Board of Visitors Biographical Information

Board of Visitors Biographical Information


James D. Newell, Chair

1984 Political Science
1987 J.D., Georgetown University

Jim is a Shareholder with Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, a leading law firm, with expertise in bankruptcy and corporate reorganizations. He regularly lectures on the topics of bankruptcy law and bankruptcy legislation for the American Bankruptcy Institute and the Pennsylvania Bar Institute.

He and his wife, Deborah, support the Hyde/Political Science Board of Visitors Early Career Professorship. They also established a program fund in Political Science and a director’s fund in the Penn State Democracy Institute.

Chris Adeloye

2003 Political Science
2006 George Washington University Law School

Chris is a staff attorney in the Office of General Counsel for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, DC. His experience includes litigating cases in federal court, providing advice to internal agency clients, preparing officials to testify before the United States Congress, and conducting background investigations of individuals who wish to represent VA benefits claimants. Prior to this work, Chris clerked at the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the District of Columbia, where he investigated complaints against DC-barred attorneys and assisted in prosecuting ethics violations. While at Penn State, he served as a student member of the University Hearing Board and was a student advisor for Undergraduate Student Government Legal Affairs. While attending law school, he interned at the United States Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, VA.

Conrad Bessemer

1974 Pre-Law

President/Managing Partner Novatec, Inc.

Conrad Bessemer is the President/Managing Partner at Novatec, Inc. which is the leading manufacturer of plastics resin drying and conveying systems in North America with customers including Coca-Cola, Shaw Carpeting, Nestle, Nissan, Toyota and many others. He is also cofounder and chairman of MachineSense LLC, a startup providing sensors and analytic data platforms for business clients in the Internet of Things space, which has software operations in both India and US. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Anne Arundel County Workforce Development Corporation. At Penn State, Conrad is on the Liberal Arts Development Council and is the Chair of the Political Science Board of Visitors. He and his wife Susan, who is also an officer at Novatec and MachineSense LLC, support the McCourtney Institute for Democracy, Paterno Fellows Program and Schreyer Honors College. They both volunteer for the colleges mentor program. Their son, Andrew D’Aversa, graduated from Penn State–Schreyer’s with a double major in Business Management and History, graduated from University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2017, and is now law clerk for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

William D. DeGrandis

1977 Political Science
1980 J.D., UCLA

Bill is a Partner with Paul Hastings LLP, an international law firm, and Bill has over thirty years of experience in the energy regulatory and transactions area.   He concentrates in the development, financing and acquisition/sale of energy infrastructure projects, including renewable energy and other power generation projects, as well as electric transmission and gas pipeline facilities.  He has been named an outstanding energy lawyer by Chambers USA, SuperLawyers, Law 500 and the International Project Finance Review.   He is a former member of the Energy Bar Association Board of Directors and former Chairman of the Board’s Pro Bono Committee.

He and his wife Monica support the Hyde/Political Science Board of Visitors Early Career Professorship and established a program fund in the Department of Political Science for an Early Career Professorship and student scholarship.  He was named the 2014 Outstanding Alumnus by Phi Sigma Kappa—Kappa Chapter, and Bill served as Chairman of the fraternity chapter’s $ 1.4 million Capital Campaign.

Michael J. DeMarco

1982 Political Science
1984 Economics, Temple University
1991 M.B.A., Columbia University

Michael joined ExxonMobil in 1991 and has served in many capacities including financial planning, marketing and now customer service. He currently serves as the Global Customer Service Strategic Alignment Manager, leading a team of strategy advisors responsible for linking the customer service offer, organizational structure and resources with the company’s strategy and the internal and external business environment. Prior to joining ExxonMobil, Michael was a commercial lender at the Philadelphia National Bank, now Wells Fargo. In addition, he is an elected member of the Fairfax City Council now serving in his 3rd term.

Michael is a Liberal Arts mentor. In 2012, he and his wife, Joanne, established a director’s fund in the Penn State Democracy Institute.

