newsId: 0E290AFE-5056-AF26-BE2676A08E978528
Title: American University Ranks No. 1 Nationally for PMF Finalists
Author: Devin Symons
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Abstract: AU maintains top position with nine more finalists this year.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 05/28/2015
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Over the past five years AU has emerged as a national leader in producing Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) finalists and semi-finalists. This year, AU ranked first among all universities, with 43 finalists in the Presidential Management Fellow class of 2015. Despite a more competitive recruitment process, the university produced nine more finalists this year than in 2014. 

Alumni participation in the PMF coaching process and in-depth coaching by AU staff are integral components of AU's ability to lead national PMF rankings while remaining a medium-sized university.

"Our very large and loyal corps of PMF alumni are instrumental every year in mentoring our PMF semi-finalists;and when they become finalists the alums again step up to advise them on landing positions as Fellows," says Career Center and PMF advisor Robert SanGeorge.

Loren Miller, CAS/PhD '12, credits AU students' continued success to the hard work of the Career Center and its cadre of PMF advisors and supporters.  

"[AU] provided every piece of support that I could possibly need: informational meetings, alumni chats, individual coaching sessions, group interview practice, and general emotional support."

Mario Weber, SPA/MA '13, agrees, elaborating on Miller's point.

"I found that becoming a finalist required a very nuanced understanding of what the PMF program is looking for in candidates," said Weber. "I am very thankful for the insight [the advisors] provided, particularly when it came to preparing for the in-person assessment. It provided a definite advantage for myself and other AU candidates."

This year's finalists reflect strong personal motivations and a desire to serve at a national level, values that are at the core of the AU experience. Since entering graduate school, Miller dreamed of working at large government museums like the Smithsonian. She is excited about the possibilities they present for public education. 

"Institutions like the Smithsonian bring history out of academia and provide an accessible and engaging way for everyone to understand the past," said Miller. "They are vital cultural and educational resources that help people think more critically about the past and make them better citizens of the world. I decided to apply for the PMF because I thought it was a unique opportunity that would give me the chance to fulfill my desire to better the country as a public servant."

Weber, who left a career in law to work as a paramedic, is looking for an opportunity to give back on a larger scale. 

"My public service career thus far has focused on emergency medical services, which exist at the intersection of public safety, public health, and emergency preparedness," he said. "My goal is to obtain a challenging PMF placement that allows me to make a meaningful contribution to one or more of these areas at the federal level."

In her time at AU, Grace Fennell, WCL/SIS/JD/MA '14—another finalist—balanced a full course load with internships at the International Labor Organization, United Nations Development Program, and Human Rights Watch. She heard from several professors that PMF was the best way to jumpstart a career at the State Department.

"I hope to become a PMF fellow for the State Department and learn more about how to be a better public servant—specifically in the field of U.S. foreign policy," said Fennell. 

The members of AU's 2015 record-breaking cohort now have one year to land a position within the federal government, competing with a total of 600 finalists nationwide for about 400 Fellow positions. The odds are in their favor. In 2014, the average conversion rate for PMF finalists across the country was near 60%, while AU's conversion rate was over 95%. 

"The reason I went to law school was to make a difference and serve the American public," said Fennell. "I believe being a PMF gives me the best platform to start a career path towards achieving those goals."

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Title: SPA Has Strong Presence at the Risky Behaviors Conference in Turkey
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Abstract: Faculty members and a Ph.D. student from the School of Public Affairs recently made an impactful showing at this year's AMERB conference in Izmir, Turkey.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 05/27/2015
Content:

A delegation of faculty members and a Ph.D. student from the School of Public Affairs made an impactful showing at the 7th Annual Meeting on the Economics of Risky Behaviors (AMERB) in Izmir, Turkey.

The conference, which was organized jointly by the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Germany and the School of Public Affairs this year, has become one of the top platforms for scholars to present state-of-the-art research on preventable health behaviors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, drug use, unprotected sex, poor diets and sedentary lifestyles as well as criminal behavior.

