Skip to main content

Public Service Weekend

Oct. 11–13, 2019

UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy

Leading from the Front – Understanding Your Role in Changemaking

San Diego is the place to be. Uniquely positioned on the border with Mexico and across the Pacific from Asia, it’s the perfect place to explore how policy, innovation, and global trade can improve the lives of U.S. citizens and the global community. Apply to be a part of this exciting weekend in the city that gives no regard to the status quo at a university where non-tradition is celebrated.

Conference Description

Be the change you want to see in the world. It’s a saying we’ve all heard, but how does one go about actually fulfilling it? This interactive weekend will allow participants time to explore the policy areas they are passionate about and help them channel that passion. There will be skill building and networking, chances to interact with policy experts and public officials, and guidance on what next steps might look like based on the participant’s goals. All on the beautiful UC San Diego campus, just minutes from the beach.

Programming at a Glance

  • Policy topics that are shaping current public discourse
  • Influence public policy at the local, state and national level
  • Honing your changemaking skills
  • Craft your own policy proposal – here’s how
  • Networking, networking, networking

2019 Agenda

2019 Agenda (Draft)

Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 | 5–8:30 p.m.

5 p.m.


5:30 p.m.

Dinner served

6 p.m.

Official welcome, overview of weekend
Dean Peter Cowhey, School of Global Policy and Strategy
Assistant Dean Wendy Hunter Barker, School of Global Policy and Strategy
PPIA alumnus Hugo Salazar

6:15 p.m.

Changemaking 101 Workshop; Tools for changemaking
Emily Loui, Center for Student Involvement

7:15 p.m.

Listen to Make Me Smart podcast to set the stage for the group project.

7:30 p.m.

Dessert with GPS faculty
Stephanie Boomhower, Director of Career Services, will give a brief primer on how to work a room. GPS faculty will then introduce themselves, briefly outline their areas of research and join participants for dessert.

8:30 p.m.

Adjourn; check into hotel - Estancia

Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019 | 8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.

8:30 a.m.


9 a.m.

Public policy work at the local and state levels

  • Catherine Hill, League of California Cities
  • Victoria Joes, Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry, District 1
  • Dan Skopec, Sempra Energy Utilities
  • Victoria Stackwick, SANDAD
10:30 a.m.

National and international policy topics and how to advance them

  • Pat Cassidy, Commercial Officer, San Diego Export Assistance Center, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Robert Thomas, Retired Admiral, GPS Professor of Practice
  • Jason Vorderstrasse, U.S. Department of State
12 p.m.

Networking lunch with panelists
And Keynote Address by Norma Chavez-Peterson, Executive Director of ACLU San Diego

1:30 p.m.

Why Diversity and Inclusion Matters panel discussion

  • Cynthia Davalos, Student Affairs Vice Chancellor Area
  • Charles Lu, Office of Academic Support & Instructional Services
  • Jay Minert, Study Abroad
  • MarDestinee Perez, Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (Moderator)
2:30 p.m.

Changemaker videos – in small groups, video yourselves outside with your Changemaker statements – current or future aspirations.

3 p.m.


3:30 p.m.

Policy memo exercise
Brief overview of what makes a good policy memo, then, working in groups of 4 with a GPS graduate student, draft a memo. Participants will choose a topic from the policy issues listed at the top of the agenda and decide whether it is geared toward a local (mayor), state (governor) or federal (senator) policy. There will be time to revise later in the day and on Sunday.

5 p.m.

Table topics

  1. Fellowship options – Sonja Steinbrech, GPS Admissions
  2. Peace Corps – Tu Le, GPS student and RPCV Tanzania; May Thach, GPS student and RPCV Zambia
  3. Graduate school admissions – Marina Bruce, GPS Admissions
  4. Social innovation/entrepreneurism – Briana Weisinger, Startup Advocate
  5. Capital Fellows Programs – Teodoro "Teddy" Martinez, GPS alum and Policy Advisor for Councilperson Campbell 
  6. Overseas versus domestic internships – Lincoln Berget, GPS student and RPCV China
6:30 p.m.

Reception at Bella Vista Social Club & Caffe

Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019 | 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.


9 a.m.

Breakfast and further work on policy memos
Reconvene with group and finalize your memo.

10 a.m.

Career Skill Building and Networking
How to find jobs/internships and how to craft a resume, followed by small group discussions with GPS graduate students on their internship experiences

11:30 a.m.


12 p.m.

Lunch with GPS faculty and campus partners
With Keynote Address by Zoltan Hajnal, Professor at the School of Global Policy and Strategy

1:30 p.m.

Read out of Policy Memos

2 p.m.

Self-reflections and group share
Facilitated by Alberto "Beto" Vasquez – Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment & Teaching Excellence (CREATE)

2:45 p.m.

Closing remarks

3 p.m.


Past Agendas

December 2018 Agenda

Friday, Nov. 30, 2018

5 – 6 p.m. 

