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Speakers

Marisa Kwiatkowski

MARISA KWIATOWSKI

Investigative Reporter, USA TODAY

Marisa Kwiatkowski is an investigative reporter for USA TODAY. She has handled investigations relating to social services and welfare issues, including child abuse and neglect, poverty, elder abuse, human trafficking, domestic violence and access to mental health services. Marisa has earned more than 50 journalism awards, including the Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism, IRE’s Tom Renner Award, a Sigma Delta Chi Award in public service, the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism, the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award and Indiana Journalist of the Year. Prior to USA TODAY, Marisa worked for media outlets in Indiana, South Carolina and Michigan.

In 2016, Marisa and her colleagues launched an investigation into USA Gymnastics that revealed top officials at the sport’s national governing body failed to report many allegations of sexual abuse by coaches. It also showed how predators exploited a lax culture to prey on children. As a result of the series, more than 500 women came forward with allegations of sexual abuse against Larry Nassar, a longtime team physician who worked in four Olympic games. Nassar pleaded guilty and is serving time in prison. The CEO board of directors of USA Gymnastics resigned. Multiple people have faced criminal charges. The series also spurred the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017.

In 2013, Marisa received two national awards, as well as state and regional awards, for her coverage of the difficulties of children with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities to receive appropriate mental health services. She found parents falsely admitting to neglect in order to secure services for their children. After Marisa’s series published, state officials pledged up to $25 million per year to close the funding gap.

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Speakers

Ann Peters

ANN PETERS

Campus Consortium Program, Pulitzer Center

Ann Peters oversees the Pulitzer Center’s Campus Consortium program, which creates opportunities for journalists, students and faculty to examine global issues across disciplines at a growing network of university and college partners and offers international reporting fellowships. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Georgetown University Law Center, Ann began her career as a correspondent for United Press International. She reported from North Carolina, Washington, D.C., Israel, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Egypt and South Africa between 1983 and 1991. Her domestic reporting ranged from covering the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster to North Carolina politics. Her assignments abroad gave her ample opportunities to cover international affairs, whether interviewing Palestinians and Israelis during what would become known as the first Palestinian intifada or South Africans on the days and weeks following Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. After her days at UPI and then at law school, Ann worked in London as a research associate and consultant for Human Rights Watch, focusing on blinding laser weapons, laws of war and arms embargoes, and then in Washington, D.C. for the Open Society Institute as program director of its Landmines Project. She also practiced law at Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, LLP, a firm specializing in providing legal advice to nonprofit organizations and individuals in the areas of nonprofit organization tax law, election law, employment law and environmental law.

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Photographer

Anna Layden

Assistant Photographer

Anna Rose Layden is a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography, concentrating in Photojournalism, with a minor in Political Science from Rochester Institute of Technology in Henrietta, New York. She is an active member of the National Press Photographers Association, as well as the Asian-American Journalists Association of New York. Her work reflects a fascination with the extraordinary moments in everyday life, as well as coverage of current news events. She is constantly seeking out ways to further her understanding of the cultures around her, meet new people, and find the nearest Chick-Fil-A.

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Speakers

Patrick Davis

PATRICK DAVIS

Manager of Field Operations, CNN Washington

Patrick Davis serves as the Manager of Field Operations at CNN’s Washington Bureau, where he oversees technical & logistical planning for daily newsgathering, breaking news, and major events including Inauguration, State Funerals, State of the Union, Oval Office Addresses, Papal visits, and hurricanes. Over the course of his career, Patrick has worked at a variety of jobs throughout the television & radio industries: production assistant, guest booker, writer, shooter, editor, advertising sales, show producer, field producer, DJ, reporter, and anchor. During his time at CNN, he has covered numerous election cycles, and every major story since 9/11, earning several distinguished awards, including multiple Emmys and a Peabody. Patrick is a long time member of the Capitol Hill Radio & Television Correspondents Association, and serves on the Board of the Technical Advisory Subcommittee. He began his career in local television & radio, while earning his journalism degree at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

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Speakers

Kasi Bumgarner

KASI BUMGARNER

Assistant Digital Producer, National Endowment for Democracy

Kasi Bumgarner is an Assistant Digital Producer at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). At NED, she creates a variety of digital content to highlight events and capture stories of the organization’s grantees and fellows who are advocating for democracy and human rights around the world. Before joining NED, she worked as a receptionist, a freelance video editor, and a production intern for an independent documentary, Imitating Life: The Audacity of Suzanne Heintz.

