About Our Board
In 2011, the JMU Department of Political Science established the Alumni Board to facilitate and strengthen relationships among the Department's students, faculty, staff and alumni through programming for students and alumni, career networking, and fundraising for Department scholarships and endowments. The board consists of 17 departmental graduates selected from among the three undergraduate majors in political science (POSC), public policy & administration (PPA), and international affairs (INTA). These 17 alumni serve in three-year terms as voting members. Several faculty members and student representatives of the Department, as well as key partners from JMU or our alumni network, sit on the Board to provide additional perspectives.
Since its establishment, the Board has significantly evolved in its structure and emphasis on signature programming and fundraising campaigns. The Board established three core committees to achieve its goals and objectives: Student Outreach, Alumni Engagement, and Fundraising. The Board is led by an Executive Committee, which is comprised of officers and faculty members. Finally, the Nominations Committee forms annually to oversee the process for accepting new alumni members to the Board.
Our Board Leadership
President: Greg Bahou
Vice-President/President-Elect: Ronny Lau
Past President: Caitlyn Havron
Communications Director: Gianluca Grignoli
Alumni Engagement Committee Chair: Jasmine Rountree
Student Outreach Committee Chair: Donna Aikens-Harris
Fundraising Committee Chair: Ricardo Piñeres
Executive Member-at-Large: Austin Adams
Our Alumni Members
Austin Adams works at Google as a Director of Partners in Public Sector. He leads teams of Partner Development Managers who help companies transform cloud horsepower into government, education, justice, and healthcare solutions. Austin has worked in the public sector tech space for over twenty years and is a former VP of Public Sector for Alfresco. He has held sales/partnering leadership roles at both Microsoft and Amazon Web Services. Austin graduated from Georgetown University with a Master's in Leadership in 2005, and graduated from JMU as Student Government President with a Political Science Bachelor's Degree in 2000.
Greg Bahou is currently a Business Systems Analyst at SOSi. Prior to his current role, he was a Senior Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton on the Government Relations Team. Greg is also an Assistant Chief Election Officer for a precinct in his county. He has been a volunteer firefighter for 12 years and had previous internships at the White House, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), and a Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. Greg holds a Master of Public Policy (MPP) with an emphasis in national security and terrorism and a graduate certificate in emergency management and homeland security from George Mason University.
Vice President/Incoming President
Ronny Lau is a Manager of Government Relations for the National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest labor union and professional organization. Representing over three million members in the public education community, he is the lead strategist on a number of federal legislative issues, including higher education, student debt, and educator pipeline. Since graduating from JMU in 2013, Ronny has held positions on Capitol Hill, political campaigns, and with other national advocacy organizations.
Braden Lawes graduated from JMU in 2019 with a BA in Political Science and a Minor in Music and is currently a Senior Government Affairs Associate and Intern Coordinator at G2G Consulting, a bipartisan DC-based lobbying firm. At G2G, Braden works on tracking federal policy and securing funding for clients in the health, cybersecurity, and transportation spaces. Previously, he worked at a public relations firm on K Street and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Legislative Affairs from George Washington University.
Ricardo Piñeres is a Senior Legal Counsel for PayPal. In that role, Ricardo focuses on helping PayPal’s lending business navigate various legal, regulatory, and licensing requirements. Prior to joining PayPal in 2022, Ricardo held various legal, compliance, and government relations roles within the financial services industry, including leading compliance teams at Capital One, Navy Federal Credit Union, and State Department Federal Credit Union, as well as serving as the Director of Federal Legislative Affairs for the Financial Services Institute. Ricardo graduated from JMU in 2005, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Latin American Studies. He received his J.D. from The George Washington University Law School in 2009.
Alumni Engagement Chair
MPA 2016, PPA 2014
Jasmine graduated from JMU with a B.S. in Public Policy and Administration in 2014 and Master’s degree in Public Administration in 2016. During her time at JMU, she was involved in several organizations to include Student Government Association and Judicial Affairs. Since graduating from JMU, Jasmine has held positions at the local, federal, and nonprofit level. Jasmine currently works for the Department of Justice.
Jacqlyn Schneider is a Partner at FGS Global, a strategic communications and government relations firm in Washington, D.C., where she co-leads the firm’s Global Food and Agriculture Practice. Prior to joining FGS, Jacqlyn spent more than 16 years working on Capitol Hill, most recently serving as Deputy Staff Director for the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee for Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow. In her role leading the Committee, Jacqlyn oversaw the development and passage of key nutrition, food labeling and climate legislation, and spearheaded bills to reduce food insecurity, support local, regional and organic food systems, and improve support for underserved farmers. Jacqlyn graduated from JMU in 2003 with a major in Political Science and minors in Theater and Dance and Political Communications.
