Spring 2020 Newsletter

Message from the Director
Class Notes

Message from the Director


Mary Tschirhart


Dear Alumni and Friends of the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration,

I hope this newsletter finds you and your loved ones healthy. We planned this newsletter before recent events that have saddened and horrified many of us and driven us to reexamine our priorities, biases, and values. I had a very different message in mind than what I now write. Part of what I recently expressed to students and faculty is that the Trachtenberg School community is one of many places where we can find needed friendship and compassion in this chaotic time. But more than that, it is a place where we can learn and innovate together to make and follow pathways to change what is unacceptable. What we do in our time together and what we take with us when we no longer have direct interactions touches so many lives. We are accountable to all alive today and future generations for how we use the skills, tools, and knowledge we learn and co-create. As I write to you today, I suspect that like us TSPPPA faculty, you take that responsibility and accountability seriously.

We are all change agents as the stories in this newsletter show. Though it's been a time of uncertainty and pain here at Foggy Bottom and elsewhere, everyone at TSPPPA has been working to continue our mission and make sure we are there for our students, faculty, and alumni. In our graduation celebration, we honored 178 masters-level grads, 13 doctoral grads, and awarded 18 certificates. Our faculty are not letting a pandemic stop them from “doing good and doing it well” and our alumni continue to mentor students, advance careers, and support scholarship funds for students such as our new Kathryn E. Newcomer Scholarship for Equity and Public Service. I thank you for all you are doing to help others and stay safe and well.

Please let us know what we can feature about your activities for the next newsletter and our other communications. In 2020, U.S. News & World Report ranked TSPPPA in the top 5% of public affairs schools – but there is room to move up and your continued work helps us do that. I look forward to sharing good news with you in future messages as we continue to push forward despite challenges.

On behalf of the Trachtenberg School, best wishes.


Dr. Mary Tschirhart

School Director and Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Professor in Public Affairs

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TSPPPA Spotlights

The 2019-2020 TSPPPA Alumni Awards and Wolcott Foundation Fellowship


Members of the Trachtenberg School Advisory Board attending the Alumni Awards Reception.

Members of the Trachtenberg School Advisory Board attending the Alumni Awards Reception

Every year the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy & Public Administration recognizes exceptional alumni who are changing the world through their work. This year’s Alumni Awards and Networking Reception celebrated the accomplishments of Robert Goldenkoff, BA ’84, MPA ’87, Ambassador Susan C. Schwab, PhD ’93,  and Lieutenant Commander Paul J. Miller, MA ’64, who have each contributed outstanding achievement in public policy and public administration. They represent the alumni and faculty who constantly uphold Trachtenberg's mission of responsible community engagement in part of sustaining public interest. 

Robert Goldenkofff received the 2020 Service to the School Award. He is recognized for his longtime service and leadership to the Trachtenberg School as a member of the Advisory Board of the George Washington University’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy & Public Administration. He also led recruiting efforts between the GAO and GW, resulting in many students and alumni employed at the agency. In his previous roles as Director of Strategic Issues for the Government Accountability Office and adjunct faculty member of GAO’s Learning Center, he led a portfolio that addressed improving the federal personnel system and strengthening the performance and independence of the federal statistical system. He is now a consultant for various good government organizations. 

Ambassador Susan C. Schwab received the 2020 Trachtenberg School Distinguished Alumni Award. She is recognized for her work and service that has resulted in significant contributions to the field of public policy throughout her esteemed career. As the U.S. Trade Representative from 2006-2009, she opened markets for US products and services worldwide and concluded bilateral free trade agreements with Peru, Colombia, Panama and South Korea. She launched the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and won and/or resolved multiple trade disputes on behalf of the United States' interests at the WTO. Currently, a strategic advisor at Mayer Brown LLP, and Professor/Senior Fellow at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, Susan continues to impact issues and policies.

Lieutenant Commander Paul J. Miller Received the 2020 Trachtenberg School Outstanding Recent Alumni Award. He is recognized for his work and service as the operations center chief for the Coast Guard Sector in San Francisco. Miller is responsible for the oversight of all search and rescue, port safety/security and domestic/international vessel oversight missions from the California-Oregon border to the San Luis Obispo County, Caif., line. Prior to serving in his current position, Miller was the deputy senior director for legislative affairs on the National Security Council and the Coast Guard’s deputy senate liaison on Capitol Hill. He also coordinated targeting missions to disrupt transnational air and maritime criminal trafficking for the U.S. Southern Command and served as the military aide to the Coast Guard chief of staff and deputy commandant for mission support.

