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Alumni Explore Connections Between Liberty and Philanthropy at Weekend Conference


The first weekend in October, 14 TFAS alumni gathered in Arlington, Virginia for a three-day seminar on “Philanthropy and Liberty.” The weekend conference was part of the TFAS Curriculum of Liberty Seminars program, an alumni continuing education opportunity offered in partnership with Liberty Fund, Inc.

The invited participants came from up and down the east coast and represented a range of organizations –  nonprofits, international development organizations, think tanks, consultancies, educational organizations and business startups. All shared an interest in charitable giving – personal and professional – which positioned them to explore the history, purpose and future of philanthropy.

Every time I have participated in a TFAS program, I have come away refreshed and reinvigorated as a person and with a renewed hope in our society’s ability to engage in civil dialogue. [TFAS is] helping people from different backgrounds become friends and learn from each other.”

– Nate Carden (IIPES 05, EJI 10)

Amanda Pope (CSF 08) of Mission Moment characterized her experience as “another incredible example of The Fund for American Studies and Liberty Fund’s commitment to continued education and intellectual exercise. Rooted in valuable theory and political study, the seminar brought together diverse thinkers for a robust discussion on politics, principles and philanthropy.” She expressed her renewed commitment to her own work, thanks to the inspiration of her fellow alumni and their transformative perspectives.

The seminar discussions focused particularly on the unique American tradition of philanthropy. One key conclusion the participants drew as a group was that Americans have a spiritedness that drives them to be involved in their communities and help their neighbors, rather than immediately looking to government for support. This spirit gives the individual in America a sense of purpose and a resilient character.

Anna Smith Lacey (AIPES 07, ICPES 08), originally from Hungary, contributed to the international perspective in the conversation. “As a foreigner, she said, “I have always appreciated the thriving civil society that America traditionally has had, but some of the texts have really connected the dots philosophically to show how the unique vibrancy of the American philanthropic spirit has been made possible by limited government and republican virtues. I think we all left with a renewed belief in the power of private initiatives and the little platoons of liberty in America.

Ladies of the Liberty Fund on the Deck
Philanthropy and Liberty seminar participants Brianne Fischer (AIPES 08, PPF 16-17), Annie Xiao (IEIA 14, PPF 16-17), Samantha Summers (CS 13, PPF 16-17) and Molly Murphy (IPVS 07) continue their discussion in the sunshine over coffee.

Throughout the weekend, the young alumni drew from their prior reading of an expansive list of works by leading thinkers – from Adam Smith and Alexis de Tocqueville, to Charles Murray and Arthur C. Brooks –  to support their debates. Dr. Richard Gunderman facilitated the discussions. A professor at Indiana University with a background in both medicine and philanthropy/philosophy, Dr. Gunderman encouraged the “Philanthropy and Liberty participants to answer often-overlooked questions.

“So often discussions on philanthropy focus on cajoling our fellow citizens into giving, Dr. Gunderman said. “In this dynamic seminar, a diverse group of promising young professionals asked a more fundamental question: What sorts of communities must we build in order to permit generosity to flourish?

Discussions spilled over from the formal sessions into the break times and group meals, as the participants shared opinions and experiences and got to know their fellow TFAS alumni more deeply. The participants praised all three aspects of the seminar – the quality of the readings, the depth of the discussions and the value of a chance to meet and network with fellow alumni in the philanthropy field. 

To learn more about this continuing education opportunity for alumni, please visit the TFAS Curriculum of Liberty Seminars page.


Meet the TFAS Alumni “Philanthropy and Liberty” Scholars

Nate CardenNate Carden (IIPES 05, EJI 10) graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2006 and went on to receive a master’s degree from Sciences Po in Paris, France two years later. He served as a captain in the Medical Service Corps at Langley Air Force Base and deployed to Afghanistan as a mentor of medical logistics to the Afghan National Army. He has since been involved with a language learning tech start-up, an innovative meal service start-up and is currently the managing director of Bunker Labs Nashville, where he helps veterans start and grow companies.

