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Wilder School in Action

Research globally, teaching locally Dr. William V. Pelfrey Jr. gains insights in Lebanon

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Fall 2018

The Wilder Difference Public affairs expertise Five academic disciplines that blend theory and practice. Five centers that offer research, consulting and training. One school that’s the premier resource for state and local leadership expertise in Virginia. The VCU L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs informs public policy through cutting-edge research and community engagement and prepares students to be tomorrow’s leaders. The Wilder School provides students practical opportunities in public policy through internships, community partnerships and scholarship. The Wilder School leads the conversation about society’s pressing public policy issues. The Wilder School embodies the values of independent thought and public service leadership championed by L. Douglas Wilder, the nation’s first elected African-American governor, who served in Virginia’s highest office from 1990-94.

Our academic disciplines The school offers undergraduate, master’s or doctoral degrees in: • Criminal justice

• Public administration

• Homeland security and emergency preparedness

• Public policy and administration

• Urban and regional studies and planning

Students can also earn graduate certificates in those areas, as well as in gender violence intervention, geographic information systems, nonprofit management, public management, sustainability and urban revitalization.

Letter from the dean’s office Dear Friends, We’re excited to launch the inaugural issue of “Wilder School in Action,” a magazine designed to showcase some of our recent contributions to social equity in public safety, governance, and economic and community development. The Wilder School is on the move! We’re a top 50 graduate public affairs program, moving up 12 spots to No. 44 in the most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings. Our first-inthe-nation homeland security and emergency preparedness program — launched in 2005 — is ranked the 10th best online master’s program in emergency management in the U.S. by Bestcolleges.com. We’re also expanding our physical footprint on campus. In August we formally dedicated the recently renovated Raleigh Building, a new addition to our school. It houses student advising offices; the doctoral, criminal justice, and urban and regional studies and planning programs; and much-needed new classroom space. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, we were honored to have joining us VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., and L. Douglas Wilder, Virginia’s 66th governor and distinguished professor at the school that bears his name. [See photo on back cover]. “Wilder School in Action” highlights some of the truly meaningful and important work our faculty, students and alumni are doing. From promoting ethics on the world stage to exposing the horrors of human trafficking to informing public policy through our research, we’re making a difference. It is my privilege to serve as interim dean of the Wilder School, where public service in action is lived every day. I am proud of the contributions we make locally, nationally and internationally and look forward to the year ahead. If you would like to learn more about the Wilder School, please contact me at stgooden@vcu.edu or (804) 827-0776. I welcome the opportunity to talk with you. Kind regards,

Our centers Drawing on the broad expertise of Wilder School faculty, the Center for Public Policy’s five units provide applied research in the areas of state and local government, social equity, and leadership and a range of services to clients in state and local government, nonprofit organizations, businesses and the general public across Virginia and beyond. CPP consists of: • Center for Urban • Office of Public and Regional Analysis Policy Outreach • The Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute

• Performance Management Group

• Survey and Evaluation Research Laboratory

Susan T. Gooden, Ph.D. Interim dean

Virginia Commonwealth University L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs 923 West Franklin Street Box 842028 Richmond, Virginia 23284 (804) 828-2292



Wilder School in Action


A worldwide approach to ethics education

An international, open-access curriculum on crime and justice draws on the expertise of Wilder School criminologist Jay Albanese, Ph.D.



street vendor is selling a counterfeit designer handbag at an amazing price. What’s the harm in buying one and saving hundreds of dollars? Lots, according to Jay Albanese, Ph.D., a renowned criminologist and professor of criminal justice at the Wilder School. “The result of you buying the bag is that you’re supporting the criminal enterprise that manufactured it, the profits of which go to the further enslavement of workers, intellectual property theft against the legitimate bag maker and money laundering through other countries,” Albanese said. “This relatively inconspicuous act of buying a counterfeit bag has large consequences that in fact are global. Citizens often participate in organized crime without knowing what they’re doing. Without better education, people don’t realize that these smaller acts result in larger harms.” And educating people about ethics — what’s right and what’s wrong — lies at the heart of a global project in which Albanese has been actively involved. Through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime under the Education 4 Justice initiative, Albanese is among experts from 30 countries and the only American developing a global open-access curriculum on crime and justice-related topics for instructors across the world. He was


the principal drafter of the course modules on organized crime and served as a reviewer for the course modules on integrity and ethics. “Dr. Albanese was selected to participate in this project because of his vast knowledge and expertise on organized crime, as well as his ability to convey such knowledge in a manner that is simple and understandable, even to those professors and students less familiar with this area of study,” said Flavia Romiti, U.N. associate crime

“Ethics is the most fundamental problem on the planet.” – Jay Albanese, Ph.D. prevention and criminal justice officer. “During the coming months, his expertise, as well as his oratory skills, will be sought for the presentation of the material to the academic community around the globe,” she said. Ultimately the curriculum will be available for open-access use by instructors and students around the world, and will be translated into Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. “The idea is to keep the accessibility as open as possible. All you need is

Jay Albanese, Ph.D., is a leading scholar in transnational and organized crime and corruption. He is the author of 20 books, including “Professional Ethics in Criminal Justice: Being Ethical When No One is Looking.” Additionally, he served as chief of the International Center at the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice; was past president and is a fellow of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences; and was a founding member of Criminologists Without Borders.

