Fall 2016 Election Guide - LBJ Graduate Public Affairs Council

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Fall 2016 Election Guide - LBJ Graduate Public Affairs Council
Graduate Public Affairs Council
Election Handbook
2016 - 2017
2
Executive Committee Positions:
Executive Committee: External Finance Director
Jacob Kowalski
I am a good fit for the position of External Finance Director because of my background in accounting, tax,
and economics. I have a Bachelor's in Economics from UW-Madison and was also the Treasurer of a small
non-profit tennis association in Madison in which I managed a $50,000 account, did invoicing, and issued
checks and 1099's for around 50 sub-contractors and businesses. In addition, I worked for 4 years as a
Tax Preparer for H&R Block filing income tax returns and gained familiarity with financial processes as
they relate to taxation and personal finance. These skills would provide a solid background to not only
manage the current state of the finance committee and other duties, but to also look for solutions to
improve the current processes where applicable.
Katherine Whitton
I am a first year MGPS candidate looking at the intersection of policies on a global stage. Originally from
the Florida Panhandle, I spent two years in Ethiopia with the US Peace Corps working in English language
education. Through undergraduate organizations I have previous fundraising, merchandising, and
executive committee experience. If elected to this position I will increase MGPS representation in GPAC
and continue to facilitate and streamline merchandise sales to students and alumni.
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Tasha Bylenok
Natasha Bylenok is a first year MPAff student. She received her BA (Honors) in Political Studies from the
University of Auckland in 2013. For the last two years, Tasha has worked at The University of Texas in
the business office of the Jackson School of Geosciences, where she has developed a working knowledge
of the University's entertainment and expense policies, and participated in the budget approval process
for student organizations. Before becoming a Longhorn, Tasha was an Organizing Fellow with
Battleground Texas and the HR Administrator for a small marketing firm. These positions gave her the
opportunity to plan events and participate in fundraising activities. Tasha is enthusiastic about the
opportunity to contribute her organizational skills, her knowledge of UT financial procedures, and her
event planning and fundraising experience to GPAC as the External Finance Director.
Executive Committee: Communications Director
Marilyn Headley
Bio: After graduating from the University of Florida in 2011 with a degree in psychology, I worked for the
Florida Department of Health as a policy practitioner with the Tobacco Free Florida program until April,
2016. In this role I worked across many sectors including, private business, the local school board, and
housing authorities to educate decision makers and build consensus around tobacco free policies. I also
managed and maintained a diverse community coalition of residents who advocated for local tobacco free
policies. Lastly, I contributed to the development and launch of three flagship communication resources
including, the Tobacco Free Florida’s Worksite Toolkits, the Florida Apartment Association Smoke Free
Housing Certification, and a tobacco free timeline for housing authorities.
Nonprofit board experience: For five years I served on the board of the Alachua County Emerging
Leaders, a local nonprofit whose goal is to better the community through direct participation. I’ve
advocated key initiatives such as bicycle friendly communities with the successful installation of two
public-use bicycle pumps, led member programming development such as the ACEL book club and
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mentorship program, and gained skills in community development, strategic planning, and non-profit
board management.
Why I want to serve: Effective communication is vital for keeping the LBJ community informed, engaged,
and connected with each other, UT, and the larger Austin community. The communication director
position will allow me to refine some of the processes and procedures in how GPAC serves you. I will
bring my existing skills in organization, minute taking, timely distribution of information, and board
member experience to keep information flowing; but also develop new skills as I keep an up-to-date
website and CANVAS page for easy access of materials for everyone. My goal is to keep an open line of
communication between GPAC and the larger LBJ student body to ensure that people feel connected and
able to contribute in a meaningful way.
Burleson Smith
Over the last month of Camp LBJ and the first few weeks of class I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of
the LBJ community and see helping GPAC as a way of beginning to repay and serve the best interests of
the school.
After graduating with a double major in philosophy and political science from Vanderbilt University in
2009, I accepted a role with Public Strategies Inc. in Austin, Texas. I was fortunate at Public Strategies to
work with several large clients across a diverse area of industry sectors. Principally my work was in
public affairs campaigns, public relations and crisis communications.
In 2013 I moved to Washington D.C. to accept a position with POLITICO, an online political and policy
reporting resource. At POLITICO I was in charge of working specifically with federal government entities
to expand our brand footprint and manage customers of POLITICO Pro a premium policy reporting
product.
I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas and enjoy reading, writing and the great outdoors.
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Elizabeth Petruy
Elizabeth is a first year MPAff student. Most recently from Dallas, she's originally from California, and
grew up in Gainesville, FL. She received her bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of
Texas at Dallas where she was active in service organizations and the Dallas community as a Court
Appointed Special Advocate. Her policy interests range from domestic policy concerns, international
development, nonprofit management, to arts and culture policy. She's excited for the opportunity to dive
into the LBJ community as a member of Executive Committee and to help get the word out about all the
amazing work GPAC is doing as the Communications Director.
Jordan Gregory
As an undergraduate at Texas Tech University, I studied Agricultural Communications and was involved
many different organizations. I was an executive officer over recruitment and marketing for my sorority.
In that position, I was in charge of running a team covering recruitment, alumni relations, public
relations, and philanthropy. I was involved in Collegiate FFA and Ag Communicators of Tomorrow.
Through these organizations, I was selected to represent the university at the National FFA Convention
three years in a row. When I wasn't serving these organizations, I was working for the university as a
student assistant in the Center for Campus Life. In that position, I answered questions about orientation,
greek life, student organizations, and the university. During my senior year, I interned in Washington D.C.
for Congressman John R. Carter. There, I managed data spreadsheet over appropriations and shadowed
meetings with the agricultural staffer. Finally, I was the Advertisement Manager of the student magazine,
The Agriculturist. In that position, I kept track of advertisement sales, designs and placement in the
magazine and was also selected to be the cover story of the Spring 2016 issue. I believe that these
experiences will help assist me in fulfilling the position of Communications Director successfully. I am
committed to growing the position and organization to its fullest potential.
