Wilder Graduate Scholars Fellowship Program
Dhara Amin is a second-year criminal justice graduate student and a fellow at the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) in the Classifications Unit. Dhara graduated magna cum laude from Virginia Tech with a B.S. in Human Development and a minor in Leadership and Social Change. While at Virginia Tech, she was a competitive traditional Indian dancer, a member of Phi Alpha Delta, a professional pre-law fraternity, and served as a student panel member on Virginia Tech’s honor court. Dhara has received several awards throughout her collegiate career, including the James E. Hooker Memorial Scholarship and the National Excellence in Leadership Award. Prior to her appointment as a fellow, she served as the sole paralegal for Golightly Mulligan & Booth. At the VDOC, Dhara provides hands-on assistance in offender cases by examining and conducting initial classification reviews, offender re-entry transfers, and offender annual and interim reviews.
Sabina Botvinnik is a second-year graduate student in the master of public administration program and a fellow at the Office of Annual Giving and Strategic Development at Virginia Commonwealth University . Sabina graduated from George Mason University with a B.S. in Criminology, Law and Society and a minor in Sociology. Prior to her appointment as a fellow, Botvinnik served as a paid intern for the administrative offices of the Virginia Democratic Party and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Since resuming her graduate studies, Sabina’s research has focused on homeland security and emergency preparedness. Her long-term goal is to secure a position at a management consultancy in a role that combines her expertise in defense with her passion for organizational development. Sabina’s day-to-day responsibilities at VCU include providing data analysis for the university’s phone solicitation program, development writing and project research.
Holly Brown is a first-year graduate student in the public administration program and a fellow at the Office Corporate and Foundation Relations at Virginia Commonwealth University. Holly graduated summa cum laude from VCU with a dual B.S. in Political Science and International Studies. She is the recipient of several awards including the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence, the Marcia Walpert Honors Scholarship and the International Studies Merit Award. Holly is committed to the cause of animal rescue and control. Her volunteer service includes work as an adoption facilitator with the Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue and Richmond Animal Care and Control. Holly started her own business as an undergraduate, Penny Gig Designs, which was an online firm that specialized in the production of pet toys. Since resuming her graduate studies, Holly’s research interests have focused on nonprofit studies. Her long-term goal is to open an animal welfare advocacy that produces quality research on nonprofit efficiency and effectiveness and helps set the standard for best practices in animal rescue. At VCU, Holly will be integrally involved in the university’s fundraising efforts.
Patrick Folliard is a second-year graduate student in the homeland security and emergency preparedness program and a fellow in the Policy and Initiatives Unit at the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC). Patrick received a B.A. in History and a B.S. in Information Analysis from James Madison University. He is the recipient of several honors including a prestigious Virginia Governor’s Fellowship and the Madison Achievement Scholarship. Patrick is currently a volunteer firefighter and emergency medic technician for Chesterfield County. His previous employment includes service in the Office of Commonwealth Preparedness and an internship with Hilton Head Fire and Rescue. As a graduate student, his research has focused on hazard mitigation and vulnerable disaster populations. At VDOC, Patrick will be working with the Policy and Initiatives Unit to create a standard operating procedure for the Academy for Staff Development operations, as well as developing a full-scale field exercise to evaluate the practical use of the Incident Command System in corrections.
Nicholas Galvin is a first-year graduate student in the public administration program and a fellow at the Virginia Lottery. Nicholas graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in Political Science from Virginia Commonwealth University. During his undergraduate career, Nicholas was active in Young Democrats and Virginia Capital Semester, a highly-competitive internship program that places students in the legislative and executive branches of state government. Prior to his appointment, Nicholas served as a precinct captain for Organizing America and as a legislative committee clerk for the Senate of Virginia. His research interests include electoral politics, campaign finance reform and voter participation. At the Virginia Lottery, Nicholas will be responsible for the development of a comprehensive customer experience assessment. His day-to-day responsibilities include survey design and assessment, public relations and communications. Nicholas is also the author of “Life through the Eyes of a Senate Intern,” an article published in the American Society of Legislative Clerks.
Victor Horton is a first-year graduate student in the public administration program and a fellow at the Office of Alumni Relations at Virginia Commonwealth University. Victor received a B.S. in Business Administration from Virginia State University. He is a Southern Education Foundation Fellow, a member of the international honor society, Beta Sigma Gamma, and a recipient of the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship. Throughout his collegiate career, Victor has remained involved in community service through his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha. Prior to his appointment, Victor served as an intern for the Pritchard Committee for Academic Excellence, an independent, non-profit education advocacy organization devoted to improving the quality of education in Kentucky. His research interests include social equity, education and healthcare policy. While at VCU, Victor will be responsible for conducting a best practices review of the university’s 25 peer institutions, as well as assisting in outreach and engagement initiatives of the Alumni Relations Office in the university's eight priority regions.
Sarah Jones is a second-year graduate student in the public administration program and a returning fellow at the Performance Management Group at VCU. Sarah received a B.S. in Business Administration and a B.A. in Art History from the University of North Carolina Asheville. She is a member of the National Society for Collegiate Scholars and Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society. Sarah’s passion lies in higher education. Her research interests include education policy and postmodern public administration practices. Prior to her appointment as a fellow, Sarah worked as student services coordinator at a technical college. At PMG, she participates in report writing, survey facilitation, data analysis and project research.
