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Alumni News

The Department of Political Science wants to hear from you today!

Recently, we have heard that:

Bihter TomenBihter Tomen (PhD '15) is an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Charles DistefanoCharles Distefano (PhD '16) is an instructor at Southeast Missouri Hospital College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Todd Dugan (MPA '16) is the Airport Manager at Pekin Municipal Airport, Pekin, IL.

Michelle Rich Platt (MPA '14) is an Admissions and Outreach Specialist at Edmonds Community College in Edmonds, Washington.

Jourdan Darensbourg (MPA '16) is a Realty Specialist in the U.S. General Services Administration. He writes: "Great agency. I enjoy what I do and would love to see fellow Salukis in the office. So if you are interested, look into Pathways for future opportunities.

Maria Cristina Fontes Lima (MPA '96) is a lawyer and Public Manager. She writes: "20 years after my graduation as an MPA from SIUC, I want to witness how important it was for me to get that degree. It helped me in my career as a public manager, added both practical approaches and broader vision of public management scope and tools, and made a difference in the functions I performed as a member of three successive Cabo Verde governments from 2001 to 2016."

Rosario Escalera (MPA '13) is a Staff Attorney at the State's Appellate Prosecutor's office 4th District. She writes: "I graduated from SIU School of Law in 2016 and was just hired as a staff attorney in the appellate prosecutor's office in Springfield. I also recently got married."

Emily Keeley (Kearney) (MPA '09) is a Human Resources Representative for the City of Milwaukee.

Tyler Allen (MPA '13) is currently working as a Peace Centers Specialist, Rotary International.

Michael Meagher (PhD '93) is Associate Professor of Political Science, Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Andrew Cohler (MPA '15) is a Senior Analyst, Risk Management; Compliance at American Airlines.

Libby Pritchard (MPA '14) is currently enjoying her role as a mother to two children.

Wai Song Chen (MPA '16) is currently an aircraft technician at the Southern Illinois Airport Authority.

Jarrod Echols (MPA '13), Cyber Threat Intelligence Cell Chief, United States Senate, writes: "I started at the US Senate with an internship to complete MPA program. Now, thanks to that internship, I am a full time government employee."

Joel Lovelace (MPA '88), Director of Program Planning, Evaluation and Management, Employee Benefits Security Administration, US Department of Labor, writes: "In November 2012, I was appointed by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, to the Senior Executive Service as Chief Administrative Officer for EBSA where I oversee the administrative operations of a 1,000-person organization with a presence in 13 major metropolitan areas."

Joel OlufowoteJoel Olufowote (MA '08, PhD 2013) is an assistant professor of political science at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas.

Maja Wright-PhillipsMaja Wright-Phillips (PhD '15) graduated in Summer 2015 and is a prospect analyst at the University of Oregon.

Tatitana Vargas MaiaTatiana Vargas Maia (PhD '15) is an Assistant Professor for International Relations at LaSalle University Center.

Additionally, she is also currently serving as the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the program as well.

Tecora Duckett (MPA '13)
is a Statistical Research Analyst, State of Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development.

She writes, "I wanted to share my career status and success upon graduation. While writing my thesis I got a job working as a Research Analyst I for the State of Missouri Department of Economic Development.  After graduation I was promoted to a Research Analyst III.  In this position I got to utilize many of the skills I developed from the MPA department. I helped align interdepartmental goals for Workforce Development, Higher Education, and Economic Development by creating a report that assist citizens find work in Missouri. This report identified the gaps between employers and job seekers in Missouri.  Department heads were intrigued by the results so they requested a follow up report that would provide information about ways to close the gap between employers and job seekers. Missouri now uses both reports as a guide and tool to help navigate people to education that will help them obtain jobs. In January 2016 I accepted a job as a Statistical Research Analyst for the State of Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development. In my current role, I manage the department’s database using a tool called CRM. I recently completed a yearlong project for the department. We released a public tool that allows communities to see where investments have been made throughout the state.  The project originally began as a way for our department to ensure we met departmental goals by viewing our key performance indicators in dashboards internally. Overtime it developed into a way to serve the public and allow them to see what the state does for their communities. The tool contains interactive dashboards that my team and I built using Tableau. If you all are interested in checking out the website, it is located here. Overall, I just want to thank everyone at the MPA department for the lessons and skills you taught me. You all prepared me for the public sector and I appreciate all of your hard work and effort. Thank you!"

Hassan Nejad (PhD '70) is a Professor of Political Science and International Studies at Ramapo College in New Jersey.

Sarah Diel-Hunt (PhD '00) is the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Heartland Community College.

Allan McBride (PhD '83) is an Associate Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, and served for a year as chair of the political science department. Allan is currently the director of both Undergraduate and Graduate programs in Political Science.

Paul Gottemoller (PhD '11) is an Assistant Professor at Del Mar College.

