Alumni Award Recipients

Outstanding Alumni Award

2015/16: Maryann Hunter

Maryann Hunter is the deputy director of the Division of Bank Supervision and Regulation at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Ms. Hunter has responsibility for the Federal Reserve’s program for supervision and risk management and oversees the supervision of U.S. banking organizations and foreign banking organizations operating in the U.S. Ms. Hunter joined the Board in 2006 as an adviser and was later promoted to deputy director in the Division of Consumer and Community Affairs. She was named deputy director in the Division of Bank Supervision and Regulation in August 2010. Prior to joining the Board of Governors staff, Ms. Hunter held a number of high-level positions at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. She started her career at the Federal Reserve as an examiner in 1981 and was promoted to senior vice president and officer in charge of Supervision in 2000. She also served as senior vice president and branch manager in charge of bank operations at the Denver Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Ms. Hunter has a B.A. from Penn State (’79 Political Science) and an M.P.P. from the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy. She is also a graduate of the Colorado Graduate School of Banking.

2014/15: Jennifer Mies Lowe

Jennifer Mies Lowe is Vice President of The Boeing Company and directs the company's National Strategy and Engagement Organization. She integrates the business needs of the company with their public policy initiatives and community engagement. Her organization is made up of public policy strategy, third party outreach, market analysis, state and local government operations, global corporate citizenship, and Boeing’s political action committee. She also manages all grassroots advocacy for the company.

Jennifer has extensive management, legislative, and political experience including several U.S. Senate campaigns, a presidential campaign, and a national political convention.

Prior to joining The Boeing Company, Jennifer served as chief of staff to U.S. Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN), served in Senate Leadership as Staff Director for Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), Office of the President ProTempore, and worked as Director of the U.S.-China Interparliamentary Group that advised Members of Congress on U.S. China policy and legislation.  Along with Senators Stevens and Inouye, she negotiated the agreement with the Chinese government to form the first official dialogue mechanism between the U.S. Senate and the National People’s Congress.

Jennifer sits on the boards of America’s Promise and the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL). She resides in Arlington, VA with her husband and three children.

 

2013/14: Gretchen Birkle

Gretchen Birkle is Regional Director for Africa at The International Republican Institute, where she is responsible for developing and managing programs in transitioning African countries. The programs focus on elections and support to issue-based political parties and civil society organizations, and a regional governance program in sub-Saharan Africa that strengthens linkages between elected officials and citizens. In addition, Gretchen served as a board of director representative to the Millennium Challenge Corporation from 2007 to 2010.

Gretchen began her career as a legislative assistant on foreign affairs and defense appropriations to the late U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter. From 2004 through 2006, Gretchen served as Senior Coordinator at the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. In 2006, she led the Women’s Democracy Network, the first global initiative for the IRI, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that promotes democracy worldwide. Starting in 2010, she directed IRI’s Afghanistan office and later was appointed Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division.

For Penn State, Gretchen is a mentor to Liberal Arts students and has established a fund to support undergraduate or graduate students who have made contributions to democratic deliberation.

2012/13: Kelly Ayotte

Kelly Ayotte was the first woman to serve as New Hampshire’s Attorney General. Appointed to that position in 2004 by a Republican governor, she was twice reappointed by a Democrat governor. In her first bid for public office, she was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010 with 60 percent of the vote.  In the Senate, Kelly serves on the Armed Services, Budget, Commerce, and Small Business Committees. She is the Ranking Member - top Republican - on the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support.

As Attorney General, Kelly worked with law enforcement officials statewide to protect New Hampshire citizens - helping to distinguish the state as the safest state in the nation. For successfully leading efforts to secure the first capital murder convictions in the state in over 60 years, the Union Leader newspaper named Ayotte "Citizen of the Year" in 2008. She also has been recognized by Business NH Magazine as one of the ten most powerful leaders in New Hampshire, and New Hampshire Magazine listed her as one of the state's remarkable women. Before Kelly's five years as Attorney General, she held positions as the Deputy Attorney General and the Chief of the Homicide Unit.

Kelly graduated in Political Science with honors in 1990 from The Pennsylvania State University and completed her legal education at Villanova University School of Law.

After completing her legal education, Kelly returned to New Hampshire and served for one year as a law clerk to state Supreme Court Associate Justice Sherman Horton.

Kelly lives in Nashua, New Hampshire with her husband, Joe, and their two children.

