Pardee RAND Graduate School Findings Alumni Newsletter, Summer 2013 – View in Browser

Findings Newsletter

Summer 2013

In This Issue

  • Message from the Dean

  • Around Campus

    Summer Faculty Workshop • 300th Graduate • Pardee Initiative • PRGS Publications

  • Catching Up with Alumni

    New Jobs! • Alumni in the News • What We're Reading Now • Alumni Directory and Advisory Committee

  • Events

    Alumni Dinner in Berkeley • Policy Analysis Short Course • Alumni Event Features Harold Brown • Save the Date! Commencement 2014

Message from the Dean

Susan L. Marquis

We did it! I'm pleased to welcome you to our inaugural summer issue of Findings by bringing to your attention to the article on our inaugural Summer Faculty Workshop. The Summer Faculty Workshop is an initiative that grew out of the Pardee RAND Graduate School's recognition that tackling the most complex problems facing our nation requires the broadest range of stakeholders involved in developing and implementing the solutions. Strengthening the diversity of the graduate school, our faculty and RAND researchers, and the broader public policy community is a significant objective of the school and the Summer Faculty Workshop validates our approach.

The Workshop idea and content came out of discussions and encouragement from faculty at schools such as Xavier, Jackson State, Tougaloo, and the University of Alabama – Huntsville, not to mention the wisdom and enthusiasm of Sally Sleeper, the previous director of the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute, and the Pardee RAND Graduate School staff. Though from initial discussion to the start of the Workshop took more than three years, all of us in the graduate school and RAND community were delighted when the results were even better than we had imagined.

Speaking of accomplishments, congratulations to Jim Burgdorf, the Pardee RAND Graduate School's 300th graduate! Jim has been quickly followed by Todi Mengistu and David Johnson with a half dozen other students having defended or about to defend in the waning weeks of our summer 2013 quarter. You can learn more about Jim, Todi, and David's research and new jobs below.

I'd also like to draw your attention to the new positions and responsibilities taken on this summer by your fellow alumni, as well as a slew of publications and speaking events by alumni and students. Thank you for letting us know about all you are accomplishing.

Finally, particular thanks to Stefanie Stern, Director of Admissions and Academic Services, and Monica Hertzman, Senior Web Producer, for their efforts in moving from publishing Findings three times a year to once a quarter. You asked for more frequent updates on the goings on within the Pardee RAND Graduate School, and Stefanie and Monica have made it happen.

Stay in touch!

Susan Marquis

Around Campus

Tavis Smiley and workshop participants

Smiley speaks with workshop partcipants

Inaugural Summer Faculty Workshop Features Smiley, Kennard

As part of a greater vision to ensure that a diversity of perspectives is represented at all levels of public policymaking, PRGS hosted its inaugural Summer Faculty Workshop in Policy Research and Analysis. Twelve guest faculty from institutions serving a large proportion of underrepresented minorities, primarily in the Gulf States region, visited Santa Monica from July 22 through July 26.

Highlights of the week included a welcome lunch with RAND President and CEO Michael Rich, a conversation about leadership in the public sector with former PRGS board member Lydia Kennard, and a special evening presentation with author and radio and talk show host Tavis Smiley.

The goal of the workshop was to enable participants, who have already distinguished themselves in such fields as medicine, public health, and political science, to learn useful skills to apply to their current research, to inspire their own students to consider careers in public service, and to help RAND strengthen ties in the region.

Read moreRead more about the workshop

Jim Burgdorf

PRGS Celebrates Our 300th Graduate

Congratulations to Jim Burgdorf (cohort '06), the 300th graduate of the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Burgdorf's dissertation examined whether bundling health insurance with employment distorts labor market choices. He is now a staff researcher in Family and Preventive Medicine at UC San Diego.

Read moreRead more

  Pardee Initiative video

Video Highlights Presentations on Pardee Initiative for Global Human Progress

As part of the Pardee Initiative on Global Human Progress, we invited Pardee RAND Graduate School students to present their ideas on policy issues that could be tackled in innovative and forward-looking ways. This video captures the excitement of the day of our student presentations and the promise of this important initiative.

