newsId: 6E144ACB-5056-AF26-BE8FD5FCC54D4853
Title: Looking Back at a Legend
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Abstract: The AU community offers fond memories of the late, great Julian Bond.
Topic: In Remembrance
Publication Date: 10/06/2015

With the death of Julian Bond, the world mourned the loss of a civil rights pioneer and social justice champion. American University also lost a teacher, colleague, mentor, and friend. American University President Neil Kerwin and School of Public Affairs Dean Barbara Romzek offered their thoughts on Bond's legacy in August. On Tuesday, October 6, a private ceremony was held for Bond in Washington, and now we've collected additional memories from various members of the AU community. As the edited comments below demonstrate, Bond was an inspiring and beloved figure on campus.

Steven Taylor

Associate Professor, School of Public Affairs

I first met Julian Bond on February 2, 1996, the day that I interviewed for my position as a professor in the Department of Government. Part of the interview took place during lunch, in the Faculty Club. Julian had arrived there before everyone else, and he was already seated at the table when we arrived. I had never met him before, but had heard so much about him from the time that I was a child. I was quite flattered to see this civil rights icon taking time out on a very cold and snowy winter day to meet me. After the luncheon, I talked privately with Julian for several moments and expressed to him the admiration that my family had for him.

The next time that I saw Julian was seven months later, when we were colleagues in the Department of Government. Julian taught on Monday nights, and every Monday that I worked late, I stopped in to see him during his office hours, provided he was not busy in meetings with students. That last condition was rarely met;many students lined up at his office to talk with him. He was very popular, and his classes always filled up. Nevertheless, I did manage to talk with him many times, and we discussed the current political situation. In one of those conversations, held in the fall of 2007, Julian predicted that Barack Obama would win the presidency the following year. At that time Hillary Clinton was way ahead of him in the polls. I assumed that even if Sen. Obama did win the nomination, he would not be able to prevail in the general election. Julian told me that he definitely could win the nomination and the general election. He clearly had his ear to the ground and could discern public opinion better than I could. It was that insight and intelligence that made him a great professor and a legendary leader of our era.

Fanta Aw

Assistant Vice President, Office of Campus Life

Generations of students at American University benefited from his knowledge and his commitment to social change. Julian Bond was a great American and wonderful teacher. A great Malian historian once said that when an elder passes away it is as if an entire library burned. Indeed the passing of Bond is the passing of important history, knowledge and lived experience. His legacy of civil rights work and community engagement remains as relevant and critically important today to civil rights and racial justice challenges as it is was over fifty years ago. It's hard to believe he is no longer with us.

Daniel Alejandro Leon-Davis


Professor Bond was a teacher, a mentor, and honestly, a father figure in my life. Since I am an immigrant, he connected me with a number of people who helped with my documentation. Not only did Prof. Bond live an iconic life of activism, he lived a life of love. From the first moment I stepped into his classroom at American University to the moment I saw him receive his lifetime achievement award from the Midwest Academy, he exuded passion for his work and all those who crossed paths with him. As a mentor, he instilled in me that dedicating my life to the service of others was the only way I could change the world.

He also taught me something that has gotten me to where I am now: Storytellers are needed in our movements because storytellers capture history and touch people in ways that policy never will. Although hearing the news of Prof. Bond's passing left me with a heavy heart, I know that he will always be a guiding light to me and to the many people he has touched through his work. As I continue to push forward, I will hold all of Prof. Bond's lessons near to my heart, and I will continue building his legacy through the power of storytelling.

Michael Mass

Associate Professor, Kogod School of Business

Former Director, University Honors Program

One of my first decisions when I became director of our University Honors Program in the fall of 1995 was to ask Julian Bond to create an Honors Colloquium, Oral Histories of the Civil Rights Movement. Thinking back on the many decisions I made during my 16 years as director, it was also the best.

Professor Bond's course, which continued every fall since 1995, inspired hundreds of our best students. For these privileged students, the seminar was a journey back in time with one of the leaders of the civil rights movement from the past, and as chair of the NAACP, one of the most influential thinkers of the present. Dr. Bond appeared at countless Honors events to help build a community of scholars at American University. It was always a treat to introduce him as the only AU professor who ever hosted Saturday Night Live!

Above all, Professor Bond was a master teacher who enriched the academic lives of all the students he taught, often leading to Honors Capstone research projects and years of mentorship.

Kyle Svendsen

Former Teaching Assistant to Bond

Political Science major, Class of 2016

I remember the first time I met Professor Bond, my classmates and I all had to do a double-take. He held a remarkable presence in the room. He evoked a certain excitement in students, even as he aged. He spoke with charm and timeless wit, even when discussing some of the most horrible mistakes in American history. In fact, his charm was most robust when discussing the most wicked atrocities of the Jim Crow American South. As a student, the most valuable lessons to be taken from Professor Bond's teaching were not the facts of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. More intangibly, Professor Bond gave us a glimpse of the spirit of the civil rights movement. Bond was able to channel blind passion into sensible and practical reforms. This was invaluable advice for his students, as they began to embark on their own civil rights struggles today. AU was fortunate to have such an incredible American in residence.

Professor Bond once remarked to the class, "It's all laugh or cry. You're gonna cry too many times, so you have to laugh when you can. It's good for you." His jovial spirit continues to inspire, forcing me to give serious attention to injustice wherever it may be found.

Lorraine Brontë Magee


*This is excerpted and edited from Magee's Facebook post.

I'll never forget what Professor Bond taught me: that everyone has a story. Whether it's the one that will be on the news or the one that stays with just one person, everyone has a story. It's our privilege to be able to go through life learning and discovering the stories of others.

The memory that sticks with me today is seeing Professor Bond dance around a classroom in Ward, as he shared his favorite songs of the civil rights movement with us. I am so, so grateful that he shared his story with AU students in the way that he did, and I know that his story will continue to inspire people for generations.