The goal is to advance scientific knowledge on the causes and consequences of these behaviors and ultimately help policymakers come up with evidence-based solutions to deter these kinds of behaviors. The conference was established in 2009 by SPA's Erdal Tekin and Amelie Constant, the Director of Migration Program at IZA. It was first held in Washington, D.C. and followed by events in Atlanta, Bonn, Istanbul, Zurich, and Medellin.

This year's event has been chronicled on social media, using the hashtag, #AMERB. More information on this year's participants and the program are available here.

SPA Dean Barbara Romzek gave opening remarks at the conference, which also included three SPA discussants: professors Seth Gershenson and Taryn Morrissey, and Ph.D. student Katie Vinopal.

"Over the years, this conference has gained such a high reputation, not only because of the quality and strength of its program and participants, but also the quality of the venue," Tekin said. "This is because a strong program is only possible with a strong set of submitted papers and this is directly related to the location of the conference."

"Every year, we receive more than 100 submissions from researchers all over the world for only 14 spots available at the conference," Tekin added. "Accordingly, such high demand enables us to have a high quality program."

A curated social media feed provided a live forum for the SPA community to witness the research and policy presented by SPA faculty and scholars. Notably, future students and scholars of risky behaviors can go directly to the curated #AMERB social media page without having to dig through an avalanche of social media posts.

What's particularly useful about such an approach is that it saves the social media presence surrounding the conference for posterity.

Tekin pointed out that SPA was a full partner with IZA in this year's conference. "SPA's presence and partnership has contributed to the growing reputation of the conference significantly," Tekin said. "At the same time, the conference has also allowed SPA to have a valuable voice in an important and policy-relevant debate, advance its visibility, impact and reputation internationally...(and) facilitated interactions between its faculty and students with some of the world's leading researchers in the field."

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Title: Honoring the Legacy of Dotty Lynch
Author: Elizabeth Neville
Subtitle:
Abstract: Students, faculty, and friends gathered to celebrate the impact of Dotty Lynch on the field of political communication.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 05/26/2015
Content:

On May 20, 2015, colleagues, students, and family of Dotty Lynch gathered in the McKinley Building to celebrate and honor the professor’s remarkable legacy at American University. 

Professor Lynch, a journalist and pollster who infused students with a love of politics and the political process, passed away in 2014. She left a great legacy of work in political communications and inspired many of her students. Lynch was a pioneer in her field as the first woman chief polltaker for a presidential campaign. She served two decades as the CBS News senior political editor and was a member of CBS News and New York Times polling consortium. 

In addition to her remarkable career accomplishments, one of Dotty’s greatest joys was working with her students and exposing them to the political industry in Washington, DC. At American University, as executive in residence, she shepherded the development of the joint master of arts in political communication in the School of Communication and School of Public Affairs. 

At the May 20 gathering, a video honoring the life and accomplishments of Lynch was presented.

Molly O’Rourke, the current co-director of the Political Communication program, followed the video by saying,

“The power of that video is the students’ tributes to Dotty and the role she played in shaping their career goals and really their lives. And that’s what this event and this scholarship is all about—paying tribute to Dotty in a way that puts the focus very much on the students.”

One of Lynch’s former students, Rachel Coyle, SOC-SPA/MA '15, experienced first-hand Lynch’s commitment to her students. During her remarks, she shared that Lynch not only helped to influence her decision to join the Political Communication program, but she also made it her personal mission to ensure that Rachel had the funding that she needed to pursue her degree at AU and professional ambitions. During her remarks, Rachel said,

“I think a scholarship is the perfect way to honor Dotty’s memory. She worked so hard to secure funding for students who wouldn't have been able to attend AU otherwise. Now it's like she gets to continue doing that for years to come. I think that would have meant so much to her.”

Lynch’s husband, Morgan Downey, along with the gifts from family, friends, and colleagues established the Dotty Lynch Endowed Scholarship Fund to honor her memory and support AU students. At this week’s reception celebrating Lynch, Morgan remarked,

"We have over $75,000 in the bank and over 85 individuals donated. I only had to ask people and this was such a natural expression.”

This fall, the first scholarship will be awarded to an outstanding graduate student with financial need who exemplifies Lynch’s passion for politics, journalism, and ethics, while embracing her commitment to excellence in the field. 

