Department Newsletter, Spring 2019

Message from the Chair
Department Spotlights
Department Announcements
Alumni Updates/Class Notes
Donor Recognition
Support the Department
Stay Connected

Message from the Chair

Sumit Joshi, Chair


Sumit Joshi, Department Chair



To the Alumni and Friends of the GW Department of Economics:

Welcome to the spring 2019 newsletter! Several events since our last newsletter brought together former and current students and faculty. The fall Alumni Lecture, delivered by Professor Tara Sinclair, honored the memory of Herman Stekler. The GW reception at the annual Allied Social Science meetings in Atlanta proved to be a well-attended and lively affair. As we celebrated the close connections between the department and alumni, we were also deeply saddened by the passing of Stuart Harshbarger, who played such a pivotal role in building these connections. We will always be grateful to Stuart for his tireless efforts to build a strong GW economics alumni network.

We look forward with anticipation to the next academic year. Professor Stephen Smith will take over as the new department chair. We were very successful in our recruiting efforts and will be welcoming three new assistant professors this coming fall: Elira Kuka (applied microeconomics) who is currently assistant professor at Southern Methodist University; Alessandra Finezia (applied microeconomics) from Berkeley; and Yingyan Zhao (international trade) from Penn State. With these hires, we will continue building the department into a center of excellence in research and teaching. Our faculty and students have continued with their successes and the newsletter lists some of their accomplishments.

We are grateful to alumni and friends whose generous donations have contributed to the success of our students and faculty through funds for conference travel and awards.

Sumit Joshi, Chair

 GW Economics reception at the Allied Social Science Meetings in Atlanta


Paul Carrillo, Jonathan Rothbaum, Daniel Broxterman, Tomas Williams and Bryan Stuart.

Paul Carrillo, Jonathan Rothbaum, Daniel Broxterman, Tomas Williams and Bryan Stuart.


Zheyu Yang, Han Liu and Xinxin Cao.

Zheyu Yang, Han Liu and Xinxin Cao.

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Department Spotlights

In Memoriam: Stuart Harshbarger


Stuart Harshbarger at the Spring 2018 Alumni Lecture and Reception


Stuart Harshbarger at the Spring 2018 Alumni Lecture and Reception



We were deeply saddened by the passing of Stuart Harshbarger, MPhil ’93, PhD ’94, on December 21, 2018. Stuart was the founder of the Economics Department Alumni Advisory Committee and generously funded the biannual Alumni Reception and Lecture. He also organized the Alumni Committee and was its most active member until suffering the effects of cancer. Stuart ;won the GW Alumni Service award in 2016. We will always cherish Stuart’s memory and continue building on his efforts to organize a strongly connected alumni network.

We welcome W. Tom Curtis, BA ’81, MS ’95. as the head of the Economics Alumni Group. Tom will be taking over from Rich Brown, PhD ’94, as the head of the Economics Department Alumni Committee. He will be following the leadership also provided by the committee’s founder Stuart Harshbarger by promoting the Alumni Committee lectures and receptions during the academic year, the GW economics reception at the annual ASSA Meetings, this newsletter and the LinkedIn page. He has plans to connect economics students about to graduate with the members and activities of the committee by holding events in which they can interact with GW economics alumni and professors.

Stephen Smith is the New Incoming Chair


Incoming Chair Stephen Smith


Incoming Chair Stephen Smith



Stephen C. Smith will be taking over as department chair on July 1. Stephen has been a professor of economics and international affairs at GW since 1983. His research is in the field of development economics and examines poverty conditions and solutions, economic development strategies, adaptation to climate change and the economic analysis of cooperatives, works councils and codetermination. He has conducted research in numerous countries including Bangladesh, China, Ecuador, Germany, India, Italy, Peru, Senegal, Slovenia and Uganda. He has consulted for the World Bank, United Nations Development Program, and International Labor Organization, among others. Stephen is also co-author with Michael Todaro of the leading textbook in development economics.

Anthony Yezer Wins Trachtenberg Service Award!


Professor Anthony Yezer


Professor Anthony Yezer



Tony Yezer is the recipient of the 2019 Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Service. This award is in recognition of Tony’s exceptional service on many fronts, including eight terms in the Faculty Senate and chairmanship of the Fiscal Planning and Budget and Research Committees. According to Tony, his greatest satisfaction as a faculty member has come from working with alumni and providing a conduit for the creativity and imagination of those who want to be of service to the department.