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Jay Albanese, Ph.D., is among experts from 30 countries and the only American who is working on the United Nations’ Education 4 Justice initiative.

an internet connection,” Albanese said. “We’re trying to raise the level of awareness and the level of seriousness of these issues by not putting up barriers. We hope these will be the most used source materials in the world once they’re available.” The initiative seeks to prevent crime and promote a culture of lawfulness through education activities designed for all students, from grade school through university. He has appeared in several U.N. videos about the project. Albanese plans to incorporate the modules into his classes at the Wilder School, where he teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses, including organized crime and professional ethics. “Ethics is the most fundamental problem on the planet,” Albanese said. “How do people make decisions that exploit others? Until we have people making decisions that are not in their own self-interest, we will continue to have conflicts, political upheaval, irregular immigration and economic suffering. All the big issues that anybody cares about are ultimately ethical issues.” Watch the U.N. videos featuring Jay Albanese at www.unodc.org /e4j/en/multimedia/index.html

His many honors include VCU’s Distinguished Teaching Award, the Outstanding Mentor Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences and the Distinguished Scholar Award from the International Association for the Study of Organized Crime. In 2017 he was appointed the first chair of the ethics committee for the American Society of Criminology and has organized workshops and roundtables to train faculty and professionals in the field of criminology.

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Divided we stand?

(From left) Wilder School Interim Dean Susan Gooden, Ph.D., addresses the audience of nearly 200. Gov. L. Douglas Wilder answered questions after his keynote address in which he noted, “Many of the concerns that we see in our inner cities today have gone unnoticed or unresolved.”

Wilder School leads discussion on Kerner Commission Report 50 years after publication ,


half-century ago, Americans were confronted by a bombshell report that cautioned that relations between blacks and whites were perilously toxic and that the nation had not moved far beyond its original sin of slavery. The Report on The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, also known as the Kerner report, was the result of an 11-member body established by President Lyndon Johnson to investigate the genesis of a series of explosive confrontations between urban police forces and black residents in 159 communities between 1964 and 1967. Despite its predominantly male, centrist membership, the commission produced a vigorous, seven-month study that famously upset all assumptions. Over the course of 654 pages, the Kerner report indicted white racism—not black insurgents—as the fundamental cause of urban unrest. Comprehensive in its detail of structural and systemic racism, the report cited fear-driven, discriminatory policing practices, a flawed justice system, unscrupulous consumer credit

practices, inadequate housing, high unemployment and voter suppression among the myriad sources of black disillusionment. Apart from its caustic critique, the Kerner Commission recommended an ambitious policy agenda to enrich segregated neighborhoods—primarily through the creation of jobs, employment training programs and better housing. “Even today the path breaking nature of the Kerner report endures,” said Wilder School Interim Dean Susan Gooden, Ph.D. “You have a document commissioned by a sitting U.S. president that powerfully and poignantly introduced institutional racism into the political mainstream.”

Gooden is co-editor of a special volume of The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, a collection of articles about the landmark report. The volume, which revisits commission findings and recommendations in light of contemporary political and socio-economic realities, was the subject of a conference co-hosted by the Wilder School and the Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice. The event was held at the Hubert H. Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota September 5-7. The 50th Anniversary of the Kerner Commission Report National Conference drew an audience of nearly 200 and featured a prominent delegation of Wilder School faculty including Governor L.

“People have to continue to demand what is right and continue to criticize what is wrong, for the sake of our nation and posterity.” — Gov. L. Douglas Wilder

Douglas Wilder, who delivered a keynote address. Former U.S. Sen. Fred Harris, of Oklahoma, the last surviving member of the Kerner Commission, addressed the audience as well. The Russell Sage Foundation, the National League of Cities, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Humphrey School also provided support. Three Wilder faculty members moderated panels and served as discussants: Jay Albanese, Ph.D., professor of criminal justice; Elsie Harper-Anderson, Ph.D., associate professor of urban and regional studies and planning and chair of the doctoral program; and Grant Rissler, Ph.D., assistant director of the Office of Public Policy Outreach. While black individuals have much improved access to better education, elite employment, higher incomes, and wealth, black neighborhoods remain economically stagnant. And the neighborhoods directly affected by the riots remain among the most economically

disadvantaged, even 50 years later. “One could almost believe that we were in H.G. Well’s Time Machine in 1968 and positioned forward for today’s observation,” Wilder told the conference, referring to the Kerner report’s repeated emphasis on the role of police brutality in alienating black citizens. “Many of the concerns that we see in our inner cities have gone unnoticed or unresolved. The problems of public safety and increasing crime in Baltimore did not come with the murder of Freddie Gray.” In panels that showcased renowned scholars from an array of disciplines, mayors of urban centers and historical eyewitness, the conference tackled a range of issues from the racialization of violent protests to minority trends in higher education. Again and again, participants returned to a central question: how far has America come over the last 50 years in addressing the racial disparities that

divide our country? Regrettably, the diversity of perspectives shared was not offset by the consistency of their findings. Though much has changed in our nation, the overwhelming consensus was that much remains the same. How to make good on the promise of America, for all Americans, immediately? The scholars who shared their work at the conference hold one key—evidence-based solutions. Another key, echoed by both Harris and Wilder, is a commitment to sustained, collective action. “People have to continue to demand what is right and continue to criticize what is wrong, for the sake our nation and posterity,” Wilder said. Download the Russell Sage Foundation’s special volume at rsfjournal.org. Also forthcoming is a special edition of The Review of Black Political Economy.