James Thurber

Distinguished Professor, School of Public Affairs

Julian Bond was a friend and colleague in the Department of Government at AU. All of us mourn his passing. He was an icon in the fight for social justice and human rights, but he was always warm, accessible, and giving to hundreds of AU students. Every semester he taught, I had students tell me how much they enjoyed his classes. Julian's national prominence never got in the way of his taking time for his students and for his fellow professors. He personalized the dramatic history and politics of civil rights for everyone in his classrooms. He loved teaching and it showed in all of his classes. He was also generous about speaking in other university forums, such as those sponsored by the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies. I will miss his wonderful sense of humor, his wisdom, and his friendship.

Jane Hall

Associate Professor, School of Communication

I met Julian Bond several years ago at one of our first Provost's Retreats. He was speaking after the screening of a documentary about apartheid in South Africa, and he followed me out of the conference room to answer the question I said I had, though there had not been enough time to answer. That, to me, was the essence of Julian Bond: He was always gracious and generous with his time, and he never carried himself like a civil rights icon. He was interested in what you had to say, whether you were a student, professor, or someone at a public event. In 2011, I was honored that Julian agreed to be our sole guest for an American Forum TV program on the civil rights movement and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, pegged to the dedication of the new MLK statue in DC. I gathered some 15 students from SOC, SPA, and other schools for the program, which the School of Communication produced for NBC4 TV. I wanted the students to know that, in addition to his other accomplishments, the distinguished man before them had co-founded the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, worked with Dr. King, had been a member of the Georgia legislature, and opposed the Vietnam War. He did all of this in his 20s—i.e., when he was their age.

The students did their homework and asked good questions. We engaged in a wonderful conversation about the legacy of Dr. King, the role of women in the civil rights movement, Bond's role in getting media coverage for SNCC, as well as the problems facing the country today and the role of social activism in solving them. Two of the students were community activists in DC, and they talked with Julian about their frustrations in organizing and the re-segregation of DC schools and their hometowns. When we talked about the role of social media today, Julian challenged the students to think about whether posting a comment on social media is activism. He thought they should be out in the streets, immersed in pressing issues such as minimum wage and income inequality. But he also wanted to hear how they use and view social media.

During the program, Julian cited a study by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group he co-founded. He noted that young people's knowledge of the civil rights movement had been found to be largely limited, as he put it, to Rosa Parks and "I Have a Dream." Julian was wonderful with the students, and I am so proud that we have this record of his work with American University. NBC4 TV played the hour-long program many times, and the Southern Poverty Law Center promoted it as a resource for high school history teachers. I feel deeply honored to have known Julian, and I am saddened for us and for our nation that he is gone. We are privileged to have had him among us at AU, and his legacy will always live on, here and around the world.  

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newsId: 709767EE-5056-AF26-BEF7F44F5A908B30
Title: We, the People: Citizen Input Helps Constitutions, Study Suggests
Author: Will Pittinos
Abstract: A study by Todd Eisenstadt, Carl LeVan, and Tofigh Maboudi suggests that democracies may be stronger when ordinary citizens are involved in the initial stages of reforming of their country’s constitution.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 10/02/2015

A study by SPA Professor Todd Eisenstadt, SIS Assistant Professor Carl LeVan, and SPA Adjunct Instructor Tofigh Maboudi suggests that democracies may be stronger when ordinary citizens are involved in the initial stages of reforming of their country’s constitution.

A groundbreaking large-scale empirical analyses of participatory constitution making, the research also breaks down constitution-making into three stages – drafting, debating, and ratification – and “offers empirical support for emerging international norms of participatory governance and for participatory models of democracy.”

Published in the American Political Science Review, their study shows that the level of democracy increased in 62 countries following the adoption of a new constitution, but decreased or stayed the same in 70 others. Using data covering all 138 new constitutions in 118 countries between 1974 and 2011, it explains this divergence through empirical tests showing “that constitutions crafted with meaningful and transparent public involvement are more likely to contribute to democratization.” This finding challenges recent scholarship suggesting that approval by voters after a national debate is the most critical step of citizen involvement in the constitution-development process.

Their paper, “When Talk Trumps Text: The Democratizing Effects of Deliberation during Constitution-Making, 1974-2011,” was supported by funding from an Andrew Mellon-Latin American Studies Association conference grant, a Collaborative Research Award from SIS, the Office of the Provost, and SPA.

LeVan earned his MA in political science from SPA, and he is the author of Dictators and Democracy in African Development: the Political Economy of Good Governance in Nigeria. He currently teaches courses on African politics, comparative political institutions, and political theory at the undergraduate, MA, and PhD levels.

Eisenstadt's research focuses on the intersection of formal institutions and laws with informal institutions and practices, mostly in democratizing countries in Latin America. His studies have been funded by the Fulbright Commission, the National Security Education Program (NSEP), the Ford and Mellon foundations, USAID, and the NSF.

Maboudi is a PhD candidate in political science at SPA. His dissertation, “We the Constituents: Constitutions and Channeling of Democratic Participation in the Middle East and North Africa,” examines the impact of public participation in constitutional processes on stabilizing, legitimizing, and democratizing constitutions.

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newsId: 659CCA0D-5056-AF26-BE0A6E2A76E3B5A9
Title: Welcome Paul Manuel, SPA Leadership Program Director
Abstract: Paul Christopher Manuel has joined AU School of Public Affairs as new director of the SPA Leadership Program and professor of government.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 10/01/2015

Paul Christopher Manuel has joined AU School of Public Affairs as new director of the SPA Leadership Program and professor of government.

Dr. Manuel founded and directed the Institute for Leadership Studies at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD, and, before that, he co-founded the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. He was a tenured professor of politics at both institutions.