Read moreView this video and all PRGS Multimedia

Student Research: Prolific PRGS Publishing

PRGS students and faculty are consistently busy writing RAND reports and journal articles. Below are a few of their recent releases; a full list of student-authored research is available online.

      book cover
  • D. Steven Fox (cohort '09), along with PRGS professor Dave Baiocchi, recently authored Surprise! From CEOs to Navy Seals: How a Select Group of Professionals Prepare For and Respond to the Unexpected, which carefully builds together insights for a range of professions on the element of surprise including: techniques for controlling chaos, moving past initial, instinctive reactions, and how to convert surprise into opportunities.
  • Evan Bloom (cohort '09) and PRGS professor/alum David Groves (cohort '01) coauthored the RAND report Robust Water-Management Strategies for the California Water Plan Update 2013, which used a proof-of-concept analysis to show how Robust Decision Making could be used to structure a quantitative analysis of water management strategies in the Central Valley in conditions of climate uncertainty.
  •   book cover
  • John P. Caloyeras (cohort '09), Christina Y. Huang (cohort '10), and Victoria Shier (cohort '08) — along with PRGS professors Soeren Mattke, Hangsheng Liu, and Dmitry Khodyakov — recently authored an infographic-style research brief titled The Skinny on Workplace Wellness Programs that summarizes a 2012 national survey to explain the typical components, incentives for participation, and levels of employee engagement in workplace wellness programs. The brief accompanies their original report, Workplace Wellness Programs Study, which has continued to receive significant media attention since it was first released in May.

Application Season Begins Friday; Recommend PRGS to Potential Students

If you know of any passionate and bright prospective PRGS students, through work or other networks, please send them our way! More information about the application process, upcoming online and in-person information sessions, and deadlines is available online.

Read moreRead more

Support PRGS

Alumni support of our students is essential to our school's success and we are grateful for your continued involvement and support. If you haven't yet made a gift this fiscal year, please go to and make your gift before September 27th. Your donation in any amount helps us to strengthen PRGS’s legacy and to secure a future for PRGS and its students.

Catching Up with Alumni

New Job? Congratulations!

Meg Blume-Kohout Abigail Brown Diana Epstein John Fei Kim Hale






Lisa Klautzer Maren Leed Yang Lu Aaron Martin Kathi Webb






Margaret "Meg" Blume-Kohout (cohort '04) is now senior research economist at the New Mexico Consortium, a non-profit organization focused on the collaborative research initiatives between the public research universities and the National Labs of New Mexico. She is also founder of her own consulting company, MBK Analytics LLC.

Abigail Brown (cohort '02) has accepted a position as senior economist, Applied Research and Methods Group, at the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Diana Epstein (cohort ’05) has accepted a position of research analyst at the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps and other service groups across the United States. Diana’s dissertation focused on the long-term impact of AmeriCorps on participants.

John Fei (cohort '04) is now program officer in the international peace and security program area at the MacArthur Foundation.

Kimberly Hale (cohort '09) has been promoted to Captain in the U.S. Air Force and is an operations researcher with Air Education and Training Command, Studies and Analysis (AETC/A9).

Lisa Klautzer (cohort '07), has accepted a position as a quantitative consultant at the CEB, a consultancy in Washington, D.C., where she will start in September.

Maren Leed (cohort '95) is now senior advisor to the Harold Brown Chair in Defense Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Yang Lu (cohort '04), is now assistant professor at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Aaron Martin (cohort '07) has been promoted to manager of Strategic Planning at the Northrop Grumman Corporation.

Kathi Webb (cohort '94), accepted an assignment as the administrative director at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.

Is your organization hiring? Take a look at our soon-to-be-graduating students who are on the job market!

Read moreVisit our Job Market Candidates page

  Basurto and current students

Alumnus Returns for RAND Health Brown Bag

Ricardo Basurto (cohort '03) returned on August 21 to participate in a RAND Health brown bag described as an "Exploratory Discussion Regarding Policy Analysis and Potential Collaboration Opportunities with the LA County Department of Public Health." Several PRGS students attended his talk.