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Executive Committee: Parliamentarian
Anna Crockett
My name is Anna Crockett, and I'm a first-year MPAff student. I have lived in Austin for almost 8 years
now, having gone to UT Austin for my B.A. in Spanish and mostly staying here since. Since graduating, I've
worked at two public policy nonprofits in Austin as well as the Texas Legislative Council. I'm interested in
learning more about nonprofit management at LBJ, as well as foreign policy, food policy, and women in
public policy. In my spare time, I volunteer at Austin Pets Alive! and direct a volunteer nonprofit called
RuffTail Runners.
I'm interested in the Parliamentarian position because I have a great affinity for rules and maintaining
order. As a director of a nonprofit, I run our board meetings and know from first-hand experience how
important it is to have bylaws and procedures in place. I'm also familiar with Robert's Rules of Order
from my undergraduate years in Model United Nations. And, for what it's worth, I learned from our
Strengths Finder assessment this summer that my top strength is Harmony. I think that represents my
perfectly and speaks to my need to prevent chaos from happening and correct it whenever possible.
Amara Uianna
I am a first year MGPS student, with a bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering from Louisiana Tech.
Having grown up as the first daughter in the Igbo culture of Nigeria, from a very young age, I have had the
responsibility of maintaining order in family situations. This trait quickly spread beyond just family
situations, and I became a person with inherent need for order under any circumstance. I've held
leadership roles with various organizations, and I've worked at different companies. At each of these
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positions, I've had to fully understand the organization's procedures, and excel within an outlined
framework i.e while maintaining order whenever the need arose.
Serving as the Parliamentarian of GPAC will create an opportunity for me to further hone my orderrestoring abilities and enhance the organization's framework where necessary. Being at a policy school
where there will inevitably be differences of opinions and long lists of things to be accomplished at
our meetings, LBJ is slightly representative of the real world. Becoming the Parliamentarian of GPAC will
enable me actively contribute to how things currently work at LBJ, and put me at a place where I can
better collaborate with other members of the LBJ family to produce more effective GPAC and LBJ school.
Frank Sarno
For those who don’t know me, my name is Frank Sarno. I am interested in the position of Parliamentarian
as I have a background in service and community leadership. While working as an AmeriCorps VISTA in
Pennsylvania, I led a STEM mentorship coalition. Our goal was to engage the local business community in
the public education system in order to address the disparity and bridge the gap between the
underserved community and the thriving business community.
After experiencing the challenges and barriers of providing a quality education to those in need, I chose
to apply what I learned at the legislative level for the Georgia General Assembly. My work for Rep.
Gardner allowed me to engage with the Higher Education Committee. Our top agenda initiative was to
advocate for a fairer allocation of the Hope Scholarship to low-income students throughout the state. I
was fortunate enough to participate on the Working Families Caucus, representing labor unions, and with
the House Democratic Caucus. Both of these organizations followed Robert’s Rules of Order and I learned
the value of organizational leadership as both caucuses successfully passed legislation in an unfriendly
political climate.
In the role of Parliamentarian, I am excited to apply myself to the practical needs of the LBJ School. As a
public policy school I believe LBJ should be a model for student government across campus by
appropriately representing our diverse cohort, having a focus on transparent communication, and being
innovative in our initiatives. I want to promote a more collaborative LBJ and foresee organizational
training for new student organizations as well as mentorship between first year and second year student
leaders. These initiatives will help to create a collaborative and representative school, where all students
have the resources to voice their ideas and have a positive impact.
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Estevan Delgado
Hey LBJ! My name is Estevan Delgado, and I am running to be your GPAC Parliamentarian. I recently
moved to Austin from Houston where I graduated from Rice University in 2013. During my time at Rice, I
served in a variety of positions in residential and campus-wide student government. In my junior year, I
successfully led a campaign to reduce the school’s physical fitness requirement from two semesters to
one. I also obtained seed funding from the university to hire a software engineer to reinvent Rice’s course
registration website. During my senior year, I served as Vice President of my residential college and won
an award for outstanding contributions to student life. I am not afraid to encourage change based on the
needs of our community.
As GPAC Parliamentarian, my goal will always be to ensure all students have a voice in discussion and
decisions regarding our school, and to foster and support student initiatives. I hope to accomplish this in
four ways:
1. Complete a community needs assessment to better understand how GPAC can work for
you. This will also help us propose constitutional amendments as necessary.
2. Expand the GPAC voting electorate to include representation, leadership, and perspectives
from the diverse student groups that exist at LBJ.
3. Ensure that proper decorum is practiced at all GPAC meetings. This includes encouraging
and moderating public debate at general meetings to better inform voting members on
student needs, ideas, and perspectives.
4. Working with current GPAC executives and directors to encourage student-led initiatives.
All LBJ students should have access to leadership opportunities, regardless of their activity
in GPAC.
Thank you for your consideration, and feel free to email me with your ideas.
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General Assembly Committee Positions
Internal and Academic Affairs Committee
Dane Ulik
Dane is a first-year MGPS student at the LBJ School originally from Phoeniz, AZ. He graduated in 2012
from the University of Arizona where he majored in Political Science and Environmental Science. Since
graduating, Dane has spent the last three years teaching English abroad in Chile, and has done significant
volunteer work with both the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA. His policy interests include food
security, global health, and development within Central and South America. When his is not inundated
with mounds of schoolwork, Dane loves cycling, going on frequent hikes, and going to live music shows.
Anna Crockett
My name is Anna Crockett, and I'm a first-year MPAff student. I have lived in Austin for almost 8 years
now, having gone to UT Austin for my B.A. in Spanish and mostly staying here since. Since graduating, I've
worked at two public policy nonprofits in Austin as well as the Texas Legislative Council. I'm interested in
learning more about nonprofit management at LBJ, as well as foreign policy, food policy, and women in
public policy. In my spare time, I volunteer at Austin Pets Alive! and direct a volunteer nonprofit called
RuffTail Runners.