Thanks to the generous support from those who knew Lynch, her great impact on the field of political communications will continue to be felt far into the future as her students pursue their own careers, inspired by her passion and teaching. 

If you would like to make a gift to honor Professor Lynch’s memory and support a deserving student, please visit: http://alumniassociation.american.edu/dottylynch.

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Title: Leadership Students Tackle Over 30 Social Issues
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Abstract: This year, first-years are addressing issues including adult illiteracy in D.C., excess waste on AU’s campus from disposable cups, and inadequate resources for homeless veterans.
Topic: In the Community
Publication Date: 05/20/2015
Content:

“What is a social issue of concern to you?” Leadership students are asked this question from Program Director Margaret Marr at the beginning of both their first and second years in the program. This question marks the beginning of a thirty-week journey to identify a social issue of concern to the student, research the issue, design a project to address the issue and then execute the project.

American University’s School of Public Affairs is home to some of the most politically active and passionate students in the country. The SPA Leadership Program provides students with a network of resources and support to translate this passion into social action. “A desire to address social justice issues is the common thread that runs through all Leadership students,” explains Nick Hunt (‘17).

During their first year in the program, students work alongside six of their classmates in an “issue group” to identify a social issue of concern to the group. This year, first-years are addressing issues including adult illiteracy in D.C., the school-to-prison pipeline, excess waste on AU’s campus from disposable cups, rape culture on college campuses and inadequate resources for homeless veterans.

Throughout the year, students hone their research and writing skills to craft compelling policy memos, project proposals and grant applications. Students develop their relationship-building and public speaking capabilities through elevator speeches, informational interviews, project presentations and meetings with scholars, practitioners and constituents. Equipped with this knowledge, students work with community members to design and implement a project that meets the community’s needs and works to achieve social justice.

In a mere thirty weeks, first-year students in the Education and Activism issue group were able to impact adult literacy rates in Washington D.C. by producing and screening a documentary, “Without A Word,” at downtown D.C.’s restaurant and bookstore Busboys and Poets. Their documentary explores the lives of adults overcoming illiteracy through the help of a local non-profit organization, the Washington Literacy Center (WLC).

All of the proceeds gathered from their documentary screening were donated to the WLC. Another first-year issue group, Environmental Health and Sustainability, started the AU “One Less Cup Campaign.” Their campaign aims to reduce the amount of waste generated on campus through disposable cups by promoting the use of reusable cups.

During the sophomore year, students are challenged to carry out this process individually. This gives them a unique opportunity to explore and address the social issues they care about with the support and resources of the SPA Leadership community.

Individual sophomores in the program have executed their own social action projects in a variety of ways. Molly Morabito (‘17) designed a series of workshops that taught college students about effective environmental lobbying and featured several policy experts as guest speakers. Participants learned specific lobbying strategies for today’s political climate, different types of environmental legislation and how to advocate for them.

Morabito’s workshops culminated on Capitol Hill, where participants learned environmental advocacy through a Congressional perspective from staffers in Representative Elijah Cummings’s office.

“I would say the most rewarding thing about this project has been seeing that others are just as passionate about the issue of climate change and just as eager to make their voices heard about it. As someone who’s been passionate about the environment since I was a kid, I sometimes forget that I’m not alone in caring,” reflected Morabito.

Megan Crowley (‘17) chose to address the marginalization of LGBTQ+ individuals through a storytelling project. Crowley has collected stories from individuals that focus on how those who identify with more than one marginalized identity are affected. Crowley published her storytelling project in AU’s AmWord magazine, as well as Buzzfeed and other LGBTQ+ blogs.

David Shadburn (‘15) puts it simply: “I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the Leadership Program.” The resources and empowerment provided to Leadership students to address social issues of concern to them allows the learning to transcend classroom walls. Students begin in the classroom learning how to affect social change, followed by an opportunity to go out in the community and affect the social change.

Each year Leadership Program students address more than 30 social issues to leave the world a better place than when asked the question, “What is a social justice issue of concern to you?”

