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Note to students: Please review the materials below and be respectful of the time that you request of our volunteer alumni. These individuals are looking forward to hearing from you and willing to answer your questions. As former Penn Staters themselves, they have a feel for what you’ve gone through and are willing to help you think about careers or other questions. Good luck!

Note to alums: These biographical statements come from what you have sent us, and have been edited for consistency of format. If you would like to have your name removed, edit or change your entry, or know another alumnus/a who would like to join the program, please email Lee Ann Banaszak, Professor and Head, at


KerriLaine “Kerri” Clark

Kerri is a 2001 graduate of The Pennsylvania State University with a degree in International Politics and is a graduate of Trinity University with a Masters in Business Administration, concentration in Federal Program Management. She also completed graduate school at Marymount University in Organization Development and previously completed graduate level coursework in Public Policy. Kerri works for the Federal Highway Administration as an Employee Relations Specialist in the Office of Human Resources. Prior to joining the Federal Highway Administration, she spent five years in the private sector working for UBS Financial Services and an association, specializing in international trade. In her time away from work she serves as President of the Penn State Professional Women’s Network of DC and is the President Emertia of the Metro Washington Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association. Kerri mentors current Penn State students through the Women’s Leadership Initiative and volunteers as an alumni recruiter at college fairs on behalf the PSU Admission’s office. Kerri is a native of Atco, New Jersey and enjoys summer weekends at the beach with family and friends, and fall weekends at Penn State football games.

Ian R. McCann

Ian McCann graduated from Penn State in 2006 with a B.A. in Political Science and began working at Georgia's Department of Audits & Accounts (DOAA) in November 2006. At DOAA, he works as a Management Analyst in the Performance Audits and Operation (PAO) Division, which performs similar auditing function for the state as the GAO performs for the federal government. The main function of the PAO Division is to produce publicly released reports for the benefit of the state legislature analyzing the efficiency and accountability of state agencies and programs.  On a day-to-day basis, Ian conducts personnel interviews with auditees, researches agency policies and procedures, and writes analytical reviews of agency performance measures. In his short time working at PAO, he has conducted performance audits on topics such as education, welfare funding and state purchasing procedures. While at Penn State, Ian was an active member of the Political Science Association and a varsity member of the Cross Country and Track & Field teams.


Erin Buechel Wieczorek

Erin Buechel Wieczorek earned a BA in Political Science from Penn State University in 2001 and currently serves as the Congressional Affairs officer for the U.S. Army's Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS). Ms. Buechel Wieczorek specializes in legislative affairs, strategic communications planning, media operations, message development and speechwriting. Prior to joining PEO EIS, Ms. Buechel Wieczorek served in the Congressional Affairs office for the Department of Defense's Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) and as a Government Relations professional with GolinHarris. As a registered lobbyist, Ms. Buechel Wieczorek worked primarily with colleges and universities, hospitals and technology clients to secure Federal funding, raise awareness and shape debate. Ms. Buechel Wieczorek began her career as a legislative staffer for Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA). Her legislative expertise included appropriations, education, labor, housing and urban development, economic development, and welfare issues. Erin Buechel Wieczorek is a member of Women in Government Relations; a regular panelist with the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN); and a three year recipient of the Bryce Harlow Foundation Fellowship. She holds an MA in Government and an MBA from The Johns Hopkins University.


Donald J. Butler
(w) 570-544-6775

Mr. Butler earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Penn State University. Mr. Butler’s military education includes the Quartermaster Officer’s Basic Course, the Quartermaster Officers Advanced Course and Command and General Staff College. Donald J. Butler is the Chief of the Asia,Pacific and Americas Central Case Management Division of the Asia, Pacific & Americas Directorate, United States Army Security Assistance Command (USASAC). He has been employed at USASAC since 1979. His assignments have included: Support Services Supervisor (1979-1980), Chief, ROD Branch (1980), Admin Officer (1981-1982), Supply Technician assigned to the Saudi Arabian Program (1983-1984), Supply Systems Analyst 1984-1989), Case Closeout Monitor (1989-1993), and a Central Case Management Branch Chief (1994-2000). He was commissioned a second lieutenant through ROTC in 1975. His active duty assignments included being a Platoon Leader with the 102nd QM Co. (POL), Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. He has also held numerous assignments in the U.S. Army reserve: POL Staff Officer, 378th S&S Battalion (1983-1985), Company Commander 814th Supply Co. (RP)(1985-1988), Chief, Supply & Service Division, 1079th USAR Garrison (1988-1991), Chief, Logistics Services Division, 2374th Signal Detachment (1991-1992) and S4, 367TH MP Group (1993-1994).