I'm interested in joining this committee because I'd like to play an active role in making the LBJ School
the best it can be academically. We all chose this school because we believed it would help us become the
best policy professionals we could be, and I want to make sure that this belief becomes a reality. With all
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the new academic initiatives being implemented this year, it's important that we evaluate these changes
and understand what the student experience is, not just how we'd like it to be. In addition, I have helped
plan (and execute) many events in my past jobs and for my current nonprofit, and I would feel very
comfortable in this event planning role.
Molly Adler
While doing my undergraduate work at Juniata College, I worked one-on-one with the faculty across our
University to plan campus-wide events including our annual leadership awards celebrating student
activism in and around our community. I also worked in the office of Grants and Contracts where I
worked extensively with faculty and staff behind the scenes. For the past year, I have been teaching
English and American Culture Studies in Kolomna, Russia, through the Fulbright Fellowship Program. I
worked with my students to serve as a bridge and create a better dialogue between the student body and
faculty. My extensive experience with faculty, negotiations and conflict mediation would allow me to be a
great addition to the Academic and Internal Affairs Committee.
Aleksej Demjanski
I am a first-year MGPS student at the LBJ School pursuing a dual-degree with the Center for Russian, East
European, and Eurasian Studies. I am originally from Macedonia, but I grew up in the Austin area and
recently finished my Bachelor’s in International Affairs and Political Science from The George
Washington University in Washington, DC. While living in Washington I interned for the U.S. House of
Representatives working on foreign policy issues as well as the Office of the Coordinator of U.S.
Assistance to Europe and Eurasia at the U.S. Department of State where I focused on development and
democracy promotion in Southeast Europe. These experiences really shaped my policy and academic
interests around the impact of social movements, informal civil society, and education in the
democratization process of countries in Southeast Europe and how the U.S. promotes democracy there.
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As a new LBJ student I am hoping to improve academic affairs here at the LBJ School, especially for
students in the MGPS program as it continues to grow. That is why I am seeking to be a member of the
Academic and Internal Affairs Committee. Having previously worked closely with staff and faculty as an
undergraduate I seek to bring those skills with me as I advocate for the student body at LBJ in order to
better our academic surroundings. Communication, accountability, and transparency are the principles
we need as we seek to voice our concerns regarding the LBJ School’s curriculum, academic and living
environment, and services. Ultimately, I hope to embody these principles as I advocate for you in GPAC
and with the administration here at LBJ.
Annie Fine
Annie Fine is a first year MPAff student from Chicago, Illinois. She completed undergrad in 2006 with a
degree in political science from The College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio. She then went on to pursue a
master’s degree in education from Roosevelt University in Chicago which she finished in 2011 and taught
high school special education for 3 years before moving to Austin. Last year she taught middle school
special education for AISD before enrolling at the LBJ School full time this fall. She is interested in several
different policy areas including, but not limited to: national security and intelligence, and urban
development and planning.
Regarding my nomination for the Academic and Internal Affairs committee and Professional
Development Committee: I served as president of my sorority in undergrad for one year, was selected as
the social studies department chair my second year teaching and went on to become the special
education case manager in my third year. I planned a winter coat drive/donation for my students,
organized and carried out the first ever homecoming dance for the charter school where I worked, and
was the girls’ volleyball coach for one year. I have experience managing others, coordinating events,
being a liaison between group members and authority figures/administration, and sticking to strict
timelines.
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Charles Demakis
I am a first-year MPAff student from the Boston area interested in labor and social policy. After spending
the past eight years teaching English as a foreign language in Berlin, I moved to Austin a couple of months
ago. I am thrilled to be in an academic environment again, and I would like to play some small part in the
rethink of the LBJ School that Dean Evans is undertaking. I support broadening and diversifying the range
of courses and faculty available while still keeping the traditional course format that is currently in place.
I am generally open-minded towards new initiatives but skeptical of more sweeping changes. I believe
that I will work well with the other committee members to promote our shared academic interests for
both the short- and long-term.
Patricia Zavala
Patricia is a second-year dual degree student in the MPAff Program at LBJ and in the MA program at the
Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies. She is a native Austinite and received her BA in Global
Studies and Spanish from the University of California Santa Barbara.
For over five years she worked at Workers Defense Project, an advocacy organization that uses legislative
and legal action to improve working conditions for low-wage workers. She served as the Director of the
Employment and Legal Services program, which she expanded to the statewide level.
She is currently specializing in the Energy Studies Portfolio program and plans on being a liaison between
the U.S. and Brazil on renewable energy policies. Outside of school Patricia dances samba, interprets at
community events, teaches Zumba, plays Brazilian music and loves to spend time with her lively 101year-old grandma.
I would like to serve on the Academic and Internal Affairs Committee because I want to contribute my
skills as an advocate and community organizer to ensure that the voice of the students is heard by the LBJ
School administration—not just for concerns and requests to be heard, but also acted upon.
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We have an extraordinary administration and extremely dedicated faculty members; through effective
collaboration and input from the students, our school can adopt new social and academic policies to be
the best. I am passionate about facilitating that dialogue and encouraging students to share their ideas.
As a leader, spokesperson and experienced facilitator I have the skills necessary to achieve our collective
vision. I am persistent, proactive and effective. I get things done while ensuring that space is created for
diverse opinions. Please vote for me.
Student Life Committee (10 spots)
Cassie Davis
I'm Cassie Davis, a MPAff/MPH dual-degree student from Shreveport, Louisiana. My policy interests are
around Social and Health policy with a focus in Food policy work at the local, national, and international
level. I currently work for the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation as a GA on a couple projects and have a
passion for working with underserved communities. In my spare time, I enjoy local live music shows,
painting, and anything outdoors!
As a potential member of the Student Life Committee, my goal would be to help create and plan a variety
of student events that are inclusive and diverse. From scholarly events to social events, both of which are
important. The LBJ environment is full of collaboration between students from a variety of backgrounds
and I believe our student events should reflect that diversity. In addition, as a dual-degree student, I
would like to propose student events with other graduate programs. These events would serve as an
opportunity for our students to network and learn from other disciplines. This position would be a great
experience for me to assist in creating spaces for LBJ students to learn outside the class room,
decompress from class, and build new relationships with one another!
