Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, December 6, 2012

News from alumni and friends

Buff Wright


Elizabeth "Buff" Wright, 1981, is assistant vice president and secretary to the Board of Trustees of the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences (a Claremont College) in Claremont, California. In addition to her master's degree in public policy and administration, Wright has a law degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is planning a school of biopharmacy to open in 2014 pending accreditation.

John J. Rohrer, 1987, has been promoted to associate director/chief operating officer, William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison.


After heading the World Bank's urban and water work in Vietnam for four years, Dean Cira, 1990, has moved to Nairobi, Kenya, to lead the World Bank's urban programs in Africa. "Africa is among the world's fastest urbanizing regions, challenged broadly by weak governance and nascent trends in decentralization and devolution," Cira says. In addition, the World Bank gave him this year's Mentor of the Year award for his work in mentoring younger World Bank staff.

Frances Huntley-Cooper

Frances Huntley-Cooper, 1994, was re-elected in July to serve another year as Chair of the Madison College Board of Trustees. She was elected to be a delegate to the National Democratic Convention and attended the September 2-6 official activities in Charlotte, North Carolina.


Kevin Luecke, 2009, is a transportation planner at Toole Design Group in Madison. TDG is a multimodal planning and design firm based in Silver Spring, Maryland, with offices in Boston, Seattle and Madison. His work focuses on making communities safe, accessible and attractive for people traveling on foot, by bike and on transit.

Bill Schmitt returned to Afghanistan in June as the country representative for Catholic Relief Services. The agency's program focuses on community-based education, natural resource management and agriculture livelihoods in some of the most remote parts of the country. Schmitt earned a Master of International Public Affairs in 2005 and joined CRS in 2006. He has served in a number of countries, including Sudan, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Haiti.

Bridge and groom walking through Capitol doorway.

Anniversary celebrated

Julia Anderson-Vedejs and John Vander Meer, 2006, celebrated their first anniversary in August. Bobs attending their wedding at the Wisconsin Capitol included 2006 alumni Craig Johnson, Jeff Sartin, Emily Pope, and Karyn (Kriz) and Rob Dall'Asta; plus Kate Battiato, 2007; and Jonathan McBride, 2010. Vander Meer is communications director of the Wisconsin Health Care Association and the Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living.

Mary Reddin retired from Milwaukee County's Information Management Services Department and is starting a photography business with her husband, photographer Jon Reddin. "We mat and frame his photos and offer them for sale at art fairs around Wisconsin," she says. "Learning how to get a business going is challenging. You can 'Like' Jon Reddin Photography on Facebook or check out our website to see how we are doing." In 2004, Reddin completed the Wisconsin Women in Government seminar the La Follette School offers in partnership with the bipartisan organization of the same name.

Tori Key, 2005, has been promoted to manager with Grant Thornton's Global Public Sector practice based in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C.

Ceri Jenkins, 2003, began a position as a senior associate at the Center on Wisconsin Strategy this spring, working on urban policy projects. "I help coordinate the Mayors Innovation Project, a national policy learning network for progressive mayors," she reports.

Ryan Schowalter, 2012, is evaluation manager with City Year Los Angeles.

Lydia Bi is a sustainability analyst with InnoCSR, a management consultancy in Shanghai that specializes in corporate social responsibility. Bi manages the Fortune CSR Ranking 2013 project, a China-focused annual ranking of multinational and Chinese companies based on their corporate social responsibility performance that will be published in the Fortune China magazine in its March 2013 issue. She earned a double degree in urban and regional planning and in international public affairs in 2011.

Alissa Quade, 2012, is now an Epic health-care software consultant with Vonlay in Madison.

Baby wearing onsie that says: Analyst in Training.

Future Bob

Lucy Clark Amoroso models a onesie made by Alexis MacDonald, 2008, at a baby shower for Kate (Clark) Amoroso, 2007. The two alumni are health policy analysts with the U.S. Government Accountability Office in Washington, D.C. Amoroso reports that Lucy arrived four weeks ahead of schedule, but that "other than being on the thin side, her early arrival hasn't phased her a bit."

Andrew Trembley, 2011, will be among the alumni and faculty presenting at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management conference November 8-10 in Baltimore. He will present a poster called "Serving Two Masters: Profits, Outreach and Size In Community Development Financial Institutions." He encourages other Bobs to stop by his session, 10-11:30 a.m. on November 9. Trembley is a consultant with the World Bank and works on its education team.

Daniel Bush, 2009, is a data analyst with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, working on school accountability, college readiness and postsecondary outcomes. He and his wife, Becky, welcomed their daughter Leah this spring.

Megan Stritchko, 2009, is now an executive policy and budget analyst with the Wisconsin Department of Administration.

Hope Harvey, 2012, is starting on her doctorate in sociology and social policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Jason Kramer, 2012, is a policy and economics researcher at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention.

Dane County contract compliance officer Wesley Sparkman, 2000, is the new president of the Madison chapter of Rotary International. With 500 members, the group is the eighth-largest Rotary chapter in the world.

Holly Bedwell, 2009, is now senior director for research, policy and strategic planning with New York City's Department of Education.

Carly Hood, 2012, is a population health service fellow at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Population Health Institute.

2012 grad Nicki Thiher returned to her undergraduate alma mater, Coe College, as a full- time economics professor. "My official title is 'visiting assistant professor of economics,'" she says. "It should be a fun year!"

The Milwaukee Common Council unanimously confirmed Jennifer Gonda's appointment in July 2012 to join Mayor Tom Barrett's cabinet as the city's director of intergovernmental relations. She has been with the city of Milwaukee since she completed her Master of Public Affairs degree in 2001.

Emanda Thomas, 2004, earned her Ph.D. in educational policy and administration from the University of Minnesota in the spring. Her dissertation examined the evolving role of state departments of education as agents for educational change. She has been a research associate at WestEd in Washington, D.C., since 2009.

This compendium appears in the fall 2012 La Follette Notes newsletter for alumni and friends.