Pitt Graduates Selected for U.S. Presidential Management Fellowship Program

Issue Date: 
September 9, 2013

Six recent University of Pittsburgh graduates have been selected as finalists for career-boosting, two-year paid fellowships under the U.S. government’s premier program for leadership development.

Presidential Management Fellowships, sponsored by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, connect students graduating with advanced degrees with federal agencies, providing invaluable early-career experience. The program also includes up to 160 hours of interactive classroom training. Recent program fellows from Pitt have served at the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, the Veterans Health Administration, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

This year, 663 finalists were selected from 12,120 applications. Of the six finalists from Pitt, two recently graduated from the School of Law and three recently graduated from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. One student recently received joint degrees from both schools.

The number of finalists from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs ties the school for the top rank of Presidential Management Fellowship finalists among public-university members of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs, an international association that includes more than 60 schools. The University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service also each had four students selected as Presidential Management Fellowship finalists.

“These results are a tribute to our students, of course, but also to the efforts that our staff and faculty have made in recent years to prepare our students for the competition,” said John Keeler, dean of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. He noted that the school has produced 21 Presidential Management Fellowship finalists over the last five years, crediting Jessica Hatherill, associate director of career services in the University of Pittsburgh Washington Center, with helping to prepare students. Pitt School of Law students received preparation assistance from Briana Green, associate director of D.C. outreach in the School of Law’s Washington Center.

After the initial round of applications, semifinalists were named in late December 2012 and invited to rigorous day-long, in-person assessments held throughout the United States (Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, and Washington, D.C.) during January and February 2013. Finalists received access to a virtual job fair May 1-3, 2013, and have one year to accept a position. Once Presidential Management Fellowship finalists accept positions, they are considered fellows.

The following recent Pitt graduates have been named Presidential Management Fellowship finalists. Included, where applicable, are the positions obtained by the graduates.

William Cole earned a Master of Public Administration in April 2013, William Colewith a concentration in public and nonprofit management. “I am honored to accept a Presidential Management Fellowship appointment from the Department of Veterans Affairs in the Office of Public Health in Washington, D.C. I hope to learn as much as possible and to have a positive impact in any capacity that I work in. Serving our nation’s service members and veterans is my number one priority,” said Cole. He grew up in Camarillo, Calif.

Harrison Grafos graduated with a PhD in Public and International Harrison GrafosAffairs in August 2013. His dissertation looks comparatively at public sector reform in France and Germany. Grafos was also awarded a prestigious Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship, which will provide him with a year of internationally oriented professional development experience in Germany. The first part of his Bosch Fellowship will be at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, where he will focus on transatlantic affairs. Grafos grew up in Spokane, Wash.

Lauren McChesney earned a Master of International DevelopmentLauren McChesney from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs in April 2013 and a Juris Doctor from the School of Law in May 2013. “During my Presidential Management Fellowship, I’ll be working with the U.S. Forest Service, and am very much looking forward to applying my science, environmental law, and development planning backgrounds to the position,” McChesney said. She grew up in Upper Marlboro, Md.

Pieter Mueller earned a Master of Public and InternationalPieter Mueller Affairs in April 2013. “I am excited to have the opportunity to work as a Presidential Management Fellow with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),” Mueller said, adding that he will be working in FEMA’s National Preparedness Assessment Division. “I really feel that my time in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs has prepared and enabled me to embark on this exciting new chapter.” He grew up in Livermore, Calif.

Bryan Murray earned a Juris Doctor in May 2013, with aBryan Murray Certificate in Health Law. “I have a strong interest in group practice development, as well as hospital administration and information technology,” said Murray. “Ideally, I would like to use the Presidential Management Fellowship program to segue into health care policy development or private legal practice,” he said. Murray grew up in Sandy, Utah.

Sarah Posner earned a Juris Doctor in May 2013, Sarah Posnerwith a Certificate of Advanced Study in International and Comparative Law. She accepted a judicial clerkship with the Office of Administrative Law Judges with the Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. “After spending a summer clerking at the National Labor Relations Board,” Posner said, “I developed an interest in labor law. I hope to combine my passion for international law and labor law, working to develop and enforce international labor standards.” She grew up in Merion, Pa.