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GAO Day at the School of Public Policy

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Four images of GAO employees/students visiting GAO, text reads "GAO Day at SPP"

The U.S. Government Accountability Office and the School of Public Policy invite policy students to join us as we celebrate our longstanding partnership, while learning more about the organization and its opportunities from leadership and SPP alumni.

The event will consist of an opening discussion with The Honorable Gene L. Dodaro, eighth Comptroller General of the United States and head of the GAO, and SPP Dean Robert C. Orr, followed by two panel discussions.

Attend the event to:

  • Hear about working at GAO from current employees
  • Find out how the careers of SPP alumni led them to GAO
  • Learn more about GAO’s culture of diversity and inclusion
  • Explore the range of policy topics that GAO covers - from healthcare to information technology, and more.

GAO Day is open to all students interested in a career in policy at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear directly from alumni about their experiences building interesting and impactful careers at GAO!

Panel Discussion 1 will feature a group of leaders from across the topical areas that GAO focuses on:

Alfredo Gomez headshot
Alfredo Gomez
Director, Natural Resources and Environment team
Nikki Clowers headshot
Nikki Clowers
Managing Director, Health Care team
Jackie Nowicki headshot
Jackie Nowicki
Director, Education, Workforce, Income Security team (earned her Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Maryland’s School of Public Affairs)
Valerie Melvin headshot
Valerie Melvin
Managing Director, Information Technology and Cybersecurity team (earned a master’s degree with a concentration in management information systems and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Maryland)

Panel Discussion 2 will feature SPP alumni with roles at GAO, with a focus on how they made use of their SPP degrees:

  • Jonathan Ferguson
    Analyst, GAO
    Ferguson is currently an analyst at GAO, having completed rotations through the Agency's Homeland Security and Justice, Defense Capabilities and Management, and Strategic Issues teams. He is awaiting permanent placement in one of those teams. Jonathan has additional experience as a judicial law clerk and litigation attorney, and budget analyst at the state and local level. He is a 2013 graduate from the School of Public Policy. He received his BA from the University of Maryland in 2003 and a JD from Duquesne University in 2007.
  • Laurie Chin
    Senior Analyst, GAO
    Laurie is a senior analyst in GAO’s Health Care team, where she works in the public health portfolio. Prior to landing in the Health Care team, she worked in the Education Workforce and Income Security team, the Financial Markets and Community Investment team, and the Forensic Audits and Investigative Service team. She joined GAO as an intern in 2017. Laurie obtained her master’s degree from University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy in 2017 with a specialization in social policy. Prior to grad school, she served as the legislative director for a Maryland state delegate in the Maryland General Assembly.
  • Tonnye Conner-White
    Homeland Security and Justice Assistant Director, GAO
    Tonnye’ is an Assistant Director in GAO’s Homeland Security and Justice team in the agency’s Atlanta field office. She joined GAO in 2002 in the PDP program after graduating from University of Maryland’s School of Public Affairs. She’s worked in a variety of areas within GAO, including U.S. Postal Service issues and regulation, workers’ compensation, and budget issues. Initially with GAO’s DC/headquarters office (2002-2012), she left GAO in 2012 to work as a specialist and manager with the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General. Since returning to GAO in 2014, she has worked in the justice and law enforcement portfolio on issues including vulnerable populations, Native American justice issues––in particular, youth and missing/murdered Indigenous women––drug-related law enforcement investigations and prosecutions work, and prison issues. Tonnye’ likes to say she’s a “recovering attorney.” Prior to moving to DC in 1999, she was an attorney in Atlanta after graduating from the University of Georgia’s law school in ’97 (Go, Dawgs!). As a law student she was a Ford Foundation fellowship recipient selected to join the UN International Law Fellowship Programme in The Hague, The Netherlands. She received her BA from Wake Forest University in ‘94. When she’s not working, and when she and her family aren’t attending home college football games in the fall, a sunny weekend can find her playing a round of golf with her husband and daughter, often getting beat by both. She has served as Chair of the Board of Directors for Children’s Fund, a nonprofit based in DC, for over 13 years, and she and her husband currently work with the Athens Area Homeless Shelter. The rest of her time is consumed with agility training for the family’s rescue pup and working on the next great American novel.
  • Shakira O'Neil
    Training Administrator - Manager of Operations Training, GAO
    Shakira O’Neil is a Training Administrator in GAO’s Learning Center, where she currently manages all training for GAO’s Operations staff. Prior to this, Shakira worked as a Senior Analyst in GAO’s International Affairs and Trade team and has had the pleasure of working on a wide range of topics that include: China WTO issues, African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade issues, and U.S. efforts to combat wildlife trafficking. Prior to GAO, she has worked with several private sector companies as well as interned with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), General Motors in China, and the U.S Embassy in China. Shakira earned a master’s degree from the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy in 2002 and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Clark Atlanta University in 1998.
  • Sara Younes
    Analyst, GAO
    Sara is an analyst in GAO’s professional development program (PDP), where she has worked in the Contracting and National Security Acquisitions (CNSA) team, Financial Markets and Community Investment (FMCI) team, and Education, Workforce, and Income Security (EWIS) team. Sara joined GAO as an intern in 2018. She earned her Masters of Public Policy with a specialization in international security and economic policy from the University of Maryland in 2019. Before the University of Maryland, Sara served five years in various roles for the United States Senate, including in constituent service centers as an intern, the Senate Aging Committee as a staff assistant, and U.S. Senator Susan Collins’s personal office as the correspondence director.

About GAO
Often called the “congressional watchdog,” GAO examines how taxpayer dollars are spent and provides Congress and federal agencies with objective, reliable information to help the government save money and work more efficiently. The Partnership for Public Service has consistently named GAO as one of the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government.


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