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Alumni Profiles & News

Alumni Profiles & News


Kristin Rechberger PPS’95: Dig Deep and Follow Your Passion

Rechberger scuba diving, posing near a giant clam

Kristin Rechberger’s travels have taken her all around the world – from the Arctic Circle to tropical islands in the Pacific. But she never goes on vacation. “I go where I think I can make an impact,” the founder and CEO of Dynamic Planet said. Her company works with businesses and governments across the globe to help them find ways to restore nature.


Career Advice From Sanford Grad, Top Young Healthcare Exec

Delvecchio Finley

Delvecchio Finley MPP'02, the 36-year-old CEO of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, has completed a lot of things that many people his age dream of. He managed to leave public housing in Atlanta behind, eventually earning a master's degree in public policy at Duke.  Since then, he’s risen swiftly in health care. Today, the 36-year-old Finley is CEO of one major medical center, Harbor-UCLA, and he's recently been tapped to lead another, Alameda Health System.


Alumnus Named Director of Duke in Washington Office

Duke alumnus Jeff Harris has been named director of Duke in Washington and associate director of federal relations for the university, said Christopher Simmons, associate vice president for federal relations. Harris is currently the senior manager for public affairs and policy program communications at the Aspen Institute where he manages public outreach, social media, media relations and other communications responsibilities.


Alumnus Profile: Richard Schwartz PPS’75 Trailblazer in Education Law

“I’m a little biased in this area, but I don’t think you can do anything more important than try to have a positive impact on children who are going through the education process. We can advocate for better conditions for children by representing school systems, and I like to think that’s a large part of what we do,” says Richard Schwartz PPS ’75.


Graduation Speaker: Sean Knierim MIDP’08, The Unexpected Path

Sean looking at another person

When Sean Knierim MIDP’08 imagined his career path, his vision looked very different than the reality turned out to be.

“Every time I’ve been confident about what I was going to do next, I’ve been wrong,” Knierim said. The alumni speaker for Duke Sanford School of Public Policy’s 2015 master’s and PhD graduation ceremony, Knierim had originally planned to be an academic. He now works as the chief of staff at the Jeff Skoll Group, which includes media and entertainment companies, several philanthropic groups and an investment company.  


Alumnus Profile: Bradley Byrne PPS'77 Strong Roots Shape Congressional Career

As the first in his family to graduate from college, Congressman Bradley Byrne PPS’77 attributes his success to giving every job he has ever had the highest priority, working hard and, most importantly, listening to what others say. He attributes his career in public service to the lessons and tools that he gained during his time at Duke. However, his path to Congress was far from clear-cut. While he was always interested in public service, it was years before he thought about running for office. 


Alumnus Profile: Jack Conway '91 Follows His Heart

Jack Conway '91, at the podium at a political rally

When Kentucky attorney general Jack Conway ’91 stepped behind the podium last March to announce he would no longer defend the state’s same-sex marriage ban, he was, in effect, walking onto the national stage. What caught the attention of hundreds of thousands of online viewers was the catch in Conway’s voice when he discussed the role his wife played in his decision.


Alumna Profile: Danielle Zapotoczny PPS'96, Creating Stories to Create Change

Danielle Zapotoczny PPS ’96 has used her public policy education in every facet of her career, from managing a film production company to engaging media with policy issues at the United Nations Foundation.


In Search of a Home Brew: Sean Lilly Wilson MBA/MPP’00

An MPP/MBA alum shares his experience of creating Durham's Fullsteam tavern and brewery in his quest to capture the flavor of the South.


Mentorship in Health Policy Benefits Future Physician

“One thing that is exceptional about Duke is the way that professors genuinely care and respect students,” said public policy alum Will Woodhouse PPS’14. “I believe Duke and Sanford professors seek to mentor and challenge students in whom they see potential.”


Alumnus Profile: Aleksi Aleksishvili MIDP '04, Fiscal Reformer

Rewriting a nation’s entire tax code might seem like a pipedream to most policymakers, but that’s what alumnus Aleksi Aleksishvili MIDP’04 was able to do for his home country of Georgia. As part of the administration brought into power by the “Rose Revolution,” Aleksishvili was able to institute sweeping tax and economic reforms in his work as Minister of Economy (2004-2005) and Minister of Finance (2005-2007).


Alumnus Profile: Andrew Rosen PPS'82, CEO of Kaplan Inc.

The phrase “higher education” usually conjures images of leafy college quads, imposing stone buildings and school spirit fed by winning sports teams. That image leads to a bad case of “Harvard envy,” and a mismatch between the current system and the educational needs of the majority of the population, according to Andy Rosen, PPS/History '82, chairman and CEO of Kaplan Inc., the for-profit education and test-preparation company.