Political Science Alumnae
Alumnae from our department have entered a variety of careers following graduation from Saint Mary's College. These careers have included positions in the public sector, with interest groups, in the law, in business, and many other areas. We could provide a statistical breakdown of alumnae careers, but individual biographies may be more satisfying and illustrative. To that end, a number of alunnae have been kind enough to send in the brief biographies displayed below.
We plan on rotating and updating these biographies over time. We would appreciate receiving updates and new biographies from alumnae. You can submit them via e-mail to Professor Marc Belanger or via regular mail to:
Professor Marc Belanger
Department of Political Science
Saint Mary's College
Notre Dame, IN 46556
- Melanie Abke Penna
- Mona Berghoff
- Helen Burke
- Jane Cady Pirtle
- Gina Esposito
- Mary McGlinch
- Ann Rucker O'Connor
- Margaret Scully
- Leslie Tedrow McGuire
- MaryBeth Wilkinson
- Amy K. Young
- Jessica Zigmond
I have extremely fond memories of my years at Saint Mary's College. The campus environment is serene and secure. Professors and administrators are unswerving in their dedication to students and emphasize the importance of the pursuit of academic excellence. Saint Mary's provides a broad liberal arts educational experience that cultivates students' spiritual, personal, civic, and intellectual growth. While attending Saint Mary's I chose to pursue a double major in Political Science and Spanish. Courses in international politics, political theory, and comparative politics piqued my interest in world affairs. I developed quite early on an interest in global environmental politics and conducted research for my senior thesis on a related topic. I was hired by the chair of the Department at the time, Professor Lou Tondreau, as his T.A.during my senior year -- a responsibility that I enjoyed and valued tremendously. Professors in the Department of Political Science were available around the clock to assist and to mentor students. Library facilities were outstanding. After graduating from Saint Mary's in 1991, I completed a Master's degree in political science at the University of Toronto (1992). The following year, I decided to work for the lead counsel of the Office of Enforcement in the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to gain some"real-world" experience in the area of environmental law and politics. After working at IDEM for one year, I returned to school -- this time enrolling in a Ph.D. program, fall quarter 1993, at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. I received a full scholarship to USC, and worked as a T.A. for the first two years, and then as the Assistant Director of the Environmental Studies Program in my third year. In August of 1994, Tim Granzeier (ND '91) and I were married. Tim is an environmental and civil engineer. While attending USC, I completed another M.A. with distinction (1995) and received my Ph.D. summa cum laude in political science in May 1997. In 1996, I published a chapter on environmental security in an edited volume for SUNY Press, and in 1997 a chapter in another edited volume on reconceptualizing sovereignty for MIT Press. My dissertation examined theories of environmental rights and ethics in the context of international legal disputes. I am currently co-editing a symposium volume on Canadian environmental law and politics for Policy Studies Journal (PSJ). In September 1997, I accepted a teaching and administrative position at the University of Chicago. I created and teach two new courses ("International Relations and the Environment" and "Environmental Politics") for the Environmental Studies Program. These courses are electives for third and fourth year students. In addition to my teaching responsibilities, I administer the undergraduate Environmental Studies Program here at the U of Chicago.
Environmental Studies Program
920 East 58th Street CLSC 721A
University of Chicago
Chicago, IL 60637
Armed with my B.A. (Political Science/Philosophy) from St. Mary's College, I started law school at St. Louis University in August, 1985. I found law school to be a real grind, but I also found that I had learned valuable lessons and developed important skills while at St. Mary's. Simple lessons such as being prepared for every class, staying organized, and focusing on the real issues. In addition, the professors in the Political Science Department forced me to improve my writing skills and to learn how to boil down massive amounts of information into key components. Graduate schools are full of bright people, which can be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, at St. Mary's, I had learned how to work hard, and perhaps more importantly, I had learned how to work smart. The professors in the Political Science Department also demanded that we develop the ability to assess a situation and take charge. Initiative is critical in law school and in real life. Following law school, I worked as an associate in a large St. Louis law firm for five and a half years in the commercial in real life. Following law school, I worked as an associate in a large St. Louis law firm for five and a half years in the commercial real estate/commercial finance practice group. In order to increase my knowledge of commercial real estate and expand my array of career options, I decided to leave private practice. I joined the ranks of the 'non practicing' lawyer in 1993 when I accepted a position in the SUPERVALU INC. real estate development group in Philadelphia, PA. From there, I moved to Richmond, Virginia to work in the real estate department at Circuit City Stores, Inc. I am once again with SUPERVALU INC. and work in the corporate real estate group in Minneapolis, MN. I manage a portfolio of about 65 million square feet and handle a variety of real estate transactions. The jobs I have had since leaving private practice have emphasized business issues rather than legal issues, though I constantly draw on my legal background and the skills I cultivated while at St. Mary's. I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up, but with the bag of tricks that I accumulated while at St. Mary's, I am well equipped to take risks and face new challenges.
