Trachtenberg School Honors Outstanding Alumni and Professors

Left to right: Jeffrey Levi, winner of the 2014 Trachtenberg School Distinguished Alumni award stands with Dr. Kathryn Newcomer, Director, Columbian College Dean Ben Vinson and Alex Lawson, winner of the 2014 Outstanding Recent Alumni award.
Event Demonstrates School’s Motto of “Doing Good and Doing it Well”
March 06, 2014

When GW’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration (TSPPPA) community gather, there’s sure to be some TLAs tossed around (that’s three-letter acronyms for those who don’t speak “government”). The February 21 Trachtenberg School Outstanding Alumni and Teaching Awards Networking Reception was no exception.

In between finger foods and drinks, alumni chatted with current students, faculty and friends of the school. Topics ranged from federal budget proposals to nonprofit board structures to the efficacy of the Affordable Care Act’s rollout and more.

The conversations represented a community engaged in the international, federal and local issues that shape the world. Overhearing the topics discussed proved that members of the Trachtenberg School community believe in “doing good and doing it well.”

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Dean Ben Vinson joined this year’s reception to honor the school’s alumni and faculty and celebrate the specific accomplishments of two alumni and two outstanding teaching award winners.

“Your work in the public, private and nonprofit sectors demonstrates that knowledge of evaluation, leadership, statistics, administration and policy influences work at all levels,” Dean Vinson said to the crowd of more than 130.

This year, for the first time, students and alumni were invited to nominate members of the school’s faculty for outstanding teaching awards. Dr. Christopher Carrigan, an assistant professor in his second year of teaching with the Trachtenberg School, was honored with the award for full-time faculty. Dale Didion, MPA ’83, an adjunct faculty member who has taught a course on Legislative Management and Congress since 2007, was given the award for outstanding teaching for part-time faculty.

In addition to the teaching awards, two alumni of the Trachtenberg School were honored. Alex Lawson, MPP ’08, currently serves as the executive director of Social Security Works, a coalition of more than 300 national and state organizations representing more than 50 million Americans. He is also a co-owner of We Act Radio, an AM radio station based in DC’s Anacostia neighborhood.

“I’ve always thought of myself as someone who tells stories,” said Lawson, winner of this year’s Trachtenberg School Outstanding Recent Alumni award. “Thanks to my education at the Trachtenberg School and my life experience, I now have the tools to effectively translate the stories of more than 50 million people on Social Security to lawmakers and translate the efforts and ideas of lawmakers to those involved with my organization.”

This year’s Trachtenberg School Distinguished Alumni Award winner, Jeffrey Levi, PhD ’99, was honored for his role as executive director of the Trust for America’s Health; his work as chair of President Obama’s Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion and Integrative and Public Health; and his dedication to learning as a professor of health policy at GW’s School of Public Health.

Dr. Levi spoke of his path to the Trachtenberg School from leadership positions in the LGBT and HIV communities to enrolling in the PhD program when he was on the “old side of the age spectrum for students” because he wanted to put several decades of work into a larger framework of policy and public administration.

He encouraged the current students in the room to “leave your minds open to the serendipity of discovery that is part of an exciting learning environment.”

For the alumni, students and faculty at the reception, the words from Lawson and Levi served as a reminder that utilizing the skills gained at the Trachtenberg School provides opportunities to work across sectors and do good…but you might need to throw in a few acronyms to prove you know your stuff.