Watch Governor Wilder’s keynote address at: tinyurl.com/ydxg66q8 Watch Senator Harris’ talk at: tinyurl.com/yba2w5xf


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Wilder School in Action


Translating research into public policy

Wilder School Translational Research Fellows program connects academics and lawmakers


hree new state laws that went into effect on July 1 share more than being related to equity — their chief patrons drew on the expertise of Wilder School Translational Research Fellows. The research fellows program, housed within our Center for Public Policy, bridges the gap between academia and policy by connecting researchers with lawmakers. Shelly Smith, DNP, an expert on training nurse practitioners, and Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, Ph.D., an expert on equity in education, shared their knowledge with members of the Virginia General Assembly to inform legislation that became law. [See sidebar] Smith provided critical insights to Del. Roxann Robinson of Chesterfield County in shaping HB 793. “Shelly is a leading expert in her field,” Robinson said. “Her knowledge of the issue and her close involvement in the everyday medical field were extremely beneficial as we worked to tackle an issue facing nurse practitioners on a daily basis.”

“Part of the Wilder School’s mission is to advance research that informs public policy with a goal of improving our communities.” – Grant Rissler, Ph.D., assistant director, Center for Public Policy Each year, up to 10 faculty members from across VCU are selected to be Translational Research Fellows. Their research areas vary and include topics such as oral health disparities, solar energy policy and planning, artificial intelligence, the use of research involving animals and juvenile justice policy. “Part of the Wilder School’s mission is to advance research that informs public policy with a goal of improving our communities,” said Grant Rissler, Ph.D., assistant director of the Center for Public Policy’s outreach programs.


Wilder School in Action

Hayley Cleary, Ph.D., (left), assistant professor in the Wilder School’s criminal justice program and a Translational Research Fellow, discusses policy with VCU alumni state Sen. Roslyn R. Dance of Petersburg and Del. Steve Landes of Augusta County. Sen. Dance earned her M.P.A. at the Wilder School. “The Fellows program allows us to build bridges between the university and the policy world,” he said. “Virginia’s part-time lawmakers process 3,000 bills in less than 60 days of the legislative session, and there’s precious little time during session to seek out new sources of credible information. The Fellows program makes getting started from either end of the bridge easier.” Smith called the program “a transformative experience.” Meeting faculty from across the university who share similar research interests is another benefit of the program, and can potentially lead to future cross-discipline collaborations among researchers. “This unique experience is also an innovative approach to removing academic silos,” Smith said. For a new cohort, initial training highlights the rhythms, systems and key players in the legislature, as well as best practices in communicating with policymakers. Following the training, Fellows prepare a policy brief in their area of expertise, getting feedback and design help from program coordinators. The challenge of summarizing insights that would fill a 30-page academic paper into two pages is another part of the learning experience. Once briefs are ready, the program

sets up three meetings for Fellows with interested policymakers to talk about their area of expertise. “Once a Fellow is seen as a credible expert by a legislator, the ongoing conversations often continue into other related policy areas,” said Robyn McDougle, Ph.D., director of the Center for Public Policy. “When Shelly met with Del. Robinson the first time, they had a good connection. So her office was in touch numerous times over the course of the next session, drawing on Shelly as a sounding board as amendments were considered.” Siegel-Hawley — who met with state Sen. Bill Stanley of Franklin County and Del. Jeff Bourne of Richmond, the chief patrons of the two school discipline bills — also noted the importance of building trust in being seen as a credible expert. “The program helped establish relationships between research and policymakers,” she said, “These relationships nurture trust, which is a key element in bridging the research-policy gap.”

Translational Research Fellows helped shape these equityrelated laws that went into effect on July 1, 2018: • House Bill 1600 establishes a new 45-day maximum limit (previously 364 days) on the length of long-term school suspensions intended to mitigate the “school to prison pipeline” that disproportionately impacts minority students. • Senate Bill 170 prohibits suspending students in pre-K through third grade for more than three days. • House Bill 793 gives nurse practitioners with more than five years of clinical experience the freedom to practice without requiring an oversight agreement with a physician and allowing nurse practitioners to provide care in rural and poor areas that face an undersupply of doctors.

J’niyah Knox-Wilson, a current Wilder Fellow, works at VADOC with alumni (from left) Warren McGehee (M.P.A. ’95); Ibrahim Keita (M.P.A. ’17), a former Wilder Fellow; and Knox-Wilson’s manager, John Turner (B.S., B.A. ’04)

Top students tackle policy challenges Wilder Fellows make their mark in state agencies and nonprofits


n meetings with career policy analysts, administrators and statisticians, junior staff members hear issues confronting some of Virginia’s largest and most impactful agencies. At the Virginia Department of Corrections, they consider services that bridge the gap between families and the incarcerated to better support re-entry after release. At the state’s Department of Social Services, they listen to the concerns of local child protective services workers who are struggling to balance heavy caseloads with the completion of dozens of state-mandated training courses. And at the Virginia Retirement System, they simplify complex changes in benefit and actuary guidelines into a handbook that can be easily accessed and understood by employees. Although the newcomers in these agencies are there to address some of state government’s most pressing problems, they aren’t from government at all. They are among the top minds of the Wilder School’s graduate programs — students who have distinguished themselves through stellar academic achievement and a yearlong commitment as a Wilder Graduate Scholars Fellow. Launched in 2006, the Wilder Graduate Scholars Fellowship provides funding for participants in exchange for part-time work in state agencies and nonprofit firms in metro Richmond. Each fellowship provides in-state tuition and a stipend that helps to defray the cost of attendance and living expenses for the school’s most competitive graduate students. “The Wilder Fellowship is designed to be mutually beneficial to both the student and host employer,” said Shajuana Isom-Payne, assistant dean of student services and director of the Wilder School’s Office of Student Success, which administers the program. ”Fellows are not interns,” Isom-Payne said. “They are members of their host employer’s staff who can be called upon to produce meaningful deliverables. In return, they get a sense of what the real world is like and the chance to do a deep dive into public service and better understand practitioner issues.” From their cubicles, fellows provide fresh insight and timely support