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Chris Tracy
I want to help organize and run a more diverse set of events that appeal to a wider variety of people than
what I saw last year. I want the events this year to appeal to a wider variety of students along with being
as inclusive and welcoming to all people. This summer I helped out with Camp LBJ activities and
suggested and ran the bowling, kayaking and hosted a game night as an alternative for people that did not
enjoy bar crawls or happy hours.
Paul Kuhne
Paul Kuhne comes to the LBJ School with nearly seven years of experience in the nonprofit sector and a
deep passion for community engagement. Originally from Albany, NY, Paul is excited to have finally left
the Northeast for the warmer pastures of Texas. In 2009, he received his Bachelors degree in Political
Science and Spanish from Temple University where he focused on community development in Latin
America. Paul subsequently moved to Boston where he began his professional career at The Elizabeth
Peabody House, managing their emergency food pantry and resource referral programs. He has spent
the last four years working for Hostelling International USA in different capacities, helping develop their
community outreach agenda, oversee emerging partnerships and manage volunteers across the
Northeast. As an incoming Masters in Global Policy Studies student, he is interested in studying the
intersection of community engagement, citizen diplomacy and international development.
His personal interests include playing tennis, reading, cooking, dancing, attending live music shows and
exploring local art. He is a self-defined “hip-hop head” and has always enjoyed examining hip-hop
through the lens of social struggle. Since living in Austin, he’s outdoor adventured and tubed, gotten into
bouldering, and is starting to dive into the live music scene. He’s passionate about becoming an active
citizen in the place you live, not just your work or study community.
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“For the last four years, I have worked for Hostelling International USA and the Boston Hostel planning
their community events and hostel-activities. In other words, I was a professional fun creator for new
visitors to the Boston community. I planned epic pub crawls, cooked cultural meals, hosted foreign film
screenings, led city tours, and connected travelers from all over the world to unique locations in the
Boston area. All of these events aimed to expose Boston residents and travelers alike to the Boston
outside of the tour guides.
This passion for bringing people together extended beyond my 9-5 job and into my personal life. I would
frequently gather people for meals, special dance events, festivals and activities that helped people cross
boundaries and meet each other. I hosted events in new neighborhoods and tried to be as inclusive as
possible. Even in the final months of my time in Boston, I was turning over new stones and learning
about new resources in the city from special food pantry meals to hip-hop dance nights.
Here at LBJ, I believe that student life is as much about connecting with each other as it is about
connecting to the Austin community. We should aim to become active members in the local community
through community service events, attending cultural activities, taking weird tours of the city, and
venturing into areas of Austin that are under the radar. Not only will students appreciate the diversity of
our events, but the local Austin community will begin to see LBJ as a pillar of community involvement and
inclusion. If that sounds good to you, then I hope to join the Student Life Committee.”
Burleson Smith
Over the last month of Camp LBJ and the first few weeks of class I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of
the LBJ community and see helping GPAC as a way of beginning to repay and serve the best interests of
the school.
After graduating with a double major in philosophy and political science from Vanderbilt University in
2009, I accepted a role with Public Strategies Inc. in Austin, Texas. I was fortunate at Public Strategies to
work with several large clients across a diverse area of industry sectors. Principally my work was in
public affairs campaigns, public relations and crisis communications.
In 2013 I moved to Washington D.C. to accept a position with POLITICO, an online political and policy
reporting resource. At POLITICO I was in charge of working specifically with federal government entities
to expand our brand footprint and manage customers of POLITICO Pro a premium policy reporting
product.
I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas and enjoy reading, writing and the great outdoors.
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Heather Henry
My name is Heather Henry and I am a first year MPAff Student. I am from Houston, but I did my
undergrad at UT so I’ve been in Austin for the past 4 years. I think my familiarity with Austin and Central
Texas would be a great asset to this committee because I could help everyone to make the most of their
experience in this wonderful place!
Ideas:
 LBJ National Historic Park and Winery Tour: Interested in learning more about the life of LBJ? I
believe a day trip out to the LBJ Park and visiting some wineries afterwards would be a great
opportunity to get out of Austin and explore Central Texas. The LBJ National Historic Park is about
an hour west of Austin, and is also very close to some of the best wineries in the area.
 LBJ Dog Club: I recently adopted a dog, and I think it would be fun to have a Facebook group for all
of the LBJers that are dog parents. It could be a good way to organize play dates, and get advice on
places to go, etc. Dog lovers would also be welcome to join and destress with some awesome pups.
 Schlitterbahn: In the spring I would like to organize a day trip down to Schlitterbahn in New
Braunfels and have a great time at the best waterpark in Texas. Group rates are available so we
could have fun and save some money.
 Texas State Parks: Central Texas is home to some really beautiful places, and I love to go hiking
and camping (when it gets a little cooler), so organizing some day hikes or weekend camping trips
would be something I think everyone could benefit from!
 Austin Bucket List: I have a rather long Austin Bucket List and I would love to have a Facebook
group, or organize some sort of calendar that would encourage people to try all new places, and
hit up some classic Austin staples. If you are interested in waiting in line for Franklin’s BBQ, going
to the Graffiti Park, and meeting lots of new people in our cohort that you haven’t met yet, I think
this would be a wonderful opportunity to do that!
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Hina Acharya
My name is Hina and I am a first year GPS student. I was born in Kathmandu, Nepal and my family moved
to Omaha, Nebraska in 2001. I recently graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2015. My
policy interests include international development and diplomacy. After graduating from LBJ, I hope to
work in South Asia, specifically Nepal or India.
As a part of the Student Life Committee, I am interested in working with peers to create a space where
everyone feels at home. The Student Life Committee currently does a phenomenal job at planning events
for the LBJ population. The committee has an important job in bridging gaps that naturally occur at a
school with several different programs of study. Life outside of the classroom is immensely important in
shaping student experience and I am looking forward to advocating for the celebration of our diverse
interests. I have been told that the 2 years at LBJ will fly by, and being a part of the Student Life
Committee will give me a chance to make those 2 years as memorable as possible for fellow students.