Derek Dixon

Derek Dixon (IPVS 13) serves as the associate director of development for the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. For the last three years, he has worked with the school’s alumni and donor base to help match their philanthropic priorities with the needs of the school. Derek received a B.A. in philanthropic studies from the IUPUI Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

Brianne FischerBrianne Fischer (AIPES 08, PPF 16-17) is currently the legal director and compliance officer at Grameen Foundation, USA, an international nonprofit organization focused on creative business solutions to combat poverty and food insecurity, specifically through the use of digital tools in agriculture, financial services and health financing. Brianne holds a Juris Doctor degree from Vermont Law School and a Bachelor in Business Administration degree in economics and international business from the University of Iowa. She is a TFAS alumna of AIPES 2008 and a 2017 Public Policy Fellow.

Frank Garrison (LSI 14) is a legal associate in the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies. Previously, he was a law clerk for the Pacific Legal Foundation and a judicial intern for Frank A. Shepherd of Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal. Frank holds a Juris Doctor from St. Thomas University School of Law and a Master of Laws from American University’s Washington College of Law.

Maxwell Kennady

Maxwell Kennady (IPVS 12, IBGA 14, PPF 14-15) is a project manager at the Aegis Group, Ltd., where he focuses on community economic development and technology use in public and social sector organizations. He graduated from Angelo State University in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in management information systems and international business. After working in Washington, D.C. for a year, he moved to Mali and Benin in West Africa as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer (2015 – 17). He has previously worked on web development, analysis and advocacy projects at the North American Association for Environmental Education and the Business Software Alliance. He plans to pursue a dual M.P.A./M.S. degree in information science in preparation for a career in knowledge management.

Molly Murphy

Molly Murphy (IPVS 07) is a native Floridian and has been associated with Equine-Assisted Therapies of South Florida for over fifteen years, beginning as a rider in the program at age seven. In December 2016, Molly began as the executive director of the organization, which is a 35-year-old nonprofit organization dedicated to providing therapeutic riding and equine-assisted activities to children and adults with special needs. She has her bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations from the University of Tampa and her Master of Public Administration with a certificate in nonprofit management from the University of South Florida. Prior to moving back to the South Florida area, Molly worked at the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Consumer Services, where she helped execute a financial literacy program for individuals with developmental disabilities. Equine-Assisted Therapies of South Florida currently serves 106 students in their program in Coconut Creek, Florida.

Zhikica Pagovski

Zhikica Pagovski (AIPES 10, PPF 12-13) is a strategic partnerships officer in the external relations department of the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). In this role, he is in charge of fundraising for a portfolio of $5 million toward GMF programs, as well as managing the partner/client relations with governments, intergovernmental institutions, corporations and foundations. Zhikica’s former professional experience includes work at the United Nations and the government of Macedonia. From September 2010 to May 2012, he worked as a consultant for sustainable development at Challenge Future. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the United Macedonian Diaspora, responsible for organizational policy and strategy.

Zhikica has completed several research fellowships. He worked as a junior research fellow at the NATO Association of Canada and as a research fellow at Young Professionals in Foreign Policy in Washington, D.C., focusing on issues related to digital technology, big data and foreign policy.

Zhikica has been awarded prestigious fellowships from Goldman Sachs, the Institute of International Education and TFAS. He has been a recipient of the Doors to Diplomacy Platinum Award from the U.S. Department of State, Volunteer of the Year of Macedonia Award from the European Voluntary Service, Kimberly Miller Award for European Studies from American University, 40 Under 40 Rising Leaders Award by the United Macedonian Diaspora and the David Merchant International Student Award for Achievement from Phi Beta Delta Honor Society.

Zhikica holds an M.A. in international affairs from American University’s School of International Service and a B.A. in European studies and political science and international relations from American University in Bulgaria.

Brittany Partridge (ICPES 11) is a consultant at Dalberg Global Development Advisors in Washington, D.C. As a student, she co-founded an international initiative to combat human trafficking. Furthering her involvement in this issue, Brittany was a U.S. Department of State intern, Polaris Project fellow and worked with several organizations addressing trafficking in Europe and Asia. While an undergraduate at Abilene Christian University, she was awarded Truman and Marshall scholarships. Brittany holds master’s degrees in international public policy from University College London and management from Imperial College Business School. She participated in ICPES in the summer of 2011, as well as the 2012 Freedom Scholars Program.