Following my graduation, I relocated to Philadelphia and accepted a position as a legal assistant with the general defense law firm of Schnader, Harrison, Segal and Lewis. This experience afforded me the opportunity to evaluate my interest in law which was triggered by some of my course work in the political science department. At Schnader, I worked closely with partners in the product liability and labor/employment sections. I assisted in all aspects of litigation preparation including witness and exhibit preparation, review of legal briefs and pleadings, and deposition summarization. The highlight of my Schnader experience was attending (2) Federal Court jury trials where I prepared the attorneys and witnesses for litigation of the case. Two years after joining the Schnader firm, I joined the labor and employment section of Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen as the department paralegal. This experience allowed me to hone in on my interest in labor and employment law and eventually led to my pursuit of a career in human resources where I could be proactive in preventing lawsuits versus reactionary in defending them. I knew that if I wanted to pursue a career in human resources, I would need to obtain an advanced degree in that area of study. So, I applied for a Master's in Public Administration from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) at the University of Pittsburgh. Not only was I accepted into the program, but was awarded a partial scholarship based on my prior academic standing at Saint Mary's and a two year fellowship based upon my high academic achievement and my interest in Personnel and Labor Relations Management. I coupled my two year program with part-time positions in human resources where I was able to put much of my management in human resources where I was able to put much of my management coursework to practice. In April 1995, I graduated with highest honors with an M.P.A. and specialization in Public Personnel and Labor Relations Management.
While most of my colleagues at Pitt pursued careers in public or non-profit organizations, I decided to pursue a career in the for-profit/private sector. Specifically, I searched for a position that would utilize my prior legal experience, my public and non-profit sector knowledge, and my human resources experience. Upon graduation, I relocated to Philadelphia where I accepted a position with Comcast Cable Communications, Inc. (the nation's third largest cable operator) as Manager of Human Resources. One year later, I was promoted to Director of Human Resources.
In my position I am responsible for: responding to and managing any and all litigation filed against the company, labor relations (both preventive and grievance handling), management training, compensation stragegy and administration, benefits adminstration and employee relations for over 9,000 employees in the cable division. It took me a long time to finally find my "dream job." My political science background provided me with a strong base in several functional areas that I deal with everyday in my current position: research and statistics, policy issues, negotiation skills, law, etc. Perhaps most compelling is that my political science/public sector experience has enabled me to bring a new ideas, approaches, and strategies to my private sector employer. Further, because of the intimate size of the poli-sci department at Saint Mary's, I was able to develop a relationship with my professors where I was comfortable (and actually encouraged) to challenge the system. I am forever grateful for the confidence gained by that experience because of what it has helped me do in the way of "thinking outside of the box" in my
Personal status: Married since 5/2/92 to Robert A. Penna, DMD (ND '89). Rob is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine ('93) and a graduate of the Orthodontic Residency Program at the University of Pennsylvania ('96). We currently live in Wilmington, Delaware with our dog, Bella.