to their employers. A few years ago, staff changes in VADOC’s Statistical Analysis and Forecasting unit created two vacancies that made it a scramble to produce numerous monthly forecasts and legislative impact reports. In jumped unit manager Warren McGehee (M.P.A. ’95), who hired Ibrahim Keita (M.P.A. ‘17), a Wilder Fellow who brought youthful enthusiasm, substantive analysis and project management skills to the role. “Ibrahim saved the day,” McGehee said, “and really allowed us to leverage his efforts to meet project goals and deadlines without interruption.” Since the program’s establishment, 45 employers have participated in the Wilder Fellowship. Collectively, hosts have provided more than $2.7 million in tuition assistance and supported the careers of more than 100 fellows. McGehee, who hired Keita immediately following the fellowship as a full-time senior research analyst, described the fellowship as “an invaluable pipeline for public sector employers looking to recruit qualified prospects from diverse academic backgrounds.” J’niyah Knox-Wilson, a current Wilder Fellow at the Virginia Department of Corrections where she works alongside Keita, agrees. Knox-Wilson, a Rhodes Scholar finalist and graduate of Hampton University where she maintained a 4.0 GPA as a studentathlete, received several competitive offers for graduate study. She described the fellowship as a significant factor in her decision to attend the Wilder School. “Being engaged in current policy and evaluation offers tremendous advantages. Through the fellowship, I’ve met talented professionals and participated in a number of projects that have expanded my knowledge and abilities. I do not think I would have benefited as much as I have through any other academic experience.”

For more information about the Wilder Fellowship, contact Shajuana Isom-Payne, assistant dean of student services, at sipayne@vcu.edu.

Wilder School in Action



Researching globally, teaching locally

Faculty seminar in Lebanon informs Wilder School professor’s research and teaching about terrorism


hat struck William V. Pelfrey Jr., Ph.D., during a recent trip to Lebanon were the differences between Palestinian and Syrian refugees. Pelfrey, chair of the Wilder School’s homeland security and emergency preparedness program, was one of eight VCU professors participating in the international 2018 Summer Faculty Development Seminar, which focused on the global refugee crisis, armed conflict and the role of nongovernmental organizations in civil society. The two-week seminar in the Middle East offered Pelfrey a tremendous opportunity to gain firsthand insights into his research specialty of terrorism — especially radicalization and prevention — with Palestinian and Syrian refugees to incorporate into the classroom, as well as his scholarly work. Lebanon ranks as one of the world’s top refugee-hosting countries, according to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The country of 4 million has another 1.2 million refugees, straining a society already pressed for resources.


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Through a collaboration with the United Nations, the VCU group met with a community of about 30 Syrian families who fled the war-torn city of Homs for Lebanon, living in one-room shacks of concrete floors, tarps for ceilings and walls, no electricity and a communal kitchen. One father of five told Pelfrey how he was precluded from holding a job, owning property or even being out after dark. His only furniture consisted of floor cushions. Still, the older children looked forward to starting school. “Lebanese schools are overcrowded and the country has instituted a ‘second shift’ for refugee children,” he said. “They go to school from 4 to 10 p.m. each day. The Syrian families hope for better circumstances but are generally happy to be out of Syria.” The situation of Palestinian refugees differs, Pelfrey noted. They have lived throughout Lebanon for decades, many forced to move there after the creation of Israel 70 years ago. “They are not Lebanese citizens and many harbor resentment,” Pelfrey

William V. Pelfrey Jr. poses with Syrian refugee children. said. “Hezbollah is a political party, and we spoke to some of its leaders. They harbor strong emotions toward Israel, America, Europe and Lebanon. “The potential for radicalization toward terrorism is high. These strong emotions can be fanned by a charismatic recruiter or through online radicalization doctrine. It’s easy to see how just a few steps can take an angry person with limited opportunity toward a violent act.” Pelfrey described Lebanon as “an amazing and complicated country,”

steeped in a history that dates thousands of years to the ancient Phoenicians. There is no civil law in Lebanon, he said. “Everything, including the government, is an artifact of religious sects. For example, a marriage is not legal until it is recognized by your sect. There are 18 sects, and power is allocated based on an agreement among the sects.” Significant tension and constant power struggles exist between the Muslim groups (Shia and Sunni) and the Christians, who hold a majority of elected positions. “However, while these populations of Christians and Muslims are combative in politics, in daily life they coexist very well,” Pelfrey said.

concluded just before the group arrived. “Wilder School students, especially those interested in homeland security, would greatly benefit from studying at LAU. Experiencing the culture of an Arabic country while in a safe location like Beirut provides a perspective that is impossible to develop in a classroom. Similarly, LAU students who come to VCU will bring a rich set of experiences and views that will benefit VCU students.” Pelfrey said he was fortunate to travel with an exceptional group of VCU faculty, who came from diverse fields, including political science, world studies, social work and focused inquiry. Everyone brought a different

The country of 4 million has another 1.2 million refugees, straining a society already pressed for resources. Pelfrey’s experiences in Lebanon will inform his research and teaching in many ways. “When I teach classes on terrorism, I will talk about the altars to martyrs in Hezbollah neighborhoods, and the anger and frustrations that simmer among some refugee populations,” he said. VCU partnered with one of the top institutions in Lebanon — the Lebanese American University — which hosted discussions with leading faculty, with whom Pelfrey hopes to collaborate. Several VCU students participated in a study-abroad program at LAU that

set of interests, such as Arabic literature, refugee acculturation, Middle Eastern politics and sexuality in Arab cultures. “We met with a variety of passionate nongovernmental organizations that advocate for women’s rights, LGBTQ acceptance and equitable treatment for all,” Pelfrey said. “The leader of our program, Dr. Mayda Tapoushian, is from Lebanon, and she was able to frame the complicated sectarian tensions within a broader cultural context. “My experience there will echo through my classes and writing for many years to come.”

