Alumni news – April 2023

Photos of alumni Dylan Helmenstine, Stephanie Murray, and Lisa Ellinger
From left to right: Dylan Helmenstine (MPA ‘22), Stephanie Murray (MPA ’18), and Lisa Ellinger (MPA ’03)

Lisa Ellinger (MPA ’03) started a new position as director of strategic initiatives at the La Follette School in January. In her new role, Ellinger will provide guidance and oversight for strategic projects such as exploring a new undergraduate major in public policy and a new facility for the school. Ellinger initially returned to her alma mater in December 2019 as outreach director. In this role funded by the Kohl Initiative, she led the school’s far-reaching efforts to expand its outreach mission, leading a team of outreach, legislative policy, and communications professionals. Ellinger previously served as vice president of public policy for the Wisconsin Hospital Association and led the Office of Strategic Health Policy at the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds.

Stephanie Murray (MPA ’18) wrote an article for the Atlantic titled The Catch-22 for Working Parents about the requirement in the U.S. that parents work in order to receive aid and the lack of resources that allow parents to work. Murray works as a freelance journalist, and in addition to the Atlantic, she has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, TIME, the Guardian, and FiveThirtyEight. As an MPA student, she won the Penniman Prize for the best paper demonstrating the school’s writing and analytic tools.

Abby Swetz (MPA ’19) was quoted in a Madison Magazine article about active-shooter drills in Wisconsin schools. Swetz campaigns for increased youth participation in the world of education policy as communications director for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Previously, she worked as a communications specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and as a middle school teacher.

Amanda Hejna (MPA ’19) started a new position as managing consultant at Management Science & Innovation. Previously, Hejna was a senior associate at Guidehouse. While completing her MPA, she worked as a policy liaison at the Wisconsin Language Roadmap Initiative.

Lauri Luosta (MIPA ’21) presented his research at the Atlanta Workshop on Public Policy and Child Well-Being in March. Luosta is currently pursuing a PhD in consumer behavior and family economics at the UW–Madison School of Human Ecology. His research interests include family policy, poverty, issues of domestic violence, substance abuse, and crime. Currently, he is working with La Follette School Professor J. Michael Collins to provide experimental evidence on the effectiveness of the Money Matters online financial education program.

Dylan Helmenstine (MPA ‘22) was elected to the Wisconsin Heights School Board. Helmenstine works as a health care rate analyst in the Bureau of Rate Setting, Division of Medicaid Services at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, where he conducts analysis and program improvement for the state’s Medicaid waiver program.

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