“Meet the Press” moderator and former GW student Chuck Todd and distinguished political scientist Stephen Haber, BA ’79, are among an all-star list of luminaries and alumni recently named to the dean’s volunteer advisory boards.
In addition to Todd and Haber, new members of the National Council for Arts and Sciences and the National Council for Media and Public Affairs include Marc Bianchi, BA ’83, Sam Feist, Susan Smirnoff, BA ’74, Cornell Belcher and Charles Minton. The new council members will work to advise the dean on issues impacting the growth and development of the Columbian College.
“We are so proud to add these renowned professionals—all leaders in their respective fields from journalism to finance to public relations—to our already impressive roster of council members,” said Columbian College Dean Ben Vinson.
“National Council members are integral to our school,” added Frank Sesno, the director of the School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA). “These new members reflect an effort to bring dynamic, accomplished professionals who are experts in media and politics and dedicated to SMPA’s mission of providing relevant and innovative experiences for our students.”
New SMPA council member Chuck Todd attended GW from 1990 to 1994 and is now the moderator and managing editor of “Meet the Press.” A self-described political junkie, he co-authored How Barack Obama Won, published by Vintage in 2009. His second book, The Stranger: Barack Obama in the White House, will be released in November 2014, by Little, Brown and Company.
Arts and Sciences council member Stephen Haber is the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the A.A. and Jeanne Welch Milligan Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University. One of the world’s premier experts on political institutions and economic policies and the ways they affect living standards, Haber is among Stanford’s most distinguished teachers. The winner of every teaching prize Stanford has to offer, Haber is the author of five books and the editor of five more. His current research focuses on the role of geography in the evolution of economic and political institutions, and the impact of the U.S. patent system on business innovation and competition.
“It’s an honor to return to GW and to be asked to contribute to the National Council,” Haber said. “GW was a transformational experience for me. My GW professors were exemplary mentors, who launched me on an academic career. It’s great to be able to give something back."
In addition to Todd, the SMPA council added four other members to an already diverse group of distinguished national and international alumni and friends. Feist, the Washington, D.C., bureau chief and senior vice president for Washington-based programming for CNN, is the recipient of three Emmy Awards. He coordinated and produced CNN’s Peabody Award-winning coverage of the 2008 presidential primaries and conventions.
Susan Smirnoff, a former Arts and Sciences council member, is a public relations consultant and advisor who specializes in healthcare communications. Her work over the past three decades has focused on driving communications around the prevention and treatment of specific diseases, and communications for breakthrough cancer treatments.
“The talent and expertise of the faculty, graduates and students demonstrates the value and relevance of an SMPA education,” Smirnoff said. “I am honored to expand my commitment to GW by joining the SMPA council, and I hope to contribute to the career development of the students as well as support expansion of SMPA’s program offerings.”
Also on the slate of new board members is political pollster Cornell Belcher. He is the founder and president of Brilliant Corners Research and Strategies, an internationally recognized polling firm that conducts ground-breaking work on behalf of the Democratic National Committee. He is also a political contributor to CNN and one of the premier strategists in national progressive politics and in the rebranding of some of the country’s leading corporations.
“I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to join the prestigious SMPA council and help advance the school's mission by sharing my experience in data driven campaign targeting and message framing in an increasingly diverse and changing American landscape,” Belcher said.
Charles “Charlie” Minton is likewise ready to dig in and help steer SMPA toward achieving its goals.
“It’s not a cliché that ‘something happens here,’ and I want to be part of it,” Minton said. A proud Rotarian, Minton is a leader in his community of Union, N.J., where he is the president of Minton’s Fire & Security Specialists, Inc. He and his wife Kathy have two daughters: Stacey, BA ’12, and Melissa, a current SMPA student who plans to graduate in 2015.