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Title: Leadership Students Bring Talents to the White House
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Abstract: Since 2011, ten Leadership Program students have brought their talents to internships in the White House.
Topic: In the Community
Publication Date: 05/20/2015
Content:

Eesha Bhave remembers seeing the White House for the first tie during her 8th grade class trip to Washington, D.C. Six short years later, Bhave spends forty hours per week interning with the White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders.

Bhave is joined by senior Lori Interlicchio, who currently interns in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. Together Bhave and Interlicchio join a growing legion of Leadership students to intern for White House.

Since 2011, ten Leadership students have brought their talents to the White House Visitors Office, Office of Legislative Affairs, Council of Economic Advisors, Domestic Policy Council, Council on Environmental Quality, Office of Management and Administration, Office of Public Engagement and Office of the Vice President.

In her internship, Bhave is afforded the opportunity to have an impact on policies affecting Asian American and Pacific Islanders, “I am working on issues such as civil rights, language access, and youth engagement.”

The sophomore year of the Leadership program allowed Bhave and Interlicchio to be competitive applicants for this semester’s White House internship. Bhave explained, “The work I completed in the sophomore class for leadership opened my eyes to this particular office and the work that it does, and gave me the confidence and experience to apply.”

Senior Cj Murphy returned to classes this fall after taking a semester off to intern in the president’s humble abode. Spending a semester in the Office of Management and Administration deepened Murphy’s understanding of being committed to one’s work: “Each person there, from the cleaning staff to the Chief of Staff, is so passionate about what they do and inspired me to work hard and take pride in everything I did there, no matter how big or small.”

In addition to interning in the White House, Leadership students frequent the White House for the debut of initiatives, legislative signings, and even to introduce the President himself. Sophomore Wes Young’s involvement with sexual assault prevention on college campuses led to an invitation to discuss the “It’s On Us” campaign with other student leaders in the West Wing.

Alumnus Deon Jones (’14) joined President Obama and General Colin Powell for the signing of the Declaration to Fulfill America’s Promise in the Oval Office. Alumnus Andy MacCracken (’12) was recognized for leading the college affordability charge in the nation’s capital with an invitation to introduce President Obama before delivering remarks on student loan debt.

Leadership students are afforded the unique opportunity to use their “strengths and skills to help in the administration’s efforts to serve the country,” Murphy observed.

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Title: BleakHouse Poetry Press honors social justice writers, artists
Author: Lee Ivory
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Abstract: BleakHouse Publishing, an independent press founded by School of Public Affairs Professor Robert Johnson recently honored members of the publishing house for their outstanding work.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 05/19/2015
Content:

BleakHouse Publishing, an independent press founded by School of Public Affairs Professor Robert Johnson recently honored members of the publishing house for their outstanding work.

SPA undergraduate Tatiana Laing was recognized at the annual awards ceremony for her work as an alternative breaks leader, writer and #BlackLivesMatter activist. She and American University senior Alexa Marie Kelly were awarded the annual Victor Hassine Memorial Scholarship.

Laing also will be the 2015 BleakHouse Fellow. In this role, she will work with Johnson to produce creative, social justice work.

Rachel Ternes, another AU senior, was honored for her outstanding artwork. She created paintings for the covers of Kelly’s new book, Black Bone: Poems on Crime and Punishment, Race and Justice, and Chandra Bozelko’s book, Up the River.

Ternes’ work earned her acceptance into the BleakHouse Distinguished Writers and Artists Guild. She is the first undergraduate to receive this honor.

Johnson said he was very proud of the honorees, particularly the students.

“It’s a wonderful thing. I get students from all across the university … I’m very fortunate,” he said. “It’s probably the most gratifying thing I do at the university, as an extension of teaching.”

The awards ceremony – held March 26 at the Mary Graydon Center - kicked off with Kelly reading from her book’s titular poem, Black Bone. She said her poem addresses racial profiling and sentencing inequalities in the criminal justice system.

Kelly also produces BleakHouse’s literary magazine, Tacenda, each year, and she recognized this year’s published Tacenda writers for their achievements.

Bozelko, another BleakHouse author, was honored for Up the River. Her poetry collection reflects on her time in prison and moves through a number of voices, including judges, prison guards, nurses and prisoners.

