Class Notes, spring 2022

May 31, 2022

Stephen Hill (MPP ’81) was appointed by Governor Ralph Northam to the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board. The Board provides oversight and financial support of Virginia’s soil and water conservation districts, and oversight and enforcement of dam safety and floodplain management.

Dan Sheppard (MPP ’90) joined Brown & Weinraub, a government relations and consulting firm in Albany, New York as a senior advisor–returning “home” from New York City after a challenging and gratifying stint as senior vice president with the Mount Sinai Health System.

In December 2021, Joe Carrasco, Jr. (MPP ’91) was appointed associate director of the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency.

Keino Robinson (MPP ’93) was promoted to senior associate director of labor and employee relations for the University of Illinois Chicago.

Holly Anderson (MPP/JD ’98) left private practice in June 2019 to join the office of legal counsel at the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, and recently was appointed acting director of the Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund. The Fund ensures that injured workers receive the medical and wage benefits they should have received from the insurance their employers failed to carry, and then seeks repayment from those employers. Beyond the nerdy cost-benefit thrill of preventing the outsourcing of negative externalities, Holly says the Trust Fund is a real lifeline for hurting people when they need it most and she loves it!

Michael Landweber’s (MPP/MA ’98) fourth novel, The Damage Done, was published by Crooked Lane Books on March 8.

Ferzana Havewala (MPP ’03) recently took the plunge and left academia for a position at Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit focused on affordable housing and racial equity. She will lead the evaluation of several large scale, high impact projects that build upward economic mobility and racial equity in housing.

Headshot of Stephen Ball

Stephen Ball (MPP ’07) was recently hired as the dean of students at Harvard Law School, his other alma mater.

Dana Linnane (MPP ’08) recently left her job with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to join the Governor’s Office of Foundation Liaison for the state of Michigan as director of research and planning.

Rebecca Cohen (MPP ’09) and husband Noah Webster welcomed Dominic Robert Webster into their lives on February 25, 2022. Baby Nico is already a loyal U-M fan, cheering on the women’s and men’s basketball teams during March Madness. Go Blue!

Headshot of Brandy Johnson

Brandy Johnson (MPP ’09) was recently named president of the Michigan Community College Association, after serving nearly three years in Governor Whitmer’s administration as education policy advisor and manager of the Office of Sixty by 30.

Michelle Liszt Sandals (BA ’09) and Nathan Sandals (BA ’09) welcomed their son, Benjamin, on June 18, 2021. Benjamin joined big sister Maddie (4), who has been very busy teaching Benjamin all the words to “The Victors.”

Max Bronstein (MPP/STPP ’10) accepted a role with the Biden-Harris administration serving as the assistant director for health innovation in the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP).

Matt Schaar (MPP/MBA ’10) was appointed partner at Accion Venture Lab, a seed-stage venture capital fund based in Washington, DC. Venture Lab seeks to fund early-stage founders building inclusive fintech solutions, using technology to provide financial services to the world’s 2 billion underbanked.

Sameer Soleja (MPA/MBA ’10) and his wife Deeba Ashraf, MD welcomed their daughter Sakina Persephone to the world in August 2021. It was a busy year, as Sameer’s startup, Molecule Software ( also announced the closing of their $12M Series A round, for energy trading software powering the renewables transition.

Rachel S. White (BA ’10) accepted a new position as a tenure track assistant professor in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies department within the University of Tennessee’s College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.

Sarah Brooks (MPP/MA ’11) and her partner Philippe welcomed their daughter, Alice-Esmée, in December, 2021. Inspired by months of listening to her parents’ conference calls, UN negotiations, and EU spokespersons, Alice-Esmée has already shown herself to be an effective advocate against crib napping. For their part, her parents have no issue using her to charm diplomats and Eurocrats alike.

On December 6, 2021, Kate Saetang (MPP ’12), Michael Robert Yates (MPP/MBA ’13), and their dog Zuko welcomed Luca Tanon Saetang Yates to the world. They are enjoying smiles, cuddles, and occasional sleep.

Joe Sandman (BA ’12) joined the U.S. Army as a reserve officer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

Benjamin Stewart (MPA/MBA’‘12) recently started a new position as chief of staff at Legacy Community Health, the largest Federally Qualified Health Center in Texas.

Sydney Berger (BA ’14) started a new position as social media manager at CNN+, CNN’s upcoming video streaming service.

Kiff Hamp (MPP/JD ’14) was recently named executive director of the Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative, a nonprofit that facilitates the development of nonmotorized biking, running, and walking trails throughout Washtenaw County–including the 70-mile Border-to-Border Trail (B2B) that runs across the entire county.

Photo of Liv Blanchette and Mark Saavedra
Blanchette and Saavedra

Liv Blanchette (BA ’15) married Mark Saavedra in the Shenandoah Valley on October 16, 2021, with Sasha Altschuler (BA ’14) as one of her bridesmaids. Liv and Mark moved to Auckland, New Zealand in November ’21 and Liv started a new job as a senior analyst in the natural environment strategy unit of the Auckland City Council.

Juliana Pino (MPP/MS ’15) and Erin Tinnon (MSW ’14) welcomed their first child, Ayán, in March of 2021. Already an avid fan of book piles, laughter, and being on the move, Ayán’s imagination and bountiful renewable energy were also crucial to his mother and coalition’s successful campaign for Illinois to pass into law a suite of nation-leading environmental justice and equity-focused policies to tackle the climate crisis and reach 100% clean energy.

Roland Davidson (BA ’17) recently donated his left kidney, celebrated two years of sobriety, and started a new government relations role at Our Next Energy, an innovative energy storage start-up based in Novi, Michigan.

Michael Manansala (MPP ’17) left his position in international development consulting and started serving as a foreign affairs officer for the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Programs (INL/AP) in the U.S. Department of State.

Gilberto Soria Mendoza (MPP ’18) recently started a new job as senior associate, government relations at Upstart, a leading artificial intelligence (AI) lending platform designed to improve access to affordable credit while reducing the risk and costs of lending.

Photo of Mallak Anani and Hassan Zaarour
Anani and Zaarour

Gordon Rooney (MPA ’20) was recently selected to participate in the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s Next Gen Global Leaders Network. The USGLC recruits a diverse, bipartisan group of up-and-comers for an exciting year-long program; participants interact directly with policymakers and opinion leaders, launching their advocacy education with a seat on a USGLC State Advisory Committee at the culmination of the program.

Mallak Anani (MPP ’21) married Hassan Zaarour, Esq. in Ocho Rios, Jamaica in July 2021. Their dear friend, Christen Richardson (MPP ’21), joined them and their families to celebrate the event. Mallak is now at Michigan Law pursuing her J.D. and lives with her partner in Dearborn, Michigan.


More in State & Hill

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