The highly selective SPA Leadership Program includes a four-year, 15-unit course of study that culminates in a Certificate in Advanced Leadership Studies. This year’s entering cohort of 42 students hails from 20 different states and Pakistan.

“We are delighted to have Professor Manuel join the SPA faculty,” said Barbara Romzek, dean of AU’s School of Public Affairs. “His extensive expertise as a teacher, scholar, and an administrator position him well to build upon the strength of our Leadership Program.”

Manuel holds a research fellow appointment at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University. He is also an affiliate at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University, where he co-chaired the Iberian Studies Group. He has received Fulbright and National Endowment for the Humanities research grants. Dr. Manuel has served on National Selection Committee for the graduate Fulbright program in Spain and Portugal, and on the Executive Council of the New England Political Science Association. Dr. Manuel received the Saint Anselm College President’s Award in 2006.

A Massachusetts native, Dr. Manuel holds a Ph.D. in government from Georgetown University, an M.T.S. from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, an M.A. in International Relations from Boston University, and a B.A. in Political Science from Boston University. He has also studied at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris, and the University of Coimbra and the University of Lisbon, both in Portugal.

Dr. Manuel is the author or co-author of seven books and numerous articles. His research addresses issues related to comparative democratization, comparative public policy, and the relationship between religion and politics, with an emphasis on Portugal. Publications include The Path of American Public Policy: Comparative Perspectives (Lexington, 2014), The Catholic Church and the Nation-State: Comparative Perspectives (Georgetown University Press, 2006) and The Challenges of Democratic Consolidation in Portugal (Praeger, 1996). An article, “Clericalism, Anti-Clericalism and Democratization in Portugal and Spain,” appeared in Religion and Politics in Comparative Perspective and was published by the Cambridge University Press.

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newsId: FE9713DE-5056-AF26-BE2DA9365FE01365
Title: Getting to Know Them
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Abstract: Take a closer look at this year’s new faculty members.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 09/24/2015

American University is welcoming 19 new tenured and tenure-track professors for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Mary Clark, senior vice provost and dean of academic affairs, explains the university's criteria for the new tenure-track hires. "We're looking for a sense of dynamism. These are individuals who are ambitious and excited about the questions that they are studying and grappling with," she says.

For incoming tenured professors, Provost Scott Bass and Clark sought out "spark plugs," i.e., people who could mentor faculty, while exploring funding and partnership opportunities.

In addition, the new professors are quite personable, Clark says. "They're individuals whom their colleagues will enjoy working with. So it's really been a pleasure to be able to meet the future of the university."

College of Arts and Sciences

After growing up in China, Shouzhong Zou has been living in the United States since the early 1990s. And he's noticed some stark differences between the two countries. "In the U.S., they tell you that learning science is fun. It is fun, but you need to do a lot of hard work to enjoy that fun," he says. "In China, it's the other way around. You emphasize a lot of hard work, but not much fun. But now it's changing. The whole Chinese society is moving more towards capitalism. And the education system is becoming more like the U.S. system."

Zou still has a lot of family in China, and he tries to return every year to visit his elderly parents. But he's built his own life and family here, and it doesn't seem like he's straddling two worlds. It's really one world that's getting a little bit smaller, and the language of science is universal.

Zou earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from Purdue University and did a postdoc at California Institute of Technology. He was most recently an associate professor at Miami University in Ohio. The D.C. address helped lure him to American University, with close proximity to the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Naval Research Laboratory. He's now a professor and Chemistry Department chair in the AU College of Arts and Sciences.

His primary research challenge is to develop new nano-materials to catalyze fuel cell reactions. That fuel cell technology would hopefully be used as an alternative energy source for auto manufacturers and portable electronic devices.

Hydrogen fuel cells produce zero pollutants, so there are obvious environmental benefits to this type of research. But the technology has been costly, mostly because converting the energy in hydrogen and oxygen into electricity is not efficient enough, he says. "About half of the cost of the fuel cell is that catalyst. But if we can reduce that, then the fuel cell will be much more viable economically," Zou explains.

Environmental research—particularly anything related to combatting climate change—can get entangled in national politics. Yet Zou says if academics know that their work is scientifically sound, the value of that research will be evident. "There is also the intellectual challenge here that we enjoy," he says. "From my perspective, I like to focus on the problem and see it through."

Other New College of Arts and Sciences Faculty:

Whether homeless or undocumented, some people are sadly confined to the margins of society. Yet Ernesto Castañeda wants to bring those people out of the shadows and amplify their voices. As a new assistant professor in the Sociology Department at American University, Castañeda will continue studying vulnerable populations.

New sociology professor Ernesto Castaneda

He's talked with students about how to establish a rapport with interview subjects. "If students wonder how to interview a man who's been sleeping on the streets for 20 years, I remind them that he is still a person like us," Castañeda says. And since homeless people are often cut off from family, they crave human interaction. "They appreciate that somebody is listening to their plight. Unfortunately, an interview won't get them off of the streets. But it reminds them that they're part of a human collective," he adds.

Castañeda was raised in Mexico City. The atmosphere was intellectually invigorating, as his high school was located on a college campus and he had American expats teaching classes. "This high school was bilingual and bicultural," he remembers. "I even took classes on the Harlem Renaissance in a high school in Mexico."

He came to the United States to earn his undergraduate degree at University of California, Berkeley. Castañeda intended to study genetics, but he was disillusioned by the paucity of provable science in that field. He shifted his attention to interdisciplinary studies, and one of those subjects would become his academic bailiwick. "That's actually how I fell in love with sociology. The liberal arts tradition was a great gift for me, and it doesn't exist in Mexico. If you're going to be a lawyer, you take law classes. So I like how the American system has this freedom and exposes you to other disciplines."

