Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Alumni Award Recipients

Alumni Award Recipients

Alumni Award Recipients

Outstanding Alumni Award

2020-21: Larry Seamans

Larry earned his Political Science degree in 1985 and went on to earn a master’s degree from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. He is currently the president of FamilyAid Boston, the city’s largest human service provider focused solely on the needs of homeless children and their parents. Before FamilyAid, Larry held positions with the YWCA, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Procter & Gamble, and other organizations. A tireless advocate for the less fortunate and marginalized, Larry responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by turning FamilyAid’s corporate offices into a warehouse that distributes food and supplies to needy families on a weekly basis. He has served on several boards and task forces, and he is a frequent speaker on older child adoption. Larry participates in the Liberal Arts Alumni Mentor Program, and last fall took advantage of a matching gift program to create the Makowski Seamans Family Educational Equity Scholarship.

2019-20: Patti McGill Peterson

Patti graduated from Penn State in 1965 with her Political Science degree and went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Wisconsin. She also was awarded a Carnegie Fellowship for postgraduate study at Harvard University. Dr. Peterson has had a very impressive fifty-year career in higher education, which has included serving as a faculty member at the State University of New York, Syracuse University, and Wells College and as president of Wells College and St. Lawrence University. She has held prominent international, national, and statewide leadership positions and has served on several advisory boards. Most recently, Dr. Peterson served as presidential advisor for global initiatives at the American Council on Education.

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.

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.

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: 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: 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.

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: 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

2021-22: Joshua Brady Branch

2013 B.A., Political Science

Joshua Brady Branch is a policy specialist with the Crime and Justice Institute, a nonprofit organization providing analysis to improve the adult and youth justice systems. Since 2021, Joshua has contributed to justice reinvestment initiatives in Michigan, North Carolina, and New Mexico.

After graduating, he began his career as an award-winning teacher for Teach for America. Seeing students arrested at school inspired him to pursue a legal education at Georgetown University Law Center, where he received the Juvenile Justice Public Service and the Pro Bono Exceptional Service awards. After law school, Joshua became a juvenile defense and foster care attorney where he contributed to a historic class action lawsuit against Glen Mills Schools (Pennsylvania) for abusive practices and violations of civil rights leading to the facility’s closure and a state investigation.In 2020, he moved to New Orleans serving as a program and campaign manager for the Justice & Accountability Center of Louisiana. There he helped lead an advocacy group in passing four of six expungement reform bills in his first year. He also created and oversaw a first of its kind virtual traffic program resulting in more than $7,000 traffic-related fines and fees being removed from citizens’ accounts. The program was replicated in several parishes because of its success. His writings on criminal justice have been published in Slate, The Root, and Medium among others.

While a student at Penn State, Joshua was a Lion Ambassador, University nominee for the Rhodes Scholarship, and Political Science Student of the Year. He was recently a visiting teaching Fellow in the College of the Liberal Arts, teaching a Juvenile Law and Policy course.

2020-21: Cristina Infanzón

Originally from Puerto Rico, Cristina majored in International Relations with minors in International Studies, Sociology, and French. She graduated from Penn State in 2013, followed by a juris doctorate from Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts, where she began an impressive career serving migrant populations. While in law school, Cristina worked as a law clerk for a Boston law firm and also with an organization in Mexico City, Mexico that provides direct services and legal representation to migrants with claims related to their employment in the United States. She also worked with the Human Rights Commission of the City of Boston drafting policies to address racial and social justice. Today, she is the Department of Justice managing accredited representative for the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Phoenix, Arizona, where she oversees the quality of services provided for unaccompanied minors.

2019-20: Melinda Kuritzky

Melinda is a 2006 International Politics and Spanish alumna who leads on global risks and geopolitics at the World Economic Forum. Melinda holds a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School and a master of public policy degree from Harvard Kennedy School. An attorney by training, Melinda has worked for many years at the intersection of international law, politics, and risk. Before joining the World Economic Forum, she focused on creating sustainable development oriented policy solutions for the international investment regime at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Melinda has published on topics such as environmental risks in international arbitration, public health and human rights, and international migration.

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.

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: 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: 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.

Outstanding Public Service Award

2021-22: Mary Ann Danowitz

1969 B.A., Political Science

Mary Ann Danowitz earned her bachelor’s degree in political science in 1969 and returned to Penn State for a doctorate in education after earning a master’s degree from the University of Miami.

Today, she is professor of higher education at North Carolina State University, where she served as dean of its College of Education from 2016–2021. Earlier in her career, she held various faculty and administrative positions at William & Mary, Penn State, The Ohio State University, and the University of Denver before joining the faculty at NC State in 2012 as head of the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development and professor of higher education.

An award-winning and prolific scholar whose research focuses on gender, diversity, and equity in the areas of leadership, governance, management, organizational change, and careers, Mary Ann has held board and leadership positions for several educational organizations. She has published more than 110 articles, book chapters, and academic papers, as well as 5 books and monographs. Her work has been cited more than 1,700 times. She is a two-time Fulbright Scholar who conducted research in Austria and Indonesia, and she has taught and conducted research in Australia, England, Germany, Hungary, and Malaysia.

2021-22: Seth Miller

2001 B.A., Political Science

Seth Miller is the executive director of the Innocence Project of Florida (IPF), a Tallahassee, Florida-based justice organization whose mission is to free wrongfully convicted people from prison, help them successfully reintegrate back into free society, and reform our legal system to prevent future wrongful convictions. He litigates postconviction innocence cases, supervises the IPF’s internship program, and regularly lectures to students, lawyers, and community groups on issues related to wrongful convictions. He also teaches Postconviction Remedies as an adjunct professor at the Florida State University College of Law and Stetson University College of Law.

Seth was president of the Innocence Network, a consortium of more than sixty-five innocence organizations in the United States and abroad, from 2014—2020, and has served on its executive board from 2012—2021.

He also served as chair of the Steering Committee for the American Bar Association Death Penalty Due Process Review Project. Before joining IPF in 2006, he served as a project attorney with the ABA Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project in Washington, D.C., and as a staff attorney with the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee, Florida.

Seth graduated from Florida State University College of Law.

2020-21: Melissa Protzek Caltagarone

Melissa earned degrees in Philosophy and Political Science from Penn State in 1995, followed by a juris doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. An attorney by training, Melissa has spent more than two decades advocating for at-risk children and families and currently serves as the executive director of the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program of Allegheny County—known as CASA—where she has worked with more than 800 volunteers to advocate for some 2,000 abused and neglected children. Melissa has been a member of several child welfare organizations. For her outstanding work, she has been honored with several honors and awards, including being named in 2010 the National CASA Director of the Year and one of the top 25 Women in Business by the Pittsburgh Business Times. A lifetime member of the Penn State Alumni Association and a past adjunct professor at Penn State New Kensington, Melissa received the Department of Philosophy Alumni Award in 2018.
2019-20: Peter Grollman

Peter earned his bachelor’s degree in 1995 and went on to earn a master of government administration degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Today, he is senior vice president for external affairs for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), where he supports the hospital’s patient care, education, and research mission. He oversees the departments of Marketing and Public Relations; Diversity and Inclusion; Government Affairs; and Community Relations, in addition to supporting the president and CEO with external affairs matters. Ultimately, he is responsible for ensuring that the hospital’s external communications, commitment to a diverse and inclusive environment, community engagement, and health policy goals align with CHOP’s overall mission.

Peter is an active volunteer, serving on the board of directors for the Greater Philadelphia YMCA and the University City District, and as board chair for the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia. Peter also served on the Health Transition Review Team for Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.

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.Mary Ann Danowitz