Menu

News

2017 Class of Wilder Fellows Announced

From left to right: Ava Wagner, Nate Manning, Jada Smith, Jesse Harris, Governor L. Douglas Wilder, Dean John Accordino, Ph.D., Lara McLellan, Libba Goggans McKinsey, Rebecca Doody and J'Niyah Knox-Wilson.
From left to right: Ava Wagner, Nate Manning, Jada Smith, Jesse Harris, Governor L. Douglas Wilder, Dean John Accordino, Ph.D., Lara McLellan, Libba Goggans McKinsey, Rebecca Doody and J'Niyah Knox-Wilson.

By Tiffany Murray-Robertson

 The VCU Wilder School has announced its 2017 Class of Wilder Graduate Scholars Fellows. Since 2006, the program has connected state agencies, public interest firms and nonprofit organizations with outstanding master’s students from the school’s Criminal Justice, Public Administration, Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, and Urban and Regional Planning programs. This year, eight students will join five host agencies and embark on a journey to apply their talents to issues and organizations that advance the public good.

Members of the 2017 cohort will spend the academic year in a structured work arrangement. Each will consult on special projects and provide program support for 20 hours a week between now and May of 2018—approximately 600 hours over the course of 30 weeks. In exchange, Fellows receive tuition assistance and a generous stipend from their host agencies.

But Fellows aren’t glorified interns and the arrangement isn’t purely transactional, said Shajuana Isom-Payne. Isom-Payne directs the Wilder School's Office of Student Success, which oversees the Fellowship.

"Our Fellows are proven leaders," she said.

"Most have significant skills in research design, budgeting, statistical analysis, policy analysis, program evaluation and other key areas of public and nonprofit management. The breadth of their interests and experiences really expands the scope of their contributions. As a result, they're more like full-fledged employees than interns."

And, if the Fellows tend to surpass expectations, the same may be said of their hosts.

“Our hosts are really collaborators, partners in shaping a potent force of talent at the Wilder School that we believe will be agents of change in public service for years to come. We are incredibly grateful for their commitment to developing that talent and for their overall  guidance and support," said Isom-Payne.

The 2017 Class of Wilder Graduate Scholar Fellows and their host organizations include:

  • Rebecca Doody of Virginia Beach, Va., a second-year master’s student in Criminal Justice, has been appointed to the Virginia Department of Corrections’ Central Classification Services Unit. Doody holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Longwood University.
  • Jesse Harris of Richmond, Va., a second-year master’s student in Urban and Regional Planning, has been appointed to the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission. Harris holds a B.A. in Anthropology from East Carolina University
  • J’Niyah Knox-Wilson of Newport News, Va., a second-year master’s student in Public Administration, has been appointed to the Virginia Department of Corrections’ Statistical Analysis & Forecasting unit. Wilson holds a B.A. in Political Science from Hampton University.
  • Nathan ‘Nate’ Manning of Richmond, Va., a second-year master’s student in Urban and Regional Planning, has been appointed to the Virginia Department of Corrections’ Policy Initiatives Unit. Manning  is a returning Wilder Fellow who holds a B.A. Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness from the VCU Wilder School.
  • Elizabeth ‘Libba’ Goggans McKinsey of Chattanooga, Tenn., a first-year master’s student in Urban and Regional Planning, has been appointed to Henrico County. McKinsey holds a B.A. in Spanish from Elon University.
  • Lara McLellan of Clemson, S.C., a second-year master’s student in Urban and Regional Planning, has been appointed to the Virginia Retirement System. McLellan is a returning Wilder Fellow and holds a B.A. in Environmental Sustainability and German from the University of Oklahoma.
  • Jada Smith of Richmond, Va., a second-year master’s student in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, has been appointed to the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission. Smith holds a B.A. in Justice Studies from James Madison University.
  • Ava Wagner of Atlanta, Ga., a second-year master’s student in public administration, has been appointed to the Survey & Evaluation Research Lab  at the VCU Wilder School. Wagner holds a B.A. in Psychology from Lewis and Clark College.

Watch a video about the Fellows.