2011/12: Annette O’Donnell-Butner

Annette O’Donnell-Butner joined Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts and Company (KKR) in February 2009 and serves as Principal and Chief Compliance Officer for KKR Asset Management, the global public markets platform for the company. Previously, Ms. O’Donnell-Butner served as a Senior Vice President and Deputy Director of Compliance for the Private Investment Management division of Lehman Brothers. Prior to that, she was a Vice President of JP Morgan where she was responsible for estate/generational planning strategies and techniques for affluent clients in Private Wealth Management. 

Ms. O’Donnell-Butner holds a B.A. in Political Science from Pennsylvania State University (1991) and a Juris Doctor from Oklahoma City University School of Law (1994).

Annette currently serves as the Co-Chairperson for the Membership Development Committee of Claremont Country Club, and is a member of the Orinda Community Center Auxiliary and an associate member of St. Luke’s Junior Auxiliary.   Since her graduation from Penn State, she has been actively involved with the Penn State Alumni Association, Admissions Volunteer Program and Lion P.A.W.S.  Most recently, she has become involved with the Paterno Fellows Program as both a supporter and student mentor.

Ms. O’Donnell-Butner lives in Orinda, California with her husband, Chris, and their two children, Christopher and Anderson.

2010/11: Steve Kelmar

Steve Kelmar is responsible for Aetna’s government, regulatory, and policy teams. He and his team work to ensure that Aetna’s business strategy is supported before governments at the international, federal, and state level. Prior to Aetna, Mr. Kelmar was head of Global Public Affairs and Policy for Merck and Co., and also served in that capacity for Novartis AG, in Basel, Switzerland. In these roles, he was responsible for setting and driving the public affairs and policy strategies globally for these companies. Before joining Novartis he served as Senior Vice President, External Relations for Medtronic Inc., for nine years. Mr. Kelmar spent 14 years in public service in several executive positions. In 1990, he was appointed by President Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be an Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

During his public service career, Mr. Kelmar was Chief of Staff to two members of the U.S. Congress and also worked in several legislative capacities for members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Mr. Kelmar received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Penn State. He and his wife, Patricia, have three children.

2009/10: Peter Barnes

Since September 2007, Peter Barnes has served as FOX Business Network’s senior Washington correspondent. Until 2004, he served as the Washington bureau chief and correspondent for television group Hearst-Argyle. He has also worked at numerous business programming outlets, including TechTV from 2001 to 2003, where he was the Washington bureau chief for the satellite channel which specialized in technology coverage.

Barnes served as an anchor and Washington correspondent for CNBC from 1993 to 1998. In 1996, he anchored Capitol Gains, an election year weekday morning show on business, economics, and politics. Peter began his career in journalism with the Wall Street Journal after graduating from the Wharton School with an MBA.

In addition to his career as a successful journalist, Barnes runs and writes for the publishing company VSP books together with his wife, Cheryl. VSP – which stands for Very Special Places – began as a publisher of children’s books about vacation sites. The first VSP book was "Nat, Nat, the Nantucket Cat," which has sold thousands of copies over 15 years. A second series of educational books about Washington featuring mouse characters prompted a deal with Scholastic Press. Altogether, Scholastic has sold a half-million paperback versions, while VSP has sold a million hardcovers altogether.

2008/09: Michael J. O’Connor

Michael has devoted his career to defending the less fortunate and often the poor. He has represented prisoners on death row both as a public defender and as a private lawyer. This avocation started early with Michael. During law school, he was a legal intern assisting in death penalty cases, and then an intern for the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq. There he did research and field work in Israeli-occupied West Bank, work that resulted in the publication of Plowshares and Swords by Beacon Press in 1992.

As a student at Penn State, Michael graduated Summa Cum Laude, was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and was an Evan Pugh Scholar which meant that he was in the top 0.5% of his graduating class. He had two majors: prelaw and history. As a student at Yale Law School, he was the student director for the Green Haven Prison Project and the Jerome N. Frank Prison Legal Services.

Michael became one of the most respected capital defenders, representing death-row prisoners in all stages of appeals and post-conviction proceedings in Alabama, California, and Arizona. His focus expanded to the needs of indigent defendants in federal criminal trials while working in San Diego and later in Arizona and Minnesota.

Since 1998, Michael has transitioned to full-time teaching. He began at the Arizona State University College of Law, then the National University of Ireland at Galway, and then University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minnesota as a founding faculty member. Today he teaches constitutional law, civil rights litigation, and criminal law at the Phoenix School of Law.

Michael continues to publish articles and books including Time Out of Mind: Our Collective Amnesia about the History of the Privileges or Immunities Clause, and, with his wife, Celia Rumann, Going, Going, Gone: Sealing the Fate of the Fourth Amendment.