Basurto is a health economist at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, where he leads economic evaluations and policy analysis. He was previously a Prevention Effectiveness Fellow at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Alumni in the News

David Johnson

Our Newest Alumni

Along with Jim Burgdorf (see above article), two other students have completed their dissertation requirements and are now officially PRGS alumni.

  • David Johnson (cohort '08); dissertation: Improving Flood Risk Estimates and Mitigation Policies in Coastal Louisiana Under Deep Uncertainty. He has accepted a position as an associate mathematician at RAND in Santa Monica.
  • Todi Mengistu
  • Todi Mengistu (cohort '07), dissertation: Emerging Infrastructure Financing Mechanisms in sub-Saharan Africa. She has accepted a Teutsch Fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Congratulations, Jim, David, and Todi, and welcome to the PRGS Alumni Association!

What We're Reading Now: Seeking Alumni Input

  Systematic Thinking

We are asking not only faculty, but alumni and students as well, to let us know what they're reading now. Peter DeLeon (cohort '71) shared, Systematic Thinking for Social Action, saying, "It's just as relevant today as it was 40 years ago."

Martin Markovich (cohort '91) shared a more recent book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion: "It presents the best explanation I've seen of why the country is divided into Red states and Blue states. In doing so, it makes a strong case that social psychology research of the last 30 years has produced real insights into how our minds work, and why 'impractical' philosophical issues are so important to so many of us. Left winger, right winger, deeply religious or confirmed atheist, all will find some comfort here, as well as some difficult points to ponder."

What are you reading? Please share with us at

Read moreSee our full list of submissions

Alumni Directory 2.0

  Alumni Directory

Be on the lookout for an email requesting you to fill out our annual alumni survey, which will help us compile the 2014 Alumni Directory. The directory will help you stay better connected to the PRGS alumni network, and will provide updated information for us to use when sending you invites to upcoming events, including regional dinners with the dean and the 2014 commencement. Thanks in advance for your participation!

Alumni Association Advisory Committee

We will soon be forming the PRGS Alumni Association Advisory Committee, composed of a diverse group of PRGS alumni who will represent their cohorts, foster relationships within the PRGS and RAND communities and more. Keep your eyes out for an email that will have more details about this exciting endeavor, as well as a call for nominations to this committee. If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact Evelyn Fees at

Share Your News!

For more Alumni news, visit the PRGS Alumni News page.

You can also use the online form to submit your updates!

Recent and Upcoming Events

Dean Joins Alumni for Dinner in Berkeley

Dean Marquis joined several PRGS alumni for a dinner at Rivoli Restaurant in Berkeley on June 27. Sam Loeb (cohort '00), Helen Wu (cohort '07), Hugh Levaux (cohort '94), and Diana Epstein (cohort '05) attended, as did Ben Kim (cohort '07), who will be defending his dissertation soon.


Wasserman teaches course on Hill

PRGS Alum Teaches Congress a Thing or Two!

PRGS professor/alum Jeffrey Wasserman (cohort '85) provided a Policy Analysis Short Course to congressional staffers on August 13 and 14, offering them an introduction to policy analysis tools and techniques as well as an understanding of how they can be used to improve the quality of public policy decisionmaking.

Read moreLearn more about the course

PRGS, RAND Alumni Invited to Conversation with Harold Brown

RAND trustee emeritus Harold Brown will be interviewed by RAND vice chairman Richard Danzig, and PRGS and RAND alumni are invited to attend. The event will be at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on September 17. If you haven't received your invitation, email

Last But Not Least: Save the Date for the 2014 Commencement Weekend

The PRGS Commencement Ceremony is Saturday, June 21, 2014; on Friday evening, June 20, PRGS will host a dinner for graduating students and PRGS alumni. We will once again be presenting PRGS's distinguished alumni award and look forward to the opportunity to bring current and new alumni together in what has become a memorable tradition at the school.

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