Alumni Spotlight Archive

Over the years, USC Price has put the Spotlight on our outstanding graduates who create impact on their communities. Read about them here — and be sure to let us know about your accomplishments, too!


ATaylor_2721R-228x300Anthony R. Taylor, BS ’97
Attorney and USC Price alumnus Anthony R. Taylor believes “the most important thing in life is having that passion and drive and will that you never quit, no matter what.” That passion and perseverance were essential in Taylor’s role as the lead civil litigator for the City of Bell, as he helped recover millions of dollars for the city and its residents amid a widely publicized corruption scandal. As a result of his efforts, Taylor was named California Lawyer magazine’s 2015 Attorney of the Year in the category of municipal law.
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WEST HOLLYWOOD CALIF. - FEB. 18, 2015. John Dawson has made a career out of expanding the reach of some of the nation's best known chains, first with Dunkin Donuts, then with McDonald's. Now, in his first job as CEO, Dawson has been tapped to grow the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf brand. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

John Dawson, MRED ’87
The Los Angeles Times highlighted Price alumnus John Dawson, president and CEO of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, in a recent Q&A article, “The Man Behind the Brand.”
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chifeinjoDavid Feinberg MPL ’09, Lauren Chianese MPP ’10, Priti Johari MPP ’06
For a dozen years, David, Lauren, and Priti traveled remarkably similar courses from different parts of the country. From their varied experiences, they drew identical conclusions about education and equity. Last year, their paths finally crossed when the three were brought together as participants in the Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE) Public Leadership Fellows program.
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wang-thumbWendy Wang, MPP ’01
Wendy is the president of the USC Price Alumni Association Board of Directors and a member of the Athenian Society’s Leadership Council. A Dean’s Merit Scholar, Wang graduated in 2001 with a Master of Public Policy. Presently, she serves as the corporate director of community education, outreach, and public policy at Pacific Clinics, the largest non-profit behavioral health care provider in L.A. County.
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RonnieLottRonnie Lott, BS ’81
Ronnie Lott has won a lot of awards in his athletic career — All-American safety at USC, four-time Super Bowl champion, an inductee of both the pro and college football halls of fame. So when Lott says he places the USC Alumni Merit Award above them all, it’s quite a statement.
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Colleen DilenschneiderColleen Dilenschneider, MPA ’11 
In 2011, Colleen Dilenschneider graduated from USC Price’s Master of Public Administration program with a concentration in nonprofit management. Today, she is the Chief Market Engagement Officer for the marketing intelligence and consulting company IMPACTS, where she makes big data accessible to organizations and specializes in audience engagement initiatives and digital marketing. In addition, Colleen also dedicates her time to helping advance the service sector through her popular website, Know Your Own Bone, a resource that offers creative online engagement strategies and best practices for nonprofit and cultural organizations including museums, zoos and aquariums.
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Aja Brown

Aja Brown, ’04, MPL ’05
Aja Brown said that one of her favorite things about being a student at USC Price was “the expectation to do well and make a difference.” As the newly elected mayor of the city of Compton, she now has the opportunity to turn that expectation into reality.
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Chris Steins

Chris Steins, MPL ’95
Chris Steins is the founder and CEO of the Los Angeles-based Internet consulting firm Urban Insight, Inc., and editor of Planetizen, the urban planning and development network. A nationally recognized consultant in the field of technology and urban planning, Chris has worked with a broad range of clients in government, education and the private and nonprofit sectors.
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Kabira Stokes

Kabira Stokes, MPP ’10
After graduating with a Master of Public Policy from USC Price in 2010, Kabira Stokes is the founder and CEO of Isidore Electronics Recycling. The LA-based company provides electronics recycling services, while also functioning as an on-the-job training and employment program for previously incarcerated individuals who face barriers to employment.
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Haifa Reda Jamalallail

Haifa Reda Jamalallail, Ph.D. ’91
Dr. Haifa Reda Jamalallail graduated with her Ph.D. from the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy in 1991. Today, Dr. Jamalallail is the president of Effat University, the leading institution of higher education for women in Saudi Arabia.
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Jaime Carias

Jaime Carias, MPP ’10
Since graduating from USC Price in 2010, Jaime Carias began working at CSU Long Beach as a recruiter and counselor for incoming freshmen for the College Assistance Migrant Program. He also recently launched an educational organization, College Success Services, which strives to create college-going cultures for students and institutions across the country.
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Noah Dormady

