Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Friday, August 13, 2021

Alumni News - August 2021

Vaughn Vance (MA/JD ’98), Amanada Hejna (MPA ’19), Benjamin Olneck-Brown (MPA ’20) Vaughn Vance (MA/JD ’98), Amanada Hejna (MPA ’19), Benjamin Olneck-Brown (MPA ’20)

Tony Carroll (MA ’80) joined the advisory board of the Presidential Precinct, a collaboration between the University of Virginia, the College of William & Mary, and the presidential homes and foundations for Presidents Madison, Monroe, and Jefferson. The Precinct supports youth leadership training across the globe. Carroll is a director at Acorus Capital and an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. 

Vaughn Vance (MA/JD ’98) was named executive director of the WEA Trust and president and CEO of WEA Insurance Corporation, Health Tradition Health Plan, Inc., and NeuGen, LLC. After joining the WEA Trust in 2005 as an external affairs specialist, he served in several executive leadership positions, including most recently vice president and general counsel. 

Ben Winig (MPA, JD ’04) launched ThinkForward Strategies, a consulting firm in the San Francisco Bay Area, in 2020. Previously, he was vice president of law and policy at ChangeLab Solutions, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to building healthy and equitable communities. In March, he co-authored Preemption, Public Health, and Equity in the Time of COVID-19 for the COVID-19 Policy Playbook, published by Public Health Law Watch.

Nate Inglis Steinfeld (MPA, JD ’12) joined the State of Illinois Cannabis Regulation Oversight Office as deputy oversight officer for research and data earlier this year. The office is tasked with monitoring and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as facilitating coordination across state government. Inglis Steinfeld previously served as research director for the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council. 

Megan Loritz (MPA ’13) joined Optum as associate director of network pricing. She previously was a senior healthcare economics consultant for UnitedHealth Group. Optum, a health services and innovation company, is part of the UnitedHealth family of businesses. 

Nick Lardinois (MPA ’16) began a new position as executive budget officer for Minnesota Management and Budget. He previously served as a fiscal analyst for the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau and as a performance evaluator at the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau.  

Drew Curtis (MPA ’16) was promoted to senior researcher at DVP-PRAXIS, a higher education consulting firm specializing in mixed-method formative and summative evaluation services to inform program implementation and measure impact. He previously worked for the Wisconsin Center for Education Research and joined DVP in May 2017. 

Ken Smith (MPA, URPL ’17) wrote The Long Shadow of the Cold War: Milwaukee’s Civil Defense Program in the Spring 2021 issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History. Smith is a research and policy analyst in Milwaukee County’s Office of the Comptroller

Chris Meyers (MPA ’18) was promoted to manager at Grant Thornton Public Sector. He joined Grant Thornton in July 2018 as an associate and now manages a team of 10 employees supporting a law enforcement client. 

Amanada Hejna (MPA ’19) was a guest on FedHeads, a podcast by Grant Thornton by and for government geeks. Hejna, a senior associate at Grant Thornton, spoke about the ins and outs of federal strategic planning, especially how to drive behavioral and cultural change in federal agencies. “It can’t be a tack-on. … It has to be baked in from day one to build stakeholder buy-in,” she said.  

Natalie Weill (MPA ’20) accepted a new position as public health policy advisor for the Vermont Department of Health. A registered nurse, Weill previously was a public health nurse for immunizations and epidemiology.  

Benjamin Olneck-Brown (MPA ’20) joined the Pew Charitable Trusts and works on the Evidence Project, which focuses on building funding capacity and scholar-funder-policymaker connections around evidence-based policymaking.