Leo Christenson
(w) 651-297-4575

Leo Christenson is the System Director for Planning for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities in St. Paul, MN, a position he has held since 1997. Prior to that, he was the Director of Planning at the Department of Children, Families, and Learning, Minnesota’s state-level K-12 education department. Mr. Christenson graduated from Penn State in 1985 with an Honors Degree in Political Science and holds a Master of Arts Degree in Educational Policy and Administration from the University of Minnesota and is currently working on his Ph.D. in the same.


Timothy J. Daniels
(w) 202.234.4355

Timothy J. Daniels earned his Bachelor in Arts in Political Science from the Pennsylvania State University and his Master’s in Public Policy from American University. He is presently a Budget Policy Analyst for the District of Columbia Government Budget Office and was a Research Coordinator for Callahan & Associates in their Publications Department, prior to that he was a Research Associate for their Corporate Executive Board. He has been a recipient of the Penn State University Eric A. Walker Award for Character, Scholarship, Leadership, and Citizenship in addition to the Penn State University John W. Oswald Award for Outstanding Leadership in Student Government.


Frank W. Deffer
(w) 202-254-4041

Frank Deffer has been the Assistant Inspector General for Information Technology at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since the inception of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) in March 2003. He is responsible for conducting audits and evaluations of DHS information technology management and security programs, and reporting on those programs to the DHS Secretary and to the Congress.  Prior to that, he was the Director, Information Management Division, Office of Audits, with the Department of State OIG. Before coming to the State Department, from 1984 - 1998, Mr. Deffer served in a number of positions at the U.S. Government Accountability (GAO). While at GAO, as an Assistant Director in the Accounting and Information Management Division, Mr. Deffer directed audits of Defense and government-wide information technology acquisition programs and produced dozens of reports for the U.S. Congress. Mr. Deffer is a graduate of Penn State University, where he earned both his Bachelor of Arts (75) and Master of Arts (81) degrees in Political Science. Mr. Deffer is also retired from the U.S. Army Reserve, where he last served as a Major in the Medical Service Corps.


Thane J. Fake
(w) 202-514-4545
(h) 443-394-9346

Thane Fake received a B.S. in Public Service from Penn State in 1998. In 1993 and again in 1997, he worked with the Presidential Inaugural Committee. In 1996, he worked for the Democratic National Convention. From 1993 through 1999, he worked with Political Americana, a political resource firm. In May of 1999, he received a Presidential Appointment as Staff Assistant to Attorney General, Janet Reno. Thane has also been a Political Affairs Intern as well as a Presidential Correspondence Intern in the White House. He was a volunteer for the Clinton/Gore campaign in 1992 and again in 1996. While at Penn State he was President and Treasurer for the Penn State York Student Government Association as well as a council member for the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments. Thane served as a Budget Analyst for over 10 years in the Justice Management Division for the U.S. Department of Justice. Currently, he is an Emergency Management Specialist in the Justice Management Division’s Security and Emergency Planning Staff, Continuity Assurance Section for the U.S. Department of Justice.


Robert A. Krebs
(w) 412-531-2680
(h) 412-835-7399

Robert A. Krebs is a Commissioner on the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board having been appointed by Governor Edward G. Rendell.  The Board serves as the appellate court for appeals from the decisions and orders of the Workers’ Compensation Judges throughout Pennsylvania and hears cases involving occupational disease, traumatic injuries and fatal claims.  Commissioner Krebs also served as a member of Governor Rendell’s Transition Team for Judicial Issues.  Prior to his appointment to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, Mr. Krebs was a trial attorney in the Pittsburgh area for twenty years, practicing in the areas of commercial law, negligence and workers’ compensation.  He received his undergraduate degree in Pre-Law from the Pennsylvania State University in 1981 where he was a member of the Penn State Debate Team, Vice-President of the Newman Student Association and studied Economics and Political Science at the University of Exeter in England.  He earned his law degree from Capital University Law School in 1984 where he served as Articles Editor of the Capital University Law Review.   Mr. Krebs has chaired various committees of the Western Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, the Allegheny County Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association for the Western District of Pennsylvania.  Commissioner Krebs has lectured extensively in the areas of appellate practice and workers’ compensation and he was actively involved in the 2006 legislative amendments to the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.  He is a member of the Pennsylvania, District of Columbia and United States Supreme Court Bars.