Lauren Davis
My name is Lauren Davis and I would like to serve on the Student Life Committee for the 2016-2017 year.
I served on the Student Government Association at the University of Montevallo where I worked with
constituents on creating a rich environment for all students. I intend to bring my existing leadership skills
and create new ones during my tenure this upcoming year on this committee. I had a fellowship with
the Leading Edge Institute, a nonprofit organization working to empower women in the state of Alabama.
With this program, I learned how to collaborate with my peers, create networks, utilize assets, and
advocate for what I believe in. I want to serve on the Student Life Committee to ensure all students are
involved and have the opportunity to share memories, build cohorts, and remain part of the LBJ
community even after graduating.
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Peggy Kemp
I was born and raised in Indiana and am a graduate of Indiana University. I landed in Texas with my
husband after stops in South Carolina and California (Northern).
I've spent most of my professional time as a paralegal at either Legal Services or in with a private
attorney who did a ton of pro bono work with Legal Services, specifically Voluntary Legal Services
Program of Northern California. We had a large load of indigent families working their way through the
family law system, so I spent a lot of time with child custody and child support cases, especially welfare
reimbursement. I also worked at the Texas Attorney General’s Office in Civil Medicaid Fraud.
I also have 2 children winding their way through the public school system in Austin. Zoey is a freshman
at LASA and Adam is a 5th grader at Baranoff. My husband, Greg, is a consultant in the tech industry.
My reason for wanting a position on the Student Life Committee is that I would like to plan activities
focused around students with families and children. As I mentioned, I'm married with two kids and three
dogs (a full house of sorts!). Of course, these activities would be open to all but with the understanding
that they will take place at times or in locations that are child friendly, and will have children present.
Samer Yousif
I’ve held several positions in student organizations during my undergraduate degree, the most recent
being president of the Entrepreneur Society. That required coordination and planning of competitions,
networking and speaker events with the university and other organizations. It gave me a lot of insight
into the logistics of trying to create events for people with limited budgets and time constraints. I’ve
organized soccer tournaments, banquets, and game nights. I think I could help the committee and I look
forward to having a good time!
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Shannon Halbrook
Shannon Halbrook is a second-year MPAff student. After graduating from UT Austin with degrees in
English and history, he worked in Boston for 12 years at the National Consumer Law Center, a research
and advocacy organization preserving the legal rights of low-income people facing foreclosure, abusive
debt collection, and bankruptcy. With his wife Larissa and daughter Frances, he returned to Texas in
2013. His interests include economic justice and fairness, state and local issues, sustainability, technology
policy, and government accountability and transparency.
Shannon is older than most students at the LBJ School, and the responsibilities of family and parenting
have made it hard for him to be involved here as much as he would like. But his communities -neighborhood, workplace, school, music scene -- are important to him, and he's determined to stay
engaged. As part of GPAC's Student Life Committee, Shannon would like to represent non-traditional
students struggling with the same concerns, finding new ways to encourage their participation and
further enrich the life of the LBJ School.
Bryce Block
I'm a second year GPS student and likely your TA (your vote does not in any way influence your
homework grade). I grew up on a chicken farm in Taylor, TX and am hoping my successful candidacy will
put the 'Yeehaw!' back in our social events. My qualifications include once partying with Jeremy Renner
(that guy from the Avengers who played Hawkeye) and visiting bars in over 6 different cities. Also my
photo is a sham because I have a beard now, but I really like this picture.
On a more serious note, I think an integral part of being an LBJer is socializing and networking with our
classmates and the broader UT community. As a part of the Student Life Committee I would do my best to
support events that are fun and engaging, but inclusive to all. Being at LBJ is an amazing experience that
goes by too quickly. Let's try to have as many positive interactions as possible before we head back to the
real world.
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Finance Committee (4 spots)
Sarah Pollock
Sarah is a student in the MPAff program. She received her Bachelor's in Communication and Psychology
from the University of California, Davis, where she graduated with highest honors. Prior to pursuing her
degree, Sarah worked at a day center for adults with disabilities for six years. This brought her face-toface with some of the most vulnerable members of our society, and seeing the way their lives were
directly affected by ongoing legislative changes inspired her interest in public policy. Sarah is passionate
about a variety of issues, including women's health, socioeconomic equality, education and the separation
of church and state, and she looks forward to finding her policy niche and acquiring the tools necessary to
make meaningful change during her time at the LBJ School.
Katherine Whitton
I am a first year MGPS candidate looking at the intersection of policies on a global stage. Originally from
the Florida Panhandle, I spent two years in Ethiopia with the US Peace Corps working in English language
education. Through undergraduate organizations I have previous fundraising and merchandising
experience. If elected to this position I will increase MGPS representation in GPAC and work with the cochairs to improve/increase funding opportunities.
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Tasha Bylenok
Natasha Bylenok is a first year MPAff student. She received her BA (Honors) in Political Studies from the
University of Auckland in 2013. For the last two years, Tasha has worked at The University of Texas in
the business office of the Jackson School of Geosciences, where she has developed a working knowledge
of the University's entertainment and expense policies, and participated in the budget approval process
for student organizations. Before becoming a Longhorn, Tasha was an Organizing Fellow with
Battleground Texas and the HR Administrator for a small marketing firm. These positions gave her the
opportunity to plan events and participate in fundraising activities. Tasha is enthusiastic about the
opportunity to contribute her organizational skills, her knowledge of UT financial procedures, and her
event planning and fundraising experience to GPAC as the External Finance Director.
Jacob Kowalski
I am a good fit for the position of External Finance Director because of my background in accounting, tax,
and economics. I have a Bachelor's in Economics from UW-Madison and was also the Treasurer of a small
non-profit tennis association in Madison in which I managed a $50,000 account, did invoicing, and issued
checks and 1099's for around 50 sub-contractors and businesses. In addition, I worked for 4 years as a
Tax Preparer for H&R Block filing income tax returns and gained familiarity with financial processes as
they relate to taxation and personal finance. These skills would provide a solid background to not only
manage the current state of the finance committee and other duties, but to also look for solutions to
improve the current processes where applicable.
