Policy in Action

Learning from professors with real-world experience, our students gain the applicable skills and practical knowledge they need to advance their careers in policy, government, or international affairs. Schar School classes are collaborative in spirit and connect theory with practice. Located where policy happens—just 6 miles from the U.S. Capitol Building—students are connected to job opportunities, internships, networking, and experiences that can only be found in the Washington, DC, area. Once they graduate, our alumni apply what they learned in the classroom to pursue meaningful careers. Below are stories of some our students, faculty, and alumni who are putting policy into action.


Peace Ops Grad Helps Revitalize Community Ravaged by Drugs

An effervescent 67 year-old on her first day of class, Gail Johnson had already excelled in several fields before starting this degree – her third – including considerable stints in the Navy, the nonprofit arena, education, business, and motherhood. Ever curious, and realizing she had a slim window to reap some educational benefits from her late husband’s military service, the degree title spoke to her on a deep level. Now, she wanted to go where the action was.




ICP Grad Making a Difference in Africa

It was his enduring curiosity that contributed to Jean-Guy Afrika’s enrollment in the International Commerce and Policy (ICP) program at the School of Government, Policy, and International Affairs. A Rwandan with a keen attraction to the nuts and bolts of global economics, he wanted his graduate studies to concentrate on how the forces behind globalization could be applied to bring about rapid development to his country as well as to the whole of Africa.




Alumna Confirmed as GSA Administrator

President Barack Obama nominated and the U.S. Senate confirmed Mason alumna Denise Turner Roth as the 39th Administrator of the General Services Administration.




Policy Grad Becomes Bike-Sharing Trailblazer

Paul DeMaio is kind of a big deal. As the principal for MetroBike, LLC, he is a successful businessman, a global authority on bike-sharing programs, an environmental activist, avid cyclist, health advocate, blogger, and – as Capital Bikeshare’s Arlington program manager – he may even be the man responsible for how you got to work today.




Peace Operations Grad Helps Those in Need

Turana Baghirova has no ordinary job. As a protection field officer for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Azerbaijan, she helps to trace those who went missing during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, unearthing their fates and bringing closure to their loved ones. Turana is an alumna of George Mason University’s Peace Operations master’s program, a unique course of study that prepares students to reestablish or preserve peace in areas rattled by conflict or natural disaster.




Biodefense Grad Influences National Security Policy

Brian Mazanec’s résumé reads like something out of a Tom Clancy or Ian Fleming thriller. He is an Assistant Director for the Defense Capabilities and Management team at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) where he leads a portfolio of small teams that review various issues, largely at the request of Congress.




Student Completes Prestigious Internship

Katie Garay, a government and international politics major, completed a prestigious 10-week internship at the U.S. Embassy in Panama. She’s putting her Spanish language skills to use each day and does much of the work of a full-time Foreign Service officer. She calls it ‘pinch-me-I’m-dreaming’ sort of experience.




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MPA Graduate Keeps Fairfax County Running

If you live in Fairfax County, chances are you’ve benefited from James Patteson’s hard work without even knowing it. The 2001 Master of Public Administration (MPA) graduate is the director of the county’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, which is responsible for Fairfax’s public infrastructure.




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ICP Program Alumna Takes Her Career in a New Direction

Alison Germak was already working in the communications department at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) when she decided to pursue a master’s from George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government to change the trajectory of her career.




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ODKM Grad Becomes Leading Consultant

As a Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Michael Donoghue is tasked with everything from supporting Project Management Operations to strategic planning for agency-wide functions. It’s a position he came to assume after a decade’s worth of rising through the PwC ranks following an 11-year stint in the military. Donoghue cites his time at The Schar School of Policy and Government with being a vital factor in his rise to the top.




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Combining Science and Policy

Biodefense alumna Kathleen Danskin’s work at GAP Solutions, Inc., is helping to get disaster-stricken communities back up on their feet. Her role – supporting the Science Preparedness program for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR) – serves the health needs of people recovering from ruin.




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Political Science PhD Lives His Passion

Arnaud Kurze’s road to his PhD started at the University of Hagen in Germany. He was working on his master’s and was intent on finding the perfect doctorate program. An advisor suggested he look into George Mason University’s then-brand new Political Science program, and he was instantly hooked. “The Political Science PhD program at George Mason was up-and-coming and vibrant,” says Arnaud. “It also had a great faculty-student ratio, which was really key for me intellectually and academically.”




Professor to Advise State Department on Religion and Global Affairs

Professor Peter Mandaville has been appointed as a senior advisor to the special representative for religion and global affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Among other duties, he will help craft aspects of the U.S. diplomatic strategy for dealing with rising sectarianism in the Middle East.




Watching and Reporting on Human Rights Trials in Peru

Political Science Professor Jo-Marie Burt and her protégé, a Mason alumnus, are constant presences in the courtrooms of Lima, making sure that justice is carried out correctly and transparently.