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Meet the Board

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The School of Public Policy Alumni Chapter Board represents an expansive network of more than 3,000 SPP alumni.

Through professional development events, community service programs, social activities and support of the School’s various academic initiatives, the alumni network plays an integral role in advancing our mission. Join us at an alumni event or contact us to learn more about getting involved.

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Policy Dialogues discusses current events through a policy lens, featuring a diverse range of SPP alumni.

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headshot of Hugo Cantu
 
Senior Legislative Aide

Montgomery County Council

LinkedIn

 

Hugo E. Cantu was elected to the Alumni Board in June 2020 for a two-year term. He graduated in May 2020 with a B.A. in Public Policy and a minor in Real Estate Development, making Cantu the first president of the SPP alumni board to graduate from the undergraduate program. He is a member of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), Engagement, and Steering committee. Cantu also holds an associate's degree in Business Administration from Montgomery College. In his time at the University of Maryland, Cantu has served as a public policy ambassador, an orientation advisor, and an executive board member and co-founder of the UMD public policy professional fraternity, Kappa Omega Alpha. He served on the Presidential Transfer Committee for President Darryl Pines as a member of the University Relations and Communications, and Alumni Association subcommittee. Formerly policy director to Prince George’s County Council Chair Tom Dernoga, he now serves as senior legislative aide to Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando. In his free time, Cantu enjoys cooking, reading and watching sports.  

 

headshot of Colleen Cooke
 
Technical Accounts Manager

ROI Solutions

LinkedIn

 

Colleen Cooke joined the Alumni Board in June 2023 for a two-year team. She is a double-alum of the University of Maryland, graduating in 2015 with an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science & Policy and a graduate degree in Public Policy in 2019. During her time in SPP, Cooke was heavily involved with the Do Good Institute, serving as a philanthropy fellow, teaching assistant and TIAA nonprofit leadership fellow. Since then, she has remained a huge cheerleader for the School of Public Policy and connecting students and alumni with professional opportunities.

In her own career, Cooke has dabbled in the programs, operations, grant-making and consulting aspects of nonprofit work. She recently joined a nonprofit technology services company, ROI Solutions, and is excited to help its nonprofit partners innovate and grow. Outside of working hours, she enjoys spending time with her people and pets, taking on too many DIY projects, fostering animals and staying involved in local community groups.

 

headshot of E. Jonathan Garcia
 
Senior Research Associate

National Academy of Public Administration

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Jonathan Garcia joined the School of Public Policy Alumni Board in June 2022 for a 2-year term. Jonathan graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy, a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, and a minor in Law and Society. After graduating, Garcia joined the National Academy of Public Administration as a Research Associate. In his role, Garcia conducts organizational assessments and researches diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility and belonging initiatives in higher education, local government and federal government. During his time at UMD, Garcia was a Resident Assistant, Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Policy Student Government Association, Director of Recruitment of the premier public policy professional fraternity Kappa Omega Alpha (Gamma Chapter), Images Tour Guide, teacher assistant, peer mentor for La Familia, and member of NAACP, NRHH, Lavender Leadership Honor Society and Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society. In his free time, Garcia involves himself in grassroots efforts to provide translation services and teach technological literacy to Spanish-speaking communities. Garcia enjoys improv, dancing, reading fantasy books, and watching A24 films.

 

headshot of Jessica Messier
 
Energy Program Specialist

U.S. Navy's Energy Security Program Office

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Jessica Messier, formerly Frech, serves as Past President on the School of Public Policy Alumni Chapter Board and is SPP’s Representative on the UMD Alumni Association Board of Governors. Messier served as President of the SPP Alumni Chapter Board from July 2019 to July 2021. She graduated from the School of Public Policy’s graduate school in May 2019 with a Masters of Public Policy focused on energy and environmental policy and holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Resource Economics. During her time in the graduate program, Messier served as the Policy Student Government Association’s Service Director and the Co-President of the SPP Environmental Council. She also held a research assistant position with the Center for Global Sustainability. Before beginning the program, Messier worked in the solar industry for three years as a market and pricing analyst. During her last semester in school and post graduation, Messier worked as an energy management analyst for the City of Alexandria, VA. Currently, Messier works for the United States Navy’s Energy Security Program Office as an energy program specialist.

headshot of Clayton Noble
 
Operations Officer

United States Army

LinkedIn

 

Clayton Noble joined the School of Public Policy Alumni Board in June 2023 for a 2-year term. Noble graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy and a minor in Army Leadership Studies. After graduating, Noble began his service as an army officer. His current assignment is at Fort Myer in Arlington, VA. During his time at UMD, Noble was the founding president of Sigma Alpha Mu, an on-campus social fraternity; vice president of the Interfraternity Council; and leadership development facilitator for the Terrapin Leadership Institute. During his free time, Noble enjoys playing rugby, kickball and ultimate frisbee.

