About Us

John Sonego

John Sonego

John Sonego joined the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy as Associate Dean of External Affairs in 2011. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing the successful execution of development and programming for major gifts, corporate relations, foundation and federal relations, alumni relations, outreach programs and annual giving.

Prior to joining USC Price, John was the Assistant Dean of Development and Alumni Affairs for UCLA’s School of Public Health, leading a team responsible for raising more than $13 million per year. Before joining UCLA, he served as a consultant bringing a wide range of development and communications experience to an array of clients, including Enterprise Community Partners, Equality California, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), The Skid Row Housing Trust and the Housing Authorities for the City and County of Los Angeles. He has also served as the Director of Programs and Communications at GLAAD and as Vice President at the Rogers Group.

John received a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a M.A. from the University of Santa Monica.

Melissa Bersofsky

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Melissa Bersofsky joined the USC Price Development team in May of 2015 and serves as the Executive Director of Development. She works closely with alumni, parents, faculty and community supporters to help strengthen the Price School’s academic priorities in conjunction with the school’s $150 million capital initiative. She is responsible for major gift fundraising, planned giving, and donor stewardship.

Melissa has spent more than a decade in higher education, most recently serving as the Director of Development and Alumni Relations at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs beginning in 2011, and the Director of UCLA’s Young Alumni and Student Giving program beginning in 2005. Prior earning her masters degree in Education, Melissa began her career in advertising account management working with clients such as Nabisco and Compaq Computers at Foote, Cone and Belding in New York.

Melissa earned her B.A. in Psychology from Cornell University and an Ed.M from Harvard University.

Carole King

Carole King joined the USC Price External Affairs team in June of 2017 as the Executive Director of Development and Foundation Relations. She works closely with key stakeholders including alumni, community members, and foundations to ensure support for the Price School’s mission and expand its impact.

Prior to joining USC, Carole worked for 15 years as a fund development leader with nonprofits in New York City and Los Angeles. She succeeded in garnering grants, major gifts, government contracts, and corporate support for vital missions serving the elderly, children, cultural exchange, and those struggling with homelessness. Funds raised helped deliver meals to the homebound elderly through City meals-on-Wheels, teach underserved students to improve cognitive skills through Chess-in-the-Schools, and provide long-term housing through the Alliance for Housing and Healing. Before working as a fundraiser, Carole was a history teacher in New York City public schools.

Carole earned her B.A. in Philosophy and Theatre from Gettysburg College and her M.A. in Education from New York University.

Julie Labich

Julie Labich joined the USC Price’s Development team in 2017 as the Director of Development and Strategic Communications. In this role, she is responsible for managing Annual Giving programs, writing proposals, developing programmatic aspects of our Dean’s Speaker Series, Policy Breakfasts, and other events, as well as managing departmental communication strategy.

Julie brings a wealth of USC experience to her role. She has been with the University since 2005, and has worked in undergraduate and MBA Career Services for the USC Marshall School of Business, and student affairs for the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. She originally joined the USC Price School in 2015 as the Associate Director of Employer Relations in the Office of Career Services. She also brings significant marketing and communications experience to her Development role, with prior experience at Direct TV and with GCI Group (now Cohn & Wolfe), a global communications agency, providing expertise to clients including Dell, Mattel, and Starbucks.

Julie is completing her Master’s degree in Communication Management from USC Annenberg, and has a B.S. in Organizational Communication from Ithaca College.

Kristi Patton

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Kristi joined the USC Price Development team in February 2014. As the Director of Alumni Relations and Events, Kristi oversees the management of the USC Price alumni board of councilors as well as alumni and parent-related events. She is responsible for recruiting younger members to the Athenian Society, the school’s premier philanthropic support group. Prior to USC Price, Kristi oversaw stewardship and events at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. There, she spearheaded the opening of the school’s newest state-of-the-art Interactive Media building in June of 2013. She began working at USC in 2007 at the Office of Protocol and University Events, where she planned and executed prestigious large-scale development and fundraising events with most of the units and schools across the university. With her vast knowledge of the USC community and over 10 years of development and event experience, Kristi is a valuable asset to the USC Price Development team.

Kristi has also worked for Nordstrom and ESPN on large scale events including Nordstrom store openings, the ESPY Awards and ESVPN X Games. Kristi holds a B.A. in English from Loyola Marymount University and an M.A. from USC Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism.

Harlisha Hamm

Harlisha Hamm joined the USC Price School External Affairs team in October 2018 as the Director of Programs and Events.  She brings to the Price School more than a decade of university events and development experience, most recently as the Director of Special Events and Event Planning at the Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY) where she was for over 11 years.  At the Graduate Center, Harlisha ran the Special Events team and Room Reservations department, she was appointed the coordinator of the CUNY Campaign for Charitable Giving, and was a member of the President’s cabinet.  Prior to her tenure at the Graduate Center she held positions in alumni relations and annual giving at Pace University and events, alumni relations and communications positions at Stony Brook University.

Harlisha is a recent transplant from New York City where she was born and raised.  She earned a Master’s in Social Work with a unique Student Community Development Specialization in Higher Education (SCD) certification and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Journalism from Stony Brook University located in New York.

Miguel Mendez

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Miguel O. Mendez, Manager of Operations and Stewardship, joined the USC Price Development Office in March 2014. In this role, Miguel is responsible for gift processing, acknowledgements, budget management, and office administration. More recently, Miguel is in charge of revitalizing the Price School’s stewardship program by serving as the liaison to the Price students, helping them and their organizations connect with the school’s alumni and working with scholarship recipients to collect and feature their profiles. His relationship with students allows him to recruit and manage event volunteers who provide event support for school events.

Prior to this role, Miguel worked with the USC Price Business Office as a Budget Technician where he assisted in the budget management of over twenty accounts. Previously, Miguel worked at The Multicultural Service Center, a nonprofit organization where he supported the planning and execution of the organization’s anti-drug program targeting parents and at risk youth.

Miguel received his B.A. from the California State University, Northridge in Criminal Justice and is currently in the USC Price Master of Public Administration program.

Kristen DesCombes

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Kristen DesCombes joined the Price Development team in the summer of 2015. As the associate director of events and alumni relations, Kristen is responsible for the engagement of over 21,000 alumni worldwide.  She manages the Price School Alumni Association Board of Directors and plans regional events, such as the USC Price Conversations in New York, that tackle hot-button policy issues.

Prior to joining the development team, Kristen acted as an administrator in the Price Dean’s Office. Her time in the office was invaluable in learning the inner workings of the University, and it was there that Kristen cultivated a passion for the school after seeing first-hand the positive change students and faculty were capable of creating in their communities and abroad.

Kristen earned her B.A. in theater arts at USC. While you can no longer find her on stage, the skills she learned in leadership, improvisation, and cooperation make her a valued member of the Price team.