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Outreach and Professional Development Committee (5 spots)
Heather Dyer
My name is Heather Dyer and I would love to participate in the LBJ Graduate Public Affairs Council as a
member of the Professional Development Committee. During my first year at the LBJ School I recognized
a few key areas where I felt the program could improve, all of which dealt with professional development.
I hope to enable a more positive attitude around working while in school. Additionally, I want to ensure
all LBJ students have the tools needed to succeed when looking and interviewing for jobs. I would work
with the Director of the Professional Development Committee and other members to organize events so
that all students have a headshot, a perfected elevator pitch and an outstanding resume. In addition to
these things, I would hope that we would be able to coordinate with OSAA and truly bridge the gap
between alumni and current students. Thank you for taking the time read my platform. I sincerely
appreciate your consideration.
Paul Kuhne
Paul Kuhne comes to the LBJ School with nearly seven years of experience in the nonprofit sector and a
deep passion for community engagement. Originally from Albany, NY, Paul is excited to have finally left
the Northeast for the warmer pastures of Texas. In 2009, he received his Bachelors degree in Political
Science and Spanish from Temple University where he focused on community development in Latin
America. Paul subsequently moved to Boston where he began his professional career at The Elizabeth
Peabody House, managing their emergency food pantry and resource referral programs. He has spent
the last four years working for Hostelling International USA in different capacities, helping develop their
community outreach agenda, oversee emerging partnerships and manage volunteers across the
Northeast. As an incoming Masters in Global Policy Studies student, he is interested in studying the
intersection of community engagement, citizen diplomacy and international development.
His personal interests include playing tennis, reading, cooking, dancing, attending live music shows and
exploring local art. He is a self-defined “hip-hop head” and has always enjoyed examining hip-hop
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through the lens of social struggle. Since living in Austin, he’s outdoor adventured and tubed, gotten into
bouldering, and is starting to dive into the live music scene. He’s passionate about becoming an active
citizen in the place you live, not just your work or study community.
“For the last seven years, I have been active in helping expand the skills and networks of every
community I’ve participated in. At Hostelling International USA, I helped bring in local trainers that
taught everything from conflict resolution to intercultural understanding. We worked closely with Third
Sector New England to host management trainings for our staff members.
As a Programming & Events Ambassador for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Boston (YNPN
Boston), I organized a number of professional development events that aimed to cultivate the emerging
young leaders in the sector. I also worked with friends and colleagues to host impromptu Excel trainings,
public speaking seminars and other activities.
I am passionate about community-building and the value of hosting regular networking events to help
people expand their circles. Through growing my networks of fellow professionals, I was able to increase
the capacity of my own work significantly. Relationship building and skills development go hand-in-hand
for any aspiring policy professional, and I would love to join the Professional Development Committee to
provide LBJ students with additional training and networking opportunities.”
Frank Sarno
For those who don’t know me, my name is Frank Sarno. I would like to be involved in our student
outreach here at LBJ through the Outreach and Professional Development Committee. I am new to Austin
and am impressed with the alumni network here in the city and the opportunities for students to get
involved in the local community.
Before coming to LBJ, I worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Pennsylvania, where I led a STEM mentorship
coalition. Our goal was to engage the local business community in the public education system in order to
address the disparity and bridge the gap between the underserved community and the thriving business
community. After experiencing the challenges and barriers of providing a quality education to those in
need, I chose to apply what I learned at the legislative level for the Georgia General Assembly. My work
for Rep. Gardner allowed me to engage with the Higher Education Committee. Our top agenda initiative
was to advocate for a fairer allocation of the Hope Scholarship to low-income students throughout the
state. I was fortunate enough to participate on the Working Families Caucus, representing labor unions,
and with the House Democratic Caucus.
I see the Outreach and Professional Development Committee as an opportunity to strengthen the ties
between alumni and current students. My experience has been that alumni want to give back to, network
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with and mentor current students. I hope to create avenues for them to do so through guest speakers,
panels, and happy hours. We have a unique opportunity to hear from a range of local leaders and as we
refine our interests in the policy field, I believe it is valuable to hear from a variety of perspectives.
Annie Fine
Annie Fine is a first year MPAff student from Chicago, Illinois. She completed undergrad in 2006 with a
degree in political science from The College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio. She then went on to pursue a
master’s degree in education from Roosevelt University in Chicago which she finished in 2011 and taught
high school special education for 3 years before moving to Austin. Last year she taught middle school
special education for AISD before enrolling at the LBJ School full time this fall. She is interested in several
different policy areas including, but not limited to: national security and intelligence, and urban
development and planning.
Regarding my nomination for the Academic and Internal Affairs committee and Professional
Development Committee: I served as president of my sorority in undergrad for one year, was selected as
the social studies department chair my second year teaching and went on to become the special
education case manager in my third year. I planned a winter coat drive/donation for my students,
organized and carried out the first ever homecoming dance for the charter school where I worked, and
was the girls’ volleyball coach for one year. I have experience managing others, coordinating events,
being a liaison between group members and authority figures/administration, and sticking to strict
timelines.
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Amanda McCarty
Bio: I have experience both as a student leader from my time as Ride Director with Texas 4000 and in
professional development with my time in the work force. As a first year LBJ student, I worked full time
as a Senior Development Associate at The Salvation Army and went to school part time. During that time,
I practiced time management, professional development and worked hard to apply what I was learning in
the classroom to my job. Coming in to my second year, I decided to shift my focus to finishing my
education and now work part time as a Graduate Assistant with the Longhorn Center for Community
Engagement. The experiences and connections I have gained over the years makes me a great candidate
for the Professional Development Committee.
