Department Newsletter, Spring 2018

Message from the Chair
Department Spotlights
Department Announcements
Alumni Updates/Class Notes
Donor Recognition
Support the Department
Stay Connected

Message from the Chair

Sociology Chair Hilary Silver

Department Chair Hilary Silver

This has been a busy year in the Department of Sociology, with some major events, honors and gifts to tell you about!  Our fall symposium, “Tally’s Corner Revisited” celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the classic ethnography by Elliot Liebow, BA ’49, about street-corner men in the now-gentrified Shaw community of Washington. After reminiscences from Harriet Liebow who recounted the subsequent lives of some of these men, we enjoyed a keynote lecture from historian Maurice Jackson, presentations by sociologists Mitch Duneier and Elijah Anderson and other scholars and activists from D.C. We also held a Dean’s Lecture Series on the theme “Race, Ethnicity, and Criminal Justice” with guest speakers from Harvard, Toronto, CUNY, Penn and our own Kenneth Leon, MA '13, who is joining the Rutgers faculty next fall.

Our winter events included a seminar by our newest sociologist, Professor Eiko Strader, who discussed her recent article in Social Forces on the impact of a criminal past on worker performance. This is the second year in which our faculty members led seminars on their own research. Greg Squires and Hilary Silver’s University Seminar on “Bottom Up Politics” also co-organized a symposium at the Wilson Center in April.

Our productive faculty continue to publish books and win prizes. Greg Squires published both a monograph, Meltdown, and an edited volume, The Fight for Fair Housing, and Daina Eglitis won a “Texty” (Textbook Excellence Award) for her Discover Sociology, 3rd edition.

We are so grateful to the donors who have enabled us to endow the department’s Ruth A. Wallace Memorial Fund, especially alumna Professor Sara Goldrick-Rab, BA ’98, and James A. Coriden. The fund provides student graduation prizes and support for undergraduate majors who need emergency assistance to complete their degrees. It is not too late to make your own contributions to sociology at GW!

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Department Spotlights

Sociology Alumnus Howard A. Frank, PhD

Howard Frank, PhD
Howard Frank, PhD

Howard Frank, BA ’79, MPA ’81 (Delaware), PhD ’88 (Florida State) is chair of the Department of Public Policy and Administration and Director of the Metropolitan Center at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami. Dr. Frank’s principal interests are local government finance and governance. He has authored or co-authored three books, including Budgetary Forecasting in Local Government, and numerous articles and monographs. Professor Frank has been active in the community and was recently named Public Administration Educator of the Year by the South Florida Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration. Prior to joining the FIU faculty in 1988, Dr. Frank was employed by the Broward County Office of Planning and the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services. Many of Professor Frank’s academic offspring manage cities and nonprofits throughout South Florida or have joined the faculty of leading public affairs programs in the United States and abroad. Dr. Frank is an avid classical music listener and devoted Philadelphia Flyers fan.

We recently asked Dr. Frank to share his recollections of GW and the Sociology Department with us: 

Memories of the department revolve around three professors. R.W. Stephens’ pedagogy was homespun and self-effacing. I’ve incorporated that approach at Florida International. John Helmer was an advisor to President Carter during my studies. He nurtured my interest in urban affairs and reinforced the need to “speak truth to power” in policy analysis. The most influential of the sociology faculty was Ruth Ann Wallace. Dr. Wallace was my first professor to encourage an academic career. Nonetheless, after taking the Sociology of Women with “Rita” as a second-semester sophomore, she said I “looked bored” and arranged an internship with GW’s Service Learning Program and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during the 1978-79 Academic Year. That experience cemented my interest in public management and policy. The upshot: After 40 years, I can say my GW sociology experience was remarkably foundational and uplifting.

Ruth A. Wallace Memorial Fund

Dr. Ruth Wallace
Dr. Ruth Wallace

The Ruth A. Wallace Memorial Fund was established in 2017 by Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab, BA ’98, and James A. Coriden in memory of Dr. Ruth Wallace. Dr. Wallace was a professor of sociology at GW and a prolific and pioneering scholar in the sociological fields of gender and religion. Each year, this fund provides one $500 prize for excellence in research or writing on gender as well as grants for students of sociology facing financial emergencies in meeting tuition or living expenses. 

