Pardee RAND Graduate School Findings Alumni Newsletter, Commencement 2016 | Read online

Pardee RAND Graduate School
Findings Newsletter

Commencement 2016

Message from the Dean

Susan L. Marquis

In This Issue

I hope you are all enjoying your summer. It was with great pleasure that I saw many of you last month at Commencement Weekend. If I may repeat what I said in my address:

Commencement is a grand event but signing diplomas is a reminder that small things matter. Each time I put pen to paper, with each signature there is a memory and a promise.

Such a small act, the signing of diplomas. But with time I've come to realize the power of small actions—that small things, smartly done, can bring about magnificent change. If we forget those details, lose track of the small, our big ideas will never become real. It is in the small that we recognize the humanity of those whose lives we wish to make better and the necessity of understanding the details of those lives in the recommendations we make and the change we lead.

For each of you, our newest graduates—be bold. Think big. But don't forget the value of the first small act and appreciate the details of the lives you wish to change for the better. For each of you, as I read your names, I realized that each signature was a prayer, wishing for you the brightest of futures. It was a small act that signified the commencement of your fulfilling the tremendous promise of your lives. Today you are taking that step and there is no doubt that magnificent change will follow.

Susan Marquis

2016 Commencement Weekend

Commencement montage

On June 16-18, the Pardee RAND Graduate School hosted a series of events to celebrate the 2016 Pardee RAND commencement weekend. Festivities kicked off at Thursday's alumni and student mixer, which you can read more about below. On Friday, the school hosted a policy dialogue on "(Re) Building Communities," featuring honorary degree recipients Carolyn Meyers, president of Jackson State University, and Warren Olney, host of the syndicated public radio show To the Point and KCRW's Olney in L.A., along with Pardee RAND alum Arthur Brooks (cohort '96), president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). The dialogue was moderated by Dean Marquis with an introduction by Dr. Pedro José "Joe" Greer, Jr., RAND trustee and chair of the Pardee RAND Board of Governors.

The evening's activities included a celebratory dinner for alumni, graduating students, and other members of the Pardee RAND community. The dinner featured the presentation of the third biennial Alumni Leadership Award to Brooks (see article below), and a tribute thanking Donald B. Rice, RAND trustee and member of the Pardee RAND Board of Governors, for his extraordinary leadership as chair of the school's Be the Answer fundraising campaign.

Saturday's commencement ceremony featured an address by honorary degree recipient Rep. John Lewis. Honorary degrees were also presented to Meyers, Olney, and Joseph Newhouse, the John D. MacArthur Professor of Health Policy and Management at Harvard University and key architect of the RAND Health Insurance Experiment.

“You must find a way to get in trouble. Good trouble. Necessary trouble… To help redeem not just the soul of America but the soul of our little planet. You have an obligation. You have a mission—a mandate.”

— Rep. John Lewis, Commencement Address

In her graduate address, Sinduja Srinivasan (cohort '09) noted, "Being the answer isn't static. It's flexible and adapting to different environments and situations. It isn't a formula we can crunch to churn out a canned response. To me, being the answer is to think, to explore, to interact."

Pardee RAND awarded 45 doctoral degrees in policy analysis and 46 master's degrees during the ceremony, which was attended by more than 400 people.

One of the highlights of commencement weekend was the return of so many Pardee RAND alumni to take part in various events. A total of 65 alumni, including 37 recent graduates, participated in Thursday’s alumni and student mixer, Friday’s policy dialogue and celebratory dinner, and Saturday’s commencement ceremony. It was wonderful to see the extended Pardee RAND community come together to honor our most recent graduates. (Click on the photo to view a larger image.)

Alumni and graduates at Commencement 2016

Pardee RAND Alumni in attendance Friday, top row, left to right: Edmundo Molina-Perez, Hui Wang, Joshua Weed, Rehan Malik, Amber Moreen, Mary Anne Doyle, Jeremy Kurz, Sarah Evans, Marlon Graf, Nelly Mejia, Nolan Sweeney, Megan Clifford, Ed Conrow, Lindsay Daugherty, John David Pinder, Bruce Wetzel, Ted Harshberger.

