Truman Governance Fellows

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The Truman Governance Fellows Program is a twelve-week program for Truman Scholars who have a demonstrated interest in working at a senior level in the federal executive branch. The program consists of a series of workshops led by senior figures with experience in high-level executive branch positions along with one-on-one mentoring. The program will launch in Fall 2014.The program is designed so that participants (1) Develop knowledge of the key issues and challenges associated with senior executive branch service (as political appointees or in senior executive service roles), (2) Build community among one another – Truman Scholars who share an interest in working at the highest levels in the executive branch, and (3) Prepare to succeed as managers and as leaders in the federal executive branch. 

Once launched the Truman Foundation will run the Governance Fellows Program every two years during the autumn of even-numbered years. Workshop topics might include:
  • Paths to political appointments
  • Chance versus choice in getting the right job
  • Senior Executive Service
  • Navigating the federal personnel system
  • Skill-building to become an effective manager
  • Working within an agency
  • Budgets, directives, and oversight
  • Views from the inside
  • How to write a ‘federal resume’
The first class of Truman-Governance Fellows has been announced. Fellows will begin meeting this Fall. Please find the bios of the 2014-2015 Truman-Governance Fellows below.
 Jason Ackleson (NM 96): is the Deputy Chief of Research and Evaluation at US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  His team provides data-driven analytical products to inform immigration policymaking by senior agency leadership.  He also leads multiple projects which evaluate US immigration benefit programs and agency performance.  Dr. Ackleson is also responsible for providing strategic and day-to-day management guidance to 19 staff.  Prior to coming to USCIS, Dr. Ackleson was an Associate Professor of Government.  Over 10 years in the academic sector, he published over 25 articles, book chapters, reports and other publications on questions of security, borders, immigration, and globalization.  During that time, he received and administered over $1.5 million in externally supported research and education grants.  He has taught courses on U.S. national security policy, foreign policy, international relations, and border security.  For five years, Dr. Ackleson also served as an Associate Dean of the Honors College at New Mexico State University, successfully transitioning an academic unit into a full college while mentoring top students for prestigious postgraduate scholarships.  As a Truman (1996) and British Marshall Scholar, he earned his Ph.D. in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science.  In 2009-10, he was an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow in the United States Senate, advising Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) on health care, border, and immigration issues.   He is a self-declared “foodie” (particularly of all things chile), baseball aficionado, and proud father of Thomas (age 10) and Emma (age 6).
Dwayne J. Bensing (AR 06):  originally from Arkansas, Dwayne J. Bensing majored in Political Science and Communication at the University of Arkansas when he won the Truman Scholarship in 2006. After graduating cum laude, he joined Teach for America and taught middle-school Science and Social Studies in inner-city Philadelphia. After TFA, Dwayne attended the University of Pennsylvania Law School where he interned with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the Committee on House Administration in the U.S. House of Representatives. Dwayne co-founded the Penn Civil Rights Law Project, published a comment in and was Symposium Editor for the Journal of Constitutional Law, and was President of Lambda Law. Dwayne is now an associate at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, LLP, in Washington D.C. While at Fried Frank, Dwayne’s work on two asylum matters and representing a transgender client in a federal discrimination case led him to be recognized by the LGBT Bar as one of the “Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40.” Dwayne lives on Capitol Hill and takes care of his grandmother with his partner of nearly 9 years, Christopher.


Ashley Bittner (FL 06):  is a Consultant with The Boston Consulting Group in Washington, DC. She graduated from The Wharton School and the Harvard Kennedy School in 2013 with a dual MBA-MPA. During graduate school, Ashley worked as a Wharton Social Impact Fellow at New Schools Venture Fund, an intern at Building Excellent Schools, an intern at Ellevation Education, LLC, and an intern at the U.S. Delivery Institute. Prior to graduate school, Ashley served as a Teach for America Corps Member in the Bronx, NY. After graduating from the University of Florida, she began her career as a Truman-Albright Scholar in the Office of the Secretary at the US Department of Transportation. Ashley is a 2006 Truman Scholar from Florida.

Richmond Blake (PA 08):  a native of Washington, Pennsylvania, is a 2008 Truman Scholar.  Richmond joined the U.S. Foreign Service in July 2011, and he served as Political and Human Rights Officer at U.S. Embassy La Paz from January 2012-2014.  He is currently in long-term Arabic language training in preparation for his upcoming assignment in Tripoli, Libya in January 2015.  Richmond holds a degree in Political Science from Davidson College and a Master in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.  His master’s thesis, “Protecting Vulnerable LGBT Populations: An Opportunity for U.S. Global Leadership,” provided a comprehensive LGBT rights-promotion strategy to the U.S. Department of State and received Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy’s top prize for graduate-level research in 2011.  Richmond is also a recipient of the State Department’s Thomas R. Pickering Undergraduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship and the State Department’s 2013 Human Rights and Democracy Achievement Award. 

