Home » News » A New Class of Honorable Leaders Joins the TFAS Alumni Network

A New Class of Honorable Leaders Joins the TFAS Alumni Network


Closing Ceremony Celebrates Graduates of TFAS Capital Semester Spring (CSS) and Leadership and the American Presidency Spring (LTAP-S) Programs

After a semester of living, learning and interning in the nation’s capital, fifteen former strangers gathered on the steps of TFAS Headquarters as friends and fellow graduates.

On Thursday, May 4, 2017, TFAS welcomed its newest graduates to the TFAS family during a Closing Ceremony at TFAS Headquarters in Washington, D.C. TFAS alumna Caroline Decker (IBGA 92) led the welcome with keynote remarks to the young leaders.

TFAS Alumna Caroline Decker shares words of advice and encouragement to her new fellow alumni.

“It was 25 years ago that I went through a TFAS program just like you,” said Decker. “Ever since then I’ve felt something that many of you will feel going forward – a debt of gratitude to The Fund for American Studies and how it, in a very permanent and meaningful way, changed the course of my life.”

Decker is vice president of government affairs and corporate communications at Amtrak, with more than 20 years of transportation policy and legislative experience. She pulled from her professional and personal life experiences to encourage the new graduates to be lifelong learners, to live every day to its fullest, to not be afraid to ask questions, to be kind, to maintain personal communication in today’s digital world and to always give back, no matter what.

“The example that you will set as leaders will carry a lot of weight,” advised Decker.

Students Taylor Schenker (LTAP-S 17) of Clemson University and Richard Garcia-Guerrero (CSS 17) of California State University, Long Beach also spoke during the ceremony, providing testimonial remarks about their semester experience.

Janet Tran (left) and Meredith Stasa (right) of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute (RRPFI) present Taylor Schenker with her Leadership and the American Presidency (LTAP) graduation certificate. The LTAP program is co-sponsored by RRPFI and TFAS.

Schenker, who interned with the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), applied to the Leadership and the American Presidency Spring (LTAP-S) program in search of a new and exciting experience that challenged her as a leader. The semester did not disappoint.

“LTAP is a semester long journey that forces you to look at your own skills as a leader and allows you to learn from others’ successes and failures,” said Schenker. “Leadership exists in every discipline and whether you are the one in charge or the one following, you can always lead by example.”

During his remarks, a grateful Garcia-Guerrero individually thanked all of his fellow graduates, the TFAS program staff, professors and his internship colleagues.

US Programs Director Joseph Starrs presents the Outstanding Internship Site Award to (l.-r.) Lucero Piña, Karina Márquez, Eliza Hernandez, Isaac Reynoso and Richard Garcia-Guerrero of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

To TFAS President Roger Ream (ICPES 76) and Chairman Randal Teague, Garcia-Guerrero said: “Thank you for leading an organization that has and will continue to bring bright, future-oriented women and men who seek to build a brighter future, beginning here in Washington, D.C.”

Garcia-Guerrero spent his semester interning with the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USHCCF), where he was thrilled to find that his internships experience would consist of more than stapling paperwork and bringing coffee. USHCCF invited him to take on his own projects, sit in on roundtable discussions and meet the organization’s leaders.

During the ceremony, TFAS thanked USHCCF for providing an exceptional real-world learning experience by surprising them with its Outstanding Internship Site Award.

Garcia-Guerrero will be continuing his internship with USHCCF through the summer and he is not alone. Overall, 30 percent of the graduating 2017 spring semester class landed full-time jobs or continuing internships through their TFAS connections.

Everywhere you go, everyone that you meet, every impact you are able to make in the world, every dream that you dream – you better not forget to tell them that TFAS sent you. – Pat DiFrancesco (ICPES 13)
Semester Programs Coordinator


In parting remarks, Semester Programs Coordinator Pat DiFrancesco (ICPES 13), reminded the new graduates that this is just the beginning of a new chapter with TFAS. “Everywhere you go, everyone that you meet, every impact you are able to make in the world, every dream that you dream – you better not forget to tell them that TFAS sent you,” he said.

Congratulations to our 2017 spring semester graduates and to the following new alumni who received awards for their outstanding academic and leadership achievements this spring:

  • McKenna Holland (CSS 17), Academic Excellence in Economics
  • Justin Sanders (CSS 17), Academic Excellence in Constitutional Studies
  • Richard Garcia-Guerrero (CSS 17), Academic Excellence in Media Studies
  • Monica Vidaurri (LTAP-S 17), Academic Excellence in Public Policy and the Reagan Foundation’s Gipper Award
  • Ahmad Al Sayed (CSS 17), Outstanding Capital Semester Student
  • Marisa Burleson (LTAP-S 17), Outstanding Leadership and the American Presidency Student
  • Alice Byrd (LTAP-S 17), Reagan Foundation’s Eureka Award for Academic Excellence
  • Jonathan Mangrum (LTAP-S 17), Reagan Foundation’s Presidential Leadership Award

Learn more!

View our Semester Programs Closing Ceremony Twitter Moment



Recent Posts


Deception and the Fight for Truth with Senator Rand Paul

This week, another exceptional guest joins us on the Liberty + Leadership Podcast: Senator Rand Paul.

Exploring Liberty from Budapest to Washington, D.C., with Anna Smith Lacey

This week, another exceptional TFAS alumna joins us on the Liberty + Leadership Podcast: Anna Smith Lacey '07, '08, PPF '12, executive director at the Hungary Foundation.

Remembering Thomas (Tom) L. Phillips

It is with great sadness we share news that TFAS Trustee Emeritus Thomas (Tom) L. Phillips passed away at his home in Newport Beach, California, last week. Tom was a generous man who supported TFAS for many years, including a $1 million gift in memory of TFAS…