Bottom row: David An, Jessica Yeats, Ujwal Kharel, Michael Scarpati, Arthur Brooks, David Johnson, Phil Romero, Eric Warner, Evan Bloom, Sarah Kups, Greg Midgette, Sinduja Srinivasan, Brooks Stearns Lawson, Teresa Taningco Kaldor, Diana Epstein, Loren Yager, Jodi Liu, Aviva Litovitz, Ashley Pierson, Myles Collins, Michael Beltramo, Jonathan Wong, Mollie Rudnick.

Read more about Commencement, including the full text of all the speeches »

View more photos on Facebook »

View #PardeeRAND2016 on Twitter »

Brooks Receives Third Biennial Pardee RAND Alumni Leadership Award

Arthur Brooks receives award

Arthur Brooks receives his award from Dean Susan Marquis.

Arthur Brooks (cohort ’96) received the Alumni Leadership Award on June 17 at the celebratory dinner during commencement weekend.

Brooks' career and publications span a wide breadth of issues and ideas, emphasizing the intersection of public policy, culture, and economics. He is the author of several best-selling books; is published frequently in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and other major newspapers; and can be heard often on talk shows as well as in his recent, popular TED Talk, "A Conservative's Plea: Let's Work Together."

In his current role as president of the American Enterprise Institute, Brooks works with leaders in business and politics to further the ideals of free enterprise and increased opportunity across the country.

Learn more »

Around Campus

Cazier Initiative Welcomes Inaugural Practitioner in Residence

Attendees at the distribution grid seminar De Martini leads a discussion of the evolving distribution grid

De Martini (right) leads a discussion of the evolving distribution grid (Photos by Diane Baldwin/RAND)

Pardee RAND was excited to welcome our first Cazier Practitioner in Residence, Paul De Martini, for a week in April. His visit was made possible by the John and Carol Cazier Energy and Environmental Sustainability Initiative. De Martini is a fellow of ICF International and member of the CalTech faculty, where he serves as an expert in smart grids, power grid modernization, and power distribution—the future of energy in the United States.

De Martini's activities and interactions with Pardee RAND faculty and students included an informal lunch, open office hours, and a set of tabletop gaming exercises.

Learn more »

Pardee RAND Students and RAND Health Organize Mental Health Awareness Day

Pardee RAND's Coordinating Committee (CoCom) and RAND Health partnered to organize the school's first Mental Health Awareness Day. On April 27, more than 50 students and staff participated in activities including yoga, tai chi, massage, and meditation sessions. Student Crystal Huang (cohort '13) led an outdoor art therapy session in the third floor courtyard.

The purpose of the event was to raise the profile of and take action to address the mental health needs of our students. The day kicked off with remarks by Dean Marquis and an overview of common stress concerns affecting students by RAND's Nicole Eberhart, a licensed clinical psychologist and behavioral scientist. The activities were the first of many initiatives that CoCom and the school's administration are developing.

View an online photo gallery »

Art therapy session
Tai chi session

Huddleson Teaching Award Presented to Salar Jahedi and Philip Armour

The 2016 Huddleson Teaching Awards were presented at the Saturday Commencement ceremony to core instructor Philip Armour for his contributions to Microeconomics II and elective instructor Salar Jahedi for his oversight of Behavioral Economics. Student Stefan Zavislan (cohort '14) noted Armour's contributions both in and outside of the classroom:

"During the school day he taught us the causes and consequences of market failure but, perhaps equally important, after work hours he blessed us with his vinicultural knowledge and taught us precisely which grape varietals are best paired with cave-aged blue cheese."

Nelly Mejia (cohort '11) remarked of Jahedi's unique teaching style: "With his characteristic dry wit he effectively and powerfully guided us towards the realization that not even we are 'econs'—only humans."

Learn more »

Brown Faculty Fellow Steven Popper Takes Students Out to the Ballgame

Popper and students at ballgame

Popper and students at ballgame

Brown Faculty Fellow Steven Popper introduced several international students to the lively pastime of American baseball on April 23, when they attended a UCLA Bruins baseball game at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Westwood. This event was one of several that Popper hosted during his time in residence as the second Brown Faculty Fellow of 2016.

