Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Stone scholars gain skills to improve public policy

Recent Stone scholars Miranda Ehrlich, Eric Hepler, Beth Miller, and Sara Nowakowski gather at the La Follette School's alumni and friends reception February 2, 2017. Recent Stone scholars Miranda Ehrlich, Eric Hepler, Beth Miller, and Sara Nowakowski gather at the La Follette School's alumni and friends reception February 2, 2017.

Since 2005, almost 40 students have benefitted from Mark Stone’s generous donations to the La Follette School of Public Affairs. Stone, who lives in Illinois, has given several gifts to the La Follette School over the past 10 years to help graduate students gain the skills needed to improve the lives of people in the United States through public service.

“I remember exactly where I was when I received the phone call about the scholarship, and I knew then that I’d be attending the La Follette School,” said Lindsay Read (MPA ’09). “It was an emotional moment.”

Stone Scholars

Johanna Dolle (MPA ’16)
Ann Drazkowski (MPA ’15)
Aaron Dumas (MPA/JD ’15)
Miranda Ehrlich, MPA
Ben Emmel (MPA ’15)
Joe Fontaine (MPA ’08)
Hope Harvey (MPA ’12)
Andria Hayes-Birchler (MIPA ’08)
Eric Hepler, MPA
Shaun Hernandez (MPA ’12)
Mark Japinga (MPA ’16)
Adam Johnson (MPA ’16)
Ben Jones (MPA ’08)
Elgin Karls, MPA
Nicole Kibble (MPA ’09)
Brandon Lamson (MPA ’07)
Chad Laurie, MPA
Joanna Marks (MPA ’10)
Ben McCready (MPA ’10)
Beth Miller, MPA
Mia Nafziger, MPA
Sara Nowakowski, MPA
Max Pardo, MPA
Michael Pearson (MPA ’16)
Lindsay Read (MPA ’09)
Sophia Rogers, MPA
Ryan Schowalter (MPA ’12)
Katie Schumacher (MPA/JD ’12)
Maria Serakos (MPA ’16)
Travis Shoemaker, MPA
Daniel A. Smith (MIPA ’13)
Matt van Buren (MPA ’15)
Aaron Varner (MPA ’09)
Demetri Vincze (MPA ’16)
Andrew Walsh (MPA ’13)
Scott Williams (MPA ’10)
John Winters, MPA

Read was working in Washington, D.C., when she decided to pursue a master’s degree in public affairs and was undecided about attending graduate school there or in her home state.

“The Stone Scholarship basically tipped the scale in favor of attending La Follette,” said Read, a research analyst for Mathematica Policy Research, a nonpartisan research organization dedicated to improving public well-being.

Like Read, several Stone scholars had already begun their careers when they decided to advance their education. Scott Williams (MPA ’10) said the merit-based scholarship gave him the peace of mind to pursue a major career change.

“Without the scholarship, it would have been more difficult to make that transition,” said Williams, who also received bachelor degrees from UW–Madison, where he is the Wisconsin Energy Institute’s research and education coordinator. “The scholarship gave me more freedom to explore my interests and career options while attending graduate school.”

La Follette School Director Don Moynihan said Stone’s donations have a profound impact on recruiting high-caliber students from a wide geographic area and with diverse interests.

“Another important aspect is the opportunity for students to serve as project assistants (PAs) with distinguished faculty members who are conducting research that informs critical public policy and governance debates and advances evidence-based decision-making,” Moynihan said. “We greatly appreciate Mr. Stone’s commitment to sound public policy and to the training of public-sector leaders.”

Current student Miranda Ehrlich said the scholarship made it possible to attend her first choice for pursuing a master’s degree in public affairs. “It has allowed me to pursue volunteer opportunities that I am passionate about,” she said. “In particular, I have started a debate team at Madison East High School and have an internship with the Clean Lakes Alliance, a local nonprofit organization.”

Joe Fontaine – one of the first students to receive a Stone Scholarship – is the Focus on Energy performance manager at the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin and a citizen member of the city of Monona’s Police and Fire Commission. “My La Follette experience has been essential for starting a career in state government and helping me make an impact in that career,” said Fontaine (MPA ’08).

Since his first gift in December 2005, Stone has visited campus several times and met with students who have benefitted from his generosity, including Max Pardo, another second-year student.

“I was honored to receive the Stone Scholarship and humbled to meet Mr. Stone during his visit,” said Pardo, who received his bachelor’s degree in global studies summa cum laude from Arizona State University.

“The scholarship allowed me to give my full focus to academics,” added Pardo, who is collecting and preparing data for replication and re-analysis projects as a PA with La Follette Professor Jason Fletcher. “I hope to pay respect to Mr. Stone’s gift in the nature and quality of the work that I do.”

Stone, an avid reader and traveler, believes strongly in the La Follette School’s efforts to develop the next generation of highly trained public leaders.

“Good public policy depends on good people going into government service,” said Stone, who has given $315,000 to the La Follette School for student aid since 2005. “From my very first experience with the La Follette School decades ago, I have been deeply impressed by the dedication of its faculty, students, and staff to improving the lives of others.”