Alumni Career Mentor Series

The Alumni Career Mentor Series invites MAPSS, CIR, and MACSS alumni from different career sectors back to campus. They come to talk about their current positions and how they got there to introduce you to a range of career possibilities and provide experience-based insight to help guide your future endeavors. The talks are followed by a Q&A session.  

Spotlight on Transitioning from Industry to Academia, with Scott Cooley (MAPSS ’14), Teaching Fellow in the Division of Social Sciences | Scott is an independent director and chairman of the audit committee for Diamond Hill Investment Group, a Nasdaq-listed investment management firm. He previously served as Chief Financial Officer at Morningstar, Inc., where he had responsibility for the company’s finance, national sales, and corporate communications functions. Prior to being CFO at Morningstar, he headed up the company’s operations in Australia and New Zealand. He also established Morningstar’s first government relations function. Scott holds a B.S. in Economics and master’s degree in History from Illinois State University, and a master’s degree in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. He earned a PhD in Political Science from the University of Chicago in 2021 and currently serves as a Teaching Fellow in the Division of Social Sciences at the university. | Recording

Spotlight on Market Research, with Juben Rabbani (MAPSS ’09), Director at JD Power and Associates | Juben Rabbani (MAPSS ’09) is a Director at JD Power and Associates, a market research and consumer insights consulting firm.  His primary responsibilities involve data research and consulting for nearly every major global automotive manufacturer on the market. With ten years of experience in the industry, Juben has employed data and evidence-based research to support concept development and late-model prototypes for nearly every vehicle on the road today. He also serves on the Electric Vehicle (EV) Task Force at JD Power, where he works on developing the company’s direction in the emerging EV market. Juben holds a B.A. in Anthropology from UCLA and an M.A. in the Social Sciences from UChicago. As a MAPSS student, Juben concentrated in Anthropology, and he believes that his graduate education honed his skills in critical thinking, analysis, and fostered an “unwillingness to accept truth at face-value.” Juben recently joined the MAPSS Alumni Association Executive Committee and is enthusiastic about sharing his journey by connecting with students as a career mentor. | Recording

Spotlight on Marketing Analytics, with Alina Sheyman (MAPSS ’03), Associate Director of Data Science at Wavemaker | Alina is a media analytics professional in New York City with 10 years of experience both on the agency and client side. Prior to joining Wavemaker, she served as an Associate Director of Analytics at Ogilvy Health and Director of Strategic Analytics at FCB New York. Her focus in on creating data driven client solutions and strategy recommendations. She is experienced in data analytics, marketing science, performance media measurement, reporting automation, social media analysis, consumer insights, paid media performance, campaign optimizations, audience development, measurement strategy, KPI and benchmark development, A/B and multivariate testing, web analytics, audience research, audience targeting, and attribution models. She holds a B.S in Psychology and an M.A in Social Sciences. In her free time, she enjoys travel, yoga, writing, and spending time with family. | Recording

Spotlight on Nonprofit and Social Impact Careers with Dr. Christian Friend, Chief Impact Officer at Heartland Alliance, MAPSS ’98Dr. Christian A. Friend holds a BA in History from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. He also holds a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Certificate in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion from Cornell University.

Dr. Friend began his career as a public school teacher. He then went on to develop youth programs in low-income housing communities. Upon completion of his doctoral program, Dr. Friend served as a director at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and a senior relationship manager at the local United Way. He then held several positions within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) district.

While at CMS, Dr. Friend managed the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded Achievement Zone Project and the district’s Center for Research and Evaluation. He then led the development and implementation of the strategic plan for Project L.I.F.T. and went on to serve as the Executive Director of the district’s Office of Accountability. Dr. Friend also served as the Senior Program Officer for Renaissance West Community Initiative, the Director of Research, Evaluation & Assessment for Indianapolis Public Schools, as Managing Director of a consulting firm serving non-profit organizations. Dr. Friend has published multiple articles in peer-reviewed academic journals and regularly presents at academic and professional conferences. He expertise is in organizational strategy, organizational development, research & evaluation, public education, leadership development, social justice, and diversity, equity, & inclusion. | Recording

Spotlight on the Presidential Management Fellowship and Federal Government Careers, with Anthony Bucci, CIR ’15 |Interested in the Presidential Management Fellowship and/or careers in the federal government? Join CIR alum and former PMF Anthony Bucci III as he discusses the application process for the PMF and his experiences with the program and working for the Environmental Protection Agency. Recording