Despite being an immigrant, he didn't intend to study those issues in the U.S. But he had a knack for understanding migrant populations. "Starting in graduate school, it was very easy for me as a Mexican person to talk to Mexican immigrants and gain their trust," says Castañeda, who earned his Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University.

As part of Castañeda's research (which he's turning into a book), he's found considerable differences between how migrants are integrated in Paris and New York City. Algerians in France are supported economically, but they often feel culturally alienated. That's because everyone there must be considered "French," and people aren't allowed to celebrate multiple identities, he says.

Yet New York City allows Mexican migrants to maintain ties to their native country. Those immigrants then become more comfortable, and paradoxically, more American. "People who have lived for two years in the Bronx undocumented—they may feel like New Yorkers very fast. They know their neighbors, because they play soccer together. So they interact with everybody."

Juliana Martinez is an assistant professor of world languages and cultures. She's examined how violence in Latin America is represented through film and literature.

Kendra Salois is a new assistant professor of performing arts. Her research interests include music and diplomacy.

Isaiah Wooden is an acting assistant professor of performing arts. He recently earned his Ph.D. in theater and performance studies from Stanford University.

Kogod School of Business

By his own account, Serge da Motta Veiga is an eclectic person with varied interests. And whether it's research or outside pursuits, he'd rather not sit idle. "I have very high levels of energy, so I have to keep myself busy all of the time," he says. It's clear that he brings this earnestness with him to work every day.

Kogod professor Serge Da Motta Veiga

He is excited to be at American University, working as an assistant professor of management at the Kogod School of Business. In fact, his academic research delves into the area of motivation, particularly when people are searching for employment.

"I'm really fascinated by how job seekers go about finding a job," da Motta Veiga says. "A lot of people figure, 'If you apply to 100 jobs, you might get a job.' But that's not how it works. So, how can you learn to be a better job seeker?"

In addition, da Motta Veiga has analyzed how employers attract and retain the best job applicants. One issue he's explored is the role of humor in recruitment. "You go into an interview, and the person in front of you is stiff and serious. And you think, 'I'm not comfortable here, I'm not having fun,'" he says, suggesting that it's advantageous for the recruiter to be amiable and light-hearted. "Humor drives your positive outlook. That's going to make people want to come to your company."

Da Motta Veiga is from a Portuguese family, and he grew up in Brussels, Belgium. After getting his bachelor's degree, he worked in banking, consulting, and recruiting in London, Paris, and Brussels. But he started to yearn for a major career change.

"I realized that I wanted to answer broader questions rather than answering specific customer questions. I wanted to help others, and I wanted to do that through questions that were also interesting to me," he says.

This led him to academia, and he earned his Ph.D. in business administration from the University of Missouri. During that time, he continued with one of his lifelong passions: field hockey. It's a sport he's been playing since he was six, and he was a coach for the university's club team. Da Motta Veiga is also a die-hard Mizzou Tigers college football fan.

Most recently, he was a professor at Lehigh University. Drawing on both his work experience and academic research on employment searching, he's advised students about the realities of the corporate world. "I think they need to get a better grasp of finding a job that really motivates them. You have to have a reason to wake up every morning," he says. Right now, da Motta Veiga has found that for himself.

Other New Kogod School of Business Faculty:

Jay Simon is a new assistant professor in the Department of Information Technology. He was previously an assistant professor at the Naval Postgraduate School.

School of Communication

Aram Sinnreich, a new associate professor in the School of Communication, has tackled expansive research questions related to culture, law, and technology. In the Communication Studies division, he'll delve into fair use and copyright law within creative communities. And he'll continue with an ongoing project about "remix culture" and emerging cultural forms.

What is remix culture? Sinnreich examined some of these issues in his 2010 book, Mashed Up: Music, Technology, and the Rise of Configurable Culture. "We have all of these new cultural forms that are based in the services of technologies like the laptop and the Internet. And they make it possible for us to relate to one another and to express ourselves in ways that we could not even have imagined before these amazing new platforms," he explains.

Our capitalist society is rooted in the assumption that production and consumption are separate, he says. But "as these distinctions become blurrier and blurrier, how do we reorganize ourselves as a society? And, furthermore, how do we develop new kinds of ethical standards that can accommodate differentiating between valid and invalid, or useful and wasteful?"

As an example of remix culture and its impact, he talks about the recent Planned Parenthood videos that were filmed and disseminated by an anti-abortion-rights group. "Those are remixed videos where footage has been selected and arranged in order to present a version of reality that is very different than the version that somebody else, editing the same set of videos, might present," he says.

Sinnreich grew up in New York City, and his parents gave him the freedom to explore its rich culture. He went to see Rocky Horror Picture Show productions, jazz performances, and punk shows at places like CBGB.

He started studying jazz bass. "I wrote a thousand bad songs before I finally wrote some good ones," he says. A fellow musician—and eventually his wife—hired Sinnreich to join her band, Agent 99. They still play and produce music together, with their bands Dubistry (reggae, soul, punk fusion) and Brave New Girl (jazz and R&B fusion). They also became music partners and close friends with the late Ari Up, singer of the seminal punk band the Slits.

While working at a consultancy in New York in the 1990s, he became a prolific voice about music on the Internet. He later earned his Ph.D. in communication from University of Southern California. "I wanted to ask questions about how these new technologies were changing everybody's lives, and what that would mean for freedom of speech and privacy and changing identities," he says. "And that's basically what I've been researching ever since."

Other New School of Communication Faculty:

Kathy Fitzpatrick is a professor and senior associate dean for academic affairs at SOC.

Ericka Menchen-Trevino is an assistant professor, with a focus on political communication and new media. She was previously an assistant professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Filippo Trevisan is an assistant professor in public communication. His research areas include political organizing and activism through new media technologies.