Interests: As a working student, I recognize the importance of professional development both inside and
outside the classroom. I would like to be a part of this committee to foster a positive attitude toward
students who work while in school. I want to help connect students to outside resources by supporting
and building on the work of OSAA. Professional development is crucial to a comprehensive education and
I would love to support my classmates in this position.
Statement: Professional development is a life long journey that requires a willingness to self-reflect and
take on new challenges.
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Jaclyn Le
I am a first-year MPAff / MBA dual degree student. Though originally from the Dallas area, I have spent
the last eight years in the Bay Area, Boston, and New York City. I graduated from Stanford University in
2012 with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Education. Since then, I have worked in the
philanthropic sector at both a local community foundation and a private, national foundation focused on
improving K-12 education. My policy interests revolve around creating a more equitable education
system through systemic changes in the distribution of resources and policy environment surrounding
educators and students.
I am excited about the Professional Development Committee because I believe, no matter what title or
position, everyone can lead from where they are. We all have the ability to influence our colleagues, the
organizations in which we work, and the communities that we aim to serve. As such, I believe that our
professional development should focus not only on concrete skills building but also reflect on our
leadership styles. Previously, I served as co-chair of the NY chapter of the Emerging Practitioners in
Philanthropy (EPIP), a network of over 1200 nonprofit and philanthropic sector professionals. In my role,
I created programming for professionals at all points of their careers, including networking events,
diversity/inclusion trainings, and mentorship programs with established field leaders.
My hope is to bring this experience to the committee, create valuable leadership development
opportunities for all LBJ students, and debunk the myth that networking is only for extroverts.
Kendra Garrett
Hi! My name is Kendra Garrett. I am a first year student at the LBJ School with policy interests in
city/state government, energy and infrastructure. My background includes receiving a BS degree in
Chemical Engineering from The University of Texas and subsequently working as an engineer in the
energy sector in Houston, Texas. I believe I can serve as an effective and collaborative member of the
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GPAC Professional Development Committee by utilizing my planning and organizational skills that I have
developed as a Conference Planner for NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) in undergraduate
school. In addition, I served as Co-President for a professional organization within my previous employer
that organized "lunch & learn" presentations for executive leadership and other internal disciplines along
with coordinating social gatherings for recent graduate engineers new to the professional world. I believe
that I could leverage my past experiences to facilitate in developing new ideas for networking and
learning sessions and ensure the voices of the student body are heard and incorporated as we continue to
grow our relationships with our internal and external LBJ family. Please vote for me, Kendra Garrett, for
GPAC Professional Development Committee member. Thank you!
Michael Benbow
As an undergraduate at UT, I worked with many student organizations while on campus. I was on the
board of directors for the Queer Students Alliance, an agency of Student Government. I served as the
Executive Director for StandOut, an organization that promoted social change within the greater Austin
area. While in medical school, I served as both my class President and class Senator to Student
Government at UTMB. Over the summer, I interned with Austin State Senator Kirk Watson and developed
contacts, many of them LBJ alumni, at the Capital. I would love to serve on the Professional Development
Committee to help foster ties between current students and the amazing network and legacy the LBJ
School provides.
Marilyn Headley
Bio: After graduating from the University of Florida in 2011 with a degree in psychology, I worked for the
Florida Department of Health as a policy practitioner with the Tobacco Free Florida program until April,
2016. In this role I worked across many sectors including, private business, the local school board, and
housing authorities to educate decision makers and build consensus around tobacco free policies. I also
managed and maintained a diverse community coalition of residents who advocated for local tobacco free
policies.
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Nonprofit board experience: For five years I served on the board of the Alachua County Emerging Leaders
(ACEL), a local nonprofit whose goal is to better the community through direct participation. I’ve held
several roles, including ACEL chair of the professional development committee. I’ve advocated key
initiatives such as bicycle friendly communities with the successful installation of two public-use bicycle
pumps, led member programming development such as the ACEL book club and mentorship program,
and gained skills in community development, strategic planning, and non-profit board management.
Why I want to serve: The LBJ school is an opportunity for both intellectual and professional growth. If
elected, I look forward to developing engaging professional development opportunities through GPAC
that best serve you and your future career goals. With my previous experience in a similar role, I am
confident that I will be able to positively contribute to the already great programming offered by the PD
Committee. Lastly, it is my goal to create a better LBJ school experience both for our cohort and those
following; this is my opportunity to serve you and the future LBJ school community.
Francisco Almanza Guerra
Francisco is a first year MGPS student. He completed his bachelors degree in International Business
Management from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2014. During his time at UTSA, he served as
President for the Association of Young Mexican Entrepreneurs among other leadership positions on
campus. After graduation, he joined UTSA’s Institute for Economic Development where he worked on a
research project that analyzed the economic and legal impacts energy reform had in Mexico. Policy
interests include Security, the role of International Trade, and US-Mexico Relations.
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Community Outreach Committee (6 spots)
Lindsey Zischkale
I am a second year MPAFF student and native Texan. I previously attended the University of Dallas
(confusingly located in Irving, TX) where I received a Bachelor of Arts and Master's in Psychology. Eight
years working in and around the developmental disabilities field led me to pursue a degree in policy. If
elected to serve on the Community Outreach Committee, I would work to connect LBJers with the large
(and often unheard) intellectual/developmental disability community in Austin.
Nate Fennell
I'm Nate. I'm a 2nd-year MPAff student. I was on the Community Outreach Committee last year and
there's a lot more I want to do with it. I'm interested in getting more students involved in service and
connecting the work that many of us are already doing on their own in the community with the LBJ name.
My primary goal is to create more opportunities for students to use their school assignments to benefit
local nonprofits and government agencies. Plus I had the championship mustache for LBJ's Movember
team last year and that's gotta count for something, right?
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Erin Smith
Bio: Erin Smith is a second-year MPAff student at the LBJ School. Prior to moving to Austin, Erin lived in
Los Angeles and served as assistant director of the Center for Civic Education's We the People Programs.
