PRGS Alumni Newsletter, Findings


Welcome to Findings, the online newsletter for PRGS/RGS/RGI alums. Findings is sent by email to all PRGS alumni. If you do not wish to be contacted, please email us at

In this issue . . .

Message from the Dean

Susan L. MarquisSo many things going on and so much to tell you about! In this issue of Findings, we're catching up on a number of new initiatives PRGS has kicked off in the past year. As you've heard in previous issues, PRGS is expanding our students' educational experience beyond the school's classrooms. Our first cohort of students has recently returned from their Washington Experience and the opportunity to learn more about the reality and context of policymaking at the federal level. We're breaking stovepipes in our new Certificate of Legal Studies program, providing students with an introduction to the principles of law, as well as its language and culture. In addition to sending our students into new worlds, in this issue of Findings we report on another new offering of PRGS: the Policy Analysis Short Courses—unique policy analysis training programs offered to government organizations and similar clients around the world. This is something that has been requested of PRGS by the RAND research staff in the past and we're happy to report that the first course, in Qatar, has received rave reviews from participants.

Getting back to our students (those who are here, have come before, and those who will arrive soon), I am sorry to announce that we unexpectedly lost one of our alumni, Desmond Saunders-Newton, in the fall. You can read more about Desmond and some of those whose lives he touched in our "In Memoriam" article.

Looking forward, admissions season is upon us and the Admissions Committee and PRGS staff are excited to see our 2011 cohort beginning to take shape. The group is characterized by a strong interest in science and technology as well as being quite globally diverse. Profiles of the incoming students will be featured in the Fall issue of Findings. And last but not least, we're pleased to announce several recent new PRGS graduates, Myles Collins, Brandon Dues, and Chung Pham, who are already off to new adventures. Congratulations!

Finally, 2011 has already been terrific for getting together with some of our alumni with events and gatherings in Washington, D.C. and Berkeley, CA. You can learn more about what your fellow alumni are up to in Alumni Updates.

All of us at PRGS hope you enjoy this issue of Findings. Please stay in touch!

Susan Marquis

New Course Offerings

PRGS staff, working closely with the Faculty Committee on Curriculum and Appointments, are constantly on the lookout for new courses that expand our students' methodological skills, better acquaint them with emerging areas of substantive interest, and provide opportunities to apply their classroom and OJT training to challenging policy problems. In the last year or so, we have introduced the following courses into the curriculum:

  • Social Network Analysis (Hank Green)
  • Policy Analysis in Fragile States: The Case of Afghanistan (Maryam Qudrat)
  • Ethics in Public Policy (Martin Wachs)
  • Principles of Client-Oriented Policy Analysis (Jeffrey Wasserman)
  • Publication Workshop (Dmitry Khodyakov)
  • Quantitative Methods in Education (Charles Goldman)
  • Organizational Culture of Governmental Institutions (Susan Marquis)
  • Qualitative Research II (Gery Ryan)

We have also substantially reworked the Game Theory (Jeremy Burke/Fabian Duarte) course and reintroduced Macroeconomics (Charles Goldman) as a required course for all first-year students. All of the new courses have been well-received by our students. We welcome your suggestions for courses that you believe would increase our students' effectiveness as policy analysts and help them further distinguish themselves among their peers from other institutions.

PRGS Sends Four Fellows to RAND D.C. Office for Pilot "Washington Experience"

Susan L. Marquis

Four PRGS fellows have just returned from five months working at RAND's Washington D.C. office. Dubbed the "Washington Experience," this new PRGS program was conceived to provide interested fellows an opportunity to learn from RAND's Washington presence and to strengthen ties between the Santa Monica and D.C. offices. In addition to providing students with exposure to policymaking in Washington, the program includes a course on federal budgeting, assistance finding OJT in the D.C. office, and financial support for travel and housing.

Deborah (Debbie) Lai, Xiao Wang, Elizabeth (Liz) Wilke and myself, Eileen Hlavka, were the participants in this year's Washington Experience. Debbie and Xiao were starting their third year at PRGS, while Liz and I were entering our fourth year. Given our varied backgrounds and OJT experiences, different things stood out to each of us about this experience. Debbie and Liz, who do research on international and security topics, developed important contacts with researchers in those areas, which they expect will open a whole new set of OJT and dissertation opportunities. Debbie in particular had extensive contact with RAND clients, fulfilling a goal of the pilot program. Xiao, an international fellow, made professional contacts inside and outside RAND and also noted that the program gave her a unique window into how the US Federal Government works. Xiao and I, both of whom are interested in issues related to energy and environment attended several talks together at D.C.-based think tanks. Being in D.C. enabled me to network with the EPA which is partially funding my dissertation, and other potential colleagues outside RAND, meet regularly with my D.C.-based dissertation committee member, and get a sense of the city in case I have the opportunity to work there after graduation.