School of International Service

It's fitting that Jordanna Matlon has joined American University's School of International Service. With her academic outlook and life experiences, she's almost the personification of globalization. Matlon has lived in 11 different countries, and on every continent except Antarctica.

Jordanna Matlon is a new School of International Service faculty member.

"What attracted me to coming here were the global and real-world dimensions of the school," says Matlon, a new SIS assistant professor. She earned her Ph.D. in sociology from University of California, Berkeley, and she recently did a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, France.

Since her father is an economist who worked in development, she spent some of her formative years in the West African nation of Côte d'Ivoire.

Years later, she was shocked to see a picture in Time magazine of French troops evacuating students in her old elementary school. That would inspire her to eventually do her fieldwork in Côte d'Ivoire.

Her time in West Africa piqued her interests in race and identity, and she was forced to confront how these issues affected her personally. Though she identifies as African American, people in West Africa usually viewed her as white. "After conducting several months of fieldwork, I would mention to friends, 'Oh yeah, my mother is African American.' And they looked at me like I was crazy," she recounts. "So I was trying to understand what historical context made that so, and what kinds of power dynamics were happening."

Her research focuses on how underemployed men in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire assert their masculine identities. In West Africa, colonialism introduced the idea of wage labor, and men were greatly defined by their jobs. But with these economies reeling since the 1980s, many men never got the civil service jobs they anticipated as part of the post-colonial state's social contract. Instead, Matlon found men identifying through hobbies like music, asserting themselves via their shared blackness with iconic African-American men.

"There was still this traditional African idea of 'adult masculinity,' that you have to be married to be a man. But in order to be married now, you were supposed to have a job," she explains. "So the consequences of this are completely societal: Without access to jobs, people just aren't marrying." Matlon is building on this research to develop a theory of racial capitalism and black masculinity throughout the world.

Along the way, Matlon picked up some intriguing pastimes, including some performances with her Côte d'Ivoire assistants' hip hop group. She's also experienced in capoeira, a form of Brazilian marital arts. No mere diversion, she taught capoeira to Abidjan locals and it helped with her work.

"I think that was actually a way that I was able to get access to these communities. They looked at me as not just this white American researcher, but they accepted me as kind of a legitimate artist in my own right."

Other New School of International Service Faculty:

Lauren Carruth is an assistant professor in global health. A medical anthropologist, she's specialized in matters related to humanitarian assistance, food security, and refugees.

Erin Collins is an acting assistant professor in global urban studies. Among other interests, she's explored the cultural politics of urban transformation in Southeast Asian cities.

Claire Brunel is a new assistant professor dealing with international trade and environmental economics.

Jennifer Poole is an assistant professor whose research topics include Brazil and labor economics. She was formerly a senior international economist at the White House's Council of Economic Advisers.

School of Public Affairs

There's a popular refrain in counterterrorism circles: While the U.S. intelligence community's failures are publicized, the successes go unnoticed. If U.S. officials took credit for stopping an attack, they might reveal too much information about their methods.

Tricia Bacon can't divulge the totality of her work at the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Bureau of Counterterrorism. But her government experience still enhances her research at the School of Public Affairs, where she's an assistant professor in the Department of Justice, Law & Criminology.

"It definitely informs the questions that I ask. My research on terrorist group alliance behavior very much came out of my work in the intelligence community," she says. "During the time I was there, we were focused on when groups would affiliate with Al-Qaeda. And now we're facing the next generation of that with the Islamic State."

Through her terrorism research, she's hoping to find the sweet spot between government counterterrorism—with analysis that's sometimes in the weeds—and the much broader, long-term studies by some academics. "The two aren't necessarily speaking to each other very well. So I'm hoping that my research starts to fill some of those gaps," she says.

Bacon hails from the Cleveland, Ohio area, and she headed south for warmer weather at Stetson University in Florida. She majored in sociology and played on the volleyball team. While finishing her master's degree in political science from University of Florida, the 9/11 terrorist attacks shook the country and the world. "I'm watching on TV as the towers fell. And I was among those Americans who thought, 'who would do this and why?' It was a very basic life-changing moment." For Bacon, it was also a call to action.

As a Presidential Management Fellow, she joined the State Department in 2002. She began her career in diplomatic security before moving into counterterrorism and intelligence. During her years of government service, the State Department helped her pay for graduate school at Georgetown University. She earned her Ph.D. in international relations there in 2013.

Bacon spent the past two years at SPA as a term faculty, but she now has a tenure-track position. She just completed a manuscript for her forthcoming book, Mergers, Acquisitions, and Mayhem: Why Terrorist Groups Ally.

Other New School of Public Affairs Faculty:

Dave Marcotte is a professor who has focused on issues related to STEM and K-12 education.

Khaldoun AbouAssi is an assistant professor of public administration & policy. He was previously an assistant professor of nonprofit management at Texas A&M University.

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Title: Education Policy: 2016 & Beyond
Author: Anders T. Rosen
Abstract: SPA's Washington Institute of Public Affairs Research opened the fall 2015 semester with a panel discussion about the ongoing changes in education policy from preschool to college.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 09/21/2015

Education Policy: 2016 and Beyond” was the theme of a recent panel discussion that brought together four experts to discuss ongoing changes in policy affecting education from preschool to college. The event was sponsored by School of Public Affairs and it’s Washington Institute of Public Affairs Research, under the direction of Dave Marcotte.

“Across the board, federal and state laws and policies that shape education are being rewritten as we speak,” Marcotte told students and faculty. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that the transformation that law, policy, and history have in store for education is unprecedented in recent history.”

Panel participants pointed out that lawmakers are taking up controversial issues previously tabled. The debate over universal pre-kindergarten education is underway, as are reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001), and rewriting of the Higher Education Act.