2007/08: J. Scott Hommer

J. Scott Hommer is an attorney and a partner with the Virginia-based firm, Venable, LLP, where he focuses on business counseling with an emphasis on technology companies and startup businesses. He represents clients on issues such as negotiating contracts, acquisitions, protecting intellectual property rights, and litigating successfully. He also counsels clients who do business with the Federal, state and local governments. He is committed to developing relationships with his clients that go beyond the usual role of legal advisor. He works closely with his clients on a pro-active basis, developing strategic plans and managing legal issues that may arise, and more importantly, identifying potential problems before they develop.

Outside of the office, Scott has an exceptional record of community service. He serves on the Executive Committee and the Senior Advisory Board of the Northern Virginia Technology Council and as general counsel of its foundation. He is a member, participant and graduate of the “Leadership Fairfax” program, is as member of the Professional Services Council, and the National Contract Management Association. He has been the Chairman of Special Olympics of Fairfax County, and a President of the Volunteer Center of Fairfax County.

Scott’s commitment to service also extends to state government. He was appointed to the Virginia Legislature’s Advisory Committee on Virginia’s Critical Infrastructure, to its Advisory Committee on Intellectual Property and to its Advisory Committee on Integrated Government.

Penn State, too, has been the beneficiary of Scott’s service. He was the legal counsel to the Metro Washington Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association. He earned his JD from Georgetown Law Center.

 

Outstanding Young Alumni Award

2014/15: Caroline Casagrande

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande is currently serving her Fourth term in the New Jersey Assembly and is the Assistant Republican Leader. She represents the 11th Legislative District and is the youngest Assemblywoman ever elected. Casagrande is a member of the Appropriations, Financial Institutions and Insurance and the Women and Children Committees.

Assemblywoman Casagrande began her political career at Penn State, where she was elected student body president. After graduating Rutgers School of Law she returned to Monmouth County to practice law. Casagrande served as a partner in the firm of Menna, Supko and Casagrande, in Shrewsbury, and as municipal attorney to Manalapan Township and special counsel to Fair Haven.

Casagrande is the Founder and Director of the Young Women's Leadership Institute, a program designed to nurture leadership skills of select high school juniors.

The Governor chose Assemblywoman Casagrande to serve as a Commissioner on the Congressional Redistricting Committee, which redrew the State’s Congressional districts. As a leading Republican, she concentrates on strengthening the economy by improving the workplace for women and families as well as ensuring ethics reform, fiscal responsibility, and tax relief.

The National Foundation for Women Legislators chose Assemblywoman Casagrande as one of its 2014 Elected Women of Excellence Award winners. She also received the 2014 Child Advocate of the Year Award from the New Jersey Alliance for Children, Youth and Families. Casagrande was also given the Guardian of Small Business Award by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, and the Taxpayer Champion Award by the New Jersey Taxpayers Alliance. The Assemblywoman is a recipient of the Today's Youth Asia Young Achievers Award and was named a 2013 “NJ Rising Star” by Gannett Company, Inc.

In 2010, she participated in an exchange program to Nepal as a delegate of the American Council of Young Political Leaders, an affiliate of the U.S. Department of State. In 2013 Assemblywoman Casagrande was part of a bipartisan delegation to Israel as part of the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange.

The Penn State Alumni Association honored Caroline in 2010 with the Alumni Achievement Award for those alumni reaching an extraordinary level of achievement by age 35 or younger.

Assemblywoman Casagrande is a resident of Colts Neck, where she lives with her husband Stephen Chance and two sons Harrison and Teddy and their dog Thatcher.

2013/14: KerriLaine Prunella

KerriLaine Prunella is Human Resources Branch Chief, National Institutes of Health, where she directs a full range of human resources management functions for institutes and centers within NIH. She earned a degree in International politics in 2001 from Penn State and an MBA degree in federal program management from Trinity University in Washington D.C. She worked in a variety of positions in the public and private sectors, including the U.S. Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Department of Treasury. KerriLaine developed, directed, and evaluated human resources policies and programs in connection with key program areas.

KerriLaine serves as a mentor to Penn State students in the Colleges of the Liberal Arts and Health and Human Development. She was Vice President and President of the Penn State Professional Women’s Network of Washington.

2012/13: Caroline Hunter

Caroline Hunter was nominated to the Federal Election Commission by President George W. Bush on May 6, 2008.  Her appointment was approved by the United States Senate on June 24, 2008.

Caroline has a history of public service, having previously been appointed as the Vice-Chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, as well as serving as deputy director of the White House Office of Public Liaison.  From 2005 to 2006, she served as executive officer at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman.  Prior to working as an executive officer, she was associate counsel and then deputy counsel at the Republican National Committee where she provided guidance on Election Law and the implementation of the Help America Vote Act.