The department wants to thank the generous donors of the Ruth Wallace Fund. If you are interested in supporting this fund, please visit our donations page. We are excited to select our recipient in fall 2018.

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Department Announcements


Fran Buntman is very busy on sabbatical in 2017-2018. She began her sabbatical by completing a paper on “Prisons, Law, Repression, and Resistance” based on her earlier keynote address to the International Conference on Colonial Incarceration in the 20th Century in Lisbon, Portugal. She gave papers in New York and Austin, Texas, about prison and resistance in honor of and memory of Dr. Barbara Harlow, one of her mentors. She has extended her involvement in local D.C. criminal justice issues, including to give testimony to the D.C. Council about needs for the D.C. jail.

Daina Eglitis won the 2018 Textbook & Academic Authors Association Textbook Excellence Award for her textbook Discover Sociology, 3rd Ed. She also published Discover Sociology: Core Concepts.

Antwan Jones was recently selected for and appointed to several boards including the D.C. Policy Center, D.C. Commission on African American Affairs  and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Evidence for Action. His book Parental Socioeconomic Instability and Child Obesity is forthcoming, and he also co-authored the article “Geographic and Individual Correlates of Subclinical Atherosclerosis in Asymptomatic Rural Appalachian Population” for the Journal of the Medical Sciences.

Michelle Kelso was interviewed about the problem of gun violence in America on The International News on Digi24, a Romanian national news television program (3 March 2018) . In addition, Dr. Kelso published a book chapter "Reflection on Holocaust Education of the Roma genocide in Romania"  in Reimagining utopias: Theory and method for educational research in post-socialist contexts (Sense Publishing).

Ivy Ken and Kenneth Sebastian Leon delivered presentations at the Hawai'i Sociological Association in Hilo this February (2018)Their papers were titled "When Food is Profit: An Actor-Network Translation" (Professor Ken) and "Island Voices in Translational Spaces - Third Wave & Caribbean Studies and Borderland Criminology" (Professor Leon). Professor Ken was invited to present a paper called "What is Food?" for the Mellon Sawyer Seminar and "How Should We Eat? Eating in the Anthropocene" at Georgetown University in February 2018. Her review of Kamille Gentles-Peart's book Romance with Voluptuousness: Caribbean Women and Thick Bodies in the United States (2016, Nebraska) will be published in Gender & Society in April 2018.

Emily Morrison, director of the Human Services and Social Justice Program, received $60,000 from the Corporation of National and Community Service (CNCS) to research civic engagement among older adults. She has presented the findings to community members, as well as national and local government leaders at CNCS, the Mayor's office, Age-Friendly DC Taskforce and the District of Columbia Commission on Aging. She also was awarded the inaugural Steans Center Fellowship to expand research on faculty approaches to community-engaged scholarship, which she started with Dr. Wendy Wagner. 

Greg Squires appeared on a panel at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture on January 25, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. He is the editor of the recently published book, The Fight for Fair Housing: Causes, Consequences, and Future Implications of the 1968 Federal Fair Housing Act (Routledge 2018).

Ron Weitzer gave invited talks on the topic “Researching and Comparing Legal Prostitution Systems in Europe” at the University of Hong Kong and the University of Macau. He conducted preliminary research in both cities.


Cara Carney and Amanda Pierson

Graduate students Cara Carney and Amanda Pierson presented their research, “Ideological Representations of Police Violence in Print Media,” at the Eastern Sociological Society's 2018 Annual Meeting in Baltimore. Congratulations Cara and Amanda!