Taryn Morrissey, SPA assistant professor, highlighted the importance of early childhood education in development. “The gap in achievement begins really early,” she said. “This gap is wide at kindergarten entry, it persists at K-12 and beyond, and it’s really expensive and difficult to narrow.”

Tom Dee, professor of education at Stanford University, argued for more balanced, less critical assessments of American public-school education. “We have seen evidence that schools can be transformational in the lives of at-risk kids,” Dee said.

Matthew Chingos, senior fellow at the Urban Institute, offered insight into the education policy debate, especially as it touches on higher education. “Between now and the election next November, you will hear more about higher- education policy than you have heard in any recent presidential campaign, or perhaps ever,” he said.

Chingos noted three recent developments: the release of data on federal student borrowers to the IRS; President Obama’s new College Scorecard, a massive compilation of data on college graduates; and a recent amendment to eligibility criteria for federal student aid, which allows students to fill out their forms earlier and faster.

Stephanie Cellini, associate professor of public policy at George Washington University, pointed out that for-profit colleges, such as the University of Phoenix and DeVry University, are increasingly the focus of lawmakers concerned about educational outcomes. “We are scrutinizing this industry like never before,” she said.

The September 14 panel discussion was WIPAR’s first event under the direction of Marcotte, who also serves as a professor in SPA. He has conducted extensive research in education, focusing on such topics as the factors that influence achievement in primary and secondary education and the effect of post-secondary education on employment and earnings.

The full event can be viewed here. Photos from the event are available here.

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Title: AU 2030: Erdal Tekin
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Abstract: SPA professor has authored eye-opening research on risky behaviors.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 09/18/2015

Analyzing Risky Behaviors

People engage in risky behaviors every day. It's both a human impulse and a consequence of living in a free society. But there's a communal cost to such behaviors, and Erdal Tekin has spent many years studying the causes and consequences of them.

To understand the implications of risky behaviors, Tekin has examined smoking, overeating, crime, and illicit drug use. "Many of these behaviors have consequences for the lives of others. That brings us to the role of policy. These are preventable behaviors, and they impose enormous costs not only on those who engage in them, but everybody else in society as well," he says. The U.S. spends roughly 17 percent of its GDP on health care, and Tekin says these risky behaviors comprise a significant portion of that figure.

Tekin is a professor in American University's School of Public Affairs. His work is germane to the AU 2030 "health, risk, and society" field. And he has authored some eye-opening research over the years.

Case Studies and Consequences

Many Beltway area residents still quiver at the memory of the 2002 sniper shootings. In a study, Tekin and SPA colleague Seth Gershenson uncovered how those fears had an adverse impact on the community. Using data from the standardized test scores for all Virginia schools, before and after the shooting incident, they compared the performances of students attending schools located near one of the shooting sites to proficiency levels of students attending schools farther away from the shooting sites. They found that students attending schools within a five-mile radius of one of the shooting sites performed significantly worse that year.

Tekin says a number of factors might explain this finding, such as school absenteeism and poor academic performance due to a lack of focus associated with anxiety. "Students may have been stressed out. Parents may have been stressed out," Tekin says.

Another piece of research dealt with the controversial "Stand Your Ground" gun laws that allow shooters, if they feel a threat is imminent, to use lethal force without having to retreat first. Tekin and his colleague and former student, Chandler McClellan, examined the 18 states that had these laws on the books, and they found that—after accounting for all other factors—Stand Your Ground laws led to increases in homicides and hospitalizations due to gun-inflicted injuries. "Emboldening people, and allowing people to use deadly weapons in even simple altercations, can lead to more homicides," he says.

From Engineering to Child Care Policy

Tekin hails from Turkey and grew up in Izmir, a resort town on the coast of the Aegean Sea. He earned his bachelor's degree in engineering, but he soon realized his interests lay elsewhere. "I didn't want to do electronics engineering. I wanted to do something that has to do more directly with human life. But I also didn't want my quantitative skills to go wasted," he says.

He came to the United States and earned his master's degree in economics from the University of Colorado Denver, where he got exposed to research on the impact of child care subsidies on parental employment. While Tekin earned his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he was an assistant to David Blau, a leading child care policy scholar. In 2002, Tekin was invited to join the prestigious National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in Cambridge, Mass. He still serves as a research associate at NBER, and he credits the organization with solidifying his focus on health care issues.

Through his studies, Tekin concluded that U.S. child care policy was quite different from other industrialized nations in ways that may undermine the well-being of children. Whereas European countries have emphasized quality care, American child care policy was aimed at ensuring that parents met certain work requirements. That U.S. model helped forge bipartisan support for the landmark 1996 welfare reform law, but Tekin felt the policy was problematic for children—even if it led to an increase in employment among economically disadvantaged populations.

"The U.S. policy emphasizes so much on employing parents, and employing them so quickly, that there are relatively few regulations or requirements for the type of quality for which these subsidies can be used. In a way, the child care system works as an employment program," he says. Yet Tekin says this is evolving, with an increasing number of states now imposing stricter quality standards.

Pursuing Evidence-Based Solutions Around the World

Tekin travels to many countries in pursuit of data. That's because if he wants to find empirical evidence of a particular topic, he'll go wherever the data takes him. "For example, administrative data is not easy to get in the U.S. But in Scandinavian countries, you can get access to people's daily medication records going back many, many years. You can get access to people's crime records," he explains.

Tekin takes trips to work and see family in Turkey. Even in Washington, he's stayed connected to his roots. His wife is a Turkish-American who grew up in this area, and they frequently attend local Turkish events. Tekin sometimes offers advice to native Turkish students looking to study in the U.S.