After graduation in 1990, I began a joint degree program in law and political science (J.D. and Ph.D.) at the State University of New York at Buffalo. I completed the law degree in 1994. The next year, I began work on the Ph.D. in Political Science and also worked at Muga and Real P.A. At Muga, I researched issues in family, probate, personal injury and criminal law. I also drafted pleadings and memoranda of law, prepared for trial, hearing and discovery, and conducted client interviews. The next year, I continued course work toward the Ph.D. and worked in the Sarasota County Attorney's Office. At the county attorney's office, I worked on issues concerning municipal, constitutional, land use, contract, employment, labor, and property law. I was also able to contribute to writing and editing of a county-wide legal newsletter. I then moved to the law offices of Jerrold S. Zivic, where I worked on national Social Security practice, contracts, personal injury cases, and administrative law hearings. In 1998, I successfully defended my dissertation on legal barriers to participation in congressional elections. I continue to practice law, but I also enjoyed teaching a course on political participation at Saint Mary's College in Spring 1999.
It was only after I graduated from college (in 1992) that I began to fully appreciate how well Saint Mary's had prepared me for graduate school and my career in the public sector. As a political science major, I developed strong analytical skills and an ability to clearly and persuasively present and defend my ideas. Although I found the course work to be quite demanding and the expectations of students to be high, I was extremely motivated to meet the challenge because of the emphasis on learning and understanding, not memorization.
In addition to my course work in political science, I spent a semester studying and working in Washington, D.C. While in Washington, I had the opportunity to go beyond textbooks to get a first-hand, practical look at the federal government at work and to identify possible career paths. Specifically, I gained practical exposure to policy-making from the perspective of a non-profit interest group through my internship with the National Women's Political Caucus. My internship also allowed me to access significant resources for researching and writing my Senior Comprehensive - a case study of two women candidates for Congress - which explored why so few women run for political office.
Although many of my peers in political science pursued a law degree, my interests were in making and implementing public policy. As a result, I began graduate work toward my master's degree in public administration at the University of Georgia upon graduation. I chose public administration because its emphasis on the "business of government" was a good with both my political science and my economics majors.
Equipped with strong critical-thinking, research, and writing skills, the transition to graduate school was amazingly smooth. My graduate curriculum consisted of course work in areas such as budgeting, finance, policy, management, economics, personnel, and statistics. In graduate school, I was also introduced to the many equally important opportunities to make positive change in state and local government.
After a fairly short job search, I accepted a position with Georgia Department of Audits' Performance Audit Division in Atlanta. The position was appealing to me primarily because of the Division's mission of providing decision-makers with credible management information to promote improvements in accountability and stewardship at the state and local level.
As a Senior Management Analyst, I am a team leader responsible for conducting performance audits and program evaluations of state programs in order to ensure that they are good stewards of taxpayers' money. In order to review the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs, I find myself continuing to build upon the research, writing, and analytical skills that I first developed as a political science major on a daily basis. The most rewarding part of my job is when our findings and recommendations are used by legislators and agency administrators to make needed improvements and/or changes in government. However, the opportunity to learn about a variety of governmental programs and issues has also been important to holding my interest in my job. For example, the last several evaluations I worked on were the Department of Education's Dropout Prevention Efforts, the Department of Human Resources' Dental Treatment Program, and the Department of Human Resources' HIV/AIDS Prevention Efforts. (Our reports are available on our web-site at www.State.Ga.US/Departments/AUDIT/.)
In summary, my experience at Saint Mary's helped me to develop a strong foundation of skills that has been extremely relevant to my professional development. In addition, I feel confident that my academic preparation will continue to be an important factor in being able to reach my future career goals.
MaryBeth Wilkinson is an associate in the Litigation Group of the Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum Perlman & Nagelberg firm of Chicago, concentrating her practice in the area of commercial litigation. In 1994, she graduated summa cum laude from Saint Mary's, where she was President of the Student Body and the recipient of the Wall Street Journal Award and the Academic Achievement Award in Business. She graduated from Northwestern University School of Law in 1997.
Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum Perlman & Nagelberg
333 West Wacker Drive, Suite 2700
Fax: (312) 984-3220
The accomplishment of which I am most proud is that I worked for House Republican Leader and Speaker Lee Daniels as the first woman floor manager in the House. This has been a traditionally male position on both sides of the aisle. Voting your boss' switch and managing your side of the aisle are crucial and require that they trust you greatly. I was also responsible for keeping track of all the House bills, staff, Rules, and 50-60 members, challenging my organization, patience, and trust. I had the opportunity to work with some of the best floor leaders (debaters) on our side of the aisle. It was a great experience, and a great honor as well. My experience as floor manager prepared me well for the position as House Liaison for Governor Edgar. I learned a great deal from my experience with Representative Daniels, but everything was based on the fundamental knowledge about politics I gained at Saint Mary's College.