In an event co-sponsored by the Institute for African Studies and GW Department of Sociology, Xolela Mangcu (PhD Cornell) challenges the standard argument that Nelson Mandela was the product of the traditionalist culture of a “pre-modern,” “rural and tribal world” in his event “Nelson Mandela: The Aristocrat and the Revolution – A Historical Biography.” Mangcu argues that Mandela’s celebrated racial reconciliation and pragmatic leadership are rooted in his Thembu royal family’s policy of “pragmatic friendship with the whites,” and their practical experience of governance as administrators of colonial indirect rule.

From November to December, the Dean’s Lecture Series on Race, Ethnicity, and Criminal Justice was held in the Department of Sociology, and both faculty and graduate students gathered to hear the presenters. Carla Shedd presented “When Protection Becomes Punishment: Coming of Age in an Unequal City,” and Matthew Clair presented “Unequal Experiences of Criminal Justice.” Amada Armenta presented “Immigrants and the Law: Crafting Moral Selves in the Face of Immigration Control” while Ken Leon presented “The Salvadorian Willie Horton? MS-13, Crimmigration, and the Translation of Gang Intelligence.” Finally, Jerry Flores presented "Caught Up: Girls, Surveillance, & Wraparound Incarceration."

On October 19, 2017, the Department of Sociology commemorated the 50th anniversary of Elliot Liebow’s ethnography Tally’s Corner by holding the symposium, “Tally’s Corner Revisited." Participants praised and reminisced Liebow’s work, while panels discussed its impact on their own work and presented current research on black churches near Tally’s Corner. The first panel featured Elijah Anderson, Mitchell Duneier and Michelle Chatman. The second panel featured Derek Hyra, William Spriggs, Parisa Norouzi and Dominic Moulden.

On February 14, Eiko Strader presented her article "Does a Criminal Past Predict Worker Performance? Evidence from One of America's Largest Employers" to a faculty and graduate seminar. Published in Social Forces, the paper was one of the first systematic assessments of ex-felons' workplace performance which followed 1.3 million ex-offender and non-offender enlistees. The study showed that the military's criminal history screening process can result in successful employment outcomes for ex-felons. The seminar concluded with a discussion around this fascinating study.

Professors Gregory Squires and Hilary Silver presented as speakers at the symposium Bottom Up Politics, presented by the GW University Seminar on Bottom Up Politics, the Urban Sustainability Laboratory and the Metropolitan Policy Center of the School of Public Affairs at American University. Speakers drew lessons from real-life examples of bottom-up politics, and reflected on different modes of governing and action that overcame partisan polarization to try to find solutions to persistent social challenges.


Join alumni, families and friends in welcoming GW's 17th president, Thomas J. LeBlanc, to the GW community. President LeBlanc will share his vision for GW as we enter our third century, and will take questions from the audience. A reception will follow the 7:15 p.m. discussion.

Wednesday, May 9 | New York City | Register Now

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Alumni Updates/Class Notes

Jennifer “Jenn” Abramson, BA '01, is currently living in Bethesda, MD., and is excited to be starting a new position as an event planner for the Future of Privacy Forum in Washington D.C. She had been working as the senior event manager for The ALS Association DC/MD/VA Chapter.

Nancy (Pat) Allen, BA '67, retired from the Federal service after 32 years in human resources.

Angelica Alston, BA '10, was accepted into graduate school at Trinity Washington University for fall 2018 and will be pursuing her master’s in school counseling.

William Belmont, BA '88, is living in New York with his wife and two kids and works as an attorney. He owns The Belmont Group, a New York-based national investigation firm.

Ashley Brooks, MA '16, moved to Charleston, S.C., after graduation. She currently owns and operates her own business, Pounce Cat Cafe, which is a cat adoption center and coffee shop. She will be opening a second location for Pounce in Savannah, Ga., this spring.

Robert Brulle, PhD '95, is a professor of sociology and environmental science at Drexel University.

Raquel Maya Carson, BA '08, is currently serving as the assistant principal at Powell Bilingual Elementary School in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

Loretta Charles, BA '09, is currently pursuing a law degree and hopes to combine the knowledge she acquired while at GW with her legal studies to impact her local community.

Richard Damiani, BS '15, moved back home to NYC and landed a job with one of his favorite publishers working as a marketing strategist for Complex.