One of the primary goals of this program is to enable Pardee RAND faculty members to spend quality time advising and engaging with students. With the goal of developing a sense of community between faculty and students, each Brown Fellow hosts office hours, conducts workshops to present their research, and interacts with students during social events.

Learn more about the Fellowship »

Student Research: Prolific Publishing

Pardee RAND students have been busy collaborating on RAND reports and journal articles, as well as many blog posts. Below is one recent release; a full list of student-authored research is available online.

report cover

All student blog posts and commentaries are available online.

Catching Up with Alumni

New Position? Congratulations!

Bitko Dardia Efron Egner Fu






Haaga Hoover Scarpati Wu





Gordon Bitko (cohort '02) is now chief information officer at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Michael Dardia (cohort '89) is now vice president for finance at the New York Public Library.

Shira Efron (cohort '11) was named special advisor on Israel for the Center for Middle East Public Policy at RAND.

Mike Egner (cohort '03) is now head of methodology at The NPD Group.

Ning Fu (cohort '08) is a research analyst at Econ One Research. She will be returning to USC when her project concludes.

John Haaga (cohort '78) was appointed director of the National Institute of Aging's Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR).

Matt Hoover (cohort '09) is now a data scientist at Picwell.

Mike Scarpati (cohort '10) is now a senior data scientist at Kronos.

Helen Wu (cohort '07) is now senior manager, Evidence Services, Care Management Institute, Kaiser Permanente.

Alumni Visit Campus for Career Talks

Conrad Schmidt (cohort '92) visited Santa Monica in April to talk about his work in consulting with the Corporate Executive Board. Also in April, Jeff Tanner (cohort '05) and former Pardee RAND student Harun Dogo (cohort '07) spoke via conference call with students interested in World Bank careers.

Before Commencement, Arthur Brooks (cohort '96) gave an informal talk about his non-traditional career path and current role as head of AEI. The following week, Matt Solomon (cohort '98) spoke via conference call with students interested in careers in health policy about his work with Kaiser Permanente's division of research.

If you will be in the area (permanently or just visiting) and/or have time to talk with students about your career, please let us know!

Featured Alumni Research

Alumni Commentary and Perspectives

View more Alumni news, research, and commentaries »

Our Newest Alumni

Ayivi-Guedehoussou Gordon Graf Huang





Kharel Liu Mejia Wong





  • Nono Ayivi-Guedehoussou (cohort '09); dissertation: The Determinants of Job Satisfaction among Nurses, Midwives, and Auxiliary Nurses in Health Clinics: The Case of Bénin, West Africa (online version forthcoming).
  • Brian Gordon (cohort '12); dissertation: Deception in Covert Nuclear Weapons Development: A Framework to Identify, Analyze, and Mitigate Future Long-Term Deception Efforts. He is an analyst with the Department of Defense.
  • Marlon Graf (cohort '12); dissertation: Exploring Sources of Innovation in the Knowledge-based Economy: The Case of Los Angeles (online version forthcoming).
  • Christina Y. Huang (cohort '10); dissertation: Improving Diet in Low-Income Communities: Leveraging the Food Environment for Change.
  • Ujwal Kharel (cohort '11); dissertation: The Global Epidemic of Occupational Injuries: Counts, Costs, and Compensation (online version forthcoming).
  • Jodi Liu (cohort '12); dissertation: Exploring Single-Payer Alternatives for Health Care Reform (online version forthcoming). She will begin work as an associate policy researcher at RAND in August.
  • Nelly Mejia (cohort '11); dissertation: Three Essays on Obesity: Food Environment, Attitudes toward Food, and Cash Transfers (online version forthcoming).
  • Jonathan Wong (cohort '12); dissertation: Balancing Immediate and Long-Term Defense Investments (online version forthcoming). He will be a consultant with Boston Consulting Group beginning in January 2017.

Congratulations to all, and welcome to the Pardee RAND Alumni Association!