Kasi’s love for storytelling and digital media began at a young age, but it wasn’t until she attended WJMC as a National Youth Correspondent in 2011 that she realized she could turn her passion into a career. She has loved being a part of the WJMC family ever since, returning as a Junior Faculty Advisor in 2014 and a Videographer in 2016.

Kasi graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Film and Video Studies from George Mason University. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, exploring new spots in the DC area, and producing videos for her lifestyle YouTube channel, Curlyhairlove.

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Speakers

Shermichael Singleton

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON

Contributing Host, Vox Media

Shermichael Singleton is a political consultant, writer, commentator, and Contributing Host of Vox Media’s Consider It, a current affairs digital show that airs weekly on Facebook Watch. He is also a 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree for Law and Policy for his contributions to politics and media.

As a political operative, he has worked on the presidential campaigns of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich where he focused on youth outreach and engagement. From there he went on to work on former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in campaign operations and coalitions where he traveled the country during the 2012 election. During the 2015 and 2016 cycle, he worked on the presidential campaign of renowned Neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson where he was the faith coalitions advisor tasked with targeting and building coalitions within the faith community, which would become Dr. Carson’s strongest base of support. As a result, Dr. Carson became the only candidate to surpass President Trump in polls for several straight weeks during the 2016 campaign cycle.

In addition to his work on political campaigns, he was an opposition researcher for America Rising, LLC where he did opposition research for several Republican candidates running for Congress and the United States Senate. Beyond politics, he also worked with Florida based non-profit Lauren’s Kids, which focuses on raising awareness about child sexual abuse. During his time with Lauren’s Kids, he was a part of a team of former political operatives who worked on a statewide bus tour across Florida to raise awareness for this very important issue.

When Dr. Carson ended his bid for the presidency, he appointed Shermichael as his director of communications, where he would manage all communications for the former presidential candidate. As Dr. Carson’s top aide during the presidential transition process, Shermichael played a pivotal role in successfully guiding Dr. Carson through the Senate confirmation process. Subsequently, he was appointed to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), where he was sworn in as the Deputy Chief of Staff, the youngest ever appointed to the role in the history of the agency. Getting acclimated in his role at HUD, Shermichael was later fired by the Trump Administration after an articled surfaced where Shermichael criticized then-candidate Trump. After his dismissal, Shermichael went on to become a CNN Political Commentator.

In addition to co-hosting his weekly show on Vox Media, he appears weekly on MSNBC where he offers political analysis.

A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, he studied Political Science at Morehouse College and Government and Politics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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Counselor

Eva Bramesco

Student Support

Eva Bramesco is the Senior Assistant Director of Honors College Admissions here at Mason. Beginning with her involvement in the Admissions Office at her alma mater, Eva has spent nearly a decade working with students and families of all backgrounds to overcome the various hurdles of the college admissions process.

In working closely with the Honors College, Eva gets to meet some of Mason’s most ambitious and inquisitive applicants. As the product of a small liberal arts college herself, Eva loves to share the Honors College’s benefits of small classroom settings, individualized attention from brilliant professors, the academic freedom to truly dive into areas and topics of interest, and what students can really do with these opportunities in a large research university setting.

Prior to her time at Mason, Eva worked in international development, first with the American Red Cross, and then for a consulting firm. From working in the competitive and fast-paced environment of Washington, D.C., Eva learned firsthand about the powerful combination of a customizable education in a unique location.