I think that the courses in State and Local Government, Scope and Methods of Political Science, American Public Policy, and even courses in Comparative Politics and International Relations had applicability in what I did after graduation. After graduation from Saint Mary's College, I pursued an MA in Political Science at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Missouri awarded me a teaching assistantship, which enabled me to teach several sections of undergraduate political science courses. My courses built directly upon the knowledge I gained at Saint Mary's College, and after one year I received the Outstanding Teaching Assistant of the Year. After entering state government in Illinois through a paid internship, I used the statistical background I received at Saint Mary's to do budgeting and appropriations work (and even polling later on while on House staff). In all my areas of work in state government, the ability to write well, to communicate, and to think critically and analytically were some of the most important abilities I developed while I was at Saint Mary's College. There were no mass sections of classes where you just complete multiple choice tests, have no discussion, and cannot talk to the professor. You had to demonstrate your ability to write, to discuss, and to participate in your classes. The Political Science Department at Saint Mary's College was more than willing to discuss my personal goals and future plans at any time. They also pushed and demanded quite a bit as well. Even during my participation in Washington Semester, I remained in contact with the department. The opportunities and experiences gleaned from that Semester are innumerable. I cannot speak highly enough of what I learned, and how much I value, even now, my experiences with the Political Science Department at Saint Mary's College.
I am now the Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff, Department of Human Services, State of Illinois.
Professional and Academic Accomplishments:
Since June 1998, I have been the Assistant Director, Office of Immigration and Law Enforcement Evaluations, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). I supervise a staff of program analysts who conduct program analysis and evaluations and make recommendations to DOJ agencies. The Office of Inspector General has oversight over all DOJ agencies. Our mission is to promote positive change in agencies to make DOJ programs more effective, efficient and reduce waste, fraud and abuse.
Prior to this position, I worked at different jobs in the Office of Evaluation and Inspections, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for 9 ½ years. I started my career at HHS in the Chicago regional office conducting program evaluations. In 1993, I fulfilled a life long goal to work in Washington, D.C. and accepted a headquarters position overseeing regional evaluations and working closely with HHS agency staff to implement the recommendations in our reports. My primary program areas included child support enforcement, income-maintenance, child care, public health, Medicaid, Medicare and social security. I also spent 8 months at the Department of Transportation helping their OIG office establish an Inspections and Evaluation function. Other special assignments included a national anti-fraud project called Operation Restore Trust that resulted in significant cost savings and quality improvements to the Medicare program.
I graduated cum laude from Saint Mary's in 1988 with a political science major and philosophy minor. In 1997, I received a Masters of Public Administration, Policy Concentration from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.
An integral amount of my identity and strength has derived from lessons learned at Saint Mary's. I believe a spirit exists at SMC that embraces, nurtures and develops students into secure, intelligent and confident women. I have found these characteristics essential in my postgraduate professional and personal life.
After graduation in 1994, I jumped right into law school at Loyola University Chicago, where I received an honors scholarship. Although my experiences at Loyola were positive and I loved Chicago, I would recommend taking a year off before starting law school. At 21, I was one of the youngest in my class and discovered that a little life experience and adjustment to being out of college eased the transition into law school for many of my classmates.
While at Loyola, I clerked at the City of Chicago Office of Sexual Harassment, and in DC at the Office of the General Counsel for the Small Business Administration. I also volunteered as a big sister at Mercy Homes, where I mentored a 12-year-old inner city child. This was one of the best experiences of my life in that it allowed me to see first hand how I could make a difference in the life of another.
I currently reside in Charlotte, NC with my husband Sean. We learned of his imminent transfer the night before I took the IL bar exam (nothing like a little additional stress to get the adrenaline flowing). I am licensed to practice law in IL, NC and MN.
