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February Newsletter

Hobby School undergraduate program kicks off inaugural courses

The inaugural class of Hobby School undergraduate students entered the newest program this spring with course offerings ranging from political philosophy to the political economy of market processes. Welcome to the newest public policy students. We will see you at commencement in a few years!

February Hobby Hour: Passport to leadership with Ambassador Chase Untermeyer

Join the February Hobby Hour, noon, Tuesday, Feb. 15, with U.S. Ambassador Chase Untermeyer, former ambassador to Qatar, assistant secretary of the Navy, Houston Chronicle political reporter, assistant to President George H.W. Bush, state representative and director of Voice of America. Untermeyer is the author of books about American foreign policy, leadership and presidential policy.

He is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, chairman of the board of Humanities Texas, the state humanities council, and the inaugural Hobby School professor of practice. Host Dean Jim Granato will discuss Untermeyer’s career, his books, foreign policy and his advice to students interested in pursuing a career in public service.
Register Here

The lies that bind: rethinking identity

Well-known New York Times columnist and philosopher K. Anthony Appiah will speak on racial, gender, religious, class and national identity in “The Lies That Bind,” 4 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 17, in the Rockwell Pavilion. In his latest book, Appiah looks at the notion of identity and argues that many of our ideas about identity are mistaken and confused. He poses different ways to think about identity politics in hopes of overcoming the current conflicts in our political world.

Appiah pens “Ask the Ethicist,” a column in The New York Times that answer’s ethical questions grappled by readers. The award-winning author and New York University professor of philosophy and law was educated at schools in Ghana and England. His works center on political and moral theory, the philosophy of language and mind, and African intellectual history. 

Sponsored by the Hobby School Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center on Ethics and Leadership


Hobby School poll finds voters leaning toward Republican candidates in March primaries

The Hobby School conducted a statewide online survey of Texas registered voters to identify their preferences and opinions regarding candidates and policy issues. This first of a series of reports examines vote intention of Texans for the 2022 Republican and Democratic primaries and for the 2022 general election. Read Report
Media Activity: ABC 13 Houston, Texas Standard, RealClearPolitics, J News, KXAN-Austin,

Researchers test FDI and armed violence connection

Pablo M. Pinto, Hobby School, and Boliang Zhu, Pennsylvania State University, published "Brewing Violence: Foreign Investment and Civil Conflict” in the Journal for Conflict Resolution. The researchers tested a novel argument linking foreign direct investment (FDI) to intrastate armed violence in developing countries. Read the report.


Leland Fellows start on capitol hill

The 2022 class of Leland Fellows began their congressional internships in Washington, D.C. in January. Fellows like Mariela Rea will get experience with legislative research, writing reports and correspondence, meeting with constituents and stakeholders, attending committee hearings, and working on special projects. “I never thought it feasible being a first-generation college student that I would be an intern in Washington, D.C., but the Leland Fellowship is designed for students who need financial help. I interned at nonprofits and in local government offices so that I would be ready to take full advantage of the internship knowing the experience will help my future in public service,” said Rea who is working at the Thurgood Marshall Institute in government relations. She is a former Harris Fellow and Civic Houston Intern. Through generous donor support, the Leland Fellows provides paid housing, monthly stipends, and round-trip airfare while working on Capitol Hill and completing independent study assignments.

Hobby School’s CONNECT Program launches second cohort

The second cohort of the CONNECT program, a Hobby School collaborative internship with UT Austin’s RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, has been selected. The program supports the Houston community by connecting the skills of UH graduate students with local nonprofits seeking assistance on evaluation and data projects. The spring nonprofits participating include American Youthworks, Nature Discovery Center, East Harris County Empowerment Council and Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County. Congratualtions to Alexia Frometa (Social Work), Chanta Gosby (Social Work), Alice Navarro (Social Work), Duc Nguyen (Public Policy) and Esneider Pesca (Public Policy). Learn more.

Civic Houston interns navigate 2022 spring semester in a pandemic

The spring 2020 Civic Houston interns learned what to expect in their internship offices this semester at the spring 2022 Orientation. In addition to their office duties, students will take part in a U.S. Census 2020 education project, funded by Houston in Action, a collective initiative to build a culture of civic engagement. The 28 undergraduates are overcoming pandemic-related conditions using in-person, hybrid, and remote work in an array of offices such as the Mayor’s Office of Education, Harris County Office of Emergency Management, State Representative Jarvis Johnson and the Council on Islamic Relations.

Intersection of arts and health symposium rescheduled to September 2022

The “Healings Arts Houston: Innovations in Arts and Health” organizing committee has rescheduled the symposium for Sept. 8-10, 2022.

“Innovations in Arts and Health: Collaborating for Medical Humanities, Professional Development and Community Health” is an international conference working at the intersection of arts and health in Houston, produced in partnership with the World Health Organization and Culturunners. The event is sponsored in part by the Hobby School Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center on Ethics and Leadership Conference Funding Program.

Internship offers hands-on experience

Public policy, political science and economics students interested in sharpening their skills while supporting nonprofits are invited to a Social Economy and Enterprise Academy Internship information session, noon, Friday, March 4 in the Science Building, Room 103. Undergraduates and selected graduate candidates are welcomed. The deadline to apply is March 25.