A central element of the program was a course on budgeting, taught by PRGS alumna and experienced RAND researcher Kathi Webb ('84 cohort). This course featured guests with extensive experience working for agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Senate Budget Committee, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and others. The course was also open to RAND research assistants and PRGS fellows stationed at the D.C. office: thus, class discussions were enriched by Kay Sullivan, a PRGS fellow based at the D.C. office, and two research assistants, Sarah Bana and Karin Kitchens. For me, the highlight of the course was a visit to the Senate Budget Committee room, where RAND's Shirley Ruhe shared stories of the different leadership styles of the committee's chairmen from her time on the committee staff. A special thank-you to PRGS alumni who contributed to the course by offering their professional expertise: Scott Harrison ('84 cohort) and Rachel Schmidt ('86 cohort) from MEDPAC; Loren Yager ('87 cohort) from GAO; and David Howell ('03 cohort) a current Presidential Management Fellow serving with the DHS. Also, many thanks to other RAND staffers Larry Hanauer, Irv Blickstein, and Charlie Nemfakos for sharing their knowledge of the policymaking climate of Washington.

All of us were struck by the warm welcome we received from RAND staff in Washington. Lynn Davis, the director of the D.C. office, met with us at the beginning and end of the program and Debra Knopman gave us a walking tour of the area, during which she discussed her experiences working on the Hill. In addition to teaching the budgeting course, Kathi Webb was invaluable in connecting us with researchers. After the program, she and the PRGS administration each asked us for suggestions of which aspects to keep and which to revise during the second round of the program. We hope that as the program takes shape during the next few years, it will continue to transform the educational experiences of participating fellows.

In the News: PRGS and Southwestern Law School to Offer Public Policy and Law Certificate Programs

Beginning in Fall 2011, PRGS and Southwestern Law School will jointly offer two certificate programs for the schools' public policy and law students. Qualified PRGS students will be able to take courses in law at Southwestern Law School leading to a Certificate in Legal Studies. Likewise, qualified Southwestern students will be able to take courses at PRGS leading to a Certificate in Public Policy. The non-degree programs are intended to provide students with a basic knowledge of law and public policy and an understanding of the tools and frameworks relevant to each field. According to Dean Susan Marquis, "Public policies are largely contained in legislation and in regulations grounded in the law. Both law students and public policy doctoral candidates can benefit from a better understanding of how the law and public policy are interconnected." Currently, few public policy programs include law coursework and few law schools include training in policy analysis. Enrollment in the certificate programs will be limited, with approximately two to four students enrolled from each school per year. It is expected that students will be drawn from the top 20 percent of their class at the end of their first year of study.

PRGS-RQPI Policy Analysis Training Program

Obaid Younossi, Nermine Anis, Noor Al-Mutawa and Rachel Swange

Obaid Younossi, Nermine Anis, Noor Al-Mutawa and Rachel Swanger at the certificate presentation ceremony at the conclusion of the policy seminar, December 16 in Doha.

The Pardee RAND Graduate School (PRGS) in partnership with L&P and the RAND Qatar Policy Institute (RQPI) recently conducted RAND's first Policy Analysis Seminar for Qatar's Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA). Recent legislation has provided SCFA with a new mission: to create a national strategy for family affairs that will help Qatar achieve its National Vision 2030, which focuses on economic, environmental, human, and social development and this training seminar was designed to build the staff capacity at SCFA to do that.

The Capacity Building Seminar was taught by PRGS faculty members including PRGS assistant dean Jeffrey Wasserman, Gery Ryan, and Sandy Berry, as well as Lionel Galway, PRGS fellow Ben Bryant, and Louay Constant. RQPI staff including Hamad Al Ibrahim, Nermine Anis and Ahmed Bagdady provided language support. The project was led by Obaid Younossi and Rachel Swanger. It was designed to provide senior SCFA staff with tools that will lead to improved decision making and resource allocation. Toward this end, a five-module training program, which began on October 17th and concluded in early December, acquainted participants with key principles of policy analysis, program evaluation, research design, and quantitative methods.

The seminar was well-received by the participants each of whom received a certificate of participation in a closing ceremony held at SCFA headquarters on December 16. One participant commented on what he had learned saying, "I now know how to link strategy and research on an issue in a professional way, and how to utilize our authority in interactions with our boss. In other words, when my boss asks me for an answer, I should study the status quo; identify a problem; and think about alternative options to solve the problem. Maybe I did these things in the past, but not in a systematic and professional way."

