Trachtenberg School welcomes hundreds for weekend events
More than 250 alumni, students and faculty gathered on campus last weekend to celebrate the 50th anniversary of public service education at the George Washington University. The celebration – which included a reception honoring Distinguished Alumni Award winners, a networking happy hour and a policy forum – was hosted by GW’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration and the Columbian College Alumni Office.
The weekend was equal parts homecoming, celebration and food for thought.
The celebration started with a reception Friday evening in the Elliott School of International Affairs’ City View Room. Provost Steven Lerman welcomed attendees and 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.
Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Dean Peg Barratt then 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,” said Dr. Barratt.
The evening concluded with five alumni being presented with Distinguished Alumni Awards. The awardees were nominated by alumni and faculty for their individual achievements in public policy and public administration as well as their leadership in serving the public interest and enhancing democratic governance. This year, the school selected five winners instead of one, as it typically does, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of public service education at the George Washington University.
The five winners were:
- Commander Timothy Cronin, M.P.A. ’07, who is currently the assistant branch chief to the U.S. Coast Guard District Seven Enforcement Branch in Miami, Fla.
- Christa Fornarotto, M.P.P. ’05, who is the Federal Aviation Administration’s associate administrator for airports, overseeing a $3.5 billion annual federal airport grants program and passenger facility charge collections totaling $2 billion.
- Dale Didion, M.P.A. ’83, who has held several senior public affairs positions for multinational companies over more than 20 years, including executive vice president of EnergySolutions.
- Nancy Potok, Ph.D. ’09, who is currently the deputy director and chief operating officer of the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Rep. Michael Stinziano, M.P.A. ’04, who represents Ohio’s 18th District in the Ohio State House.
Following Friday evening’s reception, 150 alumni, students and faculty gathered at Tonic for an informal networking happy hour.
On Saturday, the celebration continued in the Jack Morton Auditorium with an address by former U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis, R-Va., former chairman of the House Government Reform Committee and currently director of federal government affairs for Deloitte & Touche LLP. Rep. Davis’ address kicked off the Trachtenberg School’s 50th Anniversary Policy Forum.
Participants then attended one of three panel presentations featuring alumni sharing their expertise on public administration today, navigating a career path and the challenges of implementing health care reform.
The weekend ended with the five Distinguished Alumni Award winners taking 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.
“I enjoyed celebrating the achievements of the Trachtenberg School and our alumni, engaging in conversation about issues in public administration and public policy, and connecting and networking with alumni, current students, faculty and friends,” said Kathryn E. Newcomer, director of the Trachtenberg School.