My first "real" job was at First Union National Bank, concentrating in commercial real estate. I worked with commercial mortgage backed securities portfolios and dealt with many of the country's top law firms as well as general counsels from major national companies.
I left the bank for private practice and a less crazy lifestyle this summer, opting for a small firm located five minutes from my house. I still do some commercial real estate work, but am graduating toward estate planning and business succession. I really enjoy working with and for people as my clientele as opposed to the bank as my client.
My pro bono work consists of being a Guardian ad Litem for abused and neglected children. I represent their interests in court and ensure they are not entrapped or neglected in the legal system. This is rewarding work and lets me explore the public service aspects of the law and use my legal training to aid those who need it most.
My husband is a technology specialist for Microsoft, which has forced me to become computer literate. He worked for Bank of America out of college and before joining Microsoft. We both love to travel and try to get around as much as possible. We spent Thanksgiving in Southern France and the Riviera and are planning to visit Japan this spring. We have one dog, Lily, a rambunctious border collie.
My days at Saint Mary's were extremely rich because I was challenged to be a critical thinker, a strong writer, and an independent woman. Moreover, I formed wonderful intellectually stimulating friendships with professors and peers.
My deepest friendships were cultivated at Saint Mary's and I will never forget them. It has been my experience that the level of love and friendship that is developed at a women's college is unique. Women at Saint Mary's stay life-long friends and nurture one another through the years.
I pass on my biography to demonstrate that a woman from Saint Mary's, no matter what she may major in, can do any job she chooses. My major was in political science, however, I ended up in the pharmaceutical industry, which is dedicated to the advancement of medicine through science. Thank goodness, my skills were transferable!
My current job as promotion manager at Merck & Co. Inc. is to create innovative and impactful promotional resources that support respective marketing strategies. I work with advertising agencies in New York City to create items that enhance our service to customers, and increase product awareness.
In 1992, I received my Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN graduating Magna Cum Laude with a major in Political Science. After receiving my degree, I volunteered full time for a non profit organization in Washington D.C.
I then moved to Columbus, OH and accepted a job as a Vaccines for Children Coordinator for the Ohio Department of Health. In 1996, I joined the pharmaceutical company, Merck & Co., Inc. as a Vaccine Specialist responsible for vaccine sales and initiatives in the Columbus region. My performance in sales earned Merck's most prestigious field sales award, the Vice President's Club award.
I was promoted in 1999 to a Coordinator within the Merck Vaccine Division's Health Education Liaison Department in West Point, PA. I earned Merck's Award for Achievement for her contribution to innovative health education programs. Currently, I am a Promotion Manager, responsible for the creation of educational and marketing resources for selected vaccines.
I am active at my church serving as a lector and an assistant CCD teacher. I have also formed a local book club where the participants explore the depths of friendship through books. I am married to Steven DiMauro, who is a Consultant for IBM.
Amy K. Young, SMC Class of ‘97 I treasure the memories and friendships developed during my four years at Saint Mary’s College. The education I received at Saint Mary’s extended beyond the classroom and played a significant role in shaping my intellectual and moral character. To be an alumna of Saint Mary’s College is a true honor.