Caroline graduated cum laude from the University Of Memphis School Of Law and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Politics from The Pennsylvania State University in 1993.

Caroline lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and two daughters.

2011/12: Sean Misko

Sean Misko is a special advisor to the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) at the U.S. Department of State.  He is shaping efforts to facilitate a political settlement of the Afghanistan war and coordinating negotiation of a strategic partnership to guide U.S.-Afghan relations.

Prior to joining the SRAP office in 2009 as a special assistant and policy advisor to Richard C. Holbrooke, Misko was part of a team dispatched to Afghanistan by Gen. David Petraeus to evaluate the security situation.  The assessment he co-authored informed the incoming Obama administration’s policy review.  Misko previously served as a special assistant to the deputy associate director of the Office of Management and Budget’s National Security Division (2008), Presidential Management Fellow in the U.S. State Department’s Office of Iranian Affairs (2006­–08), and as a Roberts Intelligence Fellow and political analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency (2005–06). Misko also consulted for the New York City Police Department’s Counterterrorism Division, co-authoring a report on al-Qaeda’s evolution.

A recipient of the State Department’s Superior Honor Award and the CIA’s Exceptional Performance Award, Misko was selected as a 2011 Manfred Wörner Fellow by the German Marshall Fund.  He earned a Master of Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2006.

At Penn State, Misko was a Schreyer Honors Scholar and played trumpet in the Blue Band.  He was recently inducted as a 2012 recipient of Penn State’s Alumni Achievement Award and lives in Arlington, VA.

2010/11: Jennifer J. Davis

Jennifer (J.J.) Davis was appointed Vice President for Finance and Administration in September of 2010 at the University of Delaware. She joined the University in November 2008 as the Vice President for Administration and assumed the Vice President for Finance and Administration role approximately two years later, adding financial operations to her portfolio. She provides leadership for the University’s finance functions and human resources functions, including real estate and risk management, student financial services, internal audit, general accounting, procurement, personnel supervision, recruitment, labor relations, benefits, education and training programs, employee wellness and employee performance evaluation, as well as budget planning and development, payroll and records management and the Office of Equity and Inclusion. J.J. also leads all decommissioning and demolition efforts on the former Chrysler Assembly Plant site. She was named International Women’s Forum Fellow in 2008. Additionally in 2008, she received the Delaware Quality Award for Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Council of State Governments Innovation Leader for OMB, and the National Association of State Personnel Officers Award for Healthcare Innovation and New Human Resource Recruitment System. She serves as a director of the WSFS Corporation, a Delaware-based bank.

Ms. Davis earned both her bachelor’s degree in political science and her master’s degree in policy analysis from Penn State, through its integrated Undergraduate-Graduate Degree program. Ms. Davis resides in Newark, Delaware with her husband and two children.

2009/10: Corey O'Brien

Corey is currently a County Commissioner for Lakawanna County, where he serves on the board of Elections, the Juvenile Detention Board of Managers, the Pension Board, the Prison Board, and the Salary board. In addition, he is the chairman of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport Authority.

As an attorney, Corey represents financial institution clients on structuring alternatives, federal and state charter conversions, holding company formations, mutual holding company reorganizations, capital raising transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate governance. He advises clients on the formation of de novo financial institutions and related capital raising transactions. Corey also counsels corporate clients on various regulatory and general corporate matters, capital raising, strategic growth opportunities and defending against hostile takeover bids.

In previous positions as law firms, Corey served as lead special counsel to financial institution clients in northeastern Pennsylvania and underwriter’s counsel on federal and state charter conversions, mutual holding company reorganizations and partial and full conversions. He spent several years as an attorney at another Washington D.C. law firm that specializes in financial services.

Prior to practicing law, Corey served as a staff member in the Legislative and Public Affairs Division of the U.S. Agency for International Development and also served as an intern in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs during the Clinton Administration. He was the president of the Undergraduate Student Government while at Penn State, and also served as host of "The Pulse with Corey O'Brien," a Sunday morning political and current events talk show that aired on FOX56 in over 600,000 households in over 17 counties throughout Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania.

2008/09: D. Bruce Hoffman

D. Bruce Hoffman graduated in 1989 with high distinction. His honors thesis was focused on the political impact of deforestation on the Amazon-- a topic that continues to interest him today. After graduation, Bruce moved closer to the Everglades rather than the Amazon and attended law school at the University of Florida. While there, he joined law review and was awarded the W.D. MacDonald prize for graduating first in his class.

