Nov 20, 2017
In Cornell Institute for Public Affairs

We are very proud of the work that our alumni are doing to improve the lives of people around the globe. This “Alumni Updates” column allows us to highlight their recent accomplishments and share their news with the broader CIPA community.

If you are a CIPA alumnus and have something to share, please send it to Lisa Jervey Lennox at

Rebecca Darling, MPA 2012, has joined the Barrick Gold Corporation as their Director of Corporate Social Responsibility USA. She will be based in Nevada. Rebecca continues to serve as a Visiting Lecturer for CIPA and will be the Executive in Residence for the Spring 2018 semester, in addition to teaching a spring semester survey course. She was previously employed by Rio Tinto at the Resolution Copper Project, as the Manager of Planning and Assurance, Communities and Social Performance.

Rebecca Darling

Matthew Fisher-Post, MPA 2013, received a grant from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program to pursue a doctoral program at the Paris School of Economics, where he is studying rural-to-urban migration in France and francophone West Africa. “This is, of course, thanks in no small part to everything that Cornell has offered and meant to me, and I remain appreciative of what a great thing it was to study at CIPA,” he says. Matt previously served as a Senior Research Analyst for NORC at the University of Chicago, a non-partisan research institution

Ahmad Maaty, MPA 2006, was appointed Acting Chief Economist in Nov., serving the Regulatory Agenda of the Office of Chief Counsel for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), where he has worked since 2015. In his new role, he supervises all Regulatory Impact Assessments required by law; this entails complex microeconomic and data analyses evaluating and quantifying the projected impacts of proposed rulemaking and multi-billion dollar regulations and policies. He is also tasked with presenting economic models and forecasts related to advanced, interim and final proposed rulemakings to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Chief Economist, DHS’ Office of General Counsel (OGC) and White House/ OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), and provides technical inputs to US Senate and Congressional committees.

Ahmad also volunteers with the Inter-Governmental Affairs Cadre of FEMA External Affairs, and is trained in tools and practices of the Emergency Support Function (ESF-15) role for disaster deployments. He was recently deployed to Houston to assist in recovery post Hurricane Harvey, and was subsequently deployed to Puerto Rico post Hurricane Maria. Ahmad helped manage dozens assigned federal and military personnel engaging affected local government officials (particularly the 78 Mayors of Puerto Rico) to help meet the needs of disaster survivors. There he developed knowledge management tools to track, streamline, share and effectively respond to reported local needs, ensured assistance and commodities were reaching the intended recipients and otherwise helped coordinate the Federal disaster response at the local level.

Ahmad Maaty with FEMA staff

Kerry Meade, MPA 2009, was named Executive Director at the Northwest Energy Efficiency Council in October. Based in Seattle, the NEEC is a business association of the energy efficiency industry; its mission is to promote policies and programs that enhance market opportunities for energy efficiency industry.  Kerry previously served as a Managing Consultant for EMI Consulting in Seattle from 2014 to 2017. 

Joanne Oport, MPA 2013 was appointed by the Governor of Maryland to the Commission on African Affairs for a four-year term (2017-2021). “It's an honor to serve the African Diaspora community on the State level. I believe I am the first Kenyan appointed to this Commission,” she says. Joanne also serves as a member of the Maryland Skilled Immigrant Task Force.

Maria Smith, MPA 2009, and Patrick Youwakim were married on August 26, 2017 in Easton, Pennsylvania, surrounded by their loved ones, including CIPA alumni Mayte Gutierrez Fedowitz, Sergio Oliva, Katherine Park (bridesmaid), Anika Patterson, Sara Rudow, and Christina Walker. Maria is the Healthy Eating Active Living Grant Manager at Denver Public Health. In her role, Maria facilitates a partnership among six Metro Denver local public health and environment agencies working to prevent childhood obesity. Patrick is an operations manager at Dish Network. Maria and Patrick live in the Metro Denver area.

Maria Smith at her wedding with brand new husband

U.S. Army Lt. Col. (Joseph) Ed Williams, MPA 2007, began a new appointment this fall as Senior Defense Official and Defense Attaché (SDO/DATT) to the U.S. Embassy in Chad. He previously served as SDO/DATT at both the U.S. Embassies in Zimbabwe and Malawi (a dual assignment) from 2014 to 2017. “We lived in Zimbabwe, but most of my work was in Malawi (35 twelve-hour drives through Mozambique during this tour),” Ed says.  A U.S. Army news article this past April featured Williams’ role in the 2017 African Land Forces Summit. From 2012 to 2014, Ed served as the SDO/DATT to Dijbouti.

Ed Williams in uniform

Nicholas Zuba, MPA 2015, was the 2017 recipient of the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) William K. Bowes, Jr. Award for Leadership. This award recognizes EDF Climate Corps alumni who are leaders in their field and working to drive positive environmental change. Nicholas served as a Climate Corps Fellow in 2014, working for CA Technologies, Inc., where he developed seven project recommendations that could save the company 3.7 million kilowatt hours of electricity, nearly 6,100 therms of natural gas, and almost 2,500 metric tons of carbon emissions. For this work, he was awarded EDF’s first annual Best Business Case award. He currently serves as Manager of Commercial and Industrial Programs at Connecticut Green Bank.

Nicholas Zuba