Rebecca Pilar Buckwalter-Poza (NC 09): is a former political consultant, current writer, and recent law school graduate. A North Carolinian by birth, she has worked on political campaigns and projects on five continents since 2005, most recently as a Henry Luce Scholar at the Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong. Rebecca served as Deputy National Press Secretary at the Democratic National Committee during the 2008 election. Previously, she held a senior position at the Progressive Accountability Office, of the Center for American Progress and Media Matters, and worked in the Office of James Carville. Rebecca co-authored "40 More Years" with Carville and contributed to Paul Begala's "Third Term." Rebecca has written on law and politics for publications including NPR, Politico, The Nation, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, The Daily Beast, Pacific Standard, and CNN. She provides commentary for national and regional radio stations and has appeared on MSNBC. She has also served on national advisory boards for Generation Progress and Advocates for Youth. She attended Harvard College and Yale Law School. During law school, Rebecca interned in the White House Counsel's Office and completed a civil rights fellowship in the Connecticut U.S. Attorney’s Office. Currently clerking for the Honorable Margaret Ryan of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, Rebecca will next clerk for Judge Juan Torruella on the First Circuit.

Michael Gale (WV 02):  is a conservationist with over a decade of experience, predominantly with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in a variety of communications and strategy roles.  He is primarily interested in the human dimensions of wildlife conservation, particularly the intersection of technology, communications, and biodiversity conservation.  Michael previously served as the Director of the Office of Youth, Partnerships, and Service for the Department of the Interior overseeing a vast portfolio of programs and initiatives to enhance opportunities for youth to play, learn, serve, and work in America’s great outdoors.  As a George J. Mitchell Scholar, Michael spent a year with the National University of Ireland - Galway researching European Union conservation policy.  Michael has been awarded several conservation leadership fellowships, including Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders, Rising Land Ethic Leaders, and National Wildlife Federation Emerging Leaders.  A Truman and Udall Scholar, Michael graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Zoology and minors in Wildlife Ecology & Conservation and Music Performance in Saxophone. Michael completed a Masters of Public Administration (MPA) from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.  His personal interests include the outdoors, fire dancing, and music performance. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Tim Foisie (MA 87):  has worked for over 20 years as a management consultant, planning and implementing large scale, complex programs involving teams ranging in size from single digits to over 50, with members in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean. Mr. Foisie currently works at IBM Global Business Services, which he joined from the consulting practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers/Price Waterhouse.  He served in the Peace Corps for three years working with a school district, community organizations and a private development consortium.  He also briefly consulted for USAID. Mr. Foisie’s leadership responsibilities have covered a wide range of business operations.  He has supported several corporate mergers/joint ventures.  He has established strategic sourcing programs to increase partnerships and identify revenue enhancement opportunities and over $45 million in per annum cost savings.  Moreover, he has successfully lead multiple strategy, product/service, process and organizational change efforts from planning and analysis through implementation.  Mr. Foisie believes that many of the best achievements have derived from cross-disciplinary partnerships among governments, corporations and NGOs. Tim and his wife have three children and they enjoy sports, music and supporting various community activities.  Tim has lived in Alexandria (VA), Paris, Santo Domingo/El Cibao and Westport (CT). Tim is a graduate of Amherst College, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University.

Kimberly Hsu (DE 06): is a security and foreign affairs analyst at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a government advisory body to Congress on China issues. In this capacity, she covers maritime, aviation, international law, and U.S. alliance issues.  Prior to this she was an Asia analyst at the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence providing intelligence support to the U.S. Pacific Fleet and U.S. Seventh Fleet. Ms. Hsu earned her undergraduate degree in international relations at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was awarded the Truman Scholarship, and her master’s degree at the King’s College London School of Law and Department of War Studies, where she was a Thouron Fellow. She is currently a third-year evening student at the Georgetown University Law Center. Ms. Hsu, a Wilmington, Delaware native, currently lives in Southwest Washington, DC.  