In her remarks, Bozelko thanked BleakHouse for the opportunity to publish and urged the audience to listen to prisoners because, doing so, was the start of a “revolution.”

The night’s Social Justice Advocacy Award went to Diann Rust-Tierney of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Johnson said the advocacy award “is something we’re very proud of.”

He also pointed out that, in the case of Bozelko and others before her (notably Charles Huckelbury and Erin George), Bleakhouse pushes to publish work from writers outside AU.

“We have such an exciting group of people contributing to us. … When we can, we try to use the work of people in prison or formerly in prison,” he said.

In a special moment at the ceremony, BleakHouse veteran Sonia Tabriz thanked Johnson for his support and guidance. Tabriz read praise for Johnson that was written by the students he has mentored over the years.

The non-profit poetry press, started in 2006 by Johnson, tackles issues within the criminal justice system - from the death penalty and mass incarceration to police brutality and racial prejudice.

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Title: Leadership Hits the Campaign Trail
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Abstract: American University's Leadership students showed why AU was voted the most politically active campus as they took part in many local and national political campaigns.
Topic: In the Community
Publication Date: 05/18/2015
Content:

During this year's midterm election, Leadership students once again brought to life Princeton Review ranking AU as the nation's most politically active campus.  From local to national races, Leadership students ventured away from AU's campus to gain valuable insights into the intricacies of running a political campaign.

Seniors Tripp Frank and Harry Weiss both took the fall semester off from studying at American in order to gain first-hand campaign experience.  Frank spent the past five months at the Clinton County Democratic Party Headquarters in Iowa working on key congressional races.  Weiss worked tirelessly on the campaign trail in an attempt to elect Aimee Belgard to represent New Jersey's 3rd congressional district in the House of Representatives.

Anthony Torres, a junior and former Vice President of AU Democrats, believes he and his fellow Leadership students are in a unique position to encourage others to effect social change through voting.  "Members on Capitol Hill won't listen to the challenges facing the next generation until they make their voice loud enough at the ballot box."

Leading up to the midterm election, Leadership students traveled to Kentucky, Virginia and North Carolina in order to rally the vote around key House and Senate races.

Shortly after joining the Leadership program, first-year Isaiah Beaton began interning with Virginia congressional candidate John Foust's campaign.  Beaton laid the groundwork for his classmates to get out the vote for candidate Foust on election day.

First-years Johanna Butler, Quinn Dunlea, Nick Guthman, Natalie Hedden, Bridget Anshus, Kiah Morrison, and Henry Watson went to Virginia's 10th congressional district to get out the vote on behalf of Foust and senatorial candidate Mark Warner.

Even though only Warner won, Butler found the experience to be incredibly rewarding: "I enjoyed seeing the momentum and power of a grassroots effort and the way the entire community of VA-10 was getting involved with the election."

Sophomore and AU's College Republican's President Nick Hunt believes political campaigns are an ideal opportunity for leadership lessons to transcend classroom walls.  Hunt urges, "all members to engage in campaigns as students gain a unique perspective on policy formation, fundraising, the influence of special interest groups, but chiefly, students learn that an ordinary human being supported by a strong team, has the ability to enact nationwide change."

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Title: SPA’s Online MPAP Program Ranked Among Top Ten in the Nation
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Abstract: Top Management Degrees rated SPA’s online program, directed by assistant professor Sonja Walti, as #6 in the country, and highest overall throughout the Washington, DC-area.
Topic: Education
Publication Date: 05/18/2015
Content:

The School of Public Affairs’ online Master of Public Administration & Policy (MPAP) ranks among the top programs of its kind, according to data recently released by Top Management Degrees.

The online business education and career guide rated SPA’s online program, directed by assistant professor Sonja Walti, as #6 in the country, and highest overall throughout the Washington, DC-area.

"We are proud to be recognized as among the very top online degrees in public administration,” Walti said. “That recognition demonstrates that students across the country—and beyond—are seeking a proven degree from AU’s top-ranked School of Public Affairs, with its close connections to well-versed DC experts."