Before joining AU, Tekin was a professor at Georgia State University. Even then, he frequently visited Washington D.C. to attend meetings and visit family and friends. "D.C. has always been on our minds, and I was looking for the right academic opportunity to have a permanent house here. And the opportunity came last year, and we jumped on it."

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Title: Does D.C.’s Earned-Income Tax Credit Raise Likelihood for Low-Income Workers to Escape Poverty?
Abstract: A recent working paper co-written by SPA assistant Professor Bradley Hardy finds that Washington D.C.’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) raises the likelihood for low-income workers to escape poverty.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 09/16/2015

A recent working paper by SPA Assistant Professor Bradley Hardy, Daniel Muhammad, and SPA doctoral candidate Rhucha Samudra found that Washington D.C.’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) raises the likelihood for low-income workers to escape poverty. D.C. provides the largest supplemental EITC in the nation, matching 40% of the federal tax credit offered to low-income workers. The study analyzed the effects of the local EITC, ultimately finding that it, combined with the federal EITC, can be an effective antipoverty intervention for the working poor – up to a 9% likelihood of raising low-income workers above the poverty line – with effects that persist for at least 2 years. The working paper, entitled “The Effect of Earned Income Tax Credit in the District of Columbia on Poverty and Income Dynamics,” was released as part of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research Working Papers series.

The working paper is part of Hardy’s ongoing research on economic mobility, exposure to economic risk, and U.S. social welfare policies . In Fall 2013, Hardy began examining public policies in D.C. via a research collaboration with the D.C. Government Office of Revenue Analysis (ORA). The effort has paired Hardy with ORA economists and researchers within the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer. The resulting projects have reached across disciplines at AU to help develop doctoral scholars, such as Samudra (SPA) and CAS Economics doctoral student Britni Wilcher, who conducted research this past summer on earnings and income growth in the District.

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Title: 11* Reasons to Check out AU Night at Nationals Park
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Abstract: American University will have a strong presence at the Nationals game on August 28.
Topic: In the Community
Publication Date: 08/24/2015

1.   AU Pride and Signage. For the uninitiated, you'll be surprised by just how omnipresent American University is the entire night. All over the stadium, there will be AU signage with brightly-lit, red and blue colors.

2.   Free T-Shirts. Oh, and another way that AU is represented? The AU-Nats T-shirts, which the first 25,000 fans into the stadium can get for free.

3.   Wonk Showdowns. On the big screen, you'll get to watch "Wonk Showdowns," with AU professors and graduate students asking trivia questions to competing fans. It isn't an AU event if we aren't testing our knowledge, right?

4.   Clawed Z. Eagle. AU's lovable mascot will work the crowd, both in the stadium and on the field. In 2014, Clawed proved to be quite photogenic, with AU freshmen flocking to take pictures with him.

5.   Treble in Paradise. The AU a cappella group Treble in Paradise knocked it out of the park last year with their rendition of the national anthem. A YouTube clip of this got 488 likes and 63 shares on Facebook. They're back this year for an encore performance.

6.   Alumni Presence. There will be a picnic for alumni inside the stadium, starting at 5:30 pm. Per tradition, a member of the AU community will throw out the first pitch. This year it's D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (SPA/BA '81).

Freshmen flock to take photos with Clawed Z. Eagle

7.   Introduction to AU. It's a special night for incoming freshmen and a great way to make new friends. There will be a pre-game, All-American Barbeque for students from 4:30 to 6:30 pm on the Friedheim Quad. Shuttle service to the metro will be provided for people heading to the game.

8.   Food! You'll also have plenty of great meal options at Nationals Park. You can have D.C. mainstays, such as Ben's Chili Bowl, or hot upstarts like Shake Shack. Inside tip: try Box Frites, a terrific Belgian-style fries' joint.

AU night at Nationals Park is a great way for freshmen to get to know their new home, Washington DC.

9.   Discover Washington. By mid-semester, there's less time to explore the city. But for freshmen in August, this is a nice opportunity to get the D.C. bug and become Washingtonians.

10.   Bryce Harper. He is one of the most talented, electrifying players to come along in a generation. And if you come on Friday night, there's a decent chance that you'll watch him smash a baseball very, very far.


11.   This Game Matters. The Nats are fighting for their playoff lives and trying to catch up with the first-place New York Mets. Every game matters from here on out. So come watch the Nats, and you might just witness a little Washington, D.C. sports history.

*The number of Ryan Zimmerman, the longest-tenured player on the Washington Nationals.

The game is this Friday, August 28, against the Miami Marlins. Tickets are available at For the AU discount, just enter the code WONK in the coupon section.

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Title: Introducing the SPA Leadership Program Class of 2019
Abstract: Selected from a record-breaking amount of applications, these 42 students come from unique communities in 20 different states and Pakistan.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 08/24/2015

The SPA Leadership Program is thrilled to announce the class of 2019! Selected from a record-breaking amount of applications, these 42 students come from unique communities in 20 different states and Pakistan. Among their ranks are outstanding students who delivered their high school commencement speeches, earned the distinction of valedictorian and AP Scholars, and completed rigorous International Baccalaureate programs during their high school studies. Many have served as student government presidents, leaders of music groups, directors of plays, and editors-in-chief of school newspapers, yearbooks, and literary magazines. Others have served as captains of athletic, speech and debate, and mock trial teams. Together, they have devoted thousands of hours of service to their communities.

These students will work through the four-year program towards earning a Certificate in Advanced Leadership Studies. The program offers students the experience, skills, and knowledge to prepare for leadership roles in public service and life. Inside and outside of the classroom they will focus on understanding leadership theory, effective communication, and organizational behavior. Additionally, they will practice hands-on activism through two social action projects—the first within a team and the second individually. The goal of the program is to train its students to think creatively, act honestly, and make constructive community-oriented decisions.

