PhD Students' Bio-sketches

Elvis Asorwoe

Elvis Asorwoe is a doctoral student in the Department of Public Administration and a Research and Teaching Assistant. Elvis’ research focuses on information and communication technology (ICT) in public and nonprofit organizations. He also has strong interest in organizational behavior in public agencies in developing countries, bureaucratic and political corruption, E-Government, and public sector reform in developing countries with special attention to developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. His current project examines the use of information and communication technology in nonprofit organizations in the United States. Attending to both technology and nonprofit, this work offers experts in the field of technology and nonprofit a new way of thinking about using technology to leverage nonprofits financial performance and management. Elvis received his B.A in Political Science from University of Ghana and his MPA from Indiana State University. He has eight years of working experience in public sector as a business development officer and nine years of working experience in the private sector in the field of information security.

Pallavi Awasthi

Pallavi has a masters degree in Human Resource Management from India. In her last work assignments, she was associated with Govt of India and UNDP funded project on Leadership Development in Civil Service in India as a research analyst. Also, she worked as a researcher with center for leadership at ISB, Hyderabad, India. During these assignments, she developed two manuscripts titled "Emotional Labor and its Impact on Alienation and Taking Charge Behavior" and 'Vision for a Global Business School in India".

As a part of her PhD research work, Pallavi is interested in comparative public administration, primarily comparing the public sector leadership models in USA and India. More specifically, emotional labor, the dynamics of virtue, ethics and value based leadership looking through the lens of ancient Indian spiritual knowledge and develop a leadership model for street - level bureaucracy in the context of India.

Diane Benitez

Diane Benitez has a Bachelors and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from FIU. She works in information technology for the Miami Herald. She has also an adjunct teaching position at Miami Dade College. Her research interest is in economic development with respect to the Native American Reservations. Her dissertation deals with economic development of the local Seminole and Miccosukee tribes in South Florida.

Shawn Benaine

Shawn Lorenzo Benaine (Lorenzo Lolo) is originally from Kingston, Jamaica, though he has lived in Miami, Florida for most of his life. He graduated from FIU with a BS in Mass Communications in 2004 and a MS in Public Administration in 2006. Shawn spent 10 years in elementary education and did some research during the last two years with the school system. He is interested in doing research in the area of public management in the education sector. Shawn is also excited about embarking on this new educational journey. His hobbies include photography, online event coordination, primarily within the Caribbean culture, and reading the news and engaging in discussion about current events.

Sebawit Genete Bishu

Sebawit Genete Bishu is a third year doctoral candidate in Public Affairs at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Sebawit graduated with a Bachelors degree in Architecture and Urban Planning and a Masters degree in Urban Planning and Design from Addis Ababa University in her home country Ethiopia. She is also a recipient of several fellowships and scholarships including American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) Founders’ Fellows award (Spring 2016), The Hanes Walton, Jr. Award for Quantitative Methods Training at University of Michigan (Summer 2015), SWPA Young Scholars on Gender and Diversity National Scolarship (Spring 2015) and ASPA South Florida Chapter’s 2015 Young Scholars on Gender and Diversity Regional Scolarship Award (Spring 2015). Sebawit is also the founding president of FIU’s Chapter of International City/County Managers Association (FIU-ICMA). Sebawit conducts her research and publishes on issues related to human resource management in the public sector, equity and diversity issues in the public sector and social justice and equity issues in urban transformation. Her dissertation addresses issues of gender and race based disparities in access to workplace authority in local governments in the United States.

Gretha Burchard

Gretha Burchard joined the Ph.D. program in Public Affairs at Florida International University in 2011 and started working for the Institute for Public Management and Community Service in August 2012. Originally from Germany, she graduated from the University of Marburg, Germany with a B.A. in Language and Communication and received her M.A. in Euroculture from the University of Göttingen, Germany. During her Master studies, she spent one semester at the National Autonomous University of Mexico City, during which she collected data for her master’s thesis which dealt with the social integration of the German population of Mexico City into Mexican culture. Before joining the Ph.D. program of Public Affairs at FIU, she worked for one year in the field of public relations in Munich, Germany. Her main research interests are diversity, integration and gender related issues, both in the national and international context. Her dissertation deals with representative bureaucracy and the impact that teachers with migration background have on students’ performance, career expectations and the social climate.