Marissa Marklevitz is a third-year graduate student in the urban and regional planning program and a fellow at the Office of Emergency Management at Virginia Commonwealth University. Marissa received a B.A. in Spanish Philology from the Madrid, Spain Campus of the University of Saint Louis. While in Madrid, she earned the official accreditation of fluency for the Spanish Language issued by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. Since resuming her graduate studies, Marissa’s research has focused on food security planning and emergency preparedness. Her extracurricular activities include helping to create low-cost urban vegetable and pollinator gardens around the City of Richmond and collaborating with Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille to develop the Fairmount Area Community Health Plan. Prior to her appointment, she worked as a paralegal at Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen. At VCU, Marissa will work with the university's chief emergency preparedness officer to write a Resource Management and Logistics Plan that will be reviewed by a national accrediting body.
Brian Mercer is a second-year graduate student in the urban and regional planning program and a fellow in the Research and Management Services Unit at the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC). Brian received a Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning (BUEP) from the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture. While at the University of Virginia, he served on the leadership council of Greek Intervarsity, was house manager of his fraternity, Delta Upsilon, and was actively involved in Hoos Ready, a campus organization designed to promote emergency preparedness. Brian is the recipient of the 2012 Zoning and Land-Use Planning Scholarship. His research interests include land use planning, geographic information systems, economic development and metropolitan planning. Prior to his appointment, Brian worked as a research intern at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and Marstel-Day LLC, an environmental consulting firm based in Fredericksburg, Virginia. At VDOC, Brian will provide hands-on assistance in the evaluation of a segregation reduction step-down program, an initiative designed to reduce the number of offenders held in solitary or high-security confinement. His day-to-day responsibilities include complex data mining, writing and reporting.
Eleanor Nowak is a second-year graduate student in the public administration program and a fellow in the Research and Management Services Unit at the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC). Eleanor graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Sociology and a minor in Criminal Justice from Virginia Commonwealth University. While at VCU, she was actively involved in Alpha Kappa Delta, an international sociology honor society and worked full-time as the manager of Sports Page Bar & Grille. Her research interests include national corrections systems, recidivism. She is an avid runner and is currently training for the Richmond Marathon. At VDOC, Eleanor is charged with conducting an internal audit of all personal computing systems. The results of the audit will be used to determine the focus of a proposed data governance board.
Naomi Siodmok is a second-year graduate student in the urban and regional planning program and a returning fellow at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. Naomi received a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Virginia. While at the University of Virginia, she served as the drill instructor and equipment manager for the Cavalier Marching Band and was vice president of service for her sorority, Tau Beta Sigma. In addition to her coursework, Naomi works as a volunteer at the Partnership for Smarter Growth where she works to promote community awareness of public meetings and hearings. Naomi’s research interests include integrated housing, transportation planning and urban design. Prior to her appointment, she served as an intern in the Chesterfield County Planning Department. As a fellow, Naomi will be responsible for the completion of VDEM’s Agency Risk Management and Internal Control Standards (ARMICS). Required by the Virginia Department of Accounts, ARMICS involves documenting and assessing overall agency and fiscal internal controls (such as separation of duties, backing-up information, reconciliations, etc.). Compliance with ARMICS ensures that there are sufficient processes in place to mitigate risks, such as fraud or duplication of payments).
Joshua “Josh” Son is a second-year graduate student in the urban and regional planning program and a fellow at the Survey Evaluation and Research Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University. Josh graduated cum laude with B.A. in Public and Urban Affairs from Virginia Tech. Throughout his collegiate career, Josh was actively involved in the publication of the student newspaper, the Collegiate Times, where he served as the managing editor of design. Josh is also the recipient of the 2011 Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association Award for Professional Promise. His research interests include urban revitalization, community revitalization and economic development. Prior to his appointment, he worked as a geographic information systems technician for Sustainable Water and as an intern in the Planning and Development Review Department as well as the Economic and Community Development Department for the City of Richmond. At SERL, Josh will be responsible for carrying out field research, data and method analysis and writing reports.
Anthony Starke is a first-year graduate student in the public administration program and a fellow at the VCU Office of Development Research and Prospect Management. Anthony graduated from Old Dominion University with a dual B.S. in Clinical Psychology and Human Services. While in college, he served as the president of the Ebony Impact Gospel Choir, worked full-time as a youth program coordinator through Americorps VISTA and was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. Anthony is currently a member of the board of directors for the Kappa Foundation of Fredericksburg and the assistant vice president of fund development for TRUST, Inc., a Norfolk-based philanthropy. His research interests include nonprofit management, social welfare reform and public-private partnerships. Prior to his appointment, he worked as a qualified mental health professional for Community Intervention Associates. At VCU, Anthony participates in report writing, data analysis and project research for the associate director of development research and prospect management.
Shawn Winter is a second-year graduate student in the urban and regional planning program and a fellow at the Virginia Retirement System. Shawn received a dual B.S. in Earth Science and Biology Education from Western Michigan University. He is the recipient of the 2012-2013 Leigh E. Grosenick Scholarship. Shawn’s research interests include environmental planning and geographical information systems (GIS). Prior to his appointment, he worked for eight years as an earth science teacher for Henrico County Public Schools before beginning an internship at Sustainable Water. While at Sustainable Water, he created water footprint assessment reports for Yale University, Princeton University, Liberty University, California Institute of Technology, University of North Carolina–Wilmington, and Winchester Medical Center, as well as a water feasibility study for the Georgia Institute of Technology. At VRS, Shawn will be responsible for assisting in the implementation and outreach efforts for the new state-wide Hybrid Retirement Plan and Virginia Local Disability Program (VLDP). This work will include the development and editing of new program manuals, map creation through GIS, and training sessions for those political subdivisions opting in to the new VLDP program.