Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Alumni Award Recipients

Alumni Award Recipients

Alumni Award Recipients

Outstanding Alumni Award

2018-19: Bob F. Buckhorn Jr.

’85 political science, was elected mayor of Tampa, Florida, after serving two terms on the Tampa City Council. Since becoming mayor, Bob has gained citywide recognition for his leadership, initiative, and progressive policies. He has annually balanced the budget, made strategic investments in infrastructure, and dramatically increased the city’s credit rating. Tampa has seen a 40 percent drop in its crime rate during Bob’s tenure as mayor. He has received a number of awards for his achievements and dedication to the community.

2017-18: Stephen Slick

Stephen Slick was appointed in January 2015 as Director of UT-Austin’s Intelligence Studies Project and Clinical Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Before moving to Austin, he served 28 years in CIA’s clandestine service including five assignments abroad. Between 2005 and 2009, he was a special assistant to the president and the Senior Director for Intelligence Programs and Reform on the staff of the National Security Council. He received a B.A. from the Pennsylvania State University, J.D. from the UCLA School of Law, and Master in Public Policy from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

2016-17: Rich Tobin

Rich Tobin, has worked as a consultant to the World Bank, UNICEF, the UN Development Program, the UN Population Fund, the US Agency for International Development, the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Arab Administrative Development Organization, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe since retiring from the World Bank. He is currently serving as deputy team leader for an evaluation of two climate change projects in China. After receiving his PhD, from Northwestern University, Rich taught courses on public and environmental policy at State University of New York at Buffalo. After moving to the Washington metro area in the early 90s his career has focused on international development. From 1996–2005 he was Managing Director of the American Institutes for Research. From 2005–2008 he was Lead Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist for the World Bank.

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: 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: 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.

Outstanding Public Service Award

2018-19: Deborah A. Miller

’85 political science, earned her juris doctorate at George Washington University Law School. In 2002, she joined the U.S. Department of State as a foreign service officer, serving as vice consul to the U.S. Consulate General in St. Petersburg, Russia. Since then, Deb has served as the human rights officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia; as consul for the U.S. Consulate in Kolkata, India; as chief of the political and economic section of the U.S. Embassy in Riga, Latvia; and as consul general at the U.S. Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan. She is currently in training to prepare for her next assignment to Erbil, Iraq. She also served as senior political officer in the Office of Russian Affairs at the State Department in Washington, DC. Before joining the Foreign Service in 2002, Deb worked in the legal publishing division of Thomson Reuters and as an attorney in private practice. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Deb speaks fluently in Russian, Latvian, and German.

2017-18: Kathy Manderino

HON. Kathy Manderino, 1980 Public Service, has a J.D. from Temple University, 1989. She is currently a Commissioner on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and served as the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. Kathy was elected as a Democrat to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, serving for nine terms. Upon retiring from the legislature and before returning to state government, Kathy was the senior vice president of Intercommunity Action, Inc., an organization providing housing and services to older adults and people with intellectual disabilities and behavioral needs, and then the campaign manager of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding, a statewide coalition aimed at advocating for a fair and adequate public education funding solution for Pennsylvania. When she graduated from Penn State, Kathy worked as a researcher for the Council for Labor and Industry and the membership director for the Philadelphia Area Labor-Management Committee, and as an attorney for Fox Rothschild.

2016-17: Thane Fake

Thane has been an active mentor for both the College and for the political science department. During the fall semester, Thane would take the Thursday and Friday of every Penn State football home game off from work to help our students. 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. He served as 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 until his retirement.

Outstanding Young Alumni Award

2018-19: Brian C. Blase

’03 political science and mathematics, is the special assistant to the president for economic policy. He previously worked as a Senior Research Fellow with the Spending and Budget Initiative at George Mason University, where he researched the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid, writing regular studies and commentaries. From 2011-2015, Brian worked as a senior healthcare staffer on Capitol Hill for both the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Senate Republican Policy Committee. He received his Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University in 2013, with a dissertation on the Medicaid program.

2017-18: Amanda Wetzel

Amanda is an attorney with nearly a decade of experience in international litigation and arbitration. She currently practices at Ford O’Brien LLP, a New York City boutique litigation firm, and her legal career has been split between New York and Paris. Early in her career, Amanda worked as a Congressional Fellow on the staff of then Senator Joe Biden on the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. From 2002-2003, Amanda was a George J. Mitchell Scholar in Belfast, Northern Ireland and, during that time, she worked at the Human Rights Commission on the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights process. Amanda also worked in international criminal law at the War Crimes Chamber in Bosnia and Herzegovina and at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Amanda completed her undergraduate education in international politics at Penn State University in 2002 and graduated with interdisciplinary honors in international politics and geography.

2016-17: Brad Hawkins

Brad M. Hawkins is Vice President of Bernstein Global Wealth Management in Washington, DC. He advises high-net-worth individuals and institutions regarding investment strategies and, in conjunction with the Wealth Management Group, works closely with clients and their professional advisors on a wide range of investment matters, including tax and estate planning, concentrated stock positions and the sale of a privately held business. He has been with the firm since 2008. He is a member of the board of directors of Hopecam, a non-profit which works to overcome the social isolation experienced by children in treatment for cancer. He is an active member of the board of the Penn State Alumni Association Metro Washington, D.C. Chapter.

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: 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.