Originally from Danvers, Massachusetts, Eva graduated with high honors from Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania with degrees in International Relations, Spanish and a minor in Latin American Studies, and is currently working towards a Master’s in Public Policy at Mason. Her undergraduate research focused on democratization processes in disparate nations. In addition to her work at Mason, Eva is a long-time mentor, tutor, and advocate for educational equity. She can also be found on Twitter talking about current trends and issues in education at @EvaAdmissions

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Counselor

Pat Money

Student Support

Patrick Money is the Associate Director of Admissions for George Mason University. After starting as a student employee at the Admissions office, he has spent the last decade as a member of the Mason Admissions family helping students and families find the right college destination.

Patrick has lived in Northern Virginia his entire life and attended high school at Lake Braddock Secondary. He had an amazing experience as an undergrad while earning his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology here at Mason. This area is an incredible place for young people to explore options both professionally and socially – an opportunity he took in full, which ultimately led to a college career he thoroughly enjoyed and would not trade for anything.

One of his favorite memories was when he made his initial decision to come to Mason back in 2006 after he saw the Men’s basketball team reach the final four live at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.! (He still talks about it like it happened yesterday!!)

Patrick has a passion for higher education and even more so for George Mason University, and he hopes to share it with all those who are interested.

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Speakers

Maria Peña

Nicaraguan-born María Peña has lived in the United States since 1978, and she has worked as a bilingual journalist in Washington for close to 30 years. Throughout her career, she has interviewed celebrities as well as local, state, and national leaders, including President Barack Obama, both as a candidate in 2008 and just prior to his reelection in 2012.

Maria has also interviewed foreign dignitaries, and she has covered international summits and various NGO events. Recently, she covered the move of the US and Guatemalan embassies in Israel, and in the Spring of 2016, she covered President Obama’s historic visit to Cuba. Later that year, she covered a world summit of mayors and regional leaders in Bogotá, Colombia.

She’s currently the Washington Senior Political Correspondent for La Opinion/Impremedia, covering all issues impacting the thriving Latino community in the US, including immigration, trade, foreign policy, education, housing, and electoral politics.

As part of her immigration coverage, she has traveled extensively throughout the southern border, visiting communities on both sides, and interviewing politicians and regular folks.

She has chronicled the deployment of the “Minutemen”, the congressional gridlock on immigration reform, the plight of undocumented workers at risk for deportation and, currently, the unprecedented activism in the immigrant community against president Donald Trump’s policies.

In the past, she has also worked for EFE, UPI, NBC Canal de Noticias, Univision, and Telemundo.
Maria is a regular panelist at prestigious TV talk shows, including Voice of America, Univisión’s “Al Punto”, CGTN America, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), CNN’s “Choque de Opiniones”, and Colombian NTN24’s “Club de Prensa”.

She also frequently participates in workshops, panels, media roundtables, and briefings organized by congressional committees, universities, NGOs, think tanks, and the State Department.

Maria is an active member of the White House Correspondents Association, and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Her work got national recognition from the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) in 2016.
She holds a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French from the American University (CAS ’90), where she has occasionally done graduate courses in human rights and conflict resolution.

She lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Her hobbies include reading, music, art, cooking, gardening, and other outdoor activities.

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Advisory Board Speakers

Savannah Behrmann

SAVANNAH BEHRMANN

Politics NOW Reporter, USA TODAY

Savannah Rose Behrmann is a Politics NOW Reporter at USA TODAY. In this role, she covers breaking political news that ranges from Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court, and the 2020 election. Previously, Savannah was a News Associate at CNN, where she produced from the news desk, wrote for digital and reported from Capitol Hill. Savannah hails from Utah, and attended George Mason University. She is a proud alumna of the Washington Journalism and Media Conference, which she attended as a National Youth Correspondent in 2013, and then worked as a staff member for several years.