Spotlight on Analytics Consulting and Politics Careers | Grace Turke-Martinez, Analytics Director at The Messina Group | Grace oversees data science and analytics projects at The Messina Group, working with political, legal, and corporate clients. She is particularly interested in data science applications for digital media, driving results while navigating complex data security and privacy rules, and bringing novel data use cases to her clients. She has worked on domestic and international political campaigns and has experience working with Democratic PACs, labor groups, and climate change advocates. Grace earned a data science certificate from General Assembly. She holds a B.S. in international politics and a certificate in Arab Studies from Georgetown University and an M.A. in social science from the University of Chicago. Recording 

Spotlight on Nonprofit Careers | Elizabeth Marquardt, Managing Director of New Partnerships at Feeding America |Elizabeth Marquardt is managing director of new partnerships at Feeding America, leading a team of exceptional fundraisers who have huge hearts for this mission and who achieve excellence every day. After graduate study in international relations and divinity at the University of Chicago, Elizabeth pursued nonprofit work focused on child well-being, health policy and food security. Elizabeth loves getting to know corporate and food bank partners, listening, asking questions, solving problems and finding win-win solutions that meet partners’ goals and drive our mission to end hunger in America. Outside of work, Elizabeth is a fan of doing yoga, reading novels, going to the ballet, being outside when it’s not cold, and admiring her two adorable teenagers. Recording

Spotlight on Careers in Communication & Strategy | Dayna Dion, Director of Global Communications, Outreach and Engagement at the Buffett Institute of Global Studies, Northwestern University | Dayna Dion, has spent nearly two decades helping organizations of all shapes and sizes—from nonprofits to higher education institutions to multinational corporations—develop and execute effective communications strategies that inspire breakthrough and award-winning content. Dayna served as head of national and global engagement at the University of Chicago’s Urban Labs and Urban Education Institute, where she earned an American Educational Research Association Award for “Communicating Research to Lay Audiences” and co-directed and produced the documentary film, The Second Window.  Prior to that, Dayna spent more than a decade building brand narratives, creative platforms and communication strategies for organizations across sectors—from retail conglomerates to consumer packaged goods companies to medical technology firms. She served as a senior partner and strategic planning director at Ogilvy Chicago and regional director of communications planning at OMD, an Omnicom Media Group agency. Dayna holds an MS in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School, an AM in international relations from the University of Chicago, BA in marketing from Michigan State University, and certification in advanced qualitative research facilitation techniques from the RIVA Institute |  Recording 

Spotlight on Careers in Behavioral Science | Mark Lush, Manager, Behavioral and Economic Analysis and Decision-making (BEAD), NORC at the University of Chicago | Mark Lush is Manager of the Behavioral and Economic Analysis and Decision-Making (BEAD) team at NORC at the University of Chicago. Mark received his BA in Anthropology from Oberlin College and MA in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago where he focused on consumer financial decision-making and conducted original research investigating how users interpret suggested credit card payment amounts. Prior to NORC, Mark was the Lead Consultant and Behavioral Scientist at Allstate’s Data, Discovery, and Decision Sciences (D3) Department. Mark has led and executed UX research projects involving in-depth interviews on topics related to asset allocation, investment fees, debt repayment strategies, and risk tolerance. He has spent over 15 years in the financial advice and insurance industries in both Australia and the US. Recording 

Spotlight on Retail Research and Strategy | Courtney Biscan, Senior Knowledge Specialist at Bain & Company | Courtney Biscan is a senior knowledge specialist in the retail practice at Bain & Company. Her work involves partnering with case teams to capture insights and learnings, as well as to provide relevant examples and expertise. Prior to this, she worked as a client strategist at Gartner L2 and a market researcher at Maru/Matchbox; her main clients were Walmart, Home Depot, and Nordstrom. She holds a BA in Political Science and Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame; while there, she studied abroad at the University of Oxford and wrote an honors thesis focused on the spread of revolutions. She also holds an MA in International Relations from the University of Chicago, where her thesis focused on the effects of unipolarity on the creation of grand strategy. Recording  

