GW at the Republican National Convention

(L to R) GW alumni Zach Quinn, BA '13, Kasey Packer, BA '15, Audrey Scagnelli, BA '13, and Ninio Fetalvo, BA '14, and GW senior Gabriella Morrone, ESIA '17, have been in Cleveland preparing for the 2016 Republican National Convention.

(L to R) GW alumni Zach Quinn, BA ’13, Kasey Packer, BA ’15, Audrey Scagnelli, BA ’13, and Ninio Fetalvo, BA ’14, and GW senior Gabriella Morrone, ESIA ’17, have been in Cleveland preparing for the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Kasey Packer, BA ’15, has been on the ground in Cleveland for months helping the Republican National Committee prepare for its national convention, which runs July 18-21.

As an event manager, Kasey has been working on logistical issues for the convention. She ensures that political action committees and other groups attending know where to turn for catering services, flower arrangements and the like. As politicians and delegates fill the floor of the Quicken Loans Arena, Kasey will be behind the scenes ensuring things run smoothly during what has been anything but a predictable presidential election cycle.

“At the end of the convention, if you don’t hear about the operations team, we did a good job,” she said.

Kasey is one of five RNC staffers—more than 100 of whom moved to Cleveland in preparation for the convention—who have ties to George Washington University. Like Kasey, three others are alumni: Ninio Fetalvo, CCAS BA ’14; Zachary Quinn, ESIA BA ’13; and Audrey Scagnelli, CCAS BA ’13. A fourth, Gabriella Morrone, is a senior in the School of Media d Public Affairs.

The convention will host almost 5,000 delegates and alternates and about 15,000 credentialed media—in addition to tens of thousands of tourists and others with interest in the four days of events.

Kasey said that her political science degree and an internship with the RNC helped her be successful on the job.

“This being my first job out of school, I mean, it’s been quite a year,” Kasey said. “We’re really excited to put on the best convention ever.”

The best part of her experience so far, she said, has been getting to see the convention plans take shape since she joined the team in September. In the coming weeks, she expects to be busier than ever.

“It’s going to be crazy, but we’re really excited,” she said. “It has been a 24/7 job, but even more so now. This is crunch time, this is game time.”

Ninio Fetalvo works as a liaison between the convention committee and media outlets. After interning with the Republican National Committee during his senior year at GW, Ninio was offered a full-time job at the RNC in D.C. before moving to Cleveland to help out with the convention, an option he said he never would have had without the connections he made as an intern.

“Working here in Cleveland has been an opportunity of a lifetime,” he said, “It’s really unlike anything I’ve ever done so far, and it only happens every four years.”

While he’s currently living in Cleveland, Ninio remains connected to GW. He was recently elected to serve as a member at large on the GW Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Zachary Quinn, who is currently a candidate for a master’s in Middle East studies, joined the convention team after working for Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush’s campaign in Miami.

During the convention, Zachary will work backstage in the official proceedings department. It’s been an exciting time to be involved, he said, and he enjoys the challenge afforded by long days of preparation.

“It changes on a daily basis. That’s actually one of the things I love about it,” Zachary said. “You come into work every day, and you’re prepared, but you get thrown curve balls, and you got to kind of handle those.”

Audrey Scagnelli said it has been fun to see how much the venue changes—from a basketball court to a hockey rink, and in July, when the setting morphs into the stage for the long-awaited political convention.

As the national press secretary, Audrey has been busy speaking with reporters and relaying convention plans. For her, the next few months mean little sleep and a lot of Diet Coke.

“We’re hard at work here planning for what those days in July will look like,” she said.

Gabriella Morrone had been working as an intern for the House Republican Conference when her supervisor left for Cleveland to help with convention preparation. She asked her if Gabriella were interested in a role in the convention host city.

The dual degree student is expecting to graduate in December, but for now she works as an intern on the convention’s media affairs team. So far her favorite part of the job has been meeting new people.

Gabriella said she looks forward to returning to school in the fall 2016 to enjoy her last semester at GW. She plans to continue working toward her master’s degree after graduation and wants to eventually work in communications on Capitol Hill or at a strategic communications firm.

“I am working in a new city with people who are from all around the country, who are my age and who are working toward the same goal,” she said. “It is a special experience.”

—Kristen Mitchell

Attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 18-21? Join your fellow Colonials at a special reception on July 19. GW alumni attending the Democratic National Convention July 25-28 in Philadelphia are invited to a special reception on July 26. Register today!

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