Patrick Shea is a policy advisor with the Department of State. He currently works on security cooperation policy but has served as a diplomat in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East in a variety of roles. Patrick received his undergraduate degree in International Affairs from James Madison University where he played on the rugby team and worked as a peer advisor for the School of Political Science. He completed his master’s degree in Global Policy at Johns Hopkins SAIS in 2022.
Judge Owen Wilson
Judge Wilson received a B.S. in Political Science in 1987 from James Madison University and a J.D. from the College of William and Mary, Marshall-Wythe School of Law in 1991. He served as a Law Clerk at the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals from 1991 to 1993. Upon leaving the Board, he joined the Office of the General Counsel for the Navy and
reported to the Military Sealift Command as an Assistant Counsel (1993 – 1998) and later appointed Associate Counsel (1998 – 2006) for the Special Missions and Prepositioning programs. He transferred to the Naval Sea Systems Command where he provided advice on major weapons systems procurements (electronic warfare and naval gun programs) and the Deactivated Ship Donation program. He received the Navy’s Procurement Excellence Award in 2005 and the Navy’s Superior Service Award in 2006. On September 17, 2007, he was appointed to the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals. On August 6, 2017, he was promoted to Vice Chairman.
Tommy Keefe is a political consultant who focuses on campaign management and fundraising. He has worked on campaigns at the federal, state, and local levels. He is a 2016 graduate of the Sorensen Institute's Political Leaders Program (PLP), and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree from George Washington University.
Kirsten Kazlauskas is the Head of Intergovernmental Affairs at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. As a U.S. citizen working for Canada, she is responsible for advancing the bilateral relationship at the subnational level, notably on trade, commerce, energy, transportation and security issues. Kirsten earned her Bachelor's degree in International Affairs and French from James Madison University in 2009, and holds a Master's degree in Political Science from American University.
EUPS 2009, POSC 2008
Caitlin Havron earned her Master’s Degree in European Union Policy Studies from JMU in Florence, Italy, following her graduation in 2008. She has previously worked as a political consultant, campaign advisor, and coordinator in both the private and public sector throughout New York City, Suffolk County, and NY State. Caitlin is currently an operations specialist at USAID. Prior to this position, she served in the United States Marine Corps at 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Semper Fit & Recreation Branch at Headquarters Marines Corps, and the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group in Quantico, VA.
Student Outreach Chair
Donna Harris-Aikens is a senior executive with the federal government, and has held government relations, policy, strategy, and legal positions with labor unions, education associations, and a boutique law firm. She graduated from JMU with a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration with a minor in Economics, and earned her law degree from Howard University School of Law. She is a member of the District of Columbia Bar, the JMU Black Alumni Chapter, the Executive Committee of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, and the Stakeholders’ Advisory Committee of the Chesapeake Bay Program. She also served as a former Vice Chair of the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum, and former member of the Learning First Alliance Board.
Gianluca Grignoli graduated from JMU in 2019, majoring in political science with a minor in economics. While at JMU, Gianluca was involved in various on-campus organizations and activities. Gianluca is currently a Senior Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton supporting strategic communication efforts within the federal government. Gianluca also served as a Pro-Bono consultant and project lead for Compass Consulting, supporting nonprofit organizations in the D.C. area. Gianluca currently lives in Philadelphia, PA.
Michael Comer is the Digital Communications Director for House Majority Leader Steve Scalise. He is responsible for Scalise’s social media, creative, and rapid response content. Michael has led the Leader's digital messaging strategy through high-stakes, high-profile policy and political battles, like tax reform and impeachment. Previously, he ran digital communications for the Committee on Education and Labor and successfully launched two small businesses—Crozet Creamery (a homemade ice cream shop) and Wakefield (a marketing and design agency).
Chris is a climate policy and decarbonization expert with nearly two decades of deep experience at the intersection of politics, policymaking, and power building. As a Principal at the consulting advisory and strategy firm Hua Nani Partners, Chris leverages his government, political, and advocacy experience to support clients in advancing bold and ambitious opportunities to bring climate solutions to scale. Prior to joining Hua Nani, Chris served as the lead climate strategist for Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, led freight electrification and EV infrastructure programs for the Electrification Coalition, drove city-led EV initiatives for the City of Seattle, and managed corporate engagement campaigns for a Northwest-based advocacy organization. After graduating from JMU in 2004, Chris worked on several political campaigns and in a variety of political and government roles for Virginia Governor Tim Kaine. He received his MPA from Seattle University in 2015.
Taylor currently works in Business Development for Anduril Industries, a defense technology firm. She supports Air Defense & Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (CUAS) growth initiatives across multiple campaigns within the Department of Defense (DoD), Intelligence Community (IC), and international markets. Prior to her role at Anduril, Taylor worked for Northrop Grumman's Space Systems sector. She graduated from JMU with a B.A. in International Affairs and minors in French and Middle Eastern Communities and Migrations.