Nakhyeok Choi

Nakhyeok Choi has a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and another BA in Public Administration from Dong Guk University in South Korea and a Master of Arts in Public Administration from Seoul National University.

Bridgette Cram

Bridgette Cram has a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs and Spanish and a Master of Science in Higher Education from Florida State University. She is currently a PhD candidate and her dissertation research will focus on the on the topic of cultural competence and public administration. In addition to her studies, Bridgette is currently employed as Student Success Manager at Florida International University. She works closely with administrative and academic units to pilot programs aimed at retention and graduation success.

Vivian Cueto

Vivian holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from FIU. Additionally, she holds a Master’s in Public Administration, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Public Finance and Politics from the University of Pennsylvania. She has worked for the United States Senate, Pennsylvania House of Representatives and on various political campaigns. At present, she is pursuing a PhD in Public Affairs with a focus in education policy and is currently a Research Associate at FIU’s Metropolitan Center.

Ana-Maria Dimand

Ana-Maria obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Law from the Romanian – American University, Bucharest, Romania. During college Ana-Maria was part of a student exchange program and studied Law for a semester in Italy at Universita degli Studi di Teramo. After finishing Law School, she initially worked as a legal advisor for two private sector companies and, subsequently, for the Romanian National Trade Register Office, in Bucharest, a public institution with legal personality, under the competency of the Romanian Ministry of Justice. Ana-Maria specialized in public procurements, working alongside the Economic Department which helped me grow as a legal specialist in a wide range of fields including public procurements, commercial contracts, letting contracts, and public budgeting and finance. Since, she left her position as the the Head of the Public Procurement Office at the Romanian National Trade Register Office, in Bucharest to pursue her Ph.D. Degree in public affairs at Florida International University. Her research interests are in the area of public procurements and contract management.

Christopher Duszka

Chris Duszka obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Florida Gulf Coast University and his Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Florida International University. He is a 2nd year student of the PhD program (Public Administration with specialization in Criminal Justice). His research interest is in the effects of various organizational factors on the prevalence of corruption within organizations. Most studies on corruption have focused on individual characteristics rather than environmental ones.

Leanne Erwin

Leanne Erwin received a BS in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Masters of Public Administration from Florida Atlantic University, and Associate Degree in Nursing from Broward College. She has over 15 years of experience working in a broad range of healthcare delivery and financing roles—bedside nurse, public health nurse, public health manager, healthcare informatics consultant and Director of Managed Care Operations.

Nicki Fraser

Nicki Fraser obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public administration at FIU. She is a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellow Program funding. She worked as a multi-lingual (English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, and French) business executive/trainer for corporations such as Avon Products and LA Weight Loss. She is the Board Chair of the Haitian-American Organization for Women in Homestead Florida. She is also a board member and Events chair for the South Florida chapter of the American Society of Public Administration and the outgoing President of Pi Alpha Alpha, the Public Administration Honor Society. Her research interests are in the non-profit and post-disaster recovery. Her dissertation research focuses on the gendered priorities and needs of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Karen Fuller

Karen Fuller is an accomplished educator, concert producer, arts administrator and artist manager. Prior to her current position as coordinator of the Music Business Program in the School of Music at Florida International University, she worked for Pace Theatrical Group/National Broadway Touring Circuit and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts producing touring shows and educational outreach productions. Most recently, she was the Associate Dean of Advancement for the FIU’s College of Architecture + The Arts. Professor Fuller has presented papers in major national and international conferences such as the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, the International Association for Jazz Educators, and the International Conference on Arts and Humanities. She has published papers and has been the music producer of several CDs. Her most recent CD as music producer is Stars & Distances and is currently working on a book entitled: Music Business: The Nonprofit Sector of the Music Industry. She is currently a member of the Association of Arts Administration Educators, American Society for Public Administration, Academy of Management, Association of Performing Arts Presenters, and Chamber Music America. She has been awarded numerous grants for producing concerts, events and festivals. Fuller is an accomplished flamenco dancer and has studied flamenco under famed artists, Rosa Mercedes, Beatriz Gonzalez, and classical training in the studio of Martha Mahr. She has toured with Pedrito Rico, Los Chavalles de Espana and Rosita Segovia throughout Europe and the United States to the rave reviews of the press. Her performance was chosen by The Miami Herald as “The Best Classical Imaginative Work and Performance of the Year (2002). The distinctive character of her performance was called “…an energetic and rhythmically exacting dancer.” The Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel ; “…[Fuller] had the proud spine and machine-gun rapidity in heel stomping to stir excitement.” The Miami Herald.