Donald T. DiFrancesco

1966 Insurance and Real Estate
1969 J.D., Seton Hall University

Don is a Partner with the law firm, DiFrancesco, Bateman, Coley, Yospin, Kunzman, Davis, Lehrer, & Flaum, P.C.  Previously, he had an accomplished career of 25 years in public service as a longtime member of the New Jersey Senate. Through his role as President of the N.J. Senate, Don also served as the fifty-first governor of New Jersey during 2001.

Don and his wife, Diane, have established an undergraduate scholarship in the department of political science.


Michael J. Gilotti

1969 Political Science

Michael is Vice President of Business Development at GR-NEAM, a global investment advisory firm. He has more than forty years of insurance and investment experience and served in leadership positions with firms such as Advisors Financial Solutions Inc. and the Phoenix Companies. He is past Chairman of IRI, the Insured Retirement Institute, and past member of the Board of Directors.

He and his wife, Angela, established a Trustee Scholarship in the College of the Liberal Arts.


Maryann F. Hunter

1979 Political Science

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.


Jeffrey L. Hyde

1977 Pre-Law
1980 J.D., Dickinson School of Law
1984 LLM (Tax), Temple University 

Jeff is Senior Tax Counsel for GE Company and a leading expert on state tax policy and tax issues in the U.S. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Council on State Tax, non-profit trade association of Fortune 1000 companies. Jeff was named a Penn State Alumni Fellow in 2011 and serves on the Liberal Arts Development Council.

He and his wife, Sharon, support the Hyde/Political Science Board of Visitors Early Career Professorship. They also established a Trustee Scholarship and a director’s fund in the Penn State Democracy Institute, as well as a football scholarship in memory of Jeff’s mother. They are members of the Mount Nittany Society.

Steven B. Kelmar

1979 Public Administration

Steve is Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs of Aetna, Inc., a Fortune 100 health care benefits company. Previously, Steve held senior leadership roles at Merck & Co., Novartis AG, and Medtronics. He has served on the board of several health care companies.

In addition, Steve had an accomplished career in public service. He served under President George Bush as Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and was the Chief of Staff for two members of Congress.

Steve was honored with the 2011 Outstanding Political Science Alumnus Award from the College of the Liberal Arts.

David Kinnan

1968 B.A. Political Science
1970 J.D. The University of Texas School of Law

Managed Shell Oil Company Legal Organization units responsible for supporting Chemicals, Exploration & Production, and Oil Products (refining, marketing, transportation, distribution) businesses. Also managed the Intellectual Property (Patents & Licensing) legal unit for a time. Consistent with promotions to General Attorney (1984), Assistant General Counsel (1989), and Associate General Counsel (1998), was lead attorney charged with functional legal support of applicable business unit while serving as a member of the applicable business leadership team. In these positions, was accountable to the relevant business unit for all legal activities, including acquisitions and divestitures, litigation, and overall business legal support. Also served as General Counsel of the Shell/Texaco/Saudi Aramco downstream alliance (Equilon and Motiva Enterprises) (1998-2002). At time of retirement on June 1, 2006, was Associate General Counsel and Legal Director, Shell E&P Western Hemisphere (North and South America). During 2011 - 2014, served as a member of the board of Middletown, Ohio - based Hightowers Petroleum Company. Prior to Shell Oil experience, was a litigation associate with the Houston, Texas law firm of Tindall & Foster (1976-1977) and served as Staff Judge Advocate in the U.S. Air Force (1971-1976) at KI Sawyer AFB (Marquette) Michigan and Ellington Field (Houston) Texas.

Dave and his wife, Madelyn, have established an undergraduate scholarship in the College of Liberal Arts.

Spencer D. Klein

1986 Political Science
1989 J.D., Hofstra University

Spencer is a Partner with the law firm, Morrison & Foerster LLP, and serves as Co-Chair of its global Mergers and Acquisitions group. In addition, he is a Special Professor of Law at Hofstra University and a member of the Hofstra Law School Dean’s Advisory Board.

He is Past Chair of the Board of Visitors for the Department of Political Science in the College of the Liberal Arts. Spencer and his wife, Andrea, established a Trustee Scholarship in the College of Liberal Arts, in memory of his father, a Holocaust survivor.   They are members of the Mount Nittany Society.


