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Alumni - Get Involved!

Please fill out this contact form if you are interested in becoming part of the Alumni-in-Residence program.

Alumni-in-Residence

The Alumni-in-Residence (AiR) program was developed to provide students, postdocs and alumni an opportunity to connect. Our alumni here in SSD are thought leaders in a variety of sectors including research and higher education, government, private industry, and self-employed. Beginning in Winter 2021, our alumni have been engaged in not only having one-one conversations with students but also doing workshops and other sessions to offer their expertise.

The alumni’s impressively varied pursuits and experiences offer broad frameworks and models for current graduate students considering their own career aspirations. The year kicked off with Networking Skills You May Not Know with AiR Rochdi Younsi and Brian Portnoy. Both alumni spoke about their use of networking to further their careers and tips for students and alums to build relationships necessary to progress their own careers. Following this event was What I Wish I Knew in Graduate School with AiR Neil Roberts (with guests Jasmin DeJesus and Antonio Sotomayor), Pursuing Careers Outside the Academy with AiR David Bholat, Finding Your Comparative Advantage with AiR Wendy Edelberg, and Networking with Purpose with AiR Rochdi Younsi. All together, the events were attended by over 100 students and alumni!

The alumni are happy to have one-on-one conversations with current students, postdocs, and alumni. Please contact Chaevia Clendinen, Associate Dean for Student Advancement and Diversity, at cclendinen@uchicago.edu to schedule a meeting.

2022–2023 Alumni-in-Residence

Isabella Alexander-Nathani headshotIsabella Alexander-Nathani, AM’09 MAPSS, PhD Emory University

Founder & Executive Director, Small World Films

Bio

Dr. Isabella Alexander-Nathani is an award-winning writer, filmmaker, educator, and human rights activist. Trained as a cultural anthropologist, her work is motivated by the belief that storytelling can humanize complex political issues and bring positive social change. Her latest book, Burning at Europe’s Borders (Oxford University Press 2020), and documentary film, The Burning (Small World Films 2022), uncover the human sides of our global refugee crisis. She currently serves as Founder and Executive Director of Small World Films, a non-profit production studio that combines grounded social science research and storytelling to lift the voices of marginalized populations to the global stage and fight for international policy change. In addition, she is a lecturer at UCLA’s School of Law and School of Theater, Film and Television, where she offers cross-disciplinary graduate courses centered on the intersections between human rights law, social change, and storytelling.

Alexander-Nathani’s work has been featured on CNN, BBC, NPR, PRI, and Al Jazeera,and she is a regular contributor to SAPIENS, where she writes a monthly column called “Borders.” Her recent speaking engagements have brought her to stages around the world, including the United Nations General Assembly and the Parliament of the World’s Religions, where she delivered keynote addresses on human rights to audiences of more than 10,000. In 2016, The American Anthropological Association presented her with the “Emerging Leader in Anthropology” award, and her latest projects have been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation, Creative Visions Foundation, and others. She is proud to serve on the Advisory Board of several non-profit organizations, including The Global Village Project, the first school designed specifically for refugee girls in the United States; Stories Found, an organization equipping African youth with filmmaking skills and technology; and SAPIENS, a digital journal connecting social science research to the public.

Cyrus Amir-Mokri, PhD’92 History

General Counsel, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Corporate and Investment Bank

Bio

Bio forthcoming.

Scott Cooley head shotScott Cooley, AM’14 MAPSS, PhD’21 Political Science

Teaching Fellow, University of Chicago

Bio

Scott Cooley is an independent director at Diamond Hill Investment Group. He is Chair of Diamond Hill’s Audit Committee and serves on the Compensation Committee and Nominating and Governance Committees. Since 2021, he has been a Teaching Fellow at the University of Chicago. From 2007 to 2013, he served as Morningstar, Inc.’s Chief Financial Officer, and was responsible for the firm’s investor relations, financial reporting, corporate finance, tax, corporate communications, and U.S. national sales teams. Prior to becoming CFO, from 2003 to 2007, Cooley was CEO of Morningstar’s operations in Australia and New Zealand. He also established Morningstar’s government affairs function. Cooley holds BA and MA degrees from Illinois State University, an MA degree from the University of Chicago, and a PhD in Political Science from the University of Chicago.

Forest Gregg headshotForest Gregg, AM’12 Sociology

Partner, DataMade

Bio

Forest Gregg is trying to find ways that information and information technology can help the people of Chicago recognize, understand, and address our shared challenges and opportunities. As a partner at DataMade, he works with clients, helps staff grow, and looks for ways for the company to be better for their clients and for themselces. He has been trained as a sociologist—particularly in quantitative methods and urban sociology.