Alan de Vries, BA '64, is happily retired. His interests are travel, food, photography and music.

Daniel Egel-Weiss, BA '15, is currently a JD candidate at Harvard Law School.

Máel (Melissa) Embser-Herbert, BA '78, is a professor of sociology at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minn. Máel recently published "Transgender Military Service: A Snapshot in Time," a chapter in The Palgrave International Handbook of Gender and the Military.

Maria Fera, BA '15, has since gone on to receive her MA in conflict, security and development and currently works at an international nonprofit in New York City. She helps to promote peace between countries through international education and exchange.

Margaret (Penny) Fletcher, BA '65, and her husband are the parents of three grown children and live in Cranbury, N.J. She is retired from full-time teaching but still continues to substitute in the local school.

Ahmadu Garba, BA '03, is currently working as a screenwriter in Los Angeles. Previously he was a writer on Sony Crackle's show The Oath and is currently writing on Syfy's show Happy! starring Christopher Meloni and Patton Oswalt.

Robert Michael “Nimbo” Hammons, BA '95, is pursuing his master’s in social work at the University of Kentucky while running his nonprofit Charlotte Court Inc for the last 19 years. He also work full time as the family resource director at Lansdowne Elementary in Lexington, Ky.

Marissa Hight, BA '09, is now in-house counsel at Independence Holding Company, working and living in NYC.

Cameron Hopkins, BA '14, is just finishing his master’s in forensic psychology.

Vera Kiefer, BA '16, MPA '17, is a federal strategy and operations consultant with Deloitte. She joined the firm after developing innovative, cross-sectoral approaches to combat human trafficking. Vera holds a BA-MPA in criminal justice with a public-private partnerships focus.

Lauren Koblitz, BA '02, is an attorney with Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith's San Francisco office. She was elevated to partner in 2017 and was recently named a 2018 Rising Star by Super Lawyers.

Sarah Kranau, BA '14, currently works in marketing consulting in La Jolla, CA!

Greggor Mattson, BA '97, is associate professor of sociology at Oberlin College where he is director of the Program in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. He had his first students accepted into graduate studies at GW this spring.

Raina Menter, BA '01, lives in New York City where she teaches fourth grade at PS 50 in Jamaica, Queens.

Troy Michalak, BA '14, is currently living in Washington, D.C., and working for the United States government.

Morgan D. Mindell, BA '08, is an attorney working and living in New York City. He cannot stress the value of the lessons learned and the friendships forged during his time at GW enough. He wishes the class of 2019 all the best in their young and bright future!

Ayube Rafik Mohamed, BA '92, is dean of the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences at California State University-San Bernardino. His book, Black Men on the Blacktop: Basketball and the Politics of Race, was recently released by Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Brandon Purece, BA '95, has been a Los Angeles police officer for over 22 years. His career has been spent working violent crime-focused, specialized units. He has spent the past four years assigned to Metropolitan Division, a specialized tactical support unit within LAPD.

Lisa Rothblum, BA '73, was a ski bum in Aspen for one year after graduating, and a lawyer for 30: SEC, lawfirm and SVP and GC of PolyGram Records then Atari before becoming a legal recruiter in 2005. Now retired, she lives in NYC  and has two great daughters, aged 28 and 25.

Valerie Russell, BA '05, has moved to Antigua, Guatemala, to start her own guided tour agency, Due South Travels. The company specializes in relocation/retirement tours and small, customized group excursions. She is loving her new home, and hopes to welcome many GW alumni.

Camille Sheets, BA '17, studied abroad in Tanzania learning Swahili with funding from the Boren Scholarship after graduating. More recently, Camille is working as a law enforcement response team analyst for Facebook in Austin, Texas.

Robin Sherman, BA '73, is a freelance publication editor and designer who has recently written and edited articles about the ethics of journalism and vetting research before publishing it, the latter a topic of interest during sociology study at GW.