Noah Dormady, PhD ’12
After graduating with his PhD in Policy, Planning, and Development from USC Price in 2012, Noah Dormady accepted a tenure-track position at Ohio State University, where he is now an Assistant Professor at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs. He has taught courses in policy analysis and environmental/energy policy, and is conducting research related to carbon auction designs and electricity markets.
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Imran Farooq

Imran Farooq DPPD ’11
Imran Farooq DPPD ’11 proved that he was ready for his close-up during the broadcast of SOS: Sustaining Our Society, a PBS documentary based on his USC Sol Price School of Public Policy doctoral project. The documentary — available for viewing online — demonstrates how Farooq used private investment to acquire and rehabilitate an abandoned, foreclosed property and improve the surrounding neighborhood block in the 62nd Assembly District, an area hard hit by the housing crisis in San Bernardino, Calif. It’s also the region where Farooq grew up and the place that he still calls home.
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Michael Gazzano

Michael Gazzano, MRED ’12
Michael Gazzano graduated this past May with his Master of Real Estate Development from USC Price. He was recently promoted to Development Manager of Caruso Affiliated, renowned developer of retail and residential properties and one of the industry’s premier firms. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from the Price School.
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Kiyomi Burchill

Kiyomi Burchill, MPA ’11
Kiyomi Burchill, 28, graduated with her Master of Public Administration from the USC Price School in 2011. This past December, she was appointed assistant secretary of the State of California’s Health and Human Services Agency by Governor Jerry Brown.
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Bob ChampionBob Champion, MRED ’96
Bob Champion MRED ’96, is the founder and president of Champion Real Estate Co., one of the pioneers in creating urban mixed-use project developments. He is a leading national expert on shopping centers, vertical retailing, public-private partnerships and mixed-use development with retail, residential, office and entertainment components. His company’s mixed-use developments in Southern California include Gaslamp CitySquare in San Diego, The Pasadena Collection and The Burbank Collection.
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Courtney Silver

Courtney Silver, BS ’11
Courtney Silver is a recent alumna of USC Price, having graduated in May 2011 from the real estate development track of the school’s undergraduate program. A week after graduation, she began working for the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) in downtown Los Angeles, as a production analyst in its multifamily division.
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Ronald Arias

Ronald Arias, MPA ’74
MPA alumnus Ronald Arias retired December 2012 as the director of the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services — a post he’d held for 12 years. His career as a public servant spans 22 years with the City of Long Beach.
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Phillip ChenPhillip Chen, MPA ’05