Top: Syrian refugees live in tented settlements of tarp and tin. Middle: A Syrian family talks about their experiences. Bottom: Syrian female refugees learn English.

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Alumna joins University of Louisville faculty ‘Exceptional scholarship’ at Wilder School puts her right on track

F Eta Lambda Sigma members visited the White House as one of their many regional tours.

Shared interests bond students in Eta Lambda Sigma fraternity


he Wilder School is not only home to the nation’s first Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Program, but it also houses the country’s first — and currently only — professional fraternity dedicated to the field. Eta Lambda Sigma, created in 2006 the year after the academic program started, offers students with shared interests in homeland security and emergency management opportunities in networking, professional development and community service. “Being involved in Eta Lambda Sigma has really driven me to pursue this field, and it’s groomed me for who I want to become professionally,” said Garrett Stefaniak, president and a sophomore from Prince George, Va. “Through this fraternity and the HSEP program, we as students get great opportunities for

leadership and professional development, as well as help with classes.” During the 2017-18 academic year, the chapter organized about 80 events. These included professional development workshops about resume writing and

“As the fraternity continues, we’ll have more students getting jobs through alumni connections.” — Maureen Moslow-Benway, Eta Lambda Sigma faculty sponsor interviewing skills; a visit to the FBI Academy in Quantico; tours of emergency centers around the region, including one in the Outer Banks, N.C.; and guest speakers such as a former undercover CIA agent and law enforcement officials.

“By having a leadership position within Eta Lambda Sigma, I learned management, interpersonal and networking skills that will help me in my career,” said Kiana Miller, immediate past president and a 2018 graduate. “My resume has been augmented by being involved with this group, and I made a lot of helpful contacts that will help me pursue my career.” Around 70 students belong to the group. “It helps students united by a common interest in a lot of different ways,” said Maureen Moslow-Benway, the chapter’s faculty sponsor and an assistant professor in the HSEP program. “There are plenty of social activities, and more importantly, it also does a tremendous job in terms of professional development. As the fraternity continues, we’ll have more students getting jobs through alumni connections. That’s invaluable.”

When individuals migrate from one country to another, there is often concern within the host nation about the motives of these individuals, and the threat immigrants may pose to the security and well-being of the nation. In the current political context, with a heightened focus on the threat of Islamic extremism, these concerns are exacerbated when immigrants arrive from Muslim-majority nations. Research conducted by David Webber, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Wilder School’s homeland security and emergency preparedness program, aims to address the veracity of such claims. One such project is a collaboration with Saltanat Liebert, Ph.D., associate professor in the Wilder School’s public administration program. This project, supported by the Wilder School Small Grants Fund, examines religiosity among immigrants from Kyrgyzstan, and whether their reliance on the internet to study their religion


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(because religious services are not offered in their native language) increases their exposure to radical and violent elements of Islam. A second collaboration with colleagues at the University of Maryland and Stanford University examines the psychology of Syrian refugees and their potential for radicalization. This project examines a potential cycle of radicalization that might stem from the interplay of refugee and native populations (i.e., treatment by and attitudes of one population may influence and radicalize the other population). This large-scale project spans three years and involves field research (focus groups and longitudinal surveys) with refugees and natives in four European and Middle Eastern countries. The project is supported by a $1.2 million grant from the Minerva Initiative at the Department of Defense.


Two Wilder School faculty examining extremism

or over a decade, Lindsey Evans, a hurricane-force of can-do and personality, served the Wilder School community as a graduate assistant, instructor, program coordinator and senior research associate. Recently, the Georgia native assumed a tenure-track position in the Department of Urban and Public Affairs at the University of Louisville. In her new role, Evans will teach program evaluation and human resources and develop a new course on leading public and nonprofit organizations. Additionally, Evans, who completed a Master in Public Administration in 2008 and her Ph.D. in public policy and administration in 2017, will continue her research on social equity in public administration. Evans’ appointment at UofL — a comprehensive public, urban, research institution — is emblematic of the shift in the Wilder School’s doctoral program in public policy and administration that has grown to accommodate those with an interest in competitive positions within academia. “Lindsey’s appointment is a reflection of her exceptional scholarship, her leadership as an American Society for Public Administration National Council student representative and conference co-chair, and her general dedication and hard work. Much of those accomplishments have been linked to or facilitated by the sizeable investments made to our doctoral program in recent years,” said former doctoral chair Sarah Jane Brubaker, Ph.D. “Her appointment is proof that the Wilder School is continuing along its trajectory as a premier school of public affairs and a top producer of faculty scholars.” Evans was drawn to UofL for many of the reasons she was drawn to the Wilder School. “At Louisville, I’m excited to be part of a diverse, urban community with a strong dedication to creating the same types of experiences for our students as VCU. The culture of UofL — student-centered, innovative, compassionate and inclusive — feels like home to me.” Evans taught extensively at the Wilder School and hopes to encourage the kind of thought-provoking discussions that marked her educational experiences here. Her dissertation at the Wilder School examined the distributional equity of HOPE, a statewide, merit-based scholarship program for postsecondary students in Georgia. She plans to publish multiple articles in this area at UofL, including a case study for scholars interested in social equity analysis. “One of the greatest things about my job is to see our students incorporate what they learn at the Wilder School and watch them take off in their professional careers,” said Interim Dean Susan Gooden, Ph.D., who was Evans’ dissertation chair. “Lindsey represents the best among our graduate students, and so I am delighted to follow her extraordinary career as she continues to soar.”