 

Michael Raley headshotJ. Michael Raley, PhD’07 History

Professor of History, Hanover College

Bio

Michael Raley is Professor of History and Medieval & Renaissance Studies at Hanover College where, this past spring, he was awarded Hanover College’s 2022 Daryl R. Karns Award for Scholarly and Creative Activity as well as the 2022 Stanley Totten Award for Outstanding Service to Hanover College. Prior to teaching history at Hanover College, Raley taught at the University of Louisville, University of Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University, Wake Forest University, Alma College, and Indiana University Southeast. In 2004, he won the Ruth Murray Memorial Essay Prize in Gender Studies at the University of Chicago and, three years later, was awarded the 2007 NEIU Instructor Excellence Award. Raley currently serves on the board of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences and previously served on the board of the Indiana Association of Historians from 2014 until 2022, and as IAH President in 2020–2021.

Raley’s teaching and research interests are interdisciplinary. He also holds graduate degrees in music and enjoyed an earlier professional career as a symphony and church musician. As a young man, he studied privately with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and performed in Carnegie Hall, New York, with the American Youth Performs National Orchestra. While a student at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, he played principal trombone in the IU Philharmonic Orchestra as well as in the Chicago Civic Orchestra. Afterward he studied at the Institute for Advanced Musical Studies in Montreux, Switzerland, and subsequently won orchestral auditions with the Landestheater Schleswig-Holstein in Flensburg, Germany, and the Niederrheinische Sinfoniker in Krefeld, Germany. Upon returning to the US, Raley earned graduate degrees in music at the University of Louisville (MM, 1983) and Southern Seminary’s School of Church Music, also in Louisville (DMA, 1988). During these years he performed with the Louisville Orchestra for nine seasons. As his interests continued to expand, he returned to academia to earn his MA in history at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (1994) and his PhD at the University of Chicago (2007), where he also played in the University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra for several years.

From 2015–2019, Raley served on the Publications Committee of the American Musicological Society and on the board of the Jefferson County, Indiana, Historical Society. He continues to serve as a reviewing editor on the board of the Journal of Band Research and to perform actively with the Louisville Philharmonia. Raley has been awarded research fellowships from Hanover College, Wake Forest University,  University of Chicago, Newberry Library in Chicago, Max-Planck-Institut für Rechtsgeschichte (Frankfurt, Germany), Herzog August Bibliothek (Wolfenbüttel, Germany), and the Kunstadter, Mellon, and Kellogg Foundations. He is the co-editor (with Edward C. Lorenz and Dana Aspinall) of MontesinosLegacy: Defining and Defending Human Rights for 500 Years (2015) and (with Deborah Carlton Loftis) of Minds and Hearts in Praise of God: Hymns and Essays in Church Music in Honor of Hugh T. McElrath (2006). His articles have appeared in the Indiana Magazine of History, Midwest Social Sciences Journal, Journal of Law and Religion, Sixteenth Century Journal, Journal of World History, Journal of Southern Religion, Ons Geestelijk Erf (Antwerp, Belgium), Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology, Journal of Band Research, and Anuario Musical (Barcelona, Spain).

Raley now looks forward to yet another phase of his life and career as a member of the 2022–2023 cohort of the University of Chicago Social Sciences Division’s Alumni-in-Residence Program.

 

S. Ramachandran headshotS. Ramachandran, MBA’77, PhD’86 Economics

IMF & World Bank (retired)

Bio

Ramachandran trained as an engineer in India and became interested in economics while working in Europe. After a Masters at the London School of Economics, he came to the University of Chicago for an MBA and stayed on for a PhD. He was an Assistant Professor in Finance at the University of Wisconsin at Madison before joining the International Monetary Fund, and later the World Bank. He retired after some 25 interesting years helping governments of several countries manage their economies better, to avoid and cope with crises. He now teaches in Europe, reads, and travels.

 

Tara Schwegler photoTara Schwegler, AM’94 MAPSS, PhD’04 Anthropology

Senior Lecturer, University of Texas at San Antonio, and Co-Founder and Director of Research Strategy, RedSquared Consulting

Bio

Dr. Tara Schwegler is a cultural anthropologist with over 20 years of qualitative research experience in the corporate and academic sectors. In her current role, Co-Founder and Director of Research at RedSquared Consulting, she develops and executes multi-stage, mixed-methods research projects to help clients better understand their customers’ needs. In addition, she is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she teaches courses on Design Thinking, women’s leadership, and the anthropology of food. She earned her BA, MA, and PhD from the University of Chicago.

Schwegler began her career as a Collegiate Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago. After a family move to Texas, she applied her research skills to the private sector and became an Experience Design Strategist at a Fortune 100 financial services company, where she leveraged insights to develop holistic customer experiences. In 2014, she and her business partner founded RedSquared Consulting with a simple mission: to inspire businesses to become more human through customer understanding and empathy. 