Bruce is now a partner with Hunton and Williams, a firm with offices in Washington, DC and Miami, Florida. His main areas of practice are antitrust and unfair competition, including merger review, government investigations, and private and government antitrust litigation. He  was lead counsel for Cingular Wireless in a challenge to the company’s $41 billion merger with AT&T Wireless Services. Bruce also defended one of the primary defendants in two sets of national antitrust class action cases alleging price fixing in the market for bananas.

Earlier in his career, the Federal Trade Commission enlisted Bruce to be a director in the bureau of competition, and as an associate director in regional litigation. He oversaw many of the Bureau of Competition’s programs, investigations, and litigations. He investigated high profile mergers involving giants such as GE, Wal-Mart and Sunoco.

Serving his profession is Bruce’s passion: he was a Member of the ABA Antitrust Section Task Force that provided feedback on the FTC’s Proposed Administrative Litigation Rules. He also serves as Associate Editor of the Antitrust Law Journal and has led several Bar Association committees.

He received the Official Commendation for Superior Service from the Federal Trade Commission, and is listed inInternational Who's Who of Competition Lawyers and in Chambers USA for Antitrust.

2007/08: Christian Marrone

Christian Marrone is Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs in the U.S. Department of Defense.  He served previously as Director of the Office of Legislative Counsel of the Department of Defense, a position he was appointed to in April 2006 by the White House.  He has served as legal counsel to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs, with responsibility for the Department’s legislative program. This has included managing the entire process of creating and submitting the most complex piece of legislation in the Federal Government – the National Defense Authorization Act.  He has also conducted policy and legal review of all Department legislation and of Congressional requests for official policy views of pending legislation.

Prior to that appointment, Christian served as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs. He was legal counsel to both the 55th Presidential Inaugural Committee for President George W. Bush and the Pennsylvania State Republican Committee for Victory ’04 Bush/Cheney Campaign.

Before becoming involved in national government, Chris was an Assistant District Attorney in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania and served five years as Special Assistant to the Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee, where he spearheaded a number of successful economic development and law enforcement initiatives.

Christian earned his degree from Penn State in 1997. As an undergraduate, he was a member of the Football Team and earned the Scholar Athlete Award for Academic Excellence. He also was named to the Phi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society.

In 2002, he earned both a masters degree in Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from Temple University Law School. He is a member of Phi Delta Phi International Legal Fraternity, the Republican National Lawyers Association, and the Federalist Society. In 2002, Philadelphia Business Journal named him the recipient of the 40 Under 40 Award.

Christian has also served his alma mater as a member of the Political Science Mentorship and Advising Program.

2006/07: Kathleen L. Casey

Kathleen L. Casey was appointed by President George W. Bush to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and sworn in on July 17, 2006. Her term expired in 2011. In May 2013, the Pennsylvania State Senate approved her nomination to the Penn State University Board of Trustees, and in March of 2014, Ms. Casey was appointed to the Board of Directors of HSBC serving as a member of the Group Audit Committee and the Financial System Vulnerabilities Committee.

Prior to being appointed Commissioner, Ms. Casey spent 13 years on Capitol Hill. Before her appointment as Commissioner, she served as Staff Director and Counsel of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. Ms. Casey was primarily responsible for guiding the Chairman’s and Committee’s consideration of, and action on, issues affecting economic and monetary policy, international trade and finance, banking, securities and insurance regulation, transit and housing policy, money laundering and terror finance. Significant issues the Committee considered under Ms. Casey’s direction include: reform of Government Sponsored Enterprises, reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, Deposit Insurance Reform, insurance regulation, Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, Sarbanes-Oxley implementation, and credit rating agencies.

From 1996-2003, Commissioner Casey served as Legislative Director and Chief of Staff, respectively, for Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL). As Legislative Director, Commissioner Casey was instrumental in the drafting and passage of several laws. She developed, managed, and coordinated all aspects of legislative operations with a key focus on the appropriations process. In her capacity as Chief of Staff, Ms. Casey acted as key advisor on all policy and political matters.

From 1994-1996, Ms. Casey served as Staff Director of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Regulatory Relief, Senate Banking Committee. She was responsible for advising and staffing the Senator on all committee issues, including Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, Whitewater special investigation, and financial services regulatory relief legislation. Commissioner Casey also served Senator Shelby as Legislative Assistant from 1993-1994, during which she was responsible for handling all tax, budget, and finance policy matters.

Ms. Casey was born in Tripoli, Libya. A member of the State of Virginia and District of Columbia bars, Commissioner Casey received her J.D. from George Mason University School of Law in 1993. She received her B.A. in International Politics from Pennsylvania State University in 1988.