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Welcoming The Newest Members of the TFAS Board of Regents


The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) is pleased to welcome six new members to our Board of Regents. These regents have proven records of dedication to the TFAS mission through their years of volunteer service and support. On Feb. 6, 2017, the 50th anniversary of TFAS, they met in their first official capacity as regents at TFAS headquarters in Washington, D.C. Among the six new members are four TFAS alumni who have participated in TFAS academic programs in the U.S. and abroad. The TFAS Board of Regents was established in 1999 to reinforce the mission, policies, programs and development work of the Board of Trustees. Members of the Board of Regents serve for a two-year term.


Caroline Decker (IBGA 92)
Washington, D.C.

With more than twenty years of transportation policy and legislative experience, Caroline Decker (IBGA 92) rejoined the Amtrak Government Affairs team in July of 2015 following a four-year stint as vice president of legislative affairs at the American Trucking Associations (ATA). Prior to ATA, she served at Amtrak from 2003-2011, working on a number of major legislative initiatives, including the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) of 2008. Her focus on transportation policy took root during her time on Capitol Hill as the chief of staff, legislative director and transportation policy advisor to former Congressman Bob Clement of Tennessee who served as a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the ranking member of the Railroads Subcommittee.

Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Decker was raised in Arizona and is a proud Sun Devil, having received her bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University. During her senior year of college, she participated in the TFAS Institute on Business and Government Affairs (IBGA) program and has remained active at TFAS since then. In 2015, she received the Alumni Achievement Award for her outstanding career accomplishments and dedication to TFAS. She recently received her executive MBA from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and resides in Washington, D.C. with her husband Jon Decker.

Brian Hail (ICPES 86)
Gruber Elrod Johansen Hail Shank, LLP
Dallas, Texas

Brian Hail (ICPES 86) is a Texas trial lawyer with more than 26 years of courtroom experience involving high profile business disputes, fiduciary and fraud claims, employment-related claims and other complex commercial litigation. Hail’s trial record includes 25+ multi-million dollar judgments, verdicts and settlements, including a then record $123.5 million judgment against Blockbuster Entertainment. He has received many awards and honors throughout his career, including board certification in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, repeated recognition as a “super lawyer” by his peers in Texas Monthly and Law & Politics Magazines, one of the “Best Lawyers Under 40” by D Magazine, one of the “Best Lawyers in America” in the area of business litigation and distinction as the “Litigator of the Week” by Texas Lawyer for his $38 million judgment in a luxury jet dispute. Hail is a 1986 graduate of the TFAS Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems (ICPES), and has served as the TFAS Dallas Alumni Chapter president and an alumni council member. He resides in Dallas with his wife, Dr. Stacey Hail, and their three children.

Deborah Lawrence
Hyattsville, Maryland

Deborah Lawrence’s career in energy spans three decades, where she was responsible for the legislative and regulatory strategy for The Williams Companies of Tulsa, Oklahoma as vice president of government affairs. She worked with congress, the administration, state legislators and regulators to promote natural gas use through production and transportation for one of the largest pipeline and midstream companies in the country. She was responsible for its political action committee and political engagement.

Her political service began on the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee. She has served on the board of Rebuilding Together, University of Maryland Foundation board, and served Women in Government Relations as its energy committee chair.  She is a governor for the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Lawrence has hosted TFAS interns for a decade, lectures students on the regulatory process and served on the TFAS Institute on Business and Government Affairs (IBGA) Board of Visitors.  She is a graduate of the University of Maryland and George Mason University Scalia Law School. Lawrence was born in New York and recently retired in Maryland where she lives with her husband Tom.

Lindsey Parke (IBGA 05)
New York City, New York

Lindsey Parke (IBGA 05) is a manager of investment services at HedgeServ – a full-service, independent fund administration. Prior to joining HedgeServ, Parke worked for Amundi Alternative Investment Services, Inc. on the fund administration and client transactions team for four years. Parke has remained a dedicated alumna over the years, serving on the TFAS Alumni Council from 2012 to 2017, and supporting TFAS through various events and programming. She received her Bachelor of Arts in economics and Spanish from Indiana University Bloomington, and she now resides in New York.

Chris Ullman
The Carlyle Group
Alexandria, Virginia

Chris Ullman is a managing director and director of Global Communications at The Carlyle Group, a global alternative asset manager. In this position, he develops and executes the firm’s external and internal communications and branding strategies and leads a team of 12 professionals in the U.S., Europe and Asia. He joined the firm in November 2001 and is based in Washington, D.C.

Prior to joining Carlyle, Ullman was director of communications at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. Prior to that, he served as public affairs director and spokesman for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Before that, Ullman served as director of communications for the U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee. Prior to these government positions, Ullman was vice president of a Washington-based public relations firm.

Ullman earned his Bachelor of Arts in political science from Binghamton University. He is an active TFAS volunteer and often lectures students on professional development and networking advice. Ullman has also served as TFAS mentor since 2007. He is a four-time national and international whistling champion and avid cyclist.

Brad Vynalek (ICPES 94, AIPES 97)
Quarles & Brady LLP
Phoenix, Arizona

Brad Vynalek (ICPES 94, AIPES 97) is a partner at Quarles & Brady LLP where he serves as a counselor and advisor on strategy, exposure and enterprise opportunity for clients ranging from local start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.

Outside the firm, Vynalek holds leadership roles in several professional and community activities. He was most recently elected chair of the board of directors of Make-A-Wish of Arizona. Last year, Vynalek served as president of the University of Arizona Law College Association. He also served on the TFAS Alumni Council. Within the profession, Vynalek routinely advocates on behalf of the organized bar before Congress, on issues ranging from pro bono funding to the protection of the attorney-client privilege. He was recently appointed to serve as co-chair of the American Bar Association’s 2014 Section of Litigation Annual Conference.

Before law school, Vynalek was a Public Service Honors Scholar at Stanford University. He returned to his hometown of Tucson for law school at the University of Arizona. Highlights from law school include: introducing the 1997 U of A National Men’s Basketball Championship Team to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor at the U.S. Supreme Court, providing student commencement remarks at graduation, studying political democracy in Prague and working on Capitol Hill in the personal staff office of Senator John McCain.


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