Kimberly A. Jones (CT 99): serves as the Vice President for Public Policy at the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) in Washington, DC. In this role, Ms. Jones represents the Federal TRIO Programs – educational support programs that enable low-income students to become the first in their families to obtain college degrees. Through a compendium of programs, TRIO serves students from middle school through postgraduate study and includes students of color, adult learners, students with disabilities, and military veterans. Prior to joining COE, Ms. Jones was a Communications Associate at the law firm of Dow Lohnes, PLLC (now Cooley LLP), where she advised clients on a variety of broadcast and media law issues. Ms. Jones maintains various professional and civic memberships, including the Committee for Education Funding, of which she is President; Black Women For…, of which she is an Advisory Board Member; Women in Government Relations; the Washington Government Relations Group; and Capital Partners for Education. Kimberly Jones is a 2000 graduate of Yale University and a 2004 graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center. In 1999, Ms. Jones was named a Harry S. Truman Scholar.

Ryan Majerus (MT 06): is currently a Trial Attorney in the Department of Justice Attorney General’s Honors Program, where he defends a wide array of international trade, government contracts, and constitutional matters in federal trial and appellate court.  A graduate of Georgetown University and Georgetown Law School, Ryan has experience in all three branches of Government.  He has clerked for a federal district judge and has worked in the State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C.  Through these opportunities, Ryan has been able to work closely with several attorneys now in senior political positions at the State Department, the White House, and the Central Intelligence Agency.  As an undergraduate, Ryan spent five semesters working on policy issues for the Senate Finance Committee and Senator Max Baucus.  Ryan enjoys traveling overseas with his wife, and his hobbies include cross-fit, hiking, and snowboarding.

Devin W. Mauney (AZ 08):  is currently a law clerk in the chambers of Judge Gladys Kessler of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Previously, Devin served as counsel to the deputy director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and before that, as a special assistant to the director of the CFPB’s Office of Enforcement. Before starting his career with the federal government, Devin graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. While in law school, he provided legal representation to low-income homeowners facing foreclosure and taught bioethics to undergraduates as a Harvard College Teaching Fellow. Devin grew up and attended college in Arizona, earning a B.S. in economics from Arizona State University where he was active in local politics and higher education policymaking. After college, he participated in the Truman Summer Institute as an intern in the Office of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Long interested in Latin America, Devin speaks Spanish and Portuguese.

Rebecca McCauley (WV 06):  a native of Morgantown, WV, is in the final months of finishing her Ph.D. in Astrobiology and Geosciences at the Pennsylvania State University. She graduated West Virginia University Summa Cum Laude with B.A.s in Biology and Chemistry and was the only Truman and Goldwater Scholar in 2006. She is a NSF Graduate Student Fellow as well as a NASA PA Space Grant Consortium Scholar and also received support from the Philanthropic Education Organization (PEO). Her current research focuses on cave microbial communities and the energy limitations associated with anoxic, light-limited environments. After graduation, she hopes to continue astrobiology-related research with an emphasis on microbial utilization in terraforming and long-term space flight. Additionally, she would like to pursue a career in science policy, utilizing her science background to influence government policy and help in communication between scientists and non-scientists. In her spare time, she enjoys board games, movies, and exploring new cuisine in DC.

Alexandra Villarreal O’Rourke (TX 02): recently joined the Office of Law and Policy of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Previously, Alexandra worked in the Office of the Legal Adviser of the Department of State, where she focused on matters pertaining to terrorism and immigration, and served as the Department’s representative to a number of National Security Council policy groups. Before joining State, she clerked in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  Alexandra graduated from Harvard Law School, where she co-founded the Harvard Immigration Project.  Prior to law school, she was a George Mitchell Scholar in Ireland and Northern Ireland, obtaining an LLM in International Human Rights Law from Queen’s University in Belfast.  She attended the University of Texas at Austin, receiving degrees in Finance and Plan II Liberal Arts. Alexandra is originally from Mexico City, and immigrated to South Texas as a teenager.

Abbas Ravjani (TX 03):  having served in all three branches of government, Mr. Ravjani has seen U.S. foreign policy from multiple perspectives. Mr. Ravjani currently serves as an Attorney-Adviser at the U.S. Department of State, where he handles international claims and investment disputes. Previously, Mr. Ravjani worked as a law clerk for a federal judge, as Deputy Chief Counsel for the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the U.S. House of Representatives, and a political-military analyst for the U.S. Navy.  He has also spent summers working for the Department of Treasury and the Attorney General of Texas. Mr. Ravjani received his JD from Yale Law School and his bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Middle East Studies from Austin College in Sherman, Texas where he served as Student Body President. Mr. Ravjani was recently selected as part of the Center for a New American Security's (CNAS) Next Generation National Security Leaders Program.