Tony’s alumni connections began over 20 years ago with the Careers in Economics session which each fall brings alumni back to campus to talk about career placement with current undergraduate majors. Then, prompted by Stuart Harshbarger, Tony helped found the Economics Department Alumni Advisory Committee, which sponsors the biannual Economics Alumni Reception and Lecture. His other contributions include developing a LinkedIn network connecting alumni, a biannual newsletter and regular GW Economics receptions at the ASSA Meetings. He looks forward to hosting the next reception in San Diego, January 2020!

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Department Announcements

Faculty Kudos


Joann Weiner


Joann Weiner



Professor Joann Weiner was chosen as the 2018 Program Director of the Year for her excellent stewardship of the MA program in Applied Economics.


Graciela Kaminsky


Graciela Kaminsky



Professor Graciela Kaminsky was named one of the 12 most influential Argentine economists in the world by Cronista, a daily business newspaper in Argentina.


Dina Rady and Daniel Mackay


Dina Rady and Daniel Mackay



Professors Daniel Mackay and Dina Rady were nominated by student athletes for Professor of the Year.

Current Students


Joseph Hancuch (center) with Professors Bryan Stuart (left) and Arun Malik (right).


Joseph Hancuch (center) with Professors Bryan Stuart (left) and Arun Malik (right).




Joseph Hancuch won both the 2018 Hsieh Prize (the best proseminar paper) and the 2018 Dunn Prize (the best international paper). Joseph’s paper was on “Trade Adjustment Assistance Program: Evaluation of Competition from Chinese Imports on Post-Program Income.” and prepared under the guidance of Professors Arun Malik and Bryan Stuart.

Genna Tatu, BA '20, received the John Stuart Whetzell, Jr., Endowed Economics Scholarship, an award she says, "really changed everything."

Benjamin Butcher won second place in the prestigious Frank W. Taussig Award competition for the best undergraduate research paper in economics sponsored by Omicron Delta Epsilon. Benjamin’s research paper on malaria in developing countries was supervised by Professor Joseph Pelzman.

Max Wang’s proseminar paper, “The Rent is Too Darn High: Evidence from Washington, DC’s Capital Bikeshare Program,” was accepted for publication in GW Undergraduate Review.

Three of our economics majors—Christian Brown, Alexis Cirrotti and Eugene Liu—were cited as interns on 2019 Economic Report of the President.

Read economics junior Elizabeth Buchwald’s articles for MarketWatch!

Department Achievements


Tara Sinclair


Tara Sinclair



Our own Professor Tara Sinclair came back from her sabbatical to speak at this fall's Economics Alumni Lecture. She presented a tribute to the research of Professor Herman Stekler, a treasured member of our department who passed away in September. Stekler is known as the grandfather of economic forecast evaluation and Sinclair shared some of the insights from his over 60 years of research focused on improving the predictions of economic events.

Department Events

The 1st Annual Washington Area Labor Economics Symposium (WALES) was held on Friday, March 29, 2019. WALES is a one-day labor economics conference that brings together researchers from several D.C. institutions. The goal is to provide an outlet to share work in progress and get to know other researchers.

The Student Association for Graduate Economists (SAGE) is organizing the 3rd Student Research Conference in Economics on April 13, 2019. This follows the success of the first two conferences that drew doctoral students from both the U.S. and abroad.

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Alumni Updates/Class Notes

Haitham Alaini, BA ’91, is living in the United Arab Emirates working in construction, mostly in energy.

Niels-Hugo Blunch, PhD ’06, was promoted to professor of economics at Washington and Lee University last year. He is currently working on a consulting assignment with the World Bank on the Ghana Case Study related to the bank's Human Capital Project.

Bryan Burcat, BA ’16, is attending law school at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Arnold Croddy, Jr., MA ’83, is a retired minister-counselor from the Department of State's Foreign Service. He served as acting deputy assistant secretary of state for science and health, director of the office of development finance and in various other economic positions.

W. Thomas Curtis, BA ’81, was recently asked to chair the Economics Department Alumni Organization. He is hopeful that we can involve alumni in at least three lectures over the year as well as have other exciting events for alumni.