In addition to providing an opportunity to expand PRGS' geographical reach to a region of the world that arguably has a lot to gain through greater use of policy analysis, the seminar has raised the profile of the school in this region and has generated interest in additional programs in Qatar, Abu Dhabi and beyond. Moreover, the seminar may serve as a potent mechanism for recruiting students from the Arab world to PRGS.

Recent Dissertations and Career Placements

The following students received their Ph.D.s during Fall 2010:

Myles Collins, Analyst, Business Strategy, Planning & Analytics, Southern California Edison
Managing Residential Energy Demand Through Provision of Better Feedback

Read moreFull document

Brandon Dues, Air Force Officer, Sheppard AFB
Sustaining the Air Force Nuclear Enterprise through Officer Workforce Planning

Chung Pham , Strategic Data Fellow, Denver Public Schools/Harvard Center for Education Policy Research
High School Graduation Rates in the United States and the Impact of Adolescent Romance

Read moreFull document

Alumni Updates Sign Up for Lifetime Email Forwarding!

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In Memoriam

Desmond Saunders-Newton

Desmond Saunders-Newton passed away on November 24. Affectionately known as Dez, he attended (Pardee) RAND Graduate School from 1987 to 1993, where he earned his M.Phil. in policy research and Ph.D. in policy analysis; he was a RAND consultant until 1999, working on projects involving flow modeling, strategic planning, computational methods, and simulations for military operations. Tom Chesnutt, ('83 cohort) recalls how, "Dez lit the room with his intellect, humor, and loving kindness," he goes on to say, "Dez set a high bar for always giving more than he took."

Desmond also served as science adviser to the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Advanced Systems and Concepts and as senior science adviser at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. He held a visiting associate professor appointment at the University of Southern California and was a senior research fellow at the Center for Technology and National Security Policy at National Defense University.

Rachel Schmidt, ('86 cohort) remembers, "Dez had such a gift for putting all kinds of people at ease," she went on to say, "God gave him an outsized portion of humanity and intellectual curiosity, and I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to become his friend."

A tragic loss for all who knew him.

Article from Yilmaz Argüden: Diversity at the Head Table

Yimaz Argüden

Yimaz Argüden, ('80 cohort) recently published an article in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) journal Global Corporate Governance Forum entitled "Diversity at the Head Table: Bringing Complementary Skills and Experiences to the Board."

Argüden is Chairman of ARGE Consulting as well as the Chairman of Rothschild investment bank in Turkiye.

The Forum is a multi-donor trust fund facility located within the International Finance Corporation (IFC), cofounded in 1999 by the World Bank and the OECD.

Read moreRead the article at

Staying Connected: Alumni Events

Seth Jones, Rachel Swanger, Emily Beltramo, Sarah Gaillot ('05 cohort), Elizabeth Brown (current fellow, '05 cohort), Diana Epstein ('05 cohort) and Yuna Huh Wong ('00 cohort).)

Pictured in the group, clockwise from left are Seth Jones, Rachel Swanger, Emily Beltramo, Sarah Gaillot ('05 cohort), Elizabeth Brown (current fellow, '05 cohort), Diana Epstein ('05 cohort) and Yuna Huh Wong ('00 cohort).)

On January 20, 2011 PRGS hosted dinner and a discussion at the RAND Washington Office. A thought-provoking discussion entitled, "Perspectives from the Frontlines of Afghanistan," was led by Seth Jones, who recently rejoined RAND as a senior political scientist.

As PRGS expands our alumni activities, if you have ideas or would like to host a small alum event in your home, please contact Maura Krah at

Dean's Dinners: Checking in with PRGS Alumni

Dean Marquis has had the opportunity to meet with several PRGS alumni in recent weeks. In Washington, D.C., she had lunch with Arin Dutta ('02 cohort) and Kamil Akramov ('01 cohort). In addition to catching up on PRGS, lunch was filled with discussion of Arin's work at Futures Group International and Kamil's projects at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Arin and Kamil both offered ideas on what the new PRGS Alumni Association could provide alumni, particularly emphasizing the ability to locate other alumni through an online alumni network. Heading back to the west coast and visiting UC Berkeley, Dean Marquis had dinner with Dave Groves ('01 cohort), Sam Loeb ('00 cohort), Brent Fulton ('01 cohort) and David Trinkle ('92 cohort). Dave had just completed interviewing several applicants for the 2011 cohort as part of PRGS's new alumni interview process for applicants to the program. The group was eager to hear about who was applying to the school and, like PRGS's D.C. alumni, interested in mentoring students and helping them as they build their professional networks.

PRGS LinkedIn Group

We have an active group for all PRGS community members on LinkedIn. If you have not already joined, you can find us at by searching for "Pardee RAND Graduate School" in the groups directory.

Subjectively Speaking

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