The Online MPAP program provides students with analytical, contextual, ethical, and substantive skills and knowledge to effectively advise public policy and lead public programs in government, the non-profit and the private sector in the United States and abroad. SPA’s award-winning faculty deliver academic credentials, real-world experience, and immersion into the Washington D.C. political and policy arena, offering students unique access to both world-class education and preparation for immediate success beyond the classroom.

Top Management Degrees derived the rankings by combining the results of two of the most influential higher education rankings in order to give a well-rounded view of the programs available. Additionally, each school was ranked based on its accreditation from the NASPAA, the highest recognized global accrediting body of master's degree programs in the fields of public administration and policy. Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report ranked SPA #12 among the top public affairs institutions, and #8 among the top public management administration programs

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Title: CEP Tackles Effects of Climate Change on Children’s Health
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Abstract: SPA's Center for Environmental Policy co-hosts conference at the Wilson Center offering policy solutions for parents as children confront the effects of climate change.
Topic: Environment
Publication Date: 05/13/2015
Content:

Scientists, policy leaders and public health experts broadcast many messages warning of the effects of climate change. On the Monday following Mother’s Day 2015, a new, important message crystallized: Let’s support parents.

The Woodrow Wilson Center in downtown Washington, DC hosted an important panel co-sponsored by the School of Public Affairs’ Center for Environmental Policy (CEP) and the Children's Environmental Health Network. Entitled “The Social and Economic Costs of Climate Change on Children’s Health”, the conference became a rallying cry toward policymakers to help enact laws that will help parents across the country tackle the effects of climate change on their children’s well being including their health, wellness, and ability to learn.

Children, panelists argued, are especially susceptible to the negative effects of a changing climate. “We talk a lot about celebrating mothers and fathers…but we don’t do a lot for them,” said Sylvia Brandt, associate professor at UMASS-Amherst. “We see that you are struggling and that it is impacting you,” she exclaimed, further posing the question what can academics and policymakers do to support families struggling to cope with the environmental effects on their children.

Research presented at the conference highlighted the interconnectedness of climate change and health effects. The social and economic burdens of asthma, for example, illustrate the difficulties faced by all members of the family. As extreme heat events become more frequent, asthma prevalence is likely to rise, and the illness is further exacerbated by changes in ragweed and ozone levels. Lisa Palmer, a panelist from the Wilson Center tweeted:

Mothers of kids with asthma: 18% of these moms forced out of labor market due to kids' chronic illness. #cep2015 #climate

— Lisa_Palmer (@Lisa_Palmer) May 11, 2015

The conference both addressed the impacts of climate change on children’s health, and provided examples of how communities are working to mitigate those impacts. Dan Fiorino, the director of CEP, and William K. Reilly, founder of TPG Global and recent commencement speaker for SPA, welcomed panelists and viewers, setting the stage for the four-hour long conference.

“Children are ready to know about the environment, they want to know about it—not just in self-interest, but as part of their broader curiosity,” Reilly told audience members.

Ultimately, the panelists introduced a positive set of goals moving forward including the integration of academic fields due to the interconnectedness of climate change issues, and empowering curious youth to tackle the effects of climate change. “The top concern now is getting people to move from short-term to long-term thinking and policies in these issues,” Fiorino concluded.

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Title: Five Historical Tidbits About AU Commencement
Author: Patrick Bradley
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Abstract: The lowdown on AU graduation ceremonies back a century.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 05/06/2015
Content:

1. Because Bagpipes — What’s the deal with AU’s commencement bagpipers? Well, the tradition goes back to 1980, when the university president at the time decided to surprise students by replacing the tune “Pomp and Circumstance” with a procession of the Scottish instruments. He believed the typical graduation song was too reminiscent of high school. The bagpipes stuck, now extending to freshman convocation ceremonies in order to bookend the AU student experience.

AU class of 1927;

2. Location, Location — Over the past century (that’s right, AU’s been graduating students for about a century), commencement has hopped around various venues throughout Washington, D.C. In addition to ceremonies taking place outdoors in front of Hurst Hall or on the now-athletic fields, AU hosted graduation at the DAR Constitution Hall and the Washington Hebrew Congregation.

