Diversity and Inclusion Committee - “Who we are and what we do”

About us: The Trachtenberg School's Diversity & Inclusion committee is comprised of students, faculty and staff of the school.  We are committed to increasing diversity of people, ideas, and beliefs and building an inclusive environment.  We accomplish this by developing and implementing an action agenda that recognizes the broad range of interests, values and the cultural richness that define our country and the global community.  We serve as a resource for the school community to address individual and systemic issues regarding diversity and inclusion.  In order to ensure the committee has both fresh ideas and continuity, faculty, staff and alumni members (two each) serve for two year terms but do not rotate at the same time.  The PhD student member is a volunteer and serves for one year.  The MPA and MPP participants (one each) are elected through the Trachtenberg Student Organization (TSO) elections and also serve for one year. 

Responsibilities: The committee on Diversity and Inclusion is charged with providing recommendations and proposals to the TSPPPA faculty and program directors on initiatives supporting comprehensive and systemic approaches to:

  • promote the vital importance of developing public service professionals who can successfully operate and create results in a diverse and inclusive twenty-first century environment;
  • foster and promote an inclusive atmosphere by proactively seeking to remove barriers to access/opportunity for students, faculty and staff from diverse and historically underrepresented populations;
  • promote the development of a curriculum that actively engages with the differential impact of public policy on various cultures and groups;
  • encourage the creation of an academic environment that promotes informed, honest, and respectful dialogue on challenging policy and administrative issues;
  • develop public policy leaders and public administrators who understand and influence domestic and international affairs by actively promoting diversity and inclusion within the academic environment, the workplace, and public policy decision-making;
  • actively seek out and incorporate the suggestions of students, faculty, and staff into committee actions; and
  • identify other issues regarding diversity and inclusion that require attention in a premier institution of higher learning.

A summary of the Trachtenberg School's diversity and inclusion climate assessment findings and recommendations are available here.  Trachtenberg School faculty, students and staff may contact the D&I committee at [email protected] for a copy of the full report.

Please contact us with your diversity and inclusion related concerns or ideas at: [email protected] or via our individual email accounts below.  We are happy to treat comments as confidential. 

Member Bios:

Nancy Augustine Photo

Nancy Augustine (faculty committee member) - Nancy Augustine is the Admissions Director of the Trachtenberg School and Professor of Public Policy and Public Administration. Her research interests include urban policy, state and local government and community and economic development. Contact: [email protected]


Pam Brown Turner PhotoPamela Brown (staff committee member) - Pamela is the Departmental Operations Supervisor of the Trachtenberg School. Contact: [email protected] 

Joe Cordes (faculty committee member) - Joe Cordes is Associate Director of the Trachtenberg School and Professor of Economics, Public Policy and Public Administration, and International Affairs.  His current research interests include tax policy and the nonprofit sector, and the application of benefit-cost analysis to the evaluation of public and nonprofit programs.  Contact: [email protected]


Isabella Higgins (student committee member) - Isabella Higgins is a first-year MPP from Raleigh, North Carolina. After graduating with a BA in women's and gender studies and sociology, she worked as a research assistant investigating the relationship between insurance coverage and receipt of contraception. Isabella then went on to work at Ipas, an international NGO working to make abortions safe and legal. She is currently working as a Programs Intern at the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association. As Co-chair of the D&I Committee, she hopes to expand discussions of diversity within TSPPPA and foster a more inclusive environment.


Nicholas Mastron (student committee member) - Nick Mastron is a current PhD student, specializing in Gender & Social Policy. He also continues to serve as a PhD Liaison since fall of 2014. Nick’s primary research interest is intimate partner violence and its intersections with income inequality, resource management, and economic development. As a member of the D&I committee, he seeks to promote diversity within TSPPPA by evaluating current practices and policies from pre-orientation to post-graduation.


Alicia Mazzara (alumni committee member) - Alicia Mazzara is an Economic Policy Advisor at Third Way, a centrist think tank. Her research areas include labor economics, income inequality, and middle class economic security. Alicia earned her MPP from TSPPPA in 2012. Contact: [email protected].   


Michelle Thompson (student committee member) - Michelle Thompson is a PhD student with a concentration in race, ethnicity, and social policy.  Her research interests include early childhood development, child and family poverty, and social determinants of health throughout the communities of racial and ethnic minority groups.  Contact: [email protected]


Esther Strongman Photo

Esther Williams Strongman (chair/alumni member) is a MPA graduate of the Trachtenberg School and one of the founding members of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Since graduation, she has held several positions with the Prince George's County Government, including director of personnel services for the County police department and manager of recruitment and testing for the County human resources management department.

Kathy Newcomer Photo

Kathryn Newcomer (ex officio committee member) - Kathy is the school director and she teaches public and nonprofit  program evaluation.  Her research focuses on measurement, evaluation and accountability in government and the nonprofit sector.  Contact:  [email protected]