Cody Rogers (UT 10): is a recent graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law. He is also a proud alumnus of the University of Utah where he received a B.A. in Political Science, minoring in Campaign Management. Cody has experience working in a number of governmental capacities: he clerked for a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, worked as a full-time staff member for a United States Senator, and interned in the Public Affairs Section for the U.S. Mission to NATO in Brussels, Belgium. His passions include U.S. election law and building democratic institutions domestically and abroad. On this topic, he published "The Iowa Debacle" in the Hinckley Journal of Politics delving into the history of the presidential nomination process as well as some of his proposals for reform. Cody also worked on numerous political campaigns for local, state, and national candidates. Cody is starting his law career in the private sector at the law firm Nixon and Peabody where he has been assigned to work in the Tax Credit, Finance, and Syndication Practice Group.

Erik Sand (MN 06):  is a U.S. Navy Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy assigned to the staff of Secretary of the Navy’s Advisory Panel. He performs additional duties in the Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of the Navy (Policy). A nuclear power qualified surface warfare officer; he initially served as Gunnery Officer in USS John S. McCain, a destroyer forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. While onboard he operated in Western Pacific and participated in a series of theater security cooperation events, visiting South Korea, Guam, Tonga, Australia, New Caledonia, and three of four major Japanese Islands. Later, he completed two Persian Gulf/North Arabian Sea deployments in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as Reactor Controls Division Officer in USS Abraham Lincoln. Most recently, he was assigned as Aide to the Commandant of Naval District Washington. Originally from Minnesota, Lieutenant Sand holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard University and lives in Washington.

Thomas J. G. Scott (SC 06): is an associate at the Washington, D.C. office of the international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP.  There, his practice involves global investigations and complex litigation cutting across industries and sectors. Outside the firm, Thomas serves on the Board of Even Ground, an organization supporting child-centered health and education initiatives in African communities affected by HIV/AIDS.  He is also a member of the Partnership Board of the Honors College at the University of South Carolina. Prior to joining Freshfields in March 2014, Thomas served as a foreign law clerk for Justice Edwin Cameron, Constitutional Court of South Africa.  He also served as a law clerk for the Hon. Richard M. Gergel, U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina, and for the Hon. Beverly B. Martin, U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.  He has interned for the White House Domestic Policy Council and U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and worked as a legal consultant for the defense team of former Liberian President Charles G. Taylor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague. Thomas received his J.D. from Stanford Law School, where he participated in the Supreme Court Litigation and Criminal Defense Clinics and was the Managing Editor of the Stanford Journal of International Law.  He also received a master’s degree in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University.  He graduated magna cum laude from the University of South Carolina, where he was a Harry S. Truman Scholar.  

Miles Taylor (IN 09): is a Professional Staff Member on the Committee on Homeland Security in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he manages key oversight efforts and investigations on homeland security issues.  Miles worked previously on the House Appropriations Committee, participating in historic efforts to cut federal spending and helping to oversee billions of dollars in federal programs. Before that, he served as a presidential appointee in the George W. Bush Administration and focused on national security and foreign policy at the White House, Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security, and several think tanks. Miles is currently producing a television documentary on the history of Page messengers on Capitol Hill, featuring narration by journalist Cokie Roberts and interviews with prominent former Pages, including Microsoft Founder Bill Gates. He serves as co-founder of the Washington Leadership Academy, a proposed four-year high school which aims to open in DC in 2016, and he has helped drive the expansion of start-up companies in DC and Silicon Valley.  Miles received his MPhil in International Relations from Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar and his BA in International Security Studies from Indiana University as a Harry S. Truman Scholar and Herman B. Wells Scholar.

Benjamin W. Veghte (FL 86): is Research Director at Social Security Works, where he publishes on Social Security and Medicare policy, conducts policy research for Hill staff and advocacy groups, conducts media interviews on Social Security policy, and blogs for the Huffington Post on social policy issues. He is a member of the Scholars Strategy Network and the National Academy of Social Insurance. His research explores how capitalist democracies can effectively mitigate social inequality, in comparative and historical perspective. Dr. Veghte has published on issues related to Social Security, retirement security, Medicare, health insurance, social insurance, and housing policy. He holds a Ph.D. in European intellectual history from the University of Chicago and an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School. He taught comparative social policy and comparative politics as an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Bremen, Germany, until 2008, and served as a social policy consultant for the European Union. Since then, Dr. Veghte worked as Research Associate at the National Academy of Social Insurance and as Executive Director of the Scholars Strategy Network at Harvard University.

Please address any questions about the program to Andrew Rich, Truman Executive Secretary, at or 202.395.3545.