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Donor Recognition


The Department of Sociology would like to gratefully acknowledge the following generous donors who made a gift to the department from January 1, 2017 – December 31, 2017. 

Allanah Beh *
Jill M. Brantley +
Stephen Nathan Butler *
Howard M. Cohen, BA ’72
Dr. Joseph John Cordes +
James A. Coriden *
Susan L. Coyle, PhD, PhD ’08
Kathleen M. Desmond *
Daniel J. Donoghue #
Margaret A. Donoghue #
Jenny L. Dooling *
John P. Dooling *
Dr. Melissa S. Embser-Herbert, BA ’78
Nathaniel A. Esty, BA ’06
Thomas R. Flynn ~
Dr. Howard A. Frank, BA ’79
Roderick Stuart French, PhD, PhD ’71
Sally S. French, MA ’84
Mary L. Gautier *
Sara Y. Goldrick-Rab, BA ’98
Dana Greene *
Gail S. Hanson, PhD, MA ’70, MPhil ’90, PhD ’95
John N. Hanson, Esq, BA ’67, JD ’70
Amy Margaret Hayenhjelm, MA ’93
Adam Hochschild *
Arlie Hochschild *
Kate A. Hornyan, BA ’09, MPA ’12 
Andee Jorisch #
Henry Jorisch #
Michael Z. Jorisch, BS ’14, MS ’16 +
Valerie M. Josephson, BA ’65 #
Peter J. Kearney *
Camille F. Kim, BA ’18
Stephen Alan Klatsky, Esq, LLM ’76, GWSB ’87
Elizabeth T. Lane ~
Dr. Liddell Louise Madden ACSW, BA ’69
Greggor Christian Mattson, BA ’97
Stephanie K. Mayer, BA ’11
Shannon M. McGuire, BA ’15, MPA ’17
Kathleen McPherson *
Lowell McPherson *
Katherine Meyer *
Daniel P. Mulhollan *
Mary Jean Paxton *
Christopher R. Percopo, BA ’05
Melinda J. Pollack, BA ’97
James Dylan Pollitt, BA ’13
Elliot R. Santinoff *
Reuben Snipper *
Gregory D. Squires, PhD +
Cleonice Tavani *
Lamar A. Thorpe, BA ’07
Dr. Steven A. Tuch +
John M. Vorperian *
Diane L. Wagener *
Colleen Wallace *
Alan Weinstein *
Carolyn J. Winje, BA ’92
HB Shannon E. Wyss, MA ’01
+ Faculty/Staff
# Parent
~ Student
* Friend

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Support the Department


Gifts to the Department of Sociology allow us to provide support for faculty and student research and travel, graduate student fellowships, and academic enrichment activities including guest speakers, visiting faculty, and symposia. Each gift, no matter how large or small, makes a positive impact on our educational mission and furthers our standing as one of the nation's preeminent liberal arts colleges at one of the world's preeminent universities.

You can make your gift to the department in a number of ways:

  • By mailing your check, made out to The George Washington University and with the name of the department or one of the above funds in the memo line, to:

The George Washington University

2033 K Street NW, Suite 300

Washington, DC  20052

By phone by calling the GW Division of Development and Alumni Relations at 1-800-789-2611

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Stay Connected

GWU Industry-based Alumni Networks

A reunion celebration is only a success if your classmates come back to celebrate with you. Classes ending in "3s" and "8s" are celebrating reunions this year! We need a strong group of reunion ambassadors who are willing to help create a buzz leading up to Colonials Weekend. No matter the amount of time you are able to commit, we have an opportunity for you! Email [email protected] to learn more.

Volunteer with GW in 2018

Volunteer with GW

There are several ways to be a GW volunteer, including representing the university in a region, mentoring current students, becoming a social media ambassador, taking on leadership roles within your school, and more. Learn more about these opportunities and grow your GW network today.

GW Industry Based Alumni Network

Join one or more of GW’s 8 industry networks in areas such as Finance, Media & Communications, Marketing & Advertising, and more, and connect with fellow alumni professionals through both virtual and in-person networking programs. Join Now!


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