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SPA Welcomes New Faculty in the 2022-23 Academic Year

The School of Public Affairs (SPA) at American University is pleased to welcome a new cohort of experts to the school in academic year 2022-23, including traditional and term faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, and research scholars.

Pasha Dashtgard: Pasha is a research professor in the Polarization and Extremism Research Innovation Lab (PERIL). He recently completed his Ph.D. in social psychology in the Department of Psychological Science at the University of California. He holds an M.A. in mental health counseling and an Ed.M in education from Columbia University, Teacher’s College. Pasha’s research focuses on masculinities, online radicalization, PTSD, and large-scale mental health policy and service delivery.

Valentina Duque:  Valentina joins SPA as an assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. Valentina holds a PhD in social policy from Columbia University. She comes to us from the University of Sydney, School of Economics. Her primary areas of interest and expertise are health policy, human capital, economic development, and the economics of children, public programs, and inequity. Valentina will spend AY2022-23 at the Center for Health and Wellbeing at Princeton.

Seth Grossman: Seth, who currently serves as the vice president of people and external affairs and counselor to the president of American University, joins SPA as a faculty member in the Department of Public Administration and Policy, teaching legal issues in public administration and homeland security, including immigration. Prior to joining AU, Seth worked as chief of staff to the president of the University of California system; he previously served as deputy general counsel and counselor to the secretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He holds a J.D. from Yale.

William T. Jackson: William is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. His research focuses on political control of the bureaucracy, representative bureaucracy, and emotional labor among social groups within the context of public service provision. Specifically, he is currently testing whether these three theories of public administration can help us understand disparities in the juvenile justice system and policing. 

Rae Jereza: Rae (they/them) is a senior researcher at the Polarization and Extremism Research Innovation Lab (PERIL) and research assistant professor at SPA. They are a sociocultural and linguistic anthropologist who focuses on the intersection of social media and the far-right in the U.S. They are also working on anti-colonial, anti-racist, and anti-imperial approaches to studying white supremacy, especially among ethnographers. They hold a Ph.D. in anthropology from Binghamton University.

Suleyman Ozeren: Suleyman joins SPA as a professorial lecturer in the Department of Justice, Law, and Criminology. He formerly served as the president of the Global Policy and Strategy Institute and the director of the International Center for Terrorism and Transnational Crime (UTSAM) in Turkey. He received his Ph.D. degree in information science from the University of North Texas. Suleyman’s research interests include terrorism and counterterrorism, cybercrime, cyberterrorism, online extremism, countering violent extremism (CVE), and conflict resolution.

Sanja Pesek: Sanja is a professorial lecturer in the Department of Justice, Law, and Criminology. She holds a Ph.D. in political science from the Central European University and has taught several successful SPA courses in recent years as an adjunct. Her research examines the role of ordinary citizens in conflict and post-conflict societies.

Ali Valenzuela: Ali is an associate professor of government at SPA. Affiliated with the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies, he specializes in U.S. politics, with a focus on Latina/o/x attitudes, preferences, and turnout in U.S. elections; immigration and demographic change in the U.S.; public opinion and voter behavior; and ethno-racial and religious identities in politics. Ali’s research uses large-n surveys, field and survey experiments, and administrative data such as Census and election information to investigate the causes and consequences of ethno-racial politics in the U.S. He earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Andrea Vilán: Andrea is an assistant professor in Justice, Law, and Criminology. She holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles, and specializes in international law and organizations, human rights, and transnational activism. Her research explores domestic contestation of international norms by analyzing congressional transcripts, records of treaty negotiations, original datasets, and information from elite interviews conducted in Latin America.

Jhacova Williams: Jhacova joins SPA as an assistant professor of Public Administration and Policy and holds a PhD in economics from Louisiana State University. She is an applied microeconomist focusing primarily on economic history and cultural economics. Her previous work has examined Southern culture and the extent to which historical events have impacted the political behavior and economic outcomes of Southern Black Americans. Recent examples include historical lynchings and the political participation of Blacks and Confederate symbols and Black-White labor market differentials. Prior to joining SPA, Jhacova worked for the Rand Corporation.