Lindsey Evans (M.P.A. ’08, Ph.D. ’17) says the Wilder School well prepared her for her new job.

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Free Egunfemi, director of Untold RVA, leads Wilder School students on a tour of Richmond’s painful history of slavery.

Human trafficking course exposes modern-day slavery Drawing the connection between past and contemporary issues of human trafficking helps students find relevant policy solutions


eetings with former pimps and sex trafficking victims. A visit to the site of a notorious Richmond slave pen to gain a historical perspective about bondage. Learning about the legal aspects of human exploitation from a local vice squad officer. In Maureen Moslow-Benway’s Human Trafficking course, students are immersed in an interactive curriculum that encourages them to analyze the causes and consequences of modern-day slavery. They use literature, film, historic excursions and meetings with experts, whether they’re victims, one-time perpetrators, federal investigators or community advocates. The course focuses on student engagement and collaborations with local agencies to learn about and find policy solutions for this domestic and international problem. Moslow-Benway, an assistant professor in the Wilder School’s homeland security and emergency preparedness program, is a former counterintelligence agent whose professional experiences with sex trafficking victims in Southeast Asia inspired the course’s creation three years ago. The United States is the only Western developed nation where the majority of humans trafficked are its own citizens, MoslowBenway said, especially in sex trafficking, where most of the victims are girls conscripted between ages 11 and 14. Last year, the Wilder School received a grant from VCU’s Division of Inclusive Excellence for the course, and Moslow-Benway used her professional development funds to get students out of the classroom to experience the historical, physical and psychological realities of human trafficking. She took students on tours of some of Richmond’s most visible — and controversial — landmarks to draw the connection between its slave-holding past and contemporary issues of human trafficking. “One of the biggest student takeaways is that history isn’t something to be observed passively,” she said. “We can deepen our engagement with the past in new ways that enhance our approach to contemporary problems.”


Wilder School in Action

The course also requires a minimum 10 hours of community service. Consequently, students are not only helping local nongovernmental organizations combat human trafficking, but they are also gaining an understanding of the magnitude of the issues victims face.

Human trafficking is one of the world’s fastest growing crimes, with more than 21 million people enslaved across the globe. Students have volunteered at the REAL LIFE Community Center in Richmond, run by Wilder School alumna Sarah Scarbrough, Ph.D., which helps people who are battling addiction, trying to cope after being incarcerated or dealing with homelessness. They’ve also cooked meals for human trafficking survivors, helped organize a benefit dinner for human trafficking education, manned registration and aid stations at a 5K walk designed to bring awareness to the issue, as well as worked with sexually abused children who are vulnerable for exploitation. Senior Derek MacDonald took her course last year and calls it “life-changing.”MacDonald, a homeland security and emergency preparedness major who also works full-time as a VCU Police dispatcher, said the course opened his eyes to an issue that few people, if any, are aware exists in their community. After taking the course, he wants to enter a federal agency or the U.S. Air Force — following in Moslow-Benway’s footsteps — and work to fight human trafficking. “The only way we can begin to fight human trafficking is by changing the culture in our communities,” he said. “Awareness and education, like what professor Moslow-Benway is doing through her course, are the first steps toward ending human trafficking.”

Outstanding in their field Wilder School doctoral students are top academic contributors in competitive public affairs workshops


or the fourth consecutive year, the Wilder School is among the nation’s top producers of doctoral students selected for competitive public affairs workshops sponsored by the field’s leading associations. This summer, two doctoral students — Dhara Minesh Amin and Nathan Teklemariam — were invited by the American Society for Public Administration to participate in the Seventh International Young Scholars Workshop in Michoacán, Mexico. The International Young Scholars Workshop provides financial support to outstanding doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows and young professionals to promote global academic and social exchanges among emerging public policy scholars. Workshop participants are paired with a distinguished senior scholar and undergo rigorous presentation and evaluation processes designed to enhance research skills from a variety of perspectives — from topic choice to literature review, framing, analyzing and presenting. Participants also benefit from excursions to nearby attractions and a relaxed atmosphere that enables students and senior scholars to interrogate pressing issues in public policy. Amin and Teklemariam were among 14 students selected to participate from

From left: Yali Pang, Nathan Teklemariam and Dhara Minesh Amin have shared their research globally.

top public affairs programs around the world. The intensive four-day experience took place in August. Amin’s research paper focused on student’s knowledge, awareness and perceptions of Title IX policies. Teklemariam’s paper examined the Integrated Housing Development Program, a state-sponsored initiative that uses a lottery-based allocation system to

Pang’s research interests include social equity, nonprofit management and cultural competency. She is particularly interested in exploring the role of nonprofits in ensuring equity and inclusion and in improving the service quality and program outcomes of nonprofit organizations. Pang was named a 2017 ASPA Founders’ Fellow and a 2016 International Young Scholars Workshop participant. Fellowships support the participation of students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds at the 2018 APPAM Fall Research Conference, which will be held Nov. 8-10 in Washington, D.C. Fellows receive numerous networking and professional development opportunities, including participating in a formal mentor matching program designed to connect them with senior professionals. “I am very proud of our students,” said Elsie Harper-Anderson, Ph.D., director of the Wilder School’s doctoral program. “Not only is this an invaluable opportunity for them to enhance their scholarship and network with scholars from all over the world, but having multiple students from our program illustrates the Wilder School’s commitment to developing the critical thinking skills and global engagement of our students in a way that is recognizable on both the national and international stage.”

