A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. Trying to find an oncologist to provide a second opinion is difficult in many locations due to wait times or geographic distance, making decisions about treatment even harder for patients. Hua Wang PPS’03 is a cofounder and CEO of SmartBridge, a startup based in Washington, D.C. that connects oncologists with cancer patients who want a second opinion or guidance. Several members of Wang’s family had been affected by cancer and she saw the idea as a way to help others.
Since graduating from the Sanford School of Public Policy, Cynthia Viveros-Cano, MIDP ’04, has taken her expertise to conflict zones in South America and the Middle East, and to United Nations headquarters in New York City. Viveros-Cano is now stationed in Damascus, Syria, as a Humanitarian Affairs Officer for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Viveros-Cano’s role is help ensure aid gets to the people who need it most.
How do you save a hospital system? That’s the question Nancy Schlichting PPS ’76, had to answer when she took over as CEO of the Henry Ford Hospital and subsequently became system CEO. The Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System was losing millions, the city of Detroit was in decline, and employee morale was low. Schlichting and her team managed to turn the system around, bringing it to profitability by 2003.
"I grew up in a small village in Kenya, an informal settlement called Korogocho. It’s the third largest slum in Kenya. I heard of this scholarship by the Ford Foundation. It was extremely competitive. So I applied for this scholarship, and I got it. And it was a good scholarship because if you got it, you could go to any university in the world, provided you were qualified. Duke was always my first choice. Even if I got the scholarship now, I would still come to Duke." - Raphael Obonyo MPP’13
“You get to make a difference every day,” said Matthew Clark MPP’15. “That’s what I love about organizing. You’re right there on the ground with people just as passionate as you are working to move North Carolina and the nation forward.” Clark has been a part of several campaigns for progressive issues. At Duke, he was a founding member of Duke Teaching First, a group that helped organize Trinity College’s non-tenure track teaching faculty into a union. Clark also helped lay the groundwork for the ongoing graduate student unionization effort.
Andrea Wilson, MPP/MBA’12, knew what she wanted when she came to the Sanford School. She had developed an interest in combating human trafficking during her six years in finance and program development with nonprofit organizations in Washington state and wanted to make a career shift into the area. She applied to organizations in the field, but hit a snag—most required prior anti-trafficking experience. A dual master’s degree from Duke was the answer.
Amid a changing health policy landscape, Charles Mathews MPP’04, sees his Sanford degree as a critical tool. Mathews, a vice president at Boston Healthcare Associates (BHA), has a niche role in the industry: helping companies figure out how to show the value of new technologies to payers (insurance companies) so they will pay for them. In particular he focuses on new medical laboratory tests.
Charlie Clotfelter’s class was incredibly impactful and memorable. I’ve always been incredibly interested in public policy and human issues, and his class really brought those two together, from the role of the nonprofit in serving communities and needs that the federal systems wouldn’t support and private sector wouldn’t support. When I was at OSHA, after four years, I took a big risk and left to a startup nonprofit dealing with worker safety and health issues, and it was through inspiration from that class that it all fit together. To this day, I look back on that class as being one of the more impactful ones.
Sonia Sekhar MPP’14 knows the Affordable Care Act like the back of hand. She has to—it’s her job to implement the law for New York. Sekhar is director of policy and planning for New York State of Health, the state’s health exchange.
This summer, Gregg Behr, MPP/JD’00, was stunned to find himself at the White House, attending an event as a guest of honor. Behr was being celebrated as one of 10 “Champions of Change for Making.” The category honors people who successfully promote hands-on learning and serve their communities through innovation and creativity.
Combating human trafficking around the world was not what Susan Coppedge PPS’88 expected to be doing after leaving Duke. Initially, she wanted to practice environmental law. But an experience while she was an assistant U.S. attorney put the Stanford law grad on the path that eventually would lead to her current job: Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State.
For Sarah Komisarow, stepping into a Sanford classroom is coming home. She graduated summa cum laude from Duke in 2008, with a B.A. in Public Policy. When she returns this fall, she’ll have a new title—this time, she’ll be Professor Komisarow.