In 1997, I received my Bachelor of Arts Degree from Saint Mary’s in Political Science and Spanish. After receiving my degree, I accepted an internship as a Legislative Analyst for the Washington D.C.-based law firm of Williams & Jensen, P.C. During my post-graduate internship, I conducted legislative research in various practice areas, monitored federal agency developments, and provided analysis of regulations of interest to firm clients. My internship with Williams & Jensen was a rewarding experience, one that provided an unparalleled launch pad for my future career in public policy. In 1998, I relocated to Chicago and began work as a Project Assistant with the law firm of Schiff Hardin & Waite. After several months of training with the firm’s litigation group, I moved on to a position with the Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS) as Assistant Director of Legislation & Planning. It was at ISMS where I was promoted to Executive Director of the Illinois Psychiatric Society (IPS), the state’s largest professional physician specialty association. As IPS Executive Director, I reported directly to the board of directors on all projects and legislative initiatives designed to meet the strategic goals of the association. I coordinated extensive grassroots advocacy efforts and produced all written legislative communication, including hearing testimony, action alerts, and press releases. I was also responsible for the administration of the organization’s political action committee and associated political events and fundraisers. I left ISMS in 2002 to work as a Consultant with the Illinois Department of Human Services, Office of Mental Health in Chicago, Illinois. I served as a liaison between the Office of Mental Health and federal/state/local governmental and private sector entities on a number of legislative and regulatory matters regarding the delivery of mental health services. In September of 2003, I began a Master’s of Arts program at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. After my first year of graduate studies, I was accepted into the University’s Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy (GPHAP). GPHAP allows students to earn a Certificate in Health Administration and Policy while earning a graduate degree in one of the participating schools on campus: The Graduate School of Business, the Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, and the School of Social Service Administration. As a GPHAP student, I was able to focus my graduate work on federal health care policy issues. I completed the program in 2005 with an A.M. in Social Service Administration and a Concentration in Health Administration and Policy. I am currently employed as the National Government Relations Program Manager for the American Massage Therapy Association located in Evanston, Illinois. The American Massage Therapy Association represents more than 55,000 massage therapists in 27 countries. The association works to establish massage therapy as integral to the maintenance of good health and complementary to other therapeutic processes; to advance the profession through ethics and standards, certification, school accreditation, continuing education, professional publications, legislative efforts, public education, and fostering the development of members. I am responsible for the association’s government relations program, which is designed to proactively pursue fair and consistent professional licensure laws for massage therapists in every state.
I am getting married on October 28, 2006 to Mr. John W. Owens of Chicago, Illinois. John and I will reside in Chicago.
On graduation day in 1997, our commencement speaker—Anne Meagher Northup, ’70, a congresswoman from Kentucky’s third district who went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives for 10 years—emphasized that Saint Mary’s College is a place we would appreciate even more after we had left. Years later, I realize the same is true for my choice of majors. As much as I enjoyed elective courses in English and History, Political Science provided a knowledge base that has prepared me for a variety of positions in my career.
After graduating with that degree and a minor in American History, I moved to Washington, D.C. to work at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative public policy institution (think tank). I had completed an internship at Heritage as part of American University’s Washington Semester program during my junior year—still one of my favorite semesters because of all that I learned about politics, policy and life in Washington. Also, Heritage’s publications were helpful for my senior comprehensive on welfare reform, which developed from a paper I wrote for my Classic Rhetoric class in the semester before I left for D.C. (I recommend this English course for all political science majors! I know that it made me a better writer and reader.)
In December 1999, I completed the master’s program at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, and later worked as an equities reporter at Reuters news service, a freelance reporter, and a communications coordinator at a private insurance brokerage firm in Chicago. Although these jobs provided opportunities to learn and to write in different forms, I was still searching for the right fit. More than anything, I wanted to use my political science and journalism degrees in a role that would help make a difference in some way.
It was at this time—February 2002—that I returned to Saint Mary’s for a service fair, which caused me to think seriously about applying to service programs. It also reminded me how the Saint Mary’s community challenges both its students and alumnae to search for meaningful work. From 2002 to 2003, I served in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, where I worked in the Job Development Program at Covenant House Alaska, a Catholic homeless shelter for at-risk youth in Anchorage. That year, I worked with residents on their resumes, hosted job group preparation sessions and helped establish a tutoring program and Great Books Library.
After returning to Chicago, I worked for more than two years at The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (an association for heart and lung surgeons), writing and editing for the society’s quarterly newsletter, marketing materials and Web site. It was a good transition job after JVC, but I realized that I did not have a passion for communications. In 2005, I returned to traditional reporting when I accepted a job with Modern Healthcare, a national business weekly magazine published by Crain Communications. This position combines my previous experiences in reporting and healthcare, and I cover public health, rural health, specialty hospitals and long-term care.
Looking back, I think a political science degree provided a strong foundation for my career path, which has included experiences in public policy, service work and journalism. It seems to me that learning how people and systems interact, exploring political ideologies, understanding the legislative process, and trying to make a difference in the world are just some of the invaluable benefits of majoring in political science at Saint Mary’s.