Andrew Kreider
(w) 215-814-3301

Andrew Kreider is a project manager in the brownfields program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) office in Philadelphia, PA. He is responsible for managing approximately $4 million in federal grants to state & local governments and redevelopment authorities for the environmental investigation of contaminated properties across the Mid-Atlantic region.  Prior to joining the Philadelphia office, he worked for 5 years at EPA Headquarters in Washington, DC, where he
cooperated with private industry on greenhouse gas emissions reductions,coordinated audit reviews of the Superfund program, and represented EPA as a speaker at several national and international conferences.  Before beginning his career at EPA, he spent a summer doing grassroots organizing for an environmental nonprofit in the San Francisco, CA area. He graduated from PSU in 1996 as a University/Schreyer Scholar with a B.A. in Political Science.  Outside of work, he currently serves as a
member and the immediate past Chair of his township's Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) where he is coordinating fundraising and volunteer efforts to convert a 25-acre parcel of open space into a
community park for passive recreation and nature education.


Bill MacBlane
(w) 202-512-6764

Bill MacBlane earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Penn State (1984) and a Master of Business Administration (Strategic Planning and Policy) from the University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business (1988).  He is presently an Assistant Director/Senior Audit Curriculum Manager for the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) Learning Center, overseeing the core analytic curriculum required of all new GAO analysts and auditors, teaching several classes, and developing additional classroom training for management-level analysts.  Prior to that, at GAO he directed numerous engagements dealing with federal public and assisted housing programs, disaster assistance, air traffic control, hazmat cargo safety, and small business contracting.  In addition, in 2005, he was selected by GAO to serve as a detailee to the U.S. House of Representative’s Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina.  Prior to joining GAO, he held similar positions with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Home Loan Bank Board.


Christian P. Marrone
(h) 703-697-1172
(w) 703-697-1305

Christian Marrone holds a BA degree from Pennsylvania State University (1997), an MGA in Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania (2002) and law degree from Temple University School of Law (2002).  Mr. Marrone is currently serving President George W. Bush as the Director of the Office of Legislative Counsel of the Department of Defense and is the youngest serving member of the Senior Executive Service within the Department. In this position, Marrone has two primary missions. First, he is responsible for the Department's legislative program, which includes developing, coordinating, and submitting annually the largest and most complex piece of legislation in the Federal Government -- the National Defense Authorization Act. Mr. Marrone's second mission is to serve as legal counsel to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs.  In this role, he is responsible for managing the Department's compliance with Congress' oversight requests. Prior to serving in this position, Mr. Marrone served in the Bush Administration as Counsel to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs. Before joining the Bush administration, Mr. Marrone served as Legal Counsel to the 55th Presidential Inaugural Committee and Legal Counsel to the Pennsylvania State Republican Committee for the Victory '04 Bush/Cheney Campaign.  From August of 2002 to May of 2004 Mr. Marrone served as an Assistant District Attorney in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Prior to his work as a prosecutor, Marrone worked for five years as the Special Assistant to the Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee. He was the recipient of the Philadelphia Business Journal 40 Under 40 Award in 2002 and the Pennsylvania State University Scholar Athlete Award for Academic Excellence from the Student Advisory Board.  Mr. Marrone has had a law article published in Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and is a member of the Phi Delta Phi International Legal Fraternity, the Phi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society, the 1995 Rose Bowl Championship Team, and the 1995 Big Ten Conference Championship Football Team.


Deborah Miller

Deborah Miller received her degree in May 1985 (after having the privilege of studying abroad in Exeter, England and participating in the University Scholars program) and also went on to earn a JD at George Washington University in 1990. After that, she practiced law in Washington DC and worked at West Publishing (a legal publishing company) in Minnesota in various capacities up until May 2002. In May 2002, she joined the US Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer. She served as Vice Consul to the United States Consulate General in St. Petersburg, Russia. Currently she is the Political/Economic Officer for the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia.  Ms. Miller welcomes any questions from students thinking of taking the foreign service exam and embarking on this career.


