Comprehensive Education



Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and County Manager William D. McKain CPA recently presented the Frank J. Lucchino Distinguished Service Award to GSPIA Alumnus Mr. Randolph (Randy) W. Brockington (MPA '86), Executive Deputy Director of the Office of Administrative and Information Management Services in the Department of Human Services (DHS).

The Matthew Ridgway Center recently hosted former U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering of the Iran Project to discuss the state of the Iran Nuclear Deal. Ambassador Pickering began his talk encouraging tough questions. “The most intrusive and difficult questions are the ones we should be exploring together,” said Pickering.

Dr. Bradford L. Barham from the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin Madison gave a talk on “Lessons for sustainable agricultural policies from the US bioenergy boom that wasn’t.” Barham offered important insights into the lessons learned on the necessity of supplementing projections done in a lab with actual field research.  According to Barham, in the late 2000s there was a major bioenergy push, driven by the high price of oil at that time; certain scientists and policymakers believed that cellulosic fuel, ethanol made from plant fibers, was the future.  

The 2016 GSPIA Perspectives, with cover stories on Promoting International Development, won a “Gold” MarCom Award for publications. The awards are administered by the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals. Each issue of GSPIA Perspectives focuses on a certain program area, with this edition centering around the Master of International Development (MID), one of three, two-year master degree programs at GSPIA.  

First-year PhD students, Max Harleman (Pennsylvania) and Insik Bang (South Korea), decided to attend GSPIA based on a common interest to study energy and environmental issues. The Energy and Environment program at GSPIA provides a pathway for students to conduct rigorous research on salient environmental and energy policy challenges. 

Kathy Buechel, director of GSPIA's Philanthropy Forum, talks about how social media campaigns like #GivingTuesday provide innovative pathways for younger generations to bring about social change in their communities. According to Buechel, social media campaigns like #GivingTuesday democratizes philanthropy and encourages young people to participate.

Pitt’s Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security announced its inaugural cohort of 24 renowned Pitt affiliate faculty which includes six GSPIA professors.  The affiliate scholars represent a wide range of professional and scholarly research interests. They include counterterrorism experts, computer science technologists, foreign policy analysts, information security professionals, legal scholars and other thought leaders. As affiliate scholars, the chosen faculty will continue to make strides in their respective fields of study while collaborating within Pitt Cyber. The following GSPIA faculty members comprise the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security’s inaugural affiliate scholars:

The Johnson Institute recently honored Fagan Harris, the founder and CEO of Baltimore Corps, with its Emerging Leader Award.  The Emerging Leader Award is granted annually and recognizes the accomplishments of people who, relatively early in their professional careers, have demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities and high promise of future accomplishments. This year’s recipient Fagan Harris is an incredibly compassionate, innovative emerging leader who seeks to address the multifaceted challenges that faced his home town.  

In a signing ceremony on the 40th floor of the Cathedral of Learning, GSPIA Dean John Keeler and Sarah Poole, Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Director, UNDP, signed a memorandum of understanding between the University of Pittsburgh and the United Nations Development Programme. The agreement establishes the Gender Inequality Research Lab (GIRL) at Pitt, a new interdisciplinary research forum for scholars and practitioners to collaborate on policy-relevant research on gender inequality. 

In a world struggling with alternative facts, environmental journalists gathered to discuss how best to report environmental issues at the Society for Environmental Journalists (SEJ) annual conference in downtown Pittsburgh on October 6.  During one panel discussion, designed to allow journalists the opportunity to ask questions to expert panelists, Dr. Shanti Gamper-Rabindran brilliantly flipped the script by asking journalists to consider their decision-making process when reporting research and alternative facts. As she asked: 

Tonight, Pittsburgh Magazine will honor GSPIA alumna Mila Sanina (MPIA ’10) for her outstanding contributions to the Pittsburgh area with its “40 Under 40” award. Sanina is currently the executive director of PublicSource, a nonpartisan, public focused news outlet. She previously worked for PBS, CNN, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Sanina recently reflected on her career path and the impact that GSPIA has had on her career.

The Congress of Neighboring Communities has released its 2016-2017 Annual Report. The report highlights CONNECT’s latest strategic priorities for the organization, as well as policy work CONNECT members have undertaken over the past year including infrastructure coordination, public health and the opioid epidemic, and transportation. As CONNECT’s network continues to grow stronger, its policy work advances through cross-boundary strategies in the City of Pittsburgh and surrounding municipalities. For the full CONNECT Annual Report, click here.

On Thurs., Sept. 28, Colonel Diane Ryan, the inaugural speaker for the Frances Hesselbein Forum Lecture Series, met with students of the Johnson Institute’s Leadership Portfolio Program for a Q&A session.  Col. Ryan is an esteemed veteran who has moved up the ranks of the US Army serving 29 years before moving into academic roles. She spent the last nine years as a faculty member and senior administrative leader at the United States Military Academy at West Point (USMA). There Col. Ryan was instrumental at implementing programming and coursework with a focus on civic engagement.

Jessica Smith (MPIA, SIS ‘17) works in the Disaster Cycle Services Department at the American Red Cross of Southwestern Pennsylvania, which focuses on disaster preparedness, response, and recovery programming for all of Allegheny County. The department provides significant resources for communities on disaster preparedness and response, including preparedness presentations for children, seniors, and more general audiences. The Red Cross also responds to house fires and other disasters every day in Allegheny County, ensuring those affected receive help to repair their home, find a new home, or replace other essential items. 

The cover stories of the 2017 issue of GSPIA Perspectives focus on promoting diversity and inclusion. Dean John Keeler points out what made this important theme especially compelling now is that the 2016-2017 academic year was Pitt’s Year of Diversity, and within GSPIA an unprecedented number of events were organized to address many facets of the issue. 

In a matter of weeks, three major hurricanes levied profound impacts on communities across the Caribbean and parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast. Thousands of people are engaged in ongoing response and recovery operations, including GSPIA alumni: 

Rachel Vinciguerra traveled to Les Cayes Haiti during summer 2017, in part, to conduct a program evaluation for the Fi Ki Fò (strong girl), girls’ empowerment program, at Pwoje Espwa orphanage. During her internship, she and some colleagues noticed a gap in services and resources available to young women at the orphanage compared to men. As a result, Rachel and her colleagues established a pen-pal program between teen girls at Pwoje Espwa and young professional women in the U.S. called Write to Be. 

As part of the Shale Gas Governance Center fall lecture series, GSPIA alumnus and Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale gave a talk on “Impact Fees: working as promised?” covering the history and implementation of impact fees on shale gas extraction.

Miriam Belblidia (MPA '09) came to GSPIA knowing she wanted to study disaster management. Ten years later, she is at the helm of an innovative water management company, Water Works, in New Orleans, working across the disciplines of science, art, and history to build community resilience. 

Daniel Scarnecchia (MPIA, ‘11) is currently a Researcher of Standards and Ethics and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI.) HHI is an interdisciplinary program that studies humanitarian crises and focuses on translational research to bring evidence-based approaches to real situations across the globe. Scarnecchia, who majored in Human Security, is focused on data governance and information access among people who are living through a humanitarian crisis.  

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