Meet the Graduating GWALA Cohort II Fellows

Andrea Anderson, MD, SMHS, Associate Chief of the Division of Family Medicine
Bryan Andriano, GWSB, Assistant Dean, Operations and Global & Experiential Education
Mona Atia, ESIA, Director of the Institute for Middle East Studies
Casey Burgat, GSPM, Director of the Legislative Affairs Program
Imani Cheers, CCAS, Associate Professor of Media and Public Affairs
Hiromi Ishizawa, CCAS, Chair of the Sociology Department
Laurie S. Kohn, GW Law, Director of the Family Justice Litigation Clinic
Gaetano Lotrecchiano, LAI/SMHS, Associate Dean, Collaborative and Innovative Pedagogy
Irina Orlova, GWSB, Program Director, Strategic Initiatives
Robert Orttung, OVPR/ESIA, Research Director, Sustainable GW 
Cara Padovano, SON, Assistant Dean, Master of Science in Nursing Program
Tara Scully, CCAS, Director of Sustainability Academic Program
Alexander van der Horst, CCAS, Deputy Chair in the Department of Physics
Elizabeth Vaquera, CCAS, Director, GW Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute
Jonathan Walker, ESIA, Senior Assistant Dean, Student Services, Diversity, and Inclusion
Sherrie Flynt Wallington, SON, Associate Professor, Health Disparities and Oncology
Leslie Ward, GSEHD, Director of Academic Accountability and Data Systems
Sara Wilensky, GWSPH, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education, Health Policy and Management
Lijie Grace Zhang, SEAS, Associate Dean for Research


The GW Academic Leadership Academy (GWALA) facilitates cross-institutional networking among academic leaders. It was designed to build leadership capacity for the participating schools and units.
As a year-long, cohort-based program, participants will benefit from a CV-worthy experience that considers their well-being and helps them develop leadership skills while building lasting relationships with colleagues across GW.
GWALA Objectives:
1. Develop institutional knowledge about GW.
2. Reflect on your personal leadership style and experiences.
3. Develop inclusive, service-oriented leadership skills and knowledge to identify and address issues in higher education.  
4. Network with a cross section of GW senior leaders.
5. Engage in peer mentoring to address real challenges you face in your role at GW.
6. Apply leadership skills to your role at GW through focusing on a work related project.
Each fellow selects a project to serve as a focus for applying what they learn in a real-world scenario. Some focus on a new initiative while others choose their department or program to serve as their "project." Looking back on their experiences, a number of fellows reported that their ability to focus on a "long-overdue" project finally positioned them to successfuly finish what would have otherwise remained on their important/not urgent To Do lists.
Once selected, fellows in the cohort will need to commit to:   
  • Full participation in seven seminars throughout the year (schedule to be announced)

  • Leading a project that will serve as a case study to apply their learning

  • Investing time (approximately 2-4 hours a month) to complete required assignments 

Nominations for the third cohort are now open

Link here to learn more about the program and the nomination process.




Hear from Inaugural GWALA Cohort Fellow Experiences


Christopher A. Bracey

Christopher A. Bracey, GW Provost and Executive Vice President For Academic Affairs. Provost Bracey has served as the GWALA executive sponsor since the program launched. He has been a champion of the program engaging with both cohorts. With the appointment of Emily Hammond to serve as the new Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, the GWALA program ownership will now transition.

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Kathleen Griffith

Kathleen Griffith, School of Nursing, Associate Dean for Research. Focused on the development of an advisor workshop for the new SON PhD program, which reinforces alignment with the GW core values and the university strategic plan. At graduation, she discussed the importance of effective decision making, the adaptive nature of leadership, especially when needs of the organization change. She is a member of the GWALA Alumni Advisory Group.

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Jonathon Grooms

Jonathon Grooms, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, Assistant Professor of Curriculum & Pedagogy; Co-Director of GWTeach. Focused on STEM teacher preparation. At graduation, he discussed the importance of communication among team members and highlighted the need for leaders to provide clear insight into their thinking related to decisions and give the “why” behind responses. He is a member of the GWALA Alumni Advisory Group.