Amanda Pope

Amanda Pope (CSF 08, PPF 11-12) has a diverse background spanning nonprofit management, grassroots and national community engagement campaigns, public-private partnership development and corporate advisory services. She is a consultant focusing on corporate responsibility and sustainability strategy and nonprofit program development and strategic planning. She served as Chief of Staff and Director of Projects for Blue Legacy International (Blue Legacy), a water-focused nonprofit founded by Alexandra Cousteau, where Amanda led the legal formation and strategic planning of the organization and established partnerships to develop programming with corporations, nonprofits and government entities. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Chapman University and a certificate in strategic management from the Harvard Extension School.

Rachel RobinsRachel Robins (IPJ 07) is currently the program manager for entrepreneurship, marketing and alumni affairs at the Harvard Business School Club of New York (HBSCNY). In this role, she supports the HBS Alumni Angels of Greater New York (HBSAANY), the largest angel investor network on the east coast, and the marketing and membership activities of HBSCNY. Prior to her current role at HBSCNY, she worked with New York City public high schools specializing in career and technical education, with a focus on entrepreneurship. A southern girl at heart, Rachel received her bachelor’s degrees in journalism and sports management from the University of Florida, attending the TFAS Institute on Political Journalism (IPJ) program in 2007. She also has a master’s in sports business from New York University and an executive certificate in sports philanthropy from The George Washington University.

Martin Rodriguez

Martín Rodríguez (ILA 15, PPF 15-16) is a policy analyst at The Libre Initiative. Prior to his voluntary exile in Washington D.C., he worked in the private sector in Venezuela. He is a TFAS alumnus (ILA 15) and Public Policy Fellow (2015 – 16). He holds a bachelor’s in communications and journalism, and he recently summited his dissertation on the geopolitics of oil of Hugo Chávez for his master’s in political science at Símon Bolívar University in Caracas. He enjoys conversation and has a profound intellectual crush on Barbara Tuchman.

Anna Smith Lacey

Anna Smith Lacey (AIPES 07, ICPES 08, PPF 12-13) is the executive director of the Hungary Initiatives Foundation. She is responsible for overall management of HIF and for providing strategic advice to the Board on its grants policy and cultural and educational initiatives. Anna previously served in the Hungarian Foreign Ministry as the U.S. desk officer and subsequently as political attaché at the Embassy of Hungary in Washington. She then worked as an external relations advisor at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. She is currently a vice president of the Common Sense Society of Budapest and a contributor at the leading Hungarian weekly magazine, Heti Válasz. She also serves on the board of the Foreign Policy Initiatives’ Future Leaders Network and Historic Alexandria’s Beautification Commission. She authored, translated and edited several English- and Hungarian-language publications on U.S. and Hungarian democracy issues and constitutionalism. As a Kellner Scholar, Anna spent one year at Bard College in New York and participated in their Manhattan-based Globalization and International Affairs Program, through which she gained experience at CNN International and the Council on Foreign Relations. She is an alumna of the TFAS Prague and D.C. summer institutes and of the Hungarian American Coalition’s Internship Program. She was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary, earned her master’s degree in international relations at Corvinus University, focusing on American foreign policy, and pursued graduate studies at ELTE School of English and American Studies. In addition to her native Hungarian, she speaks German, French and Italian. She is a licensed tour guide in Budapest.

Samantha Summers

Samantha Summers (CS 13, PPF 16-17) is a state outreach associate for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Prior to joining Mercatus, Samantha was an external affairs coordinator at the Cato Institute. She is an alumna of the Koch Associate Program and the 2016 TFAS Public Policy Fellows program. Samantha graduated from Chapman University in Orange County, California with a bachelor’s in political science and leadership studies. Originally from Los Angeles, Samantha enjoys spending time outdoors in the warm weather and finding good Mexican food in Washington.

Annie XiaoAnnie Xiao (IEIA 14, PPF 16-17) is originally from Zhong Shan in Southern China. She immigrated to San Francisco with her family in 2005 and later attended college at University of California, Santa Cruz. She received her bachelor’s in global economics and a political studies certificate from the Lyon Institute of Political Studies in France. In 2014, Annie served as the community outreach intern at the D.C. mayor’s office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs (MOAPIA), as her TFAS summer internship. She returned to Washington, D.C. the following summer and was a two-time federal intern at the U.S. Department of Agriculture with the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL). Annie currently works as the policy and civic engagement program assistant at National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD). She is also a Board Member of CAPAL and the 1882 Foundation. Outside of work, Annie enjoys volunteering at embassy events and museums. She also aspires to become a professional wedding planner one day.


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