Dorian Gibson

Dorian Gibson received his undergraduate degrees in criminal justice and psychology from Florida A&M University. Later, he attended Florida State University where he obtained a master’s degree in criminology.

Kevin (Ronnie) Grant

Prior to Ronnie's doctoral studies at FIU, he completed a BA in Economics and Spanish from Brigham Young University, a JD from the University of Puerto Rico, and an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management with an emphasis on Global Development. He also has taught university courses in Global Management as an adjunct professor in Washington, DC; imparted management training seminars in Peru; worked at a major law firm in Puerto Rico; and has conducted research at major research and public policy institutions on legal institutions and organizational development and change in Latin America. He has lived and worked in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Peru, and Brazil. Ronnie's academic, professional, and personal experiences have led him to the profound question of how the characteristics of a society's public institutions both reflect and impact a society's economic and cultural development. Thus, as a researcher he is most passionate about increasing understanding of the historical processes underlying institutional development in Latin America including rule of law, judicial systems, corruption, management and leadership training, and organizational change.

Jeffrey Thomas Hawley

Jeff Hawley holds a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies from the University of Minnesota and an MPA from FIU. He is currently a Research & Evaluation Analyst for The Children's Trust and an Adjunct Professor at Miami Dade College. Previously, Mr. Hawley worked for more than six years as a Program Officer at United Way of Miami-Dade, where he managed grant funding, led special initiatives, and was active on public policy issues within the organization's health area. Prior to moving to Miami, Mr. Hawley served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Peru for nearly three years. Earlier in his career, he also served in the United States Army Reserve, which included participation in Hurricane Mitch disaster relief efforts in El Salvador in 1999. Mr. Hawley has finished his doctoral coursework and passed the comprehensive exams; his dissertation is focused on the public policymaking process in Uruguay.

Andrea Headley

Andrea Marie Headley is a McKnight doctoral scholar at FIU in Public Administration with a specialization in Criminal Justice (third year, as of Fall 2015). Andrea is a strong advocate for social justice and most of her research is inspired from understanding the politics of crime control. She graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelors of Science in Education: Human and Social Development (Community Development Track), double majoring in Criminology and minoring in Communication Studies. Andrea is a 2015 Bureau of Justice Statistic Graduate Research Fellowship Award recipient which will aid in her dissertation research on police community relations and understanding the facts that impact such relationships. Additionally, she has conducted research on various topics including prison privatization, kidnappings, the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, and the intersection between community-based organization and crime prevention.

Alan Lopez

Alan Lopez has a Master’s degree in Management Information Systems from Florida International University. He currently holds a senior administrative position dealing with information management at Miami Dade College.

Nicholas Martinez

Originally from Fort Lauderdale, Nicholas Martinez received a Bachelor's degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, a Master's degree in International Affairs and a Master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Florida State University. Nicholas works for the Miami Downtown Development Authority assisting the agency in economic development and urban planning.

Michael Paparesta

Mr. Paparesta has a B.S. in Business (Real Estate) from Florida State University and Masters in Public Administration from Florida International University. He serves as an Income Evaluation Specialist for the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser's Office. With over fourteen years’ experience in ad-valorem taxation, He has assessed and defended the assessment of numerous property types, including but not limited to, high-rise office buildings, regional malls, and luxury hotels. He is a member of the International Association of Assessing Officers. Mr. Paparesta's research interests include ad-valorem taxation, eminent domain, and economic development. He was awarded the C. Lowell Harriss Dissertation Fellowship from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Mr. Paparesta is writing his dissertation entitled, “Understanding the Impact of the Property Tax Appeal Process on Assessment Uniformity: Procedures, Structures, and Outcomes.” He is from Tampa, Florida.

Amelia Pridemore

Amelia Pridemore is a second-year Public Administration Ph.D. student at FIU. Her research interests involve public policy affecting local music communities, and her dissertation will examine citizen participation by these communities — what enables it, what stands in its way, and what both public administrators and music communities can gain from it. Her other areas of research interest include governance, gender studies, First Amendment and free speech issues, critical theory, and political humor.