Robert J. Nassif
(w) 202-395-4830

Robert Nassif is currently in the Operations Branch of the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) National Security Division and is responsible for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps operations and maintenance portfolio. These accounts provide funds for the routine training, maintenance, and day-to-day operations of the Armed Forces. Originally from Altoona, Pa., he holds a Bachelor’s degree with Honors in Political Since from the Pennsylvania State University (summa cum laude). He studied on Fellowship at The American University and earned a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree with a concentration in public financial management. Mr. Nassif has held a variety of positions. Before entering The American University, he participated in a cooperative educational/professional program as a Research Assistant with the Asylum Branch of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. After he received his MPA in 1995, Mr. Nassif took a position in the Executive Office of the President as a Legislative Analyst with the Resources-Defense-International Branch of the OMB, where he served with distinction. His portfolio included coordinating the Administration’s positions on all substantive legislation pertaining to the Department of Defense, the Armed Services, and the CIA.


Wayne D. Palmer
(w) 202-224-6324

In 1986, Mr. Palmer earned his B.A. in Political Science from Penn State, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with Honors in English and American Studies. From 1987-1990 he held various positions with Dun & Bradstreet in Allentown, PA. From 1991-1992 he was Regional Affairs Consultant for the PENJERDEL Council in Philadelphia, PA. In 1992 he earned a his M.G.A from the University of Pennsylvania and from 1992-1995 he worked as a Presidential Management Intern in Washington, D.C. From 1995-1999, Mr. Palmer worked as Senior Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Rick Santorum. From 1999-2001, he was Legislative Director for U.S. Senator George Voinovich. In January 2001, he rejoined the staff of U.S. Rick Santorum, to serve as Policy Director.


Michael Petruska

Mr. Petruska is currently Director of EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program Division at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC.  The TRI Program is considered the premium community right-to-know program in the world.  Each year, EPA's TRI program provides information on toxic chemicals to communities through out the US, to enable local governments and citizen groups to understand potential health risks and to take action to reduce risks and improve their communities. (See the TRI website at ).  Mr. Petruska has been with EPA for over 25 years in a variety of staff and management positions, and is a member of the Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Professionals.  He has a BA in Political Science (1979), and a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) both from Penn State University.  He was selected for the Public Service Fellowship in 1979, and was a Presidential Management Intern with the Federal Government from 1980-1982.


Vicki Ferrence Ray
(w) 570-374-1778

Vicki Ferrence Ray graduated from Penn State in May of 1995 with a B.A. in Political Science and in Sociology. She went on to earn a Master of Government Administration (M.G.A.) at the Fels Center of Government at the University of Pennsylvania in 1998. She worked as an Assistant Deputy Mayor in the City of Philadelphia's Mayor's Office of Management and Productivity during the later portion of the Rendell Administration, where she served as a project director for a multi-phased, multimillion-dollar government reengineering project. Subsequently, she was employed as a Growth Management Strategist for Refinery, Inc., a strategic web design and technology company in Huntingdon Valley, PA. While there she was promoted to be Director of Planning and Development reporting directly to the CEO. In January 2004 she returned to government work, this time providing consulting services to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Department of General Services regarding Governor Rendell's Strategic Sourcing Initiative to save taxpayers over $100 million. In October 2004 Vicki moved to the not-for-profit arena as Director of National Programs, Central Region, for Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY).


Channing W. Riggs
(w) 612-330-4763

Channing W. Riggs earned a dual major in Political Science and Economics from Penn State University in 1982. He is currently the Director of Government Affairs for Pillsbury, responsible for federal, state and local government affairs. Prior to joining Pillsbury, Mr. Riggs lived in Washington, DC working for the Department of Transportation and Nestle doing a range of public affairs and government affairs jobs. Additionally, Mr. Riggs spent 18 months at Nestle headquarters in Switzerland learning about worldwide operations.