Chase Untermeyer selected as inaugural Hobby School professor of practice

The Hobby School has named Chase Untermeyer, former ambassador to Qatar, as the inaugural professor of practice. Untermeyer’s lessons in leadership have been captured in his diary-based books documenting his years in public service alongside presidents and naval commanders. He was also a political reporter for the Houston Chronicle and later a member of the Texas House of Representatives. Professors of practice are non-tenure-track faculty who are experts with real-world experience within a particular field.

Education policy assistant professor joins Hobby School in fall 2022

The Hobby School welcomes Blake Heller as an assistant professor in public policy. Heller uses quantitative tools to model social challenges and test potential solutions. When he starts in the fall semester, his research and teaching will focus on applied policy analysis and microeconomics, with a particular emphasis on education policy topics including alternative academic pathways, adult training and immigrant language skills.  Most recently, Heller was a postdoctoral research scholar at Vanderbilt University's Peabody College of Education and Human Development. His Ph.D. in public policy is from Harvard University.  More on Heller.

Meet the new Hobby School director of business operations, Betsy Roguer

Betsy Roguer is the new director of business operations at the Hobby School. She brings more than 17 years of higher education experience in business administration – first at Florida International University and later at the University of Houston in the College of Engineering and the UH Law Center.

Janowski and Mason promoted

Congratulations to the Hobby School’s Scott Mason and Emily Janowski on their recent promotions! Scott, a two time Coog (BBA ‘04; MPA ‘06), has worked at UH since 2008 and with the Hobby School for six years. He now leads academic advising for both undergraduate and graduate students in his new position of Program Director 2, Academic Advising. Emily just celebrated her four year anniversary with the Hobby School and is putting her MBA to good use as the scheduler for the Dean and director of special projects as Program Director 1, Office of the Dean. Kudos to Scott and Emily for their hard work and dedication to the Hobby School!


MPP grads advance careers

Charity Dominguez (MPP ’17) was among the inaugural class to graduate from the Hobby School’s Master of Public Policy program. Until recently, she was the regional training and exercise coordinator at the City of Houston Office of Emergency Management. Charity recently accepted a position to work at Los Alamos National Laboratories in the emergency management division where she will perform preparedness planning as well as provide training and conduct exercises. She says the Hobby School helped prepare her for this amazing opportunity.

“I cannot thank the Hobby School enough for preparing me for this amazing opportunity,” said Charity. “I am so proud to be an alumni from the Hobby School of Public Affairs!”
Hats off to Taelor Hardesty (MPP ’17) for starting a new position with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. He will be investigating and bringing law enforcement actions to stop unfair, deceptive and fraudulent business practices. He will also help build state and local partnerships and educate consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities out of his base in Dallas. “I owe it all to my mentors and the MPP program,” said Hardesty. During his graduate studies, he studied and was hired by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency where he worked until now. Congratulations, Taelor!
Kudos to Edith Santamaria (MPP ’21) on her new position with the U.S. Department of Commerce. She is grateful for her experience at the Office of County Judge Lina Hidalgo but is excited about her new challenge. Santamaria is also a former Civic Houston Intern in the offices of Houston Council Member Robert Gallegos and then-Council Member and current Sherriff Ed Gonzalez. All the best, Edith!


Mark Your Calendars

Friday, Feb. 4, 1 PM
“Intersectionalizing #MeToo,” Linda Martin Alcoff, Hunter College
Cosponsored by UH Women, Gender and Sexualities Studies

Wednesday, Feb. 9, 9 AM
Senior Director Renée Cross on Houston Public Media, Houston Matters

Wednesday, Feb. 16, 5:30 PM
MPP Information Session
Hobby School Virtual Information Session

Thursday, Feb. 17, 2 PM
“Ask the Ethicist” session with NY Times Ethicist K. Anthony Appiah
Rockwell Pavilion, M.D. Anderson Library*

Thursday, Feb. 17, 4 PM
“The Lies that Bind,” K. Anthony Appiah, New York University
Rockwell Pavilion, M.D. Anderson Library*

Thursday, Feb. 24, 1 PM
“Care Theory: Application for Health Care Professionals,” Maurice Hamington, Portland State University
Honors Commons, M.D. Anderson Library*
Wednesday, March 2, 9 AM
Senior Director Renée Cross on Houston Public Media, Houston Matters
Thursday, March 3, 4 PM
“Reference Points and Democratic Backsliding,” Carlo Prato, Columbia University (with Edoardo Grill)
Roy G. Cullen Building, Room 132A

Friday, March 4, noon
Care Ethics Zoom Lecture Series, Sarah Munawar, University of British Columbia
Via Zoom

Friday, March 4, Noon
Social Economy & Enterprise Academy Information Session
More information

Thursday, March 10, 4 PM
“The Spartan Regime and Its Classical Critics,” Sue Collins, Notre Dame University
Honors Commons, M.D. Anderson Library*

*COVID-19 protocols will be observed.
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