.

Hardy's research examines trends and sources of income volatility and intergenerational mobility within the United States, with a focus on socioeconomically disadvantaged families. He also conducts research on the role of anti-poverty transfer programs, such as SNAP food stamps and the earned income tax credit, for improving the economic well-being of low-income individuals and families.

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newsId: 409288E8-EDD6-2C5D-ABF5AF8E5E7E340C
Title: The Next Generation of Leaders: Sarah McBride’s Pride for AU
Author: Megan Patterson, SIS/BA ’11
Subtitle:
Abstract: Sarah McBride, SPA/BA ’13, says that her time at AU allowed her to live authentically.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 06/10/2014
Content:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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