The Wilder School is among the workshop’s top academic contributors. deliver housing to indigent residents in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Eleven Wilder School students and alumni have been selected to participate in the workshop over the past four years, an achievement that makes the school among the workshop’s top academic contributors. Additionally, Teklemariam and doctoral student Yali Pang have been awarded Equity and Inclusion Fellowships by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, an honor Amin received last year.

Wilder School in Action


Data collected by the Wilder School’s RVA Eviction Lab will inform public policy on affordable housing


ore than one out of every 10 renters are evicted annually in Richmond, while Virginia is home to five of the 10 cities with the highest eviction rates in the country. And the Wilder School wants to know why. Two assistant professors of urban and regional studies and planning — Kathryn L. Howell, Ph.D., and Benjamin F. Teresa, Ph.D. — are leading a new initiative, the RVA Eviction Lab, which will provide a dedicated and long-term venue for data collection and analysis on eviction. Richmond and Virginia are epicenters of the national eviction crisis, according to research by Matthew Desmond — author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” — and the Eviction Lab at Princeton University. Consistently high eviction rates destabilize communities, cause high turnover in student populations, and reduce access to community networks and jobs. Through research, summits and community partnerships, the Wilder School is looking to better understand the complexities of affordable housing, such as eviction, and the impact they have on a community’s well-being. The RVA Eviction

Lab is one of many projects in which faculty, students and researchers have been involved to help find data-driven solutions to pressing public policy issues. Addressing inequalities of housing in Richmond is a priority of VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. As a public research university and anchor institution in Richmond, VCU can use our vast intellectual resources to work with community partners to delve into issues and help find solutions. “Housing is pretty fundamental — it has impacts on health, education, neighborhoods and individual equity,” said Howell, an affordable housing expert. “So much of what we deal with across all spectrums comes back to housing. It’s important for us to study and be engaged with this.” Working with graduate students in the Wilder School’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning program, the RVA Eviction Lab’s first task will be producing a report on the eviction landscape in the city and the state. This will help groups such as the Campaign to Reduce Evictions, which was convened in the spring to bring together advocates and service providers. The lab will also serve

2016 eviction rate

as a resource to local governments and nonprofits by making eviction data easily accessible. Collaborations are key, Howell said, and enable faculty to translate their work to a broader audience. For instance, the Wilder School joined with Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia on a conference last year about affirmatively promoting equitable access to opportunities in our communities, and in June co-sponsored a talk by Richard Rothstein, whose critically acclaimed book, “The Color of Law,” examines the history of government-reinforced housing segregation in America. On April 15, 2019, the Wilder School and HOME will co-sponsor a daylong summit at VCU about affordable housing. “HOME feels incredibly fortunate to have the Wilder School in Richmond to partner with us on the real-world problems of segregation and housing affordability,” said Heather Crislip, president and CEO. “The Wilder School provides technical assistance, critical knowledge and thinking, and research support to the policy impediments to our mission to ensure equal access to housing for all.

We count many alums of the school as valued employees, faculty members who have served on our board, and the school itself as tremendous assets.” The Wilder School’s Center for Urban and Regional Analysis, located within the Center for Public Policy, provides critical research and analysis into affordable housing.

surveys on education, employment and demographics, which makes it an extremely valuable tool for comprehensive local and regional analysis,” he said. Last year, a study conducted by CURA found that affordable housing isn’t located near low-to-moderate wage jobs in the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area. The study,

“How to increase social equity... is at the forefront of discussion at the Wilder School.” — Fabrizio Fasulo, Ph.D., CURA director In 2013, CURA launched MetroView, a geographic information system-based metro-wide information resource that offers an in-depth look at the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area consisting of 22 localities. The system allows users to cut across the boundaries of local governments and track patterns and trends in land use, land value, business growth and several socioeconomic indicators. MetroView aggregates about 522,000 parcels a year across the region, said Sarin Adhikari, Ph.D., research economist at CURA. The RVA Eviction Lab data will be hosted in MetroView. “This unique system is developed from the block up, synthesizing infrastructure, real estate and land use data from dozens of local governments with broader public

“Understanding the Jobs-Affordable Housing Balance in the Richmond Region,” revealed an imbalance between the location of more modest-wage jobs and low-cost housing units. Another housing study that made great use of MetroView data was the Market Value Analysis conducted by the Philadelphia-based Reinvestment Fund — one of the nation’s largest community financial development institutions — with CURA data assistance. Working together, the joint team examined the interrelationship between socioeconomic indicators and the Richmond region’s housing market. The Reinvestment Fund conducted a market value analysis of residential real estate in the city of Richmond and the

Aden Park and Glenway Green, a pair of jointly managed apartment complexes off Midlothian Turnpike in South Richmond, filed lawsuits against four tenants for every five units they operated last year.

An eviction rate is the number of evictions per 100 renter-occupied households.

neighboring counties of Chesterfield and Henrico, a tool that helps residents and policymakers better understand local markets and develop the appropriate strategies for growth and sustainability. Currently, CURA is working on an analysis for Richmond Opportunities Inc., a nonprofit that is partnering with the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, which manages the city’s four major public housing complexes. ROI is working with the authority to connect residents of one of the complexes, Creighton Court, with resources that may help them in transitioning to new housing or maximizing their opportunities in existing housing. CURA will help ROI understand the impact of its work, as well as the larger impact of the authority’s redevelopment efforts. “How to increase social equity in the Richmond region and across Virginia is at the forefront of discussion at the Wilder School,” said CURA Director Fabrizio Fasulo, Ph.D. “These studies provide state and regional stakeholders — local government, policymakers, community members, advocates — the information they need to inform their decisions on how to improve the quality of life in the region, especially those communities that are still suffering from the effects of redlining and segregation.”