She oversaw a national network dedicated to supporting active citizenship through classroom learning,
planned professional development institutes, and managed federal grants. While on the west coast she
also served as program director with the Pablove Foundation, working primarily on a mentorship
program teaching children living with cancer to find their creative voice through the art of photography.
Originally from Rhode Island, Erin graduated magna cum laude from the University of Rhode Island
earning her B.A. in Political Science with a minor in English. She got her start in public relations but much
prefers reading the news to trying to manufacture it. She enjoys yoga, hiking, the Atlantic Ocean, and
quoting The Lorax.
Platform: My involvement with the Community Outreach Committee last year was purposeful and
energizing. From organizing a book drive to benefit Inside Books Project to delivering clothing donations
to Casa Marianella, the experience greatly enriched my first year. I am eager to facilitate diverse and
engaging opportunities that will allow our student body to give back to our LBJ, UT, and Austin
communities. My background in volunteerism, volunteer mobilization, and nonprofit management will be
a strong asset to the committee's purposeful work in community building through service projects.
Leilani Lamb
I am a second year student with an interest in non-profit organization and volunteerism. I am excited for
the opportunity to be a part of the Community Outreach Committee. I hope to help the committee build
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lasting relationships with local organizations that will be beneficial to both the students and the
community we serve.
Burleson Smith
Over the last month of Camp LBJ and the first few weeks of class I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of
the LBJ community and see helping GPAC as a way of beginning to repay and serve the best interests of
the school.
After graduating with a double major in philosophy and political science from Vanderbilt University in
2009, I accepted a role with Public Strategies Inc. in Austin, Texas. I was fortunate at Public Strategies to
work with several large clients across a diverse area of industry sectors. Principally my work was in
public affairs campaigns, public relations and crisis communications.
In 2013 I moved to Washington D.C. to accept a position with POLITICO, an online political and policy
reporting resource. At POLITICO I was in charge of working specifically with federal government entities
to expand our brand footprint and manage customers of POLITICO Pro a premium policy reporting
product.
I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas and enjoy reading, writing and the great outdoors.
Juan Cardoza-Oquendo
I graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Human Geography and Anthropology. There, I
helped undocumented youth lead a campaign to overturn the Board of Regents ban on undocumented
students from the state's top five universities. In Dallas, I worked as a community organizer with
Workers Defense Project, where I trained and brought together dozens of immigrant workers and their
families to advocate for labor policy changes. I then organized my church and other black and white faith
communities to organize for immigrant rights, criminal justice and policing reform, and for fair lending
through an organization called Faith in Texas. I love community organizing, and I'm at the LBJ School to
get skills and experience that will complement that. As a Community Outreach Committee member, I'd
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work hard to build partnerships with institutions that serve low-income people and people of color and
create fun and engaging opportunities for the wider LBJ community to get involved.
Alyssa Perez-Morrison
Alyssa Perez Morrison is a second year MPAff student at LBJ. After graduating from University of North
Carolina- Chapel Hill in 2009 with a degree in Public Policy and a minor in Human Geography, Alyssa
worked at the City of Austin in the Healthy Neighborhood Unit as a contract compliance associate. In this
role she oversaw a direct financial assistance program as well as fill in for the occasional direct services.
She then worked for four years as a Program Coordinator for the Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violence
in Seattle, WA where she coordinated trainings and meetings for the 40 direct service agency members.
Her academic interest is criminal justice reform and she currently works at the Texas Criminal Justice
Coalition on their juvenile justice team. Alyssa is excited for the opportunity to be on the community
outreach committee in order to help facilitate a strong relationship between LBJ and the Austin
community. She feels that her previous roles working with broad memberships and direct services will
give her the ability to engage with diverse communities in a meaningful way.
Kelsey Thompson
I am a first year MPAff student with no defined policy interest as of yet. I am passionate about making the
world a more habitable place for everyone and I am hoping LBJ will give me some guidance on how I can
do that. I graduated from UT Austin in 2013 with a major in Plan II and Women's and Gender Studies.
After graduation, I served an AmeriCorps term of service with College Forward, a higher education nonprofit in Austin. After my year of service, I headed back to UT to work as an advisor in the School of
Undergraduate Studies, advising students who need developmental education. To convince you of my
well roundedness, I am also an avid backpacker, cyclist, and pizza enthusiast.
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I will be a valuable addition to the Community Outreach Committee because I care very deeply about
Austin and I want fellow LBJers to share in that. Being involved in the community is essential to
developing knowledge about your surroundings that will inform your work as a policy professional and
your depth as a person. There is a great range of ways to be involved such as tackling invasive species
during It's My Park Day, walking dogs for Austin Pets Alive!, teaching ESL classes at Casa Marianella, and
much more. I am committed to creating meaningful outreach opportunities that reflect the diversity of
the interests within our LBJ community. I would like to see the committee conduct a student-wide survey
to inform our work for the year in addition to remaining open to feedback throughout. I strongly believe
in the value of collaboration and will work to create a Community Outreach Committee that allows you to
collaborate with your peers and your community to enhance both your personal and professional goals.
Josh Meuth Aldredge
Josh joins LBJ with a strong interest in international development and education policy. While in
undergrad at Whitman College, he studied politics and Spanish, exploring the changes in revolutionary
identity in Nicaragua in the last 2 decades. After graduating, he performed ethnographic research in
northern Brazil in partnership with several NGOs. He subsequently received a fellowship through
Princeton in Latin America to work at a rural university in Bolivia, where he deepened his interest in
international education policy. Josh returned to the US in 2013, and continued to work in education as a
manager of outreach at a Head Start agency and as a board member of an entrepreneurship-focused high
school. With a passion for expanding educational access, he is thrilled to study development policy at the
LBJ School while engaging the education community here in Austin.
In the Community Outreach Committee, Josh will learn about the Austin political and social landscape
while contributing his partnership-building skills to ongoing committee projects. Beyond supporting
current programs, Josh aims to create and develop additional LBJ relationships with groups that work on
our community's most pressing concerns: transportation and food access, equitable education and
employment opportunity, smart development, and healthcare.
Graduate Public Affairs Council Election Handbook