David M. Kleppinger

1977 Political Science
1980 J.D., Temple University

David is Chairman Emeritus of McNees Wallace & Nurick, after serving as Chairman of the Firm for 12 years.  He now serves as Chair of the McNees PAC and Co-Chairs the McNees Strategic Solutions Group.

David is also a member of the Energy & Environmental and Government Relations Practice Groups.  He represents large commercial and industrial consumers of fixed utility services including electricity, natural gas, water/wastewater, and communications, as well as providers of these services.  David led legislative and regulatory initiatives to restructure these industries for customer benefit.  He has appeared before over 15 state public utility commissions, the FERC, and numerous state and federal appellate courts.  David is a registered lobbyist for the Firm and several of the Firm’s Clients. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of The Pennsylvania State University. 

He and his wife, Joanne, support the Hyde/Political Science Board of Visitors Early Career Professorship and the Democracy Institute.  They also support a family program support fund for baseball in Intercollegiate Athletics.

Thomas Merchant

1990 Economics; JD New York University School of Law

As General Counsel of Legg Mason, Tom is responsible for overseeing the company's legal and compliance departments, which include over 100 employees worldwide. Since joining Legg Mason in 1998, he has been responsible for the company's corporate legal activities, including acquisitions, financings and public company reporting. During this time, Tom has led all legal aspects of over 25 acquisitions and dispositions, including the $3.7 billion transaction in which Legg Mason exchanged its retail broker-dealer business for Citigroup's global asset management business, resulting in Legg Mason focusing on the asset management business and Citigroup exiting the retail mutual fund business. Prior to joining Legg Mason, from 1993 to 1998, he served as a Corporate Associate at Shearman & Sterling in New York.

Tom's wife, Jill, is a 1990 Penn State graduate in Business, and former actuarial assistant in the reinsurance industry. Tom is a proud father of three. He is an active mentor to Penn State Liberal Arts undergraduate students and supports the Paterno Fellows Program.

Bruce R. Miller

1971 Political Science

Bruce is Founder and retired President of Employee Benefits Corporation of America. He has held volunteer leadership roles for the College of the Liberal Arts and Penn State. Bruce serves as Vice-Chair and Member, Executive Committee, for the University’s current campaign, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. Bruce also is a Member and Past Chair of the Liberal Arts Development Council and the Political Science Board of Visitors.

He has been honored with the Service to Penn State Award by the Liberal Arts Alumni Society and named a Penn State Alumni Fellow in 2004.

Bruce and his partner, Dean LaVigne, established an endowed professorship and an undergraduate scholarship in Political Science and a graduate fellowship for the College of the Liberal Arts. They also support other areas of the University and are members of the Mount Nittany Society. 

Annette O’Donnell-Butner

1991 Political Science
1994 J.D., Oklahoma City University

Annette O’Donnell-Butner is a Director and Chief Compliance Officer at KKR Asset Management LLC (KAM), a global investment management and advisory firm, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Kholberg Kravis Roberts & Co L.P. (KKR). With KKR since 2009, Annette is responsible for the administration of the KAM compliance and ethics program, and regulatory obligations. Previously, Ms. O’Donnell-Butner was a Senior Vice President and Deputy Director of Compliance for the Private Investment Management division of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. / Barclays PLC. In 2012, Annette joined the Board of Visitors for the Political Science Department of the Pennsylvania State University. 

She is a Liberal Arts mentor and was recognized with the 2012 Outstanding Political Science Alumna Award from the College of the Liberal Arts. She and her husband, Chris, established a student enhancement fund in the Paterno Liberal Arts Undergraduate Fellows Program and a Trustee Matching Scholarship to support a Political Science Student. Annette holds a B.A in Political Science from Pennsylvania State University and a Juris Doctor from Oklahoma City University School of Law. She and her husband Chris live in Orinda with their two sons, Christopher and Anderson.