Salah Oudah (MA '13) is currently employed as Diplomatic Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Emily CarrollEmily S. Carroll (PhD '14) is the Co-Founder & President of Janus Analytics.

Emily Carroll and Ryan Burge have co-founded Janus Analytics -- a research consulting firm that specializes in providing world-class research, data management, program evaluation, and policy analysis with a focus on customer service. She writes, "Ultimately, we envision a sustainable system of policy and practice."

Shane Gleason (PhD '14) is an Assistant Professor at Idaho State University. He writes, "I finished my PhD in 2014 and joined Idaho State University as an assistant professor of political science later the same year."

Carley A. Schmitt (MA '07) is an Assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Indiana State University

Michelle Wade (PhD '09) is an Assistant Professor, West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Scott DownenScott Downen (BA '14) completed his bachelor of arts degree at SIU Carbondale in 2014 and decided to stay here to earn a master of arts from his home department as well.

In addition to pursuing his masters' studies, Scott also currently serves as a graduate assistant in the political science department.

Jessica (Bryan) Scheible (MA '10) is a Content Analyst of Quantitative Research at Hanover Research. She writes, "Currently, I am working remotely for a private research company out of Washington, D.C. analyzing data and surveys for colleges and school districts.  I am married and we have a daughter together."

Hozan HasanHozan Hasan (MA '14) now IR officer at Department of Foreign Relations for the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq.

While a masters student at SIU Carbondale, Hozan studied foreign policy, international relations, and more. Hozan came to SIU after finishing an undergraduate degree in political science at Salahaddin University in Erbil, Kurdistan.

Maureen Mohan (MA '10) is a Digital Marketing specialist at Easter Seals Midwest in St. Louis in charge of social media, website content and digital advertising.

Megan Ditzler (MA '11) attended law school, passed the bar in July 2014 and is now a licensed attorney in Illinois.

Matthew Bergbower (PhD ’09) is an Assistant professor at Indiana State University.

Jane Bryant (PhD ’08) is a Professor of Political Science at John A Logan College. She writes, “I'm finishing up my first term as Social Science Dept. chair and still enjoying teaching.”

Alex Danilovich

Alex Danilovich (PhD ’01) serves as the Head of the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Kurdistan-Hewler, Erbil, Iraq.

He has authored several books, such as Iraqi Federalism and the Kurds: Learning to Live Together. (Ashgate 2014.)

Betsy Hall

Betsy Hall (MA ’11) joined Walmart Corporation Inc in December 2014.

She serves as Senior Manager, State & Local Policy; Public Affairs & Government Relations.

Ruth Moon (MA ’11) is continuing to pursue her education as a PhD student at University of Washington.

Michael Parker (MPA ’95) serves as Director of data and technology, SEIU. He writes, “I am enjoying living and working in DC.  I would like to connect with other area MPA grads.”

John Vinzant (PhD ’06) is a Professor of Political Science at Lincoln Land Community College. He writes, “I've been teaching full time since 2002. Nominated for the Pearson Master Teacher Award at Lincoln Land in 2014. I've been on the Executive Board of Model Illinois Government since 2004.”

Billye Chabot (MPA ’05) who has served as the Executive Director of the Blout Mansion Museum in Knoxville, TN. since 2005, has accepted a new position as the new Executive Director for the Seward House in Auburn, NY.

Paul Echols (MPA ’92) has retired from a 28 year career with the City of Carbondale Police Department and has accepted a position with the Criminal Justice Department at Shawnee Community College in Ullin, IL. Paul is nationally recognized for his work in solving decade-old murder cases. In addition to providing instruction, Paul will be working to create a Forensic Science Center at SCC.

Kelly Gerlach (BA '06, MPA '10) went on to work at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute before joining the elections staff at the Missouri Secretary of State (SOS) office.

Courtney Goodman (MPA ’08) is currently working as a Community Organizer Specialist with the Illinois Coalition of Community Services.

James Miller (MPA ’99) has finished his Master of International Policy and Practice (MIPP) at the Elliot School of International Affairs at the George Washington University. James works as a Senior GPS Technologist in the Space Operations Mission Directorate, Space Communications and Navigation Department at the NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Andrew Roszack (MPA ’08) has completed the David A. Winston Health Policy Fellowship and accepted the position of Senior Public Health Advisor at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Emergency Care Coordination Center. Andrew was intimately involved in the development and launch of the H1N1 Self Evaluation Website on

Sandra (Ceto) Strech (MPA ’94) has left the County of San Diego. In September of 2008, she earned her Project Management Professional (PMP) certification and is now teaching project management as a consultant in Virginia.

Chris Walls (MPA ’07) was recently selected as the new Executive Director for the Murphysboro, IL Chamber of Commerce.

Blair Wilson (MPA ’09) has accepted a position as an Inspector/Liasion with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). She works under the Department of Homeland Security and is responsible for the North Central Region of the United States.