Philip De Turk, BA ’54, is currently in Rio en route to completing an around the world (So. America) trip on the Prisendam. His degree has helped him compute whether he had sufficient resources for such a jaunt. He did.

Thomas Fales, BA ’07, joined the Army National Guard JAG Corps and is attending the Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School at Charlottesville, Va., in 2019. He is an associate counsel at the Board of Veterans' Appeals in D.C.

Lane Farrell, BS ’15, launched a retail commercial insurance brokerage called The Farrell Group.

MAJ Jeffrey Feser, BA ’06, currently just returned from Iraq where he deployed in support of Inherent Resolve to help rebuild Mosul and return businesses following its liberation. He just restationed to Kansas City where the army sent him to advanced military studies program.

Aya Fisher, BA ’06, has launched a wellness business which provides curated retreats, workshops and corporate programs to help people level up in their lives.

James Hacker, BA ’09, is currently principal consultant to the California Senate Committee on budget and fiscal review. He lives in Sacramento.

Monica Huddleston, BA ’75, is a retired mayor, of the city of Greendale, Mo. She served two four-year terms and is still active in the local community, volunteering, serving.

Denis Jacques, BA ’61, liked economics, but ended up with law. He is a retired IRS Estate Tax Attorney in San Francisco, Calif.

Nianci Lyu, BA ’17, went to work for Deloitte Consulting after graduation. In 2018, she came back to D.C. and started working for the Mayor's Office of Budget and Finance.

Leslie Megyeri, BA ’63, is now retired. He travels and is active in the National Ski Patrol, and actively manages his assets. His GW education greatly assisted him in obtaining a comfortable financial portfolio. Professor Kendrick's emphasis on financial responsibility impacted his life.

Dionne Middlebrooks, BA ’15, says the Department of Economics did a phenomenal job in building the groundwork for a wonderful entry level career.

Bradford Muir, BA ’11, and his wife, Nicole Muir (Alcamo), BA ’10, welcomed their first child, Anthony, into the world in March 2018. Brad and Nicole met while working at the Colonial Connection as undergrads and now live and work in Maryland.

Jung Hyun Nam, BA ’19, is in South Korea, working at the Korea Institute of Finance and is waiting for his graduate admission results.

John Northington, BS ’15, left the Private Funds Group at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in October 2018 to join PJT Partners' New York office as an analyst in their secondary advisory group.

Dara Novini, BS ’14, began his master's this past fall at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business to obtain his MBA after spending four years in risk management at Fannie Mae.

Virginia Robano, PhD ’12, is the director of the CoLAB, an innovation lab whose first alliance is with MIT and Harvard Law School to offer the program in data science in Uruguay, a postgraduate degree.

George Santopietro, BA ’78, is now serving as assistant provost for academic operations and interim associate dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Research at Radford University, Radford, Va.

Matt Schrader, BA ’07, recently joined the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund as a china analyst. In this role, he researches how PRC authoritarian influence endangers democratic societies around the world, and how policymakers should respond.

Virat Singh, BS ’17, got a MS in economics from DePaul on a full scholarship. Virat worked with the World Bank and JPal and is now going in for a PhD in the fall of 2019.

Paige Spangler, BA ’14, completed her master's in special education. She is working as a special education mathematics teacher at KIPP DC College Preparatory where she earned Teacher of the Year.

Daniel Uslander, BA ’77, was just made an associate director of Currency Transfer Limited, an innovative software company that enables fast and efficient foreign exchange transactions for individuals and corporations.

Zach Vosburg, BA ’10, works for FMI Capital Advisors in Denver, Colo., doing middle market investment banking in the building products and construction industry.

Alex Wang, MA ’18, is currently working for CBRE, a commercial real estate company, in Washington D.C.

Nicolas Zaia, BA ’18, graduated with a BA in economics after four very exciting years in D.C. He now works as an analyst at a wealth management firm in Miami, Fla.

Jiahao Zhu, BA ’17, is now pursuing a career in investment. He looks forward to connecting with GW alumni.

Mu Zuo, MA ’13, was very glad to receive this email. Since graduating, she came back to Beijing working at one of the biggest assets management company. Mu got married to a guy from GW as well and shares, “Life goes pretty well. Loving u, GW!!!