6 – 6:15 p.m. Official welcome, overview of weekend

6:15 – 7:45 p.m. U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Introduction: Intersection of Public Policy – Why Diversity and Inclusion Matters in 2018

  • A facilitated discussion led by GAO staff about the history of GAO, how they do their work, and why diversity and inclusion is relevant in 2018.
  • Icebreaker exercise, “Dimensions of Difference”
  • Preview of GAO Design Process and Preparing Design Plan.

7:45 – 8:30 p.m. Dessert stations with faculty experts

8:30 p.m. Adjourn

Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018

8:30 – 9 a.m. Breakfast

9 – 11 a.m. GAO Design Process and Preparing Design Plan

  • Students work with GAO staff work to develop an evaluative public policy research design proposal using GAO’s engagement design protocols based on fictional Congressional request letters and mandates in law. Small teams of students consider real public policy issues based on the weekend’s theme—Local leadership in a global world. Teams work together to consider various methodological approaches and prepare a design matrix, which includes key questions, proposed methodologies and data sources, limitations, and expected outcomes. The project culminates with student team presentations of their project designs.

11 – 11:30 a.m. Break

11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Panel discussion: Life in the Public Sector

1 – 2:15 p.m. Networking lunch with panelists, GPS students, and faculty

2:15 – 3:30 p.m. Panel discussion: How To Choose What Comes Next

  • This panel with GPS faculty, students, and campus partners discusses what comes next after school, exploring options such as getting a job or more school (and how to choose a school).

3:30 – 4:30 p.m. Table topics: Life at an NGO, fellowships, AmeriCorps/Peace Corps, GPS admissions, social entreprenuerism, government/elected officials

4:30 – 6 p.m. GAO Small Group Breakouts

  • Small teams from earlier in the day will reconvene to finalize their proposed GAO materials including Design Matrix and final presentation.

6 – 7 p.m. Reception at Hops & Salt 

7 p.m. Unstructured project time with GPS faculty and graduate students

Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018

8:30 – 9 a.m. Breakfast

9 – 11 a.m. Career Skill Building and Networking

  • A presentation on how to find jobs/internships and how to craft a resume, followed by small group discussions with GPS graduate students on their internship experiences.

11 – 11:30 a.m. Break

11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Lunch with group presentations

2 p.m. Closing remarks

Past Panelists

December 2017 panelists

  • Tina Ngo Bartel is the director of business programs and research at the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP), where she has worked since 2012. SDWP is a nonprofit chartered by the county and the city of San Diego and dedicated to economic development in San Diego by working to fund job-training programs throughout the region. Tina directs research projects and public/private collaborations that incorporate new ideas and innovative programs for solving the housing affordability crisis, solving the skills gap in workforce development, and educating the next generation of youth for STEM careers. Tina earned an MPIA degree from GPS and prior graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in political science.
  • Paul Cleary is the executive director of Grid Alternatives, a nonprofit that brings the benefits of solar technology to communities that would not otherwise have access. Paul’s nonprofit experience began in the early 1990s, when he helped evaluate a rural electrification project in Guatemala. He worked in public health along the U.S.-Mexico border on human trafficking prevention, fundraising for an anthropology museum, and—his most challenging position—for a short stint as a stay-at-home father. Paul and his family have been happy consumers of solar-generated electricity since 2002. He has a master’s degree in international relations from GPS and an undergraduate degree in economics, also from UC San Diego.
  • Casey Cox began his career working as a research assistant in a neuroscience lab at The Scripps Research Institute, studying neurotransmitters and anatomy of the primate brain, as well as Alzheimer’s disease. Casey worked there for three years before coming to UC San Diego to work in another neuroscience lab, studying anatomy and neural connections associated with vision in birds and mammals. Currently, Casey works with the Human Research Protections Program (HRPP) as the associate director for policy and education, where he has been for more than 15 years. The HRPP serves as an advocate for the rights and welfare of persons who participate in research programs conducted by UC San Diego faculty, staff and students; assists researchers in complying with federal, state and university policies regarding experimentation involving human subjects; and oversees the review and conduct of research conducted by federally registered institutional review boards. He is a graduate of UC San Diego, with a BS in animal physiology.
  • Amy Denhart is the director of Funders Together to End Homelessness San Diego (FTEHSD). In this role, she supports FTEHSD’s strategic grant-making in systems change and youth/family homelessness, and implements advocacy and membership growth strategies. For the past 22 years, Amy held positions in fundraising, public policy and community engagement. During more than a decade as director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood, she worked with donors and the board of directors to advance public policy in support of reproductive health care. Prior to that, she was area director for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, serving as the senator’s liaison to the San Diego community, connecting constituents to the Senate and other government bodies. Most recently, Amy worked closely with the City of San Diego and county governments as the lead finance and contract management staff for CityWorks, a local communications and marketing firm. Amy is a graduate of GPS.
  • Josh Diosomito is a senior policy analyst on the Homeland Security and Justice Team for the U.S. Government Accountability Office and currently operates