 

 

headshot of Colin Olson
 
Competitive Intelligence Analyst

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

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Colin Olson was elected to the Alumni Board as an At-Large member for a two-year term in June 2023. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a Master of Public Policy degree in 2021 with focuses in international development and energy policy. In addition to his MPP from the University of Maryland, Olson holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Security from the University of Oklahoma, graduating magna cum laude. 

Olson is currently a competitive intelligence analyst at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. He previously completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Denmark, working with policymakers on sustainable transitions in the Danish energy sector. Olson's research in Denmark was the culmination of several years of sustainable development policy work at the UN Environment Programme, the World Resources Institute and UMD’s Center for Global Sustainability. Colin has also worked as a policy director in the Maryland General Assembly, working on small business development, clean energy policy and Maryland’s innovation economy. 

Olson spends his free time sneaking his miniature dachshund, Lincoln, into stores and restaurants in DC. He is an avid kayaker and Oklahoma football fanatic.

 

 

headshot of Selena Rawlley
 
Manager of Engagement

The Arc Central Chesapeake Region

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Selena Raj Rawlley is a strategic political, government, nonprofit and public affairs advisor with a passion for feminist policy. Currently, she serves as the manager of engagement at The Arc Central Chesapeake Region. Previously, she served as the special advisor to Comptroller Brooke Lierman. Additionally, Rawlley spent three years at the Maryland General Assembly, working her way up from being an intern to a legislative director to the chief of staff for Delegate Sara Love. As the Campaign Manager for Delegate Love, Rawlley created, organized and led StandUp MD, a pro-choice mobilization fellowship program designed to help elect pro-choice candidates across the state. Her previous internship experiences include the United Nations Foundation, AARP and Banyan Global Consulting. Rawlley holds both a Master of Public Policy and a B.A. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland. She is the co-chair of the Communications Committee on the School of Public Policy Alumni Board.

headshot of Becky Rosansky
 
Master of Public Administration Candidate

University of Southern California

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Becky Rosansky joined the UMD SPP Alumni Board in June 2023 for a two-year term and serves on the Engagement Committee. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Maryland in the second-ever graduating class of undergraduate public policy majors. While she was a student, Rosansky was heavily involved in student leadership on campus. She served on two Student Senate committees, the Stamp Advisory Board, co-chaired Hillel’s Committee for Jewish Collaboration, was the inaugural SPP representative to the SGA and helped to create the SPP Dean’s Student Advisory Board. Rosansky was also a Rawlings Fellow and the first undergraduate to join UMD’s chapter of the Pi Alpha Alpha honors society. During the summer of 2017, Rosansky interned with the Dean and Director of Undergraduate Studies to help create opportunities for students joining the new major.

After receiving her B.A. in Public Policy, Rosansky worked for 2.5 years at the National Housing Trust. She is currently living in Los Angeles and working toward a Master of Public Administration at the University of Southern California to further her mission of growing the availability of affordable housing in the U.S. She interns at the Price School’s Homelessness Policy Research Institute and volunteers on the boards of Mentorship for an Accessible Price and the Graduate Policy and Administration Community. In her free time, she and her fiancé foster kittens with a local animal rescue.

 

headshot of Andrew Stover
 
National Grants Coordinator

America Votes

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Andrew Stover began serving on the Alumni Board in July 2022. Stover was one of the first students to be in the undergraduate public policy program the first semester it was offered, and he graduated from the University of Maryland in December 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy and a minor in American History. During his time at UMD, Stover was involved with campus organizing and voter registration through MaryPIRG as well as the Student Government Association (SGA). In SGA, Stover served as Denton Community Representative and was later elected as Vice President of Financial Affairs, where he oversaw the distribution of student fee money to student organizations on campus. He also served on the Student Facilities Committee, which distributed money to important facilities projects on campus and during his final semester served as Student Fee Coordinator for the SGA where he advocated for lower costs for students. After college, Stover joined the Judiciary Committee staff for the Maryland General Assembly and went on to serve as legislative director for Delegate Jon Cardin. Most recently, Stover joined America Votes as its national grant coordinator where he administers a grant program geared towards voter engagement and progressive causes while simultaneously pursuing a master's degree in public financial management from the University of Kentucky. In his free time, he enjoys watching the Nationals, cooking and reading. He currently lives in DC with his girlfriend Steffi and their cat, Piper.

headshot of Kaylan Swartz
 
Director of Legislative and Public Affairs

USAID Office of the Inspector General

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Kaylan Swartz earned her master’s degree in international development from the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland in 2014, and graduated magna cum laude from La Salle University in 2008 where she earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and was a member of the Division I lacrosse team. Swartz has worked in the inspector general community since 2018, working as the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction and the Department of Defense inspector general prior to her current role. Swartz also spent three years in the United States Senate where she worked on defense, foreign policy and energy policy issues. Prior to that, she lived and worked at Uppingham School in the United Kingdom where she taught American government and politics. Swartz also has political campaign and polling experience. Swartz lives in Crofton, Maryland with her husband Charlie and son Clark. In her free time she is a part-time CrossFit coach and likes playing board games, exercising, playing fantasy football and of course watching Terps sports.