It wasn’t until 1988 and the opening of Bender Arena that graduation ceremonies finally settled in the spacious sports complex where they continue today.

President Dwight Eisenhower at the podium;

3. Star Power — With a student body so politically active, commencement at AU is bound to attract some high caliber speakers. Since graduating the first class of undergraduates in 1927, commencement has seen the podium occupied by the likes of U.S. Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton; Thurgood Marshall and other Supreme Court justices; former Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin; and numerous other political heavy hitters.

Not to be outdone, the School of Communication has hosted broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite, Hollywood producer Barry Levinson, and—just last year—TV personality Katie Couric, to name a few. Check out this year’s list of speakers.

Barry Levison at the podium in 1999;

4. All Together — AU now holds separate commencement ceremonies for each of its schools and colleges. This year, five will take place in Bender Arena over the course of two days, and seating inside will likely be at max capacity for each. The Washington College of Law will hold its ceremony separately a week later. Until 1969, however, all of AU graduated together, in one large event. In 1969, there were seven ceremonies in total—including those for the now-defunct School of Nursing and College of Continuing Education—and all of them took place on one day, from the campus amphitheater, fields, and Kay Spiritual Life Center to the Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church across the street.

5. Brace Yourselves, Winter Commencement — For the first time in more than a decade, AU will host winter commencement on December 16, 2015 for August and December graduates. The move comes as the university community grows rapidly while also welcoming more nontraditional students and those who might graduate on different timelines. So, if you're finishing your degree soon, don’t worry; AU’s got you covered this winter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Title: Key Alumna Helps Lead U.S. Response to Ebola and Other World Crises
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
Subtitle:
Abstract: Mia Beers recently returned from West Africa where she helped support the U.S. government's response to Ebola.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 04/09/2015
Content:

When a catastrophic disaster hits a region of the world and the United States is sending assistance, chances are American University alumna Mia Beers, SPA/MPA '10, is a crucial piece of the puzzle. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Title: SPA Alumna Makes Career Move to University of California, Berkeley
Author: Kristena Wright
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Abstract: Rosemarie Rae, SPA/MPA ‘09, joins the higher education field after more than 30 years in the non-profit sector.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 03/11/2015
Content:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Title: SPA Alumnus Takes Student Leadership to the National Level
Author: Karli Kloss, SIS/MA '15
Subtitle:
Abstract: The National Campus Leadership Council connects student policymakers across the country.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 02/13/2015
Content:

From AU Student Government president to executive director and cofounder of the National Campus Leadership Council, Andy MacCracken, SPA/BA ’11, SPA/MA ’14, has shown a deep commitment to addressing the most pressing concerns facing this generation’s college students. 

At NCLC, Andy and his staff empower student body presidents and their teams to collaborate and tackle major issues like sexual assault, student load debt, student veterans’ affairs, and access to mental health services. NCLC connects these groups to other campuses, policymakers, and the media while providing technical assistance and professional skills trainings to ensure they are effectively lobbying for change. 

Right now, NCLC is running campus outreach for the White House’s “It’s On Us” campaign to stop campus sexual assaults. Working with approximately 300 campuses, NCLC’s role is to support the work students are already doing around education and prevention. 

Speaking of the White House, last year Andy had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to introduce President Obama ahead of the president’s remarks about executive actions that would support federal student loan borrowers. He also visited the White House as a panelist for the “It’s On Us” campaign. 

Andy served as AU’s Student Government president during his junior year. Following, he was involved with different efforts to facilitate greater collaboration among student leaders regionally and nationally. As some of those efforts began to merge into each other, Andy decided it was time to turn this side project into a full-time career.  

“A lot of what I learned in the SPA Leadership Program, Campaign Management Institute, and Public Affairs Advocacy Institute shaped my approach to starting my organization. Each of those programs are top notch in developing critical thinking and mission-focused strategy on top of hands-on experience,” Andy says. 

NCLC’s role in the higher education community continues to grow, as it hosts national student leader summits in collaboration with the White House. Students today face many issues, from employment gaps to soaring student debt, and Andy says NCLC is committed to opening dialogue and access between student leaders and policymakers. 

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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.

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Update,School of Public Affairs
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