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: Meagan Allen
Vice-President/President-Elect: Caitlin Havron
Past President: Jamie Lockhart
Communications Director: Aaliyah McLean
Alumni Engagement Committee Chair: Judith Russo
Student Outreach Committee Chair: Ronny Lau
Fundraising Committee Chair: Austin Adams
Our Alumni Members
Austin Adams works at Amazon Web Services (AWS) where he is responsible for Worldwide Public Sector partnering efforts. He runs a team of Partner Development Managers who help companies transform cloud horsepower into government, education, justice, nonprofit, and healthcare solutions.
After graduating from JMU, Meagan Allen earned a Master's degree from American University in International Affairs, focusing on International Development and Human Rights. She has worked in the international development sector with education, and democracy and governance non-profits in both DC and Ghana.
Greg Bahou is currently a Corporate Strategy 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 10 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.
Chris is an expert in state and city-led climate action with over a decade of experience working at the intersection of climate and environmental policy and politics. In 2018, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam appointed him to the position of Chief Deputy of the Department of Environmental Quality, where Chris focuses broadly on transportation decarbonization, environmental and climate justice, and building policy support for bold climate action. A native Virginian, Chris recently moved back to the Commonwealth after working at the forefront of climate and clean energy policy in the Northwest - first working for Climate Solutions, a regional climate and clean energy advocacy organization, and then as the lead transportation decarbonization advisor for the City of Seattle. After graduating from JMU in 2004, Chris worked on several political campaigns and in a variety of political and government roles for Governor Tim Kaine. He received his MPA from Seattle University in 2015.
Michael Comer is the Digital Communications Director for House Republican Whip Steve Scalise. He is responsible for Scalise’s social media, creative, and rapid response content. Michael has led the Whip's digital messaging strategy through high-stakes, high-profile policy and political battles, like tax reform and impeachment. Previously, he ran digital communications at 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).
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 the National Science Foundation. Gianluca also served as a Pro-Bono consultant for Compass Consulting, supporting nonprofit organizations in the D.C. area.
Donna Harris-Aikens is the Senior Director of Education Policy and Practice at the National Education Association, serving on the Executive Director’s Cabinet. Donna is the NEA’s primary liaison to the U.S. Department of Education. For presidential elections, she also serves as the policy liaison to Democratic presidential campaigns. Donna served as a member of the DNC’s Platform Committee in 2020 and 2016, as well as the Platform Drafting Committee in 2012 and 2008. Donna graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration. She earned her law degree from Howard University, and is an active member of the District of Columbia Bar. Donna also serves as Vice Chair of the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum, Vice Chair of NEA’s Retirement Board, as a member of the Learning First Alliance Board, and the JMU Black Alumni Chapter.
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 serving in the United States Marine Corps at the 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. Prior to this position, she worked at the Semper Fit & Recreation Branch at Headquarters Marines Corps and the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group in Quantico, VA.
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.
Tommy Keefe currently is the PAC Director for One Commonwealth PAC, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s Political Action Committee. He handles all fundraising, political, and communication activities for the PAC. He is a 2016 graduate of the Sorenson Institute for Political Leadership’s Political Leaders program and is currently pursing a Masters Degree in Political Management from George Washington University.
Student Engagement Chair
Ronny Lau is a Federal Lobbyist 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 oversees a federal legislative portfolio relating to higher education, special education, social justice, and teacher preparation and recruitment. Since graduating from JMU in 2013, Ronny has held positions on Capitol Hill, political campaigns, and other national advocacy organizations.
Jamie Lockhart is the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, a statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to preserve and broaden access to reproductive health care through legislation, public education, electoral activity and litigation in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Since graduating from JMU in 2008, Jamie has worked on Capitol Hill, managed political campaigns, led a national nonprofit advocacy organization, and obtained a Master in Public Administration degree from the Harvard Kennedy School.
Political Communications 2020
Aaliyah McLean is a JMU graduate who loves to learn and implement ways to enhance community, civic, and international engagement by ensuring equity among marginalized communities. Throughout her time at Madison, she was involved in organizations that advocated for justice and change among students and minority women, She loves to challenge others that expands their way of thinking to ensure equity and justice among everyone. Aaliyah believes it takes a village to empower and uplift others and that it's our duty to do so.
Ricardo Piñeres is an Assistant Vice President for Regulatory Compliance and Public Policy at Navy Federal Credit Union, headquartered in Vienna, Virginia. In that role, Ricardo focuses on helping Navy Federal navigate various legal and regulatory requirements, including those related to fair lending, data privacy, artificial intelligence, information technology, and credit reporting. Prior to joining Navy Federal in 2017, Ricardo held various legal, compliance, and government relations roles within the financial services industry, including leading the compliance department at State Department Federal Credit Union in Alexandria, VA, and 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 George Washington University Law School in 2009.
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.
Alumni Engagement Chair
Judith graduated in 2010 with a degree in international affairs and a minor in economics. During her time at JMU, she participated in the Washington Semester where she interned at the Latin America Working Group. After graduation, Judith also completed JMU’s Master Certificate in NGO Management. Judith is now the Program Director at a small non-profit in D.C., Strategies for International Development (SID) where she manages their rural development projects in Guatemala, Peru, and Bolivia.