Spotlight on Education and Data Science | Kevin Sun, Manager of College Analytics and Insights at Noble Network of Charter Schools | Kevin Sun graduated from the UChicago MACSS program in 2019. Prior to graduate school, they were an educator with Teach for America for several years. After MACSS, Kevin worked as a data scientist on the Learning Insights & Research Team at the education start-up nonprofit, LEAP Innovations. Recently, they became the Manager of College Analytics and Insights at Noble Network of Charter Schools – Chicago’s largest charter school network. Their current work is focused on maintaining and creating tools to predict and increase the odds of college completion for Noble alumni.  Recording             

Spotlight on Human-Centered Design Consulting: Beth Di Leone | Innovation Manager, Design Research and Strategy Leader at Doblin, a Deloitte Business | Beth has curated an eclectic career, with a consistent thread of social science, psychology, and a passion for deep analysis. After completing a BA in psychology, Beth attended America’s Teaching Zoo where she learned to be a zookeeper, animal trainer and behaviorist, and wildlife educator. In a career pivot in 2008, she pursued her MA in social science at University of Chicago, studying a combination of animal behavior and human psychology. She worked with the university’s career counselor to parlay a crisis of career choice into an enthusiastic exploration of the world of design thinking and innovation consulting. She has since been at Doblin for 11 years, wearing many hats as a qualitative research specialist, project manager, design strategist, experience designer, client coach, talent mentor, and perpetual creative solver of big, hairy problems. The skills Beth learned in the MAPSS program, and the generous mentorship of the U of C faculty and staff, continue to shape her approach to work and life. Recording                                                   

Spotlight on Social Impact Careers: Beth Spurgeon |  Division Manager of Corporate Responsibility and Executive Director of the USA Foundation at ArcelorMittal | Beth is the Division Manager of Corporate Responsibility and Executive Director of the USA Foundation at ArcelorMittal, the world’s leading steel and mining company. She spearheads ArcelorMittal’s corporate responsibility and sustainability initiatives across the Americas region. In the U.S., she oversees ArcelorMittal’s community investment, including national and local nonprofit partnerships in the company’s focus areas of STEM education, environment, and health and safety. She also manages sustainability initiatives, stakeholder engagement, and employee volunteerism and giving. Prior to working at ArcelorMittal, she spent nine years in the social impact sector working at nonprofits ranging from grassroots to national organizations. Beth earned her BA in Sociology from Ithaca College in 2003 and an MA in Social Science from UChicago in 2004. Recording                                       

Spotlight on Data and Decision Sciences: Sushmita Gopalan | Decision Scientist at Grubhub | Sushmita is a Decision Scientist in the Systems Analysis team at Grubhub in Chicago. She graduated from the MACSS program in 2018 and was a Data Scientist at the Northwestern Neighborhood and Network Initiative at Northwestern University, until she made the transition to industry with Grubhub in March 2020. She is a co-organizer and on the board of R-Ladies Chicago, a support and advocacy group for women and non-binary R programmers. Recording                                                                                        

Spotlight on Development Research and Policy: Dr. Christina Kwauk | Fellow at Brookings | Christina Kwauk is a fellow in the Center for Universal Education at Brookings. She manages the Echidna Global Scholars Program, chairs the Girls CHARGE initiative, and leads the CHARGE Working Group on Life Skills Education and Assessment. She has also advised the Obama Foundation’s Global Girls Alliance. Her research focuses on girls’ education in developing countries, gender equality in education, the intersections between climate change and girls’ education, and 21st century skills and youth empowerment. Christina is a co-author (with Gene Sperling and Rebecca Winthrop) of What Works in Girls’ Education: Evidence for the World’s Best Investment, and has published numerous policy papers on girls’ education and academic articles on gender, education, and sport for development. She has conducted field research in Asia and the Pacific Islands, and was formerly a consultant for Save the Children and the East West Center. Christina holds a PhD in Comparative and International Development Education from the University of Minnesota and an MA in Social Sciences from the UChicago. Recording

Spotlight on Product Design: Ishani Sharma | Lead Product Designer at Salesforce| Ishani is a Lead Product Designer at Salesforce, building commerce tools for merchants who want to run e-commerce businesses. She graduated from the MAPSS program in 2014, and started her career in User Experience as a user researcher and transitioned into a designer role. She loves thinking about the intersection of business, technology, and design, keeping users and their needs at the heart of it. She is based out of San Francisco, and in her free time, you can find her hiking, gardening, or cooking! Recording