Priscilla Skillman
(w) 202-785-5917

Priscilla Skillman received her B.A. degree in political science in 1967. Upon graduation Priscilla went to Washington and has been there ever since. She worked for several years in the United States Department of Labor providing employment counseling and job training programs throughout the United States. In 1971, she attended law school at George Washington University, going full-time while cutting back her Labor Department job to half-time. Upon completion of law school, Priscilla worked as chief of staff to a newly elected Pennsylvania congressman, Bob Edgar, for 4 years and later ran her own law practice for just over a decade. She is currently Assistant Director of the Council for Court Excellence, which is a law-related public policy organization that works to improve administration of justice in the courts and related agencies in Washington. Her various careers and positions have therefore meshed interest in the law with that in public policy. Her current position allows her to combine these two long-standing interests.


Peter A. Smerick
(w) 703-330-0697

Peter A. Smerick has a B.A. degree in Political Science from Penn State University and a Master of Education degree from the University of Virginia. In the 1960’s, he served as a U.S. Army combat photography officer in Vietnam and Special Agent for the Naval Investigative Service, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1970, he became an FBI Special Agent. In 1976 he was promoted to the FBI Laboratory, Washington, D.C., as a Supervisory Special Agent. In 1985, he was assigned to the FBI Academy, Quantico, Virginia, as an instructor in forensic science and crime scene management techniques. He also provided training for the Department of Justice’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Belize, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. In 1988, he became a Criminal Profiler-Violent Crime Analyst for the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC), FBI Academy. He has testified before both Houses of Congress. Since 2002, Mr. Smerick has been a President and CEO of The Academy Group, Inc., Manassas, Virginia, which is the largest association of former FBI Criminal Profilers/Violent Crime Analysts in the world. Mr. Smerick was a contributing author for the FBI’s “Crime Classifications Manual,” (1992), and produced an article for Bank Security & Fraud Prevention Magazine (April 1998), dealing with violent crime analysis in negligent security cases. He provides expert commentary for the television, radio, and print media regarding violent crime analysis.


Phillip W. Spayd
(w) 617-565-6200

Philip W. Spayd is the Director of Field Operations for the U.S. Customs Service’s North Atlantic Customs Management Center, Boston, MA. In his present position, Mr. Spayd directs all the commercial and inspectional activities of approximately 500 Customs employees throughout the six New England states. On October 1, 1995, U.S. Customs underwent a major reorganization nationwide, replacing regions and districts with management centers and ports. At that time, Mr. Spayd’s title of Northeast Regional Commissioner was changed to Director, Customs Management Center. Mr. Spayd was appointed Northeast Regional Commissioner in August 1988. Prior to this appointment, he was District Director of Customs in Norfolk, Virginia and before that, Director of Labor Relations at Customs Headquarters in Washington, D.C. He began his government career in 1973 and started working at Customs in 1978. During the period of March 1998 through July 1998, Mr. Spayd was stationed in Sofia, Bulgaria serving as the U.S. Advisor to the Bulgarian Government on Counter-Proliferation. In 1992, Mr. Spayd received a Meritorious Executive Presidential Rank Award for innovative management. He is a Harvard Senior Executive Fellow. Mr. Spayd earned a bachelor degree in political science from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree in labor and industrial relations from the University of Massachusetts.

Walter C. Uhler
(w) 856 338-3688

Walter C. Uhler received BA's in Political Science and Russian Language in 1973 and an MPA from Penn State in 1992. Since 1976, he's been a civil servant, employed as weapons acquisition executive in the Department of Defense, and currently serves as Business Operations Chief of the Defense Contract Management Agency's Lockheed Martin Delaware Valley organization.  His negotiations with defense contractors have saved DOD hundreds of millions of dollars.  He also is an independent scholar specializing in Russian and military history.  His numerous articles, op-eds, and reviews have been published in The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, Russian History, the San Francisco Chronicle, Moscow Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Defense News and Naval War College Review among other journals magazines and newspapers.  His article, "National Missile Defense and Russian-American Relations," remains posted on the website of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. In 2000, at the invitation of Mikhail Gorbachev, he participated in the State of the World Forum in New York, which coincided with the UN's Millennium Summit. In 2002, he presented testimony about missile defense to state legislatures in Vermont and California. That same year he gave interviews to radio stations across the country (as well as to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) on that subject. In 2004 he was elected President of the Russian-American International Studies Association, which holds an annual conference at St. Petersburg University, Russia. His biography can be found in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World and Who's Who in Finance and Industry.

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