This year, three of our students were awarded the Wolcott Foundation Fellowship: Daryl Cordova, MPA ’21, Timothy Wolf Barham, MPP ’20, and Daniel Burwell, MPP ’21.


Alumni Help in the Fight Against COVID-19


The COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index & map of America

TSPPPA alumni are working on many projects including: The COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index

We are incredibly proud of our Trachtenberg alumni who are assisting government agencies and their communities in the fight against COVID-19! 

Hanna Kemp, MPA ’12, is the director of programs for Surgo Foundation. When COVID-19 hit, the foundation shifted nearly all its focus to the pandemic response. Leveraging the knowledge she gained at the Trachtenberg School, Hannah set out to enable policy-makers to bring precision to the COVID-response. In the United States, the foundation developed a hyper-local toolkit which identifies communities that are most vulnerable to COVID-19 along with key data such as social distancing and testing rates. Globally, they developed a dashboard that tracks social distancing in over 100 cities and are testing digital approaches to symptom triage and hotspot mapping in Sub-Saharan Africa. As a leader in the organization, she is overseeing many aspects of this work, from conceptualizing new ways to using data to forging partnerships with organizations like Uber. One hat that she often wears is as a translator—translating between the data science team and policymakers and leaders who want to use data and insights to inform what they do. From understanding research methods and statistics (thanks to Professor Adams!) to developing her leadership skills, Hannah says the lessons she learned from the Trachtenberg School are foundational to her work today.

Alec Nadeau, BA ’15, MPA ’17, is the advisor to the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a member of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive cabinet. Alec’s responsibilities include serving as a speechwriter, advancing priority infrastructure projects and providing counsel on transportation and related policies. In the wake of COVID-19, Alec has been working adjust the operations and design policies to ensure the facilities remain operational, protect the health and safety of customers and employees, keep employees informed and position the Port Authority to play a strong role in jumpstarting the recovery once the states’ emergency orders expire. Alec states that the education he received at the Trachtenberg School has been extremely helpful in his current role. Classes such as benefit cost analysis, econometric and policy analysis provided him with analytical skills and gave him experience with evidence-based decision making. 

Kelly Waldron, MPA ’07, is the senior director of investor relations for United Way Worldwide. Kelly’s unit, the International Donor Advised Giving Team, has facilitated millions of dollars internationally to organizations that are supporting communities impacted by COVID by providing personal protective equipment to frontline workers and food and shelter for those who are food and housing insecure. As nonprofits across the United States and the world champion efforts such as getting food into needy hands, coordinating relief efforts and pushing government and business leaders for greater support, Kelly feels fortunate to be part of such an amazing group that is making an impact in people’s lives.  Kelly reports that her time at Trachtenberg helped equip her with the critical thinking and collaborative skills needed to act quickly and decisively. 

Jonathan Porat, MPP ’12, is the senior governance advisor and council liaison for the city of Seattle, Wash. He is working to provide governance to Seattle from staff-focused areas—instrumental in making sure the city can ensure its workforce is productive while working remotely and its technology initiatives are driving value to its various lines of business. He is helping resident-focused businesses improve access to affordable broadband internet and maintain digital equity with Seattle's COVID-19 initiatives. Jonathan says TSPPPA has been extremely helpful in preparing him for his work in the city's COVID-19 response. By learning strong foundations in policy analysis and benefit-cost analysis, he is better able to ground substantial policy analysis and decisions-made today. With so many different voices and interests in COVID-19 policy decisions, Jonathan says it is critical to have a robust and analytical way to analyze and evaluate different policy options to keep conversations and discussions focused on what matters most and add clarity to frequently uncertain situations.

Chelsea D’Angona, MPA ’11, is the customer experience administrator for patents within the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. She routinely collaborates with other leaders across government to address evolving high-impact issues, seek out solutions and share best practices. During the pandemic, Chelsea has focused on coordinating customer and employee communications, supporting frontline staff and amplifying the good work of her colleagues who are innovating new programs to meet the moment. Chelsea has put the skills she gained during her time at the Trachtenberg School to good use. She learned about her individual strengths, go-to leadership styles and how to adapt to different environments with ease.

Chris Yeazel, BA ’06, MPA ’15, co-founded an electric shuttle service, FLARE, and partnered with several community organizations in Arlington to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. He repurposed the vehicles to collect and deliver bulk donations of non-perishable food to the Arlington Food Assistance Center, so they can provide hot meals from locally owned restaurants to nurses and staff at the Virginia Hospital Center. The Trachtenberg School welcomed him as a former Army officer transitioning to the civilian world. As a student he worked full time in addition to his studies. Chris reports that the faculty were extremely supportive of tailoring his projects to complement his work when possible and appropriate. The program gave him invaluable knowledge and skills in policy analysis, tax policy and state & local governments that he is applying at work every day. He was profiled in GWToday.


