From Policy Analysis for Public Affairs Leaders to the capstone course Professional Practice of Public Affairs - our faculty stand ready to guide you on your journey.

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Asher teaches core courses on domestic politics and policy analysis in the Sanford School’s Master of Public Policy program and leads graduate/undergraduate seminars on legislative advocacy and American democracy. He is also the inaugural faculty director of Duke's executive Master of Public Affairs program, which will welcome its first cohort of students in 2025.

Prior to joining the Sanford faculty, Asher served in government and politics for more than 15 years, holding senior leadership roles as Chief of Staff to U.S. Representative David Price and as Director of Policy and Research for President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign in North Carolina. He has also worked for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems in Beirut, Lebanon, and for two foreign policy think tanks in Washington, DC.

Asher appears regularly in the media as a commentator on state and national politics, the U.S. Congress, and challenges facing American democracy such as gerrymandering and voting rights. He has contributed insight and analysis to The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, Newsweek, The Associated Press, The (Raleigh) News & Observer, and many other print publications, and he is a frequent guest on television and radio news and politics programs.

In addition to his role at Duke, Asher is the principal of True North Strategies, a boutique policy and advocacy consulting firm, and he serves on the boards of various local and statewide organizations. He holds an M.P.A. from Princeton University and a B.A. from UNC-Chapel Hill. He lives in Durham with his wife, two sons, and yellow lab mix.

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Sarah Komisarow is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Economics in the Sanford School of Public Policy, a Faculty Affiliate of the Center for Child & Family Policy, and a Faculty Scholar at the Duke University Population Research Institute. She is an applied microeconomist with research interests in the economics of education and K-12 education policy. She graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in Public Policy Studies in 2008 and from the University of Chicago with a M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics in 2012 and 2016, respectively. 

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Pope “Mac” McCorkle has served as an issues consultant to political candidates, state governments, and various organizations for the last two decades. Since starting McCorkle Policy Consulting in 1994, he has worked for state and federal candidates in North Carolina as well as 28 other states.

McCorkle has published a number of articles on politics and public policy in academic journals and such magazines as Columbia Journalism Review, Commonweal, and Society. He graduated from Princeton magna cum laude in history (1977) and Duke Law School with honors (1984), clerked on United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (1984-85), and practiced law for a number of years in Raleigh with the firm founded by former Duke President Terry Sanford.

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Philip M. Napoli is the James R. Shepley Professor of Public Policy, Director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy, and Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Research for the Sanford School.  He also serves as a Docent at the University of Helsinki.

Professor Napoli's research focuses on media institutions and media regulation and policy.  He has provided formal and informal expert testimony on these topics to government bodies such as the U.S. Senate, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Congressional Research Service. 

Professor Napoli is the author of four books: Foundations of Communications Policy: Principles and Process in the Regulation of Electronic Media (Hampton Press, 2001); Audience Economics: Media Institutions and the Audience Marketplace (Columbia University Press, 2003) (winner of the Robert Picard Award for the Best Book in Media Management and Economics from the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication); Audience Evolution: New Technologies and the Transformation of Media Audiences (Columbia University Press, 2011), and Social Media and the Public Interest: Media Regulation in the Disinformation Age (Columbia University, 2019)  He is also the editor of Media Diversity and Localism: Meaning and Metrics (Routledge, 2007) and co-editor with Minna Aslama of Communications Research in Action: Scholar-Activist Collaborations for a Democratic Public Sphere (Fordham University Press, 2011).  Professor Napoli has also published over 50 articles in legal, public policy, journalism, and communication journals; as well as over 30 invited book chapters in edited collections. 

Professor Napoli's research has received awards from the National Business and Economics Society, the Broadcast Education Association, the International Communication Association and the National Communication Association, and has been cited in a number of government proceedings and reports.  His research has been funded by organizations such as the Ford Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and the Center for American Progress.  His current project, funded by the Democracy Fund, is the News Measures Research Project, which focuses on developing new approaches to assessing the health of local journalism ecosystems, in an effort to identify the community characteristics that impact the health of local journalism.

Professor Napoli is a firm believer in engaged scholarship, and has engaged in research consultations and collaborations with a wide range of organizations. He has been interviewed in media outlets such as the NBC Nightly News, the Huffington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, Politico, and National Public Radio.

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Michael is a partner in Brunswick’s Washington, DC office and heads the firm’s higher education sector.  He has more than three decades as a chief public affairs officer, counselor, and strategist for some of the world’s leading research universities, academic medical centers, and media organizations.

An expert in communications strategy, executive positioning, media relations, issues and crisis management, stakeholder engagement, government relations and policy advocacy, Michael advises corporate and nonprofit boards, CEOs, and high-profile leaders on critical issues in higher education, research, health care and sports, among other areas.

Michael joined Brunswick in 2022 after 14 years as vice president for public affairs and government relations, chief communications officer, and spokesperson at Duke University, where he also co-chaired the university’s comprehensive COVID response efforts, helped lead the creation of a new university in China and steered Duke’s communications and advocacy initiatives in Asia, Middle East, Europe, and the Americas.  He previously served for more than a decade as vice chancellor for public affairs at Vanderbilt University. 

Earlier, Michael was senior vice president for policy and public affairs at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) in Washington, D.C. and held news reporting and executive leadership roles at the Voice of America and U.S. Information Agency.   

A founder and former chair of Futurity.org, a digital network of more than 70 prominent U.S. and international universities and research centers, Michael is a visiting professor of the practice of public policy at Duke and serves on the boards of WUNC-North Carolina Public Radio, PBS-NC, the Seminar, and the Institute for Public Relations.

Michael graduated from Duke and received a master’s degree in public policy from Stony Brook University. 

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Additional Faculty

The faculty at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy have earned national and international recognition for excellence in research, policy engagement and teaching. 

Sanford has a diverse mix of academic scholars and professors of the practice whose practical experience in top leadership roles enhances the classroom experience.

Faculty members collaborate across disciplines to explore questions relating to income inequality, obesity and hunger, energy policy, child neglect and abuse, access to health care, democratization, foreign policy and global concerns.

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