What’s driving evictions in Richmond?

Eviction rates over time 12%

Richmond 9% 6%



U.S. 2.34% 14

Virginia 5.12%

Wilder School in Action

Richmond 11.44%


U.S. 2005




Wilder School in Action


Support the Wilder School Your gifts support our students, faculty and staff to inform and transform public policy. All donations, regardless of size, make a positive impact.

Joseph P. Casey, Ph.D. Two-time Wilder School alumnus embodies public service in action oseph P. Casey, Ph.D., earned his Master of Public Administration from the Wilder School in 1995 and his doctorate in 2013. He is the county administrator of Chesterfield County, Virginia’s fourth most populous, and has enjoyed an impressive career in public service. He shares his story here. Tell us about your career path. I graduated with a degree in accounting and earned my CPA. My first job was as an auditor with the KPMG accounting firm. I was exposed to several sectors, including auditing Hanover County, Va. I discovered how much I appreciated public service work. Members of the county staff cared about each other, and their community. When an opportunity arose in 1990 with Hanover County’s finance department, I transitioned from the private to the public sector, eventually becoming deputy county administrator. In 2013, I joined neighboring Henrico County in a similar role until the Chesterfield County administrator role opened in 2016. I was fortunate to have been mentored well by prior local leaders, Hanover’s Rhu Harris and Henrico’s John Vithoulkas, which prepared me for this new role. My friendships continue with both of them and have helped greatly in regional cooperation.   Why Wilder? I wanted to continue my education while I was in my position with Hanover County. VCU was local and had a good reputation for providing an education about government operations. I decided to pursue graduate work in the public administration program. I appreciated the professors and also the availability to take cross-disciplinary coursework. After earning my M.P.A., I was an adjunct faculty member in public finance courses at VCU. I still have connections with my M.P.A. cohort, and most of them have remained in public service positions. After a 10-year adjunct professor role with VCU, I decided to pursue a doctorate in public policy and administration as a personal and career goal, and it also demonstrated a dedication to my profession. My work in the doctoral program provided insights to conducting research, understanding methodologies and framing substantive arguments. There were two


Wilder School in Action

Wilder School professors who impacted me. Dr. Blue Wooldridge, a public administration professor, served as my doctoral dissertation chair. I also had him as a professor several times. Dr. Wooldridge is an educator and a researcher who truly believes in the profession of a public administrator. I also admired Dr. Bill Bosher, who was founder and executive director of the Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute, as well as a distinguished professor of public policy and education and the former dean of the School of Education at VCU. Dr. Bosher was not only a practitioner, but also a storyteller — and a good one. He also served on my doctoral dissertation committee. What is your proudest moment? Seeing how a citizen or business is thankful for the attention they receive from a local government employee or group of employees. What many don’t realize is that these employees value their public servant role and aspire to perform such service each day. Of all your service on associations and boards, what experience has been most meaningful? I serve or have served on many associations and boards. I am proud to have served as 2018-19 president of the Virginia Local Government Managers Association and in 2002-03 as president of the Virginia chapter of the Government Finance Officers Association, as well as having a role with the national GFOA Executive Board from 2005-08. The most meaningful was my GFOA pursuit, as I was Virginia’s first national representative on the GFOA board since 1966, and even more meaningful was that a person who I helped mentor was just elected GFOA president for 2019-20, a first for Virginia in the association’s over 100-year history. Virginia is such a great state, and to get this long overdue national recognition is especially rewarding. What’s your motto? I live by a Michelangelo quote — “Ancora Imparo,” roughly translated to “I am still learning.” [To read the full Q&A, go to wilder.vcu.edu.]



There are many ways to give back while supporting tomorrow’s leaders. Learn how you can help us by contacting James Wasilewski, the Wilder School’s director of development, at wasilewskijr@vcu.edu  or (804) 828-6205, or Laura Pond, development coordinator, at pondlj@vcu.edu or (804) 828-6706; or you can visit us at support.vcu.edu/give/wilder for more information.

Join our faculty!

The Wilder School is hiring for a tenure-eligible assistant professor in our homeland security and emergency preparedness program to begin in August 2019. We’re particularly interested in candidates

with research and teaching expertise in emergency preparedness, disasters, response and recovery, resilience and similar topics for our bachelor’s, master’s and certificate program. Applications must be submitted online at vcujobs.com. All applications should include a cover letter and a detailed CV with the names and contact information of three

references, one example of scholarship and evidence of teaching effectiveness. Review of applicants will begin on Oct. 15, 2018, and will continue until the position is filled.   For additional information about the Wilder School, please visit our website at wilder.vcu.edu. For specific questions regarding the position, please contact the search chair, Sarah Jane Brubaker, at srbrubaker@vcu.edu.

Virginia Commonwealth University L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs 923 West Franklin Street Box 842028 Richmond, Virginia 23284

an equal opportunity/affirmative action university


Expanding our footprint The Wilder School officially marked the opening of the renovated Raleigh Building on Aug. 30 with a ribboncutting ceremony. Interim Dean Susan Gooden, Ph.D., was joined by (from left) VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., Gov. L. Douglas Wilder and Robert Holsworth, Ph.D., member of VCU’s Board of Visitors.

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Wilder School in Action, Fall 2018  

The inaugural issue of "Wilder School in Action" showcases our exciting work at the L. Douglas Wilder School for Government and Public Affai...

Wilder School in Action, Fall 2018  

The inaugural issue of "Wilder School in Action" showcases our exciting work at the L. Douglas Wilder School for Government and Public Affai...