Phillip Chen is a graduate of USC Price’s MPA program. Currently, he works as the health deputy for L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, where he is responsible for helping formulate policy in all aspects of county health, public health and mental health services. He also serves as a reserve deputy for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. This past November, he was elected to the Walnut Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees.
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Julayne Austin MPA ’07
As a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Southern California, Julyane Austin has attended class with some of the nation’s most promising students under the guidance of instructors who are leaders in their fields. Through her current position as Managing Director for Education Pioneers, a national nonprofit dedicated to improving the schooling of thousands of students, she works to ensure that others are given the same opportunities.
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Teri Boughton MHA ’05
As a committed healthcare professional, Teri Boughton combines her experience and dedication to seek improvements to California’s health care system. Through her position at the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF), she works to promote awareness among policymakers so that Californians can secure the coverage they need.
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Jennifer Breckheimer MPP ’08
Consulting necessitates dedication to one’s client and the ability to effectively analyze problems and communicate the best possible solutions. When that client is an agency or department of the federal government, discretion and accuracy become especially critical. As a member of Deloitte Consulting LLP, a national consulting firm that deals with such issues, Jennifer Breckheimer plays an indirect but key role in the functions of an agency of the federal government.
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Kirk Cartozian MRED / MBA ’05
Kirk Cartozian attributes his education and experiences at SPPD with helping him form a successful real estate services company. Today, Cartozian gives back to the SPPD community through his role as president of the school’s Alumni Association Board of Directors — serving as the main advocate for all SPPD alumni.
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Brett Ellsworth MRED ’92
As a resort developer, Brett Ellsworth’s work entails identifying potential building sites, working on the construction of projects and managing them after they are completed. As president of Contact Development Company, LLC (CDC), one of Mexico’s premiere development companies, his job includes overseeing the entirety of this process and working with clients and residents to ensure that all parties are satisfied.
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David Kuehn MPA ’96
Drawing on his training at SPPD, alumnus David Kuehn conducts research to address the critical need for long-term improvements to transportation systems nationwide. Kuehn manages the Federal Highway Administration’s Exploratory Advanced Research Program in Washington, D.C.
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Thomas Lee MRED ’06
Thomas Lee, a graduate of SPPD’s master of real estate development program, was recently named by Pacific Business News as one of the “Forty under 40” real estate professionals in the United States. He is responsible for the leasing and development of 1,500 homes and more than 500,000 square feet of industrial space on Oahu, Hawai’i.
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Erika Martin MPA, MPL ’08
Erika Martin has seen Long Beach change over the years. Martin grew up in the city and is currently working on facilitating change there as a development analyst for the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency. At SPPD, she studied urban planning at the city level and aimed to bring sustainable change to the built environment in areas of cities that need it most.
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Kiki Coyne Nocella MHA ’91, Ph.D. Public Administration ’05
Before Kiki Coyne Nocella became the founding vice provost of health affairs at University of California-Riverside, she was a Trojan. “SPPD’s impact was huge,” she says. “At the master’s degree level, it was about the experience, the exposure to health professionals and entities, and the network. It was about finding my place in the professional world.”
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Lucy Okumu MPP ’03
As a legislative advocate for the Los Angeles Unified School District, Lucy Okumu represents the interests of more than 700,000 children and 800 schools. Stationed in Sacramento, she works to secure state resources and support state laws that address the instructional needs of students in the nation’s second-largest school district.
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Sid Paul MRED ’03 and Alex Saunders MRED ’03
The new Puerta del Sol development in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of east Los Angeles is more than just another mixed-use development complete with street level retail environments and proximity to mass transit. It’s a mixed-income development that is addressing the L.A. housing crunch, and at the same time, revitalizing a forgotten manufacturing and industrial neighborhood. So say SPPD alumni Sid Paul and Alex Saunders, members of the Master of Real Estate Development Class of 2003, who are working together on the project.
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Hilda Solis MPA ’81
During a Dec. 19 press conference in Chicago, President-elect Barack Obama nominated Rep. Hilda Solis (D-El Monte) for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor. Solis is an alumna of the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development, graduating with a master’s degree in public administration in 1981.
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Brissa Sotello MPP ’06
Brissa Sotelo believes in the power of community policy – where and how communities can help shape policy as stakeholders. She is especially interested in the ways in which communities influence the operations of private industry – an interest that plays a large role in her job at Tesoro Corporation Los Angeles Refinery.
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Erroll Southers MPA ’98
How many students at USC can say their professor was a former FBI special agent? SPPD alumnus Erroll Southers has returned to USC with three new identities: professor on counter-terrorism, founding member of the SPPD Alumni Association, and associate director of the USC Homeland Security Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE).
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Jason Umino BS ’95
n the early 90s, Jason Umino was a Renaissance scholar long before the new USC Renaissance Scholar program was created. With a Bachelor of Science in Public Policy and Management from SPPD, and a minor in French, he was able to diversify his undergraduate education in such a way that allowed him to create a specialized career path later on.
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Lupe Valdez BA Psychology ’83, MPA ’85
Lupe Valdez recently traveled to Washington, D.C. for two reasons. As director of public policy and community affairs for Union Pacific Railroad, she was on Capitol Hill with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce to urge federal investment in Southern California. She was also at the nation’s capital to speak at a special reception for alumni and friends of SPPD as the incoming president of the school’s alumni association.
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Michael Vanderbeek MPL ’05
As the second busiest seaport in the United States, the Port of Long Beach plays an integral role in the economic growth and well being, not only of California, but the nation as a whole. On any given day, a variety of goods travels through the Long Beach harbor, ranging from automobiles and petroleum to toys and furniture. Michael Vanderbeek, manager of strategic planning, is responsible for a host of projects and activities to help ensure the port’s success.
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Suzanne Yu MHA ’06
Entering the medical field and contributing to societal change were always Suzanne Yu’s aspirations. By including the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development’s Master of Health Administration program in her path, she gained valuable skills and resources that have helped in her professional life and complemented her dedication to working for the public interest.
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