 

headshot of Delisha Thompson
 
Princeton in Asia Fellow; University Professor

Donghai University, Taichung, Taiwan

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Delisha Thompson completed the MPP degree in spring 2018, and her B.A. in Government and Politics with a concentration in East Asian Studies at the University of Maryland in spring 2014. Thompson serves on the School of Public Policy Alumni Chapter Board’s Marketing and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committees. During her time at the School of Public Policy, she was the lead graduate assistant for the College Park Scholars Public Leadership Program. She taught undergraduate capstone courses and collaborated with students to create social advocacy projects. She also mentored and supervised five capstone teams of 28 students. One of her student groups, Kicks 4 Kids, won $1,000 prize for their project. Thompson also worked with SPARC on their #30DaysTooLate campaign, which aimed to shine a light on inadequacies in mental health care on UMD’s campus. SPARC won 2nd place in the Do Good Challenge in Spring 18 with research provided by Thompson’s capstone project. Thompson’s master's capstone focused on improving mental health policy at the University of Maryland; she worked with Resident Life and the University Health Center to provide policy recommendations to College Park Scholars for how to improve mental health resiliency in their students. Currently, Thompson works as a Princeton in Asia fellow at Donghai University. She functions as both a cultural ambassador and an English/history teacher.

headshot of James Turner
 
Policy Analyst

Baltimore City Department of Transportation

LinkedIn

 

 

​​James Turner Jr. joined the UMD SPP Alumni Board in June 2023 for a two-year term. He graduated with a Bachelor’s of Art in Public Policy in May 2022. During his time at SPP, Turner focused on writing papers concerning black wealth through homeownership and other programs, minority community development and other persistent issues surrounding uplifting marginalized communities. During his senior year, Turner was selected for the 2021 Mayoral Fellowship cohort under the newly elected Brandon M. Scott Administration. Assigned to the Baltimore City Department of Transportation (BCDOT), Turner leveraged knowledge learned at SPP and applied it in real time to serve the citizens of Baltimore. 

Currently, as a policy analyst for BCDOT, Turner has taken support roles in the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Commission and the Board of Licensing for Towing Services. He has led the reworking of the city’s traffic calming policy, breaking down barriers to make city streets safer. He has led efforts to institutionalize the popular COVID-19 outdoor dining program for local businesses. Turner leads the Play Streets Pilot Program and is working on creating an inclusive policy program for access to Electric Vehicle Chargers.  He is an avid Ravens fan. He loves to read, write and talk about the biggest politics, culture and policy issues we face today. Lastly, Turner loves to throw down in the kitchen and celebrate his cultures through food.

 

headshot of Kurt Turnier
 
Grant Program Manager - YouthBuild

Rockville Housing Enterprises

LinkedIn

 

Kurt Turnier began serving on the School of Public Policy Alumni Board for a two-year term in July 2022. He graduated from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy with a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management & Leadership. While completing the program, Turnier served as a member of the NASPA: Region II – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education Public Policy Work Group where he recruited policy experts for monthly panels that advanced regional members' interest in public policy. Upon graduation from UMD, Turnier secured a summer internship as a research  and development intern at Joe’s Movement Emporium where he established a marketing strategy for intentional donor outreach and conducted research on improving literacy development strategies among students of color ages 5 – 24. Recently, he served as a program coordinator at the Montgomery County Collaboration Council where he supported the procurement, contract compliance and fiscal management of 20+ public and private service provider delivering services such as out-of-school time programs and job readiness training to young adults experiencing housing insecurity. Currently, he manages a YouthBuild grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to provide workforce development programming to youth in and surrounding Montgomery County, MD.

Holding identities as a first-generation Haitian-American and college graduate, Turnier comes to UMD School of Public Policy Alumni Board transitioning from a career in higher education administration and into education policy. He has led various bridge programs aiding first generation, low-income high school graduates into college matriculation and career exploration; created initiatives supporting the retention of collegiate students holding marginalized identities; along with identifying and dismantling factors leading to attrition for these communities. Personally, Turnier enjoys traveling, watching sports, and exploring beaches, hiking trails and the menus of restaurants.

 

headshot of Amanda Woodson
 
Hospital Partnerships and Underserved Communities Manager

Amputee Coalition

LinkedIn

 

Amanda Woodson joined the School of Public Policy Alumni Board in June 2022 for a 2-year term. Woodson graduated from the University of Maryland College Park with a Bachelor of Arts in a dual major of Public Policy and Government & Politics with concentrations in International Relations and Foreign Policy.  During her time at Maryland, she was a member of the University of Maryland pre-law chapter of Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity. She served as co-president of the University of Maryland chapter of the Roosevelt Network. She is a proud alumni of the University of Maryland Global Communities living learning program. Woodson has gained valuable experience at the Amputee Coalition, where she initially served as government relations specialist and later took on the role of hospital partnership and underserved communities manager. In her free time, Woodson enjoys volunteering as a member of the Junior League of Annapolis, experimenting in the kitchen with new recipes, and spending time with family and friends.