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Donor Recognition


The Economics Department would like to gratefully acknowledge the following generous donors who made a gift to the department from July 1, 2018 - December 31, 2018.

+ Faculty/Staff | # Parent | ~ Student | * Friend | ^ Deceased

Dr. Mohamed Aljaberi #

Olga G. Bespalova, MA ’15, PhD ’18

Jeffrey William Chaloupek, MBA ’97, MA ’97

David E. Cohen, BA ’15

Robert Kevin Costello, BA ’76

W. Thomas Curtis, BA ’81, MS ’95

Oscar A. David, Esq., BA ’84

Guoliang Feng, Ph.D., MA ’15, PhD ’15

Jordan Kellogg Frank, BS ’12

Ryan C. Gilbert, BA ’10

Dr. Robert S. Goldfarb +

Carroll N. Guin, BA ’81

Lily U. Hale, Ph.D., MA ’82, PhD ’84

Stuart L. Harshbarger, Ph.D., MA ’93, PHD ’94

Jacob T. Jones, BA ’18

Caitlin A. Keliher, BS ’14

John B. Kendrick +

Schuyler R. King ~

Jane B. Kolson #

Kenneth Kolson #

Chun Kuang, Ph.D., MA ’12, PhD ’16

Charles P. Luttmann #

Stephen L. Mangum, Ph.D., MA ’83, PhD ’84

M. Dennis Marvich, MA ’82

Alexander T. Melton, BS ’16

Justin R. Pierce, BA ’01

Dr. George Andrew Plesko, BA ’80

Solomon W. Polachek, BA ’67

Bryan Edward Pratt, BA ’13

Troy Clarence Quast, BS ’95

Dr. Clifford E. Reid, BA ’67

Heather I. Rock, BA ’01

Dr. Aida Safar #

Eman M. Salem, BS ’18

Andrew H Shaw, BS ’13

Sheila B. Sherwood, BA ’67

Dr. Tara M. Sinclair +

James Henry Starkey, III, MA ’72

Sharlan Rae Starr, BA ’79

Beth Stekler *

Herman O Stekler ^+

Robert A. Sugarman, Esq., BA ’69

Gregory C. Tassey, Ph.D., PhD ’78, MA ’76

Diana C. Wanamaker, BA ’66, MA ’71

Dr. Anthony M. Yezer +

Dr. Greg R. Zarelli, BA ’77

Wenyu Zhu, Ph.D., MA ’11, PhD ’16

Alan I. Zucker, BA ’84

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Support the Department

Gifts to the Department of Economics allow us to provide support for faculty and student research and travel, graduate student fellowships, and academic enrichment activities including guest speakers, visiting faculty, and symposia. Each gift, no matter how large or small, makes a positive impact on our educational mission and furthers our standing as one of the nation's preeminent liberal arts colleges at one of the world's preeminent universities.

You can make your gift to the department in a number of ways:

  • Securely online.
  • By mailing your check, made out to The George Washington University and with the name of the department in the memo line, to:

The George Washington University
PO Box 98131
Washington, DC 20077-9756

  • By phone by calling the GW Annual Fund at 1-800-789-2611.

Take Part in the GW Legacy Challenge!

The 2019 GW Legacy Challenge is a matching gift program that enables economics alumni and friends to have an immediate impact when they plan a future gift to support to the university (e.g. via bequests in a will or living trust, retirement plan beneficiary designations, etc.). When you document a planned gift to GW, you can immediately direct 2019 GW Legacy Challenge matching funds to the Economics Department or any existing Economics Department fund that resonates with you, such as the Economics Alumni Endowed Scholarship Fund and Professor Robert M. Dunn, Jr. Memorial Endowment Fund. Legacy Challenge matching funds equal to 10 percent of the face amount of your planned gift (with a cap of $10,000 in matching funds) will be directed to the GW purpose you select. Read more information.

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Stay Connected


Industry-based Alumni Networks





Connect with fellow alumni through GW's eight industry networks including media & communications and politics & government.


Join GW Career Connect





Connect with current students and fellow alumni through our new online networking platform, the Industry Career Network on GW Career Connect, centered around 14 industry areas of interest.


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