Amelia is a native of southern West Virginia and a twenty-year musician who earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with a minor in Women's Studies from Marshall University in 2003. She spent eight years as a news reporter, mostly on police beat. Her career included experience as a reporter embedded with the military in New Orleans and the Louisiana coast after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. She later entered academia, earning a Master of Arts in Political Science from Marshall University in 2011. Amelia's goal is to eventually earn a tenure-track position at a public university that caters to a larger population of first-generation college students. -Fall 2014 Presentations "Breaking the Metal Ceiling". Women, Sexuality, and Gender Studies Association Conference. Florida International University. -Fall 2015 Presentations “Crank Prosperity and Creativity Up to Eleven: Music Festivals Breathe New Life Into Cities.” Southeastern Conference for Public Administration. Charleston, South Carolina.

Safiya Prysmakova

Safiya Prysmakova is a PhD student at the Department of Public Administration at Florida International University. Her research focus centers on the topics of federalism and intergovernmental relations, comparative public policy and public sector governance. Recently, Safiya graduated from the Political Science M.A. Program at the University of Warsaw in Poland, writing my thesis on the effectiveness of the European Union internal security policy over the Member States’ policies, and willingness of the national governments to transfer their competences to the supranational level. After receiving her B.A. in International Relations at the Stanislaw Staszic College of Public Administration in Poland, Safiya worked as a research assistant at the Department of International Security and Strategic Studies at the Polish Academy of Science, specializing in the European Union migration policy.

Vaiva Kalesnikaite

Vaiva is a third year Ph.D. student and a graduate assistant at the department. Her interests lie in environmental policy and climate change adaptation at the local level. Prior to joining our department, Vaiva earned her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Vilnius University in Lithuania in 2011. She spent a year in Leipzig University as an exchange student with the Erasmus Programme. While in Vilnius, Vaiva completed an internship at the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic in Lithuania. In 2013, she earned a Master’s degree in Empirical Social and Political Analysis from the University of Stuttgart. Vaiva is proficient in English, Lithuanian, and German.

Jeisson Rodriguez

Born in Bogota Colombia, Jeisson Rodriguez attended the Universidad Militar Nueva Granada for law studies. Upon moving to Miami, Jeisson studied Political Science and Latin American Studies. He leads a non-profit organization with presence in 30 cities which helps the immigrant community in the United States.

Cristina A. Rodriguez-Acosta

Cristina Rodriquez-Acosta received her Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Political Science from Universidad del Salvador in Argentina, and a Master’s degree in Latin American Affairs from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. She is the Deputy Director at FIU’s Institute for Public Management and Community Service. She was a researcher at the Organization of American States’ Unit for the Promotion of Democracy and at the Inter-American Dialogue. Her research interests include government decentralization, public service delivery, good governance, and the strengthening of subnational governments. Her dissertation topic entitled, “Decentralization And Intergovernmental Relations: Impact On Public Service Delivery: A Comparative Analysis Of Colombia and Paraguay”. She has published several articles and written numerous reports for international and multilateral organizations such as The World Bank, the OECD, USAID, and the Swedish Cooperation Agency. A native of Argentina, Switzerland and Spain, she lived in Brazil, Puerto Rico, Colombia and Europe before coming to the US.

Katie Schuldiner

Katie Schuldiner received her Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management from the University of Central Florida in 2003 with Summa cum Laude honors. She has also received her Master’s in Public Health with the concentration of Health Policy and Management from Florida International University in May 2015. Her work and interests are in assessing access to healthcare for the indigent populations of the United States. Currently, she is working on her Doctorate in Public Affairs from FIU with a focus on Public Management and bringing health care to those who need it, as well as evaluating the economic factors influencing the public policies that have brought care to these individuals, such as the Patent Protection and Affordable Care Act. Katie is now providing her support to the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, where she works as a Graduate Assistant in the Health Policy and Management department, participating in research on global health outcomes, the expansion of Medicaid programs, the effects of diabetes mellitus on employee performance, and many other topics. She also is a peer advisor to incoming graduate students in Health Policy Management offering advice, not only for coursework, but also for the practicum experience which is a requirement of all MPH students. Once a semester, she speaks to students in the practicum course, providing them with encouragement, tips, and tricks for students to gain as much as they can from their internship experience. Katie was also one of ten students in the academic year 2014-2015 to be awarded the PATH scholarship by the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, which provides exemplary students with extra support based on their GPAs, accomplishments, and merit.