Scott Paul

1989 Foreign Service and International Politics
MA Georgetown

Scott is the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), which is a public policy partnership between the United Steelworkers union and leading U.S. manufacturers. He worked with corporate CEOs and a union president to establish AAM in 2007. Prior to that he worked on Capitol Hill for 12 years. Scott also serves on the board of the National Skills Coalition.

Scott is a liberal arts mentor and has hosted several of our college’s interns in DC.  He was raised in Rensselaer, Ind., and currently resides with his wife, Ilisa Halpern Paul, and their twin boys in Silver Spring, Md.


Michael Ruger

Pennington, NJ

Michael Ruger graduated from Penn State in 1985 with degrees in political science and psychology.  After graduating from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1988, he joined the Federal Communications Commission as an attorney-advisor. He worked with the FCC for six years, specializing in radio, television and cable regulation. From 1994 through 1998, Michael was an associate with Baker & Hostetler in Washington, DC, where he represented clients before the FCC and on Capitol Hill. In 1998 Michael returned to the Philadelphia area where he was a consultant to clients in the communications and Internet industries, which provided him with the flexibility to work at home while caring for his young son. Michael joined Comcast in 2003, where he is currently Vice President of Government Affairs at the company's headquarters in Philadelphia. Michael lives in Hopewell Township, New Jersey, with his wife and three sons.  In 2017 Michael was elected to the Hopewell Township Committee and currently serves as Deputy Mayor.  Michael is a member of the Political Science Board of Visitors and the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Mercer County, New Jersey.  He previously served as Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Juvenile Law Center.


Amanda Wetzel

2002 International Politics
2003 LL.M. in Human Rights Law, Queen's University of Belfast School of Law, Northern Ireland
2008 J.D., Columbia Law School
2008 Master's in French Law and Master's in International Commercial Law, Université Paris I, Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris, France

Amanda is a litigation associate at Ford O’Brien LLP in New York City specializing in white collar criminal defense as well as commercial litigation and arbitration, with expertise in matters with transatlantic elements. She previously worked as a litigation associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP in New York City and with Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in Paris and has handled commercial and criminal litigation matters in the US and French courts. Amanda has experience litigating before the European Court of Human Rights and other international human rights forums. Amanda clerked on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, was the Dean Acheson Legal Stage at the European Court of Justice, and served as a legal fellow on the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, where she worked on treaties.

Amanda is a member of the New York bar. She is fluent in French and practiced French law as a member of the Paris bar from 2014 through 2016. While completing her undergraduate education at Penn State, she was a Schreyer Honors Scholar at Penn State. She was honored with the 2018 Outstanding Young Political Science Alumnus Award from the College of Liberal Arts.


Jay Yonamine

2007 Political Science, Middlebury College
2011 M.A., Political Science
2013 Ph.D., Political Science

Jay Yonamine is the head of data science and operations for Google’s Global Patents organization. Recruited to a coveted chief data scientist position at one of the world’s largest and most influential technology companies, he is at the forefront of using big data to make policy decisions and balancing human experience and data to achieve optimal results.

He has helped revolutionize the way Google has approached patent quality using the power of data science across its 60,000-plus patent portfolio. A few of his recent accomplishments at Google, where he supervises the patent data science team and a group of patent engineers, include leveraging cutting edge Artificial Intelligence to build a patent claims breadth tool, a patent similarity tool, and a series of dashboards to track and enhance patent quality.

As part of customizing Google’s new intellectual property management system, he and his team executed a large-scale automated cleanup of all the company’s patent data, resulting in corrections of over 200,000 records. His groundbreaking work was on display as a doctoral student at Penn State, where he used his social science methodology training to build accurate and nuanced forecasts of various outcomes-of-interest, ranging from civil war onset to equity market fluctuations. His research focused on international conflict, particularly what caused conflicts to start, escalate, and stop. Jay made methodological innovations and collected new kinds of data to arrive at more accurate and nuanced conclusions than previous researchers. 

Jay volunteers at Penn State in the Liberal Arts mentor program, helping students explore career paths and develop realistic post-college plans.  He also serves on the California Advisory Board for TechBridge Girls, a non-profit that provides STEM training to girls in low income public schools. He lives in San Francisco, California.