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Bill Adams co-authored the article “Egyptian and American Regime Disruptions and Interest in the MPA and MPP” in the PA Times.

Steven Balla completed 25 years of continuous full-time service at TSPPPA. He testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services earlier this year.

Lori Brainard received the Outstanding Achievement in Public Service: Social Justice Curriculum Award given by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration.

Leah Brooks was cited by Governing in the article “ “Why Can’t We Build Infrastructure Cheaply, Quickly and Well?” and was quoted by The New York Times in “The Money Machine That Can Save Cities.”

Christopher Carrigan served as a co-editor of a symposium published in January 2020 in the Public Administration Review, a leading scholarly journal in public administration.

Stephanie Cellini was cited by The New York Times in “In a Sharp Downturn, College Can Be a Shock Absorber.” Additionally, she became an editor of Education Finance and Policy, published by MIT Press.

Susan Dudley co-authored an article in Public Administration Review with recent Trachtenberg alumna and RSC senior policy analyst, Zhoudan Xie, MPP ’16. She also testified before the Senate on regulatory reform and authored commentary in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and The Hill.

Donna Infeld was appointed a GW Professor Emerita.

Peter Linquiti will be taking a sabbatical during the upcoming school year as he works on a policy analysis textbook for Sage/CQ Press. While he is away, Nancy Augustine will serve as the interim ENRP director.

Anil Nathan presented “The Returns to Private Education: Differential Returns” at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan, and at the Southern Economic Association Conference.

Kathryn Newcomer was invited to be a Senior Fellow of the Geo-Tech Center at the Atlantic Council. She was also invited to serve on the GW Strategic Planning Steering Committee.

Sara Rosenbaum was quoted by Politico in “White House still scrambling to cover virus treatment for the uninsured.”

Eiko Strader won the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences’ annual graduate faculty mentoring award.

Mary Tschirhart authored a chapter on membership associations in The Routledge Companion to Nonprofit Management and presented her research on members serving in AmeriCorps at several conferences.

Michael Worth published an article “Understanding Motives of Mega-gift Donors” in the Public Administration Review.

Lang Kate Yang published the latest of a series of papers on state authorization of municipal bankruptcy in the National Tax Journal, and her paper on local government defaults was featured at the Brookings 2019 Municipal Finance Conference.

The Environmental Resource Policy program will be expanding in fall 2020 thanks to a generous contribution.

The Regulatory Studies Center celebrated 10 years in the Trachtenberg School with a public event that featured interdisciplinary panels of public officials and academics who explored regulatory policy lessons from the last century and challenges and opportunities for the future. RSC scholars published their research in multiple journals and while also testifying before Congress and presenting research at professional associations. They were also cited widely in the media. The center was profiled in CCAS Spotlight.

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Class Notes

Alexa Briehl, MPA ’12, is the communications director at Virginia Tech, leading communications for the Virginia Tech Police Department, Emergency Management and Facilities Department.

Lizeth Gonzalez, MPA ’18, works throughout Southeastern, Mass., as a transportation and comprehensive planner for the local regional planning agency.

Nathalie Grogan, MPP ’19, works at the Center for a New American Security, where she researches and writes on issues relating to military personnel and veterans.

Melissa McShea, MA ’07, MPP ’10, PhD ’18,  is an assistant professor in the Department of Public Management at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

Vicki Thomas, MPA ’83 established the Thomas Fellowship, which provides a merit-based scholarship for Trachtenberg School graduate students who intend to pursue a career in Homeland Security, Emergency Management, or National Defense. The Thomas Fellowship was inspired by the distinguished career of Vicki’s late father, Dr. John R. Thomas, a foremost expert on Russia for the State Department, who earned a Ph.D. in Sino-Soviet relations from GW in 1969.

Jennifer Wong, MPP ’14, was recently promoted to lead strategic growth, digital innovation, external engagements and AI/Tech/Digital Health innovation partnerships for Real World Data and Real World Evidence across the Americas (North America, LATAM) for Sanofi, a French multinational pharmaceutical company. She is based in Washington, D.C., and Cambridge, Mass. This year, she received both her MBA and MS in Healthcare Leadership from the Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management and Weill Cornell Medicine.



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