GW Celebrates 50 Years of Public Service Education

March 2013

Trachtenberg School Welcomes Hundreds for Anniversary celebration. 

More than 250 alumni, students and faculty gathered on campus last month to celebrate the 50th anniversary of public service education at GW and the achievements of those who graduated with a public policy or public administration degree. The Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration and the Columbian College Alumni Office hosted a number of events to mark the milestone, including a policy forum kicked off by former U.S. Representative Thomas M. Davis, R-Va., a celebration reception honoring Distinguished Alumni Award winners, and a networking happy hour. The weekend was equal parts homecoming, celebration and food for thought.

In a formal reception, Provost Steven Lerman emphasized the Trachtenberg School’s integral connection to two of the four themes of the university’s strategic plan – citizenship and leadership, and governance and policy. Dean Peg Barratt highlighted the breadth and depth of alumni who have completed public policy and public administration degrees at GW over the past 50 years.

“Alumni include cabinet officials in the United States, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and elsewhere; researchers at many influential think tanks; high ranking officials at many federal government agencies; city managers and state government officials; presidents of private sector companies; presidents of large nonprofits; professors at colleges and universities across the country; the former commandant of the Coast Guard; and the mother of Lady Gaga,” she noted.

Five alumni were recognized with Distinguished Alumni Awards for their individual achievements in public policy and public administration as well as their leadership in serving the public interest and enhancing democratic governance.  Receiving honors were the following individuals:

  • Commander Timothy Cronin, MPA. ’07, an assistant branch chief to the U.S. Coast Guard District Seven Enforcement Branch in Miami, Florida.
  • Christa Fornarotto, MPP ’05, a Federal Aviation Administration’s associate administrator for airports, charged with overseeing a $3.5 billion annual federal airport grants program.
  • Dale Didion, MPA ’83, who has held several senior public affairs positions for multinational companies, including executive vice president of EnergySolutions.
  • Nancy Potok, PhD ’09, deputy director and chief operating officer of the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Rep. Michael Stinziano, MPA ’04, who serves the residents and businesses of Ohio’s 18th District in the Ohio State House.

Each of the honorees took the stage for a plenary session about the challenges and opportunities they face in their work and how they apply what they learned at GW to their careers.

The celebration’s policy forum included remarks by Rep. Davis and three panel presentations featuring alumni sharing their expertise on public administration today, navigating a career path, and the challenges of implementing health care reform.

"My key take away from the weekend was that despite all the challenges out there, everyone is still upbeat, idealistic, and committed to public service," said Robert Goldenkoff, MPA '86, and current director of strategic issues at the Government Accountability Office.

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