Introducing the SPA Leadership Class of 2019: 

  • Abigail Hango, VT
  • Alana Kessler, NY
  • Emma Gore, VA
  • Ishmam Mirza, MD
  • Jenna Fortunati, CT
  • John Vodrey, OH
  • Maham Khanum, Pakistan
  • Andrew Alban, PA
  • Cameron De Matteis, CA
  • Elena Pierson, AZ
  • Emily Pullen, NM
  • Madison Henry, CT
  • Neissa Fils, NY
  • Brandon Jones, NY
  • Allison Bock, NC
  • Andrea Jennings, VA
  • Brandan Persaud, NY
  • Karla Palmer, MD
  • Maureen Smith, PA
  • Payten Kirby, CA
  • Remy Madarieta, NJ
  • Adele Ackert, MA
  • Andrew Schwarz, MD
  • Camila Ramirez-Tejada, RI
  • Cole Trask, FL
  • Danielle D’Amore, NJ
  • William Fells, AR
  • Zizhan Luo, NJ
  • Erin Hampson, NC
  • Esra Ozturk, CA
  • Jason Lin, HU
  • Kenya Roy, TX
  • Layla Tinio, NJ
  • Matthew Klucher, PA
  • Sophia Duke-Mosier, NJ
  • Alexa Iannace, PA
  • Ashlee Smith, TX
  • Ashlyn Dean, CA
  • Donald Zyriek, AZ
  • D'Shawn Bond, KY
  • Erin Thomas, IN
  • Shaan Chilukuri, CA

We look forward to welcoming such a talented and ambitious group of students. Congratulations to the SPA Leadership Class of 2019!

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Title: Academy of Management Convention Showcases SPA Scholars
Author: Lee Ivory
Abstract: Two School of Public Affairs scholars played prominent roles at the recent Academy of Management convention in Canada.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 08/18/2015

Two School of Public Affairs (SPA) scholars played prominent roles at the recent Academy of Management convention in Canada – one winning a prestigious career award and the other reconceptualizing the field of Organization Development (OD).

Adjunct Professor David Jamieson, who designed and leads the Practicum Project course in the Master of Science in Organization Development (MSOD) program, was given the hallowed Distinguished Scholar-Practitioner Award at the 75th annual convention of the Academy in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

The honor is given to scholars who, over the course of a career, have made significant contributions to theory and research, and who are highly respected in their field.

Ruth Wagner, director of the MSOD program, said that his career award is one of the Academy’s most prestigious honors. She said he was especially deserving because of his contribution to both scholarly and practitioner literature. His integration of the two is reflected in how he designed the practicum course at SPA.

“Dave has carefully crafted this course so that students are challenged and they get a chance to demonstrate to themselves and to others that they really are integrating both their scholarly knowledge and skills as a practitioner,” Wagner said. “And now the person who crafted our practicum course has been acknowledged as a distinguished scholar-practitioner in the field of OD.”

Robert J. Marshak, Distinguished Scholar in Residence in SPA, has taught in the MSOD program since 1980. He and his colleague, Gervase R. Bushe, of Canada’s Simon Fraser University, held the first international conference on dialogic organization development the day before the Academy convention, which ran Aug. 7-11.

Marshak and Bushe are co-creators of the concept and term “Dialogic Organization Development” or Dialogic OD. They also are co-editors of the first book on the subject: Dialogic Organization Development: The Theory and Practice of Transformational Change.

The all-day Dialogic OD conference was sold out, attracting attendees from around the world. Marshak and Bushe introduced key concepts of the book and authors of some of the chapters held interactive workshops. These same set of scholar-practitioners also held a PDW or practitioner development workshop as part of the Academy events.

“An editor of one of the OD journals was quoted as saying that the Dialogic OD concept will force a reexamination in the field of OD and textbooks will have to be rewritten,” Wagner said.

The AOM convention attracted about 11,000 attendees from around the world. The annual meeting is considered the premier conference for students, academics, scholars and professionals in the scholarly management and organization space.

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Title: Dedicated to Diversity: Alumna is United Way’s Chief Diversity Officer
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
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

“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
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

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
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

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
Abstract: The National Campus Leadership Council connects student policymakers across the country.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 02/13/2015

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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newsId: 409288E8-EDD6-2C5D-ABF5AF8E5E7E340C
Title: The Next Generation of Leaders: Sarah McBride’s Pride for AU
Author: Megan Patterson, SIS/BA ’11
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

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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newsId: 03DCA440-F399-8A8D-CB557FB2BB853C68
Title: Business & Public Affairs: A Perfect Marriage
Author: Phil Recchio
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

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.

Tags: Alumni,Kogod School of Business,School of Public Affairs
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newsId: 023057F7-EC0E-B0AB-5F284C4EB43D1024
Title: Board Member Amy Jones Realized Her Dream of Working on the Hill
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
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

“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.”

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Board,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,School of Public Affairs,Washington College of Law
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newsId: 6449E296-09D7-C80B-BDA285991D985CC6
Title: Alumni Board Member Joe Vidulich is Always an Eagle
Author: Rebecca Vander Linde
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Board,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update,School of Public Affairs,Athletics
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newsId: 50F3004E-A33A-3D5C-8464AD6318C2A6F4
Title: John Tranfaglia, SPA/BA ’13, Providing Solutions to Preserve the Maine Lobster Industry
Author: Pat Rabb
Abstract: As part of AU’s Roosevelt Institute, Tranfaglia began proposing ideas to strengthen the industry.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 01/07/2014

"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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newsId: 08FF149F-A39F-A15E-758315C96181311A
Title: Cameron McCosh, SPA/BA ’07, SPA/MPP ’08, is a Washington Power Broker
Author: Dash Radosti
Abstract: McCosh recently was named to list of 25 Most Influential Washington Women Under 35.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 11/12/2013

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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