Schwegler has published widely in peer-reviewed journals and is a passionate advocate for women in leadership. She advises companies on strategies to improve gender equality, and she recently completed a book manuscript titled, Set Up: Why Women Lean Back and What We Can Do About It

 

Jenna Silber Storey headshotJenna Silber Storey, PhD’10 Social Thought

Senior Fellow in Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies, American Enterprise Institute

Bio

Jenna Silber Storey is a senior fellow in the Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies department at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where her research concentrates on political philosophy, civil society, culture, K–12 classical schools, and liberal education. Storey is concurrently a research professor at Furman University, where she was previously assistant professor in politics and international affairs and the executive director of the Tocqueville Program. She previously worked as executive assistant to the superintendent for the Boston University–Chelsea Schools partnership, and as a research assistant at the Pioneer Institute in Boston. She served as a board member of Veritas Preparatory School in Greenville, South Carolina, from 2019 to 2021.

Storey is the coauthor, with her husband, Benjamin Storey, of Why We Are Restless: On the Modern Quest for Contentment (Princeton University Press, 2021). They are currently working on a book on liberal education and civic life, provisionally titled Town and Gown. Storey’s work has been published in outlets such as Humanities: the Journal of the National Endowment for the Humanities, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post’s Outlook section, The Boston Globe, National Review, American Purpose, Society, New Atlantis, City Journal, Claremont Review of Books, and First Things. She holds a PhD from the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought and a BA from the University Professors Program at Boston University. She was also a visiting student at the University of Tübingen and an exchange student at Dresden University.

 

Milan Svolik headshotMilan Svolik, PhD’06 Political Science

Professor of Political Science, Yale University

Bio

Milan Svolik is Professor of Political Science at Yale University. He received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Chicago after studies at the Central European University in Budapest and Comenius University in Bratislava. Prior to Yale, Professor Svolik taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Svolik’s research and teaching focus on comparative politics, political economy, and formal political theory. Svolik has published articles on the politics of authoritarian regimes, democratization, and democratic backsliding. His research has won awards and funding from, among others, the American Political Science Association, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. Svolik’s award-winning first book, The Politics of Authoritarian Rule (Cambridge University Press, 2012), developed a unified framework that explains the vast variation in institutions, leadership change, and regime stability across dictatorships.

In addition to continuing work on the politics of authoritarianism and democratization, Svolik’s current research explores the politics of democratic backsliding, support for democracy, and electoral manipulation. His latest book project, Downsizing Democracy, examines why ordinary people support politicians who undermine democracy.

 

Raymond Winbush headshotRaymond A. Winbush, PhD’76 Psychology

Director, Research Professor, Institute for Urban Research, Morgan State University

Bio

Raymond A. Winbush is the Director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University. He received his BA in psychology from Oakwood University and earned both his MA and PhD in psychology from the University of Chicago. Having received numerous teaching awards, he has taught at Oakwood, Alabama A&M, Vanderbilt, and Fisk Universities. He is the author of numerous articles and has published four books, The Warrior Method: A Parents’ Guide to Rearing Healthy Black Boys; Should America Pay?: Slavery and the Raging Debate on Reparations; Belinda’s Petition: A Concise History of Reparations for the TransAtlantic Slave Trade; and The Osiris Papers: Reflections on the Life and Writings of Dr. Frances Cress Welsing. He has lectured in Europe, Australia, South America, throughout the United States, Africa, and the Caribbean on the contributions of Africans to world culture. Winbush has made appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, BET and CBS discussing racism and African culture. He was also the primary researcher for the Academy Award–winning film, Judas and the Black Messiah. A former board member of the National Council for Black Studies, he currently sits on the editorial board of Journal of Black Studies. 

 

Alya Adamany Woods headshotAlya Adamany Woods, AM’03 CIR

Vice President, Business Development, Cooley LLP

Bio

Alya Adamany Woods recently joined Cooley LLP as Vice President for Business Development for the Chicago office. There she is responsible for developing client relationships in the firm’s newest office in Chicago, working with emerging and mature companies as well as with investors/venture funds, advising clients on fundraising strategies, and raising Cooley’s profile with key influencers in the Chicago tech, startup, and venture ecosystem. 

She most recently served on the leadership team of Intersect Illinois, an organization dedicated to driving statewide economic development and job creation, as COO and Interim CEO, where she oversaw administrative, board, business development, marketing, and research functions. She previously served as the Executive Director of ChicagoNEXT, World Business Chicago’s initiative to drive growth and opportunity for Chicago’s tech economy, where she developed and led programs focused on access to capital and talent, driving industry innovation, and supporting inclusive entrepreneurship across the city. Prior to her role at World Business Chicago, Woods was the Managing Director for Innovation Initiatives at the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition (ISTC), a member-driven organization dedicated to cultivating technology-based economic development in Illinois. Woods began her career at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, where she served in many roles including as the Assistant Director for studies, and prior to that as the Interim Director for the Global Midwest Initiative. There, she managed initiatives tackled global policy issues including energy, immigration, and agriculture.

Woods received her bachelor’s degree in political science from Yale University and a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Chicago. She has lived in Chicago since 2002 and currently resides in the Logan Square neighborhood with her family.