Auzeen Shariati

She is originally from Iran and graduated from University of Tehran with a Bachelor of Law in 2006 and received her MA in Criminal Law and Criminology from Allameh Tabatabaei University in 2009, both in Iran. Auzeen is also an attorney at law and practiced as a lawyer for three years in several types of judicial cases, while at the same time working as a legal advisor of a commercial company. Now Auzeen is in her fourth year of PhD program, writing her dissertation titled: “An Assessment of the Role of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) in Campus Safety”. In addition, she is pursuing research on situational crime prevention, campus crime and safety, predictive policing, and the relation between crime and housing vacancy. Auzeen has presented her studies in several conferences, including American Society for Public Administration (ASPA), Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS), Southern Criminal Justice Association (SCJA), Southeastern Conference for Public Administration (SECoPA), and American Society of Criminology (ASC). She is co-author of a book chapter in “Advances of Crime Prevention Sciences Series: Situational Crime Prevention” (2015). Auzeen is currently involved in a research project on kidnappings for ransom working closely with Dr. Rob Guerette and Dr. Stephen Pires. A resultant co-authored article will be published in Journal of Quantitative Criminology.

*Lilia Silverio

Lilia Silverio graduated with BA in Economics in 2005; later obtained an MS in Finance in 2007, both degrees from Florida International University, she is currently pursuing a PhD in Public Administration at FIU. Her research area is the impact of performance funding in higher education inputs and outcomes. She started working at FIU in 2004 as a student, and then became an Accountant in 2005 in the Dean’s Office, College of Engineering and Computing. In this capacity, she was in charge of the reconciliation of the Education and General, Auxiliary, and Foundation accounts; she was also a key player in the implementation of the first phase of PantherSoft Financials.

Jung Hyun Song

Jung Hyun is originally from Korea. She received a B.A. and M.A. in Public Administration from Sangji University, Korea. Then she obtained her Master’s in Public Policy from Oregon State University. She is in her fifth year in the Ph.D. program. She is working on her dissertation titled, "The Effect of Social Capital on Organizational Performance in Different Cultures: A Cross-national Comparison of the United States and South Korea." Her research interests include social capital, environmental administration, research methods, and organizational performance.

Michele Tantardini

Michele Tantardini earned an undergraduate and master degree in economics and management of public administration at Bocconi University (Milan, Italy). His research is focused on the management of public sector institutions and organizations, and the delivery of public services. Currently, he is a Ph.D. candidate in Public Affairs at Florida International University (FIU) focusing his studies and research on the relationship between performance information use and organizational social capital. He is also member of the board of the ASPA South Florida Chapter. His professional experience started by working for the Treasury Department of the Italian Republic (Rome, Italy). Having gained a passion for research during his experience at the Treasury Department, he started working as a young researcher both at the SDA Bocconi School of Management and Bocconi University in Milan. Working for a school of management allowed him to apply the concepts and the results of academic research directly to Italian public administrations at both the local and national level.

Evelyn Trammell

Evelyn Trammel is in her first semester of the PhD program. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a dual major in International Relations and Religious Studies, and a Master in Public Administration from Florida International University. Additionally, she has a Certificate in Public Procurement from Florida Atlantic University. Evelyn currently works full time for the City of Sunny Isles Beach as a Senior Administrative Coordinator in the Cultural & Community Services Department. Her research interests include public procurement, contracting, and municipal government performance.

Sofia C. Trelles

Sofia holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) from Florida International University, as well as post-Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management. Her work and interests in social change, access in higher education, and diversity has been the impetus for her pursuit of her Doctorate in Public Affairs from FIU focusing on citizen participation and technology platforms. Sofia serves as the Operations Manager for the Executive and Professional MBA programs at the Florida International University Brickell Campus. In her position, Sofia work closely with a team of dedicated professionals who seek to create an inclusive and globally aware market value program that promotes students’ academic success and enhances their FIU experience. While pursuing her graduate degree, Sofia began working in a leadership position on campus as the student Services Coordinator, Testing and Accommodations for the Disability Resource Center at FIU’s Modesto Maidique Campus. There she promoted a vision of disability services as a university wide responsibility to promote accessibility while facilitating awareness through partnerships, training, and information-sharing.