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Anna Helm

Anna Helm, GW School of Business, Associate Teaching Professor of International Business; Director of GW’s Center for International Business Education & Research. Focused on Liberal Arts @ GWSB – bringing a liberal art focus into the undergraduate program. At graduation, she shared that during the program she reflected on her core understanding of herself, who she is and wants to be, and the core values she wants to project to the world. She is a member of the GWALA Alumni Advisory Group.

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Howie Huang

Howie Huang, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering Department. He focused on developing his leadership skills. At graduation, he talked about the value of feedback and mentioned he participated in the Leadership Practices Inventory, a 360 multi-rater feedback tool. He also highlighted the importance of "communication, communication, communication” for leaders to be effective.

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Gabrielle Julien-Molineaux

Gabrielle Julien-Molineaux, Enrollment and Student Success, Assistant Vice Provost for Graduate Enrollment. Focused on creating an online resource center for GW's enrollment professionals to give the distributed team easy access to the tools they need to do their important work. At graduation, she highlighted the need for leaders to listen. She closed by saying, "leaders collaboratively create solutions and contribute to the development of other leaders.”

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Jisoo Kim

Jisoo Kim, Elliott School of International Affairs, Director of GW Institute for Korean Studies (GWIKS); Korea Foundation Associate Professor of History, International Affairs, and East Asian Languages and Literatures. As the founding Director, she focused on the success of GWIKS. At graduation, she emphasized the need for collaboration across the institution and with organizations outside GW. She highlighted the importance of teamwork and the leader's role in effective communication.


Manya Magnus

Manya Magnus, GW Milken Institute School of Public Health, Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Epidemiology. Focused first on research infrastructure and pivoted to lead the effort to submit a proposal for a large clinical trials grant. At graduation, she shared a number of her lessons learned including that leaders need to be adaptable. She also emphasized that flexibility is one of the most important leadership skills.


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Melissa Napolitano

Melissa Napolitano, GW Milken Institute School of Public Health, Professor and Director of Prevention and Community Health Doctoral Programs. Focused on a core PhD program curriculum across GWSPH to accommodate a yearly admission cycle. At graduation, she highlighted a component covered early in GWALA when she shared how the team adapted the GW Values to focus on the admission process with an emphasis on excellence, integrity, and diversity.

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Arturo Sotomayor

Arturo Sotomayor, Elliott School of International Affairs, Associate Professor of International Affairs and Director of the Security Policy Studies Program. Focused on diversifying security studies, "one step at a time." At graduation, he shared personal and professional stories that underscored the value of diversity. He highlighted success in recruiting diverse faculty and emphasized that there is still work to be done.

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Carlos Rodriguez-Diaz

Carlos Rodriguez-Diaz, GW Milken Institute School of Public Health, Associate Professor and Director of the Community-Oriented Primary Care Program. Focused on a curricular evaluation of the Community-Oriented Primary Care Program. At graduation, he shared his experiences leading a very collaborative effort with faculty, staff, students, and the broader community. He highlighted that to bring about change, leaders need to understand and motivate others.


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Megan Siczek

Megan Siczek, Columbian College of Arts & Sciences, Director and Associate Professor of the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program. Focused on creating a web based resource guide to empower faculty from across disciplines to develop innovative and inclusive pedagogy for the multi-lingual and diverse students we teach. At graduation, she emphasized that participating in GWALA served as a great motivator to moblize a team to work on this important project. 

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Ayman El Tarabishy

Ayman El Tarabishy, GW School of Business, Deputy Chair, Department of Management and Executive Director of the International Council for Small Business. Focused on the launch of the GW Entrepreneurship Week. At graduation, he expressed deep appreciation for the support and partnership to realize a vision and the importance of holding on to a vision regardless of the challenges presented.

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Heather Young

Heather Young, GW Milken Institute School of Public Health, Professor and Vice Chair for Education. Focused on leading by example during a public health crisis. At graduation, she shared her lessons learned including that leaders are not supposed to be perfect all the time, and strength can come from recognizing vulnerability.