2016 graduates

Ph.D. graduates: Standing, left to right: Yashodhara Rana, Susan Burkhauser, Ethan Scherer, David Shill, Christina Huang, Htay Wah, David An, Ahmed Idrees Rahmani, Michael Scarpati, Nelly Mejia, Sinduja Srinivasan, Jessica Yeats, Ashley Pierson, Jennifer Walters, McKay McLaren, Adam Singer, Nolan Sweeny, Evan Bloom, Mollie Rudnick, Eric Warner, Marlon Graf, Jonathan Wong, Jeremy Kurz, Megan Clifford, Greg Midgette.

Seated, left to right: Edmundo Molina-Perez, Aviva Litovitz, Jodi Liu, Sarah Evans, Leslie Mullins, Chaoling Feng, Warren Olney, Susan Marquis, John Lewis, Michael Rich, Carolyn Meyers, Joe Newhouse, Arthur Brooks, Beth Katz, Ning Fu, Henu Zhao, Nono Ayivi-Guedehoussou, Ujwal Kharel.

Not pictured: Shmuel Abramzon, Shira Efron, Brian Gordon, Abigail Haddad, Shannon Maloney, Michael McGee, Mustafa Oguz, Jordan Rozsa, Elizabeth Wilke.

View larger image »

Share Your News!

Do you have news to share with fellow alumni? Let us know!

Recent Events

Alumni, Students Network at Commencement Mixer

Mixer photos

Photos by Kyle Espeleta

Alumni and students had a great time networking at Lula Cocina Mexicana in Santa Monica on June 16. Clockwise from left Gursel Aliyev (cohort '13), Ashley Muchow (cohort '13), and Carlos Gutierrez (cohort '13); Jodi Liu (cohort '12), Ted Harshberger (cohort '86), Olena Bogdan (cohort '12), and Sarah Kups (cohort '08); RAND Trustee and chair of the Pardee RAND Board of Governors Dr. Pedro José "Joe" Greer, Jr., member of the Pardee RAND Board of Governors, Hui Wang (cohort '88), Diana Epstein (cohort ‘05), and Mary Anne Doyle, (cohort ’87). (More photos are available on the Pardee RAND Facebook page.)

Dean Visits with Alumni in New York

On May 25, Dean Marquis visited with New York–area alumni Mike Dardia (cohort '89), Nick Ramphal (cohort '02), and Jessica Yeats (cohort '10) during a dinner at Print Restaurant.

11th Annual Los Angeles Policy Symposium

L.A. Policy Symposium panel discussion

Panel discussion from the 2016 symposium (photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND)

Researchers, faculty, and graduate policy students from the five leading policy schools in Los Angeles County convened for the 11th annual L.A. Policy Symposium. This year's theme was "People, Planet, Profits: Policy Solutions for a Changing World" and featured keynote speaker San Bernardino County Supervisor Josie Gonzales.

Students Olena Bogdan and David Manheim (both cohort '12) presented research, and professors Dave Baiocchi and Robert Lempert helped moderate panels.

Learn more »

Upcoming Events

July 14: Pardee RAND/RAND Alumni Association Summer Celebration

Alumni are invited to a summer celebration to meet and mingle with fellow RAND alumni and to share stories about the ideas and work that have helped shaped RAND and Pardee RAND over the years. This reception will take place at RAND in Santa Monica from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m.; drinks and appetizers will be served.

July 18-22: Faculty Leaders Program and Keynote Conversation with Dr. Nicole Lurie

Pardee RAND will host our fourth annual Faculty Leaders Program (formerly the Summer Faculty Workshop) during which we will welcome 12 guest faculty from institutions serving highly diverse student bodies for an intensive workshop in the tools of public policy analysis. The program will include a keynote address on Thursday, July 21, by former RANDite Nicole Lurie, M.D., assistant secretary for preparedness and response, Department of Health and Human Services, about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Alumni are invited to attend a reception at 4:00 p.m. and program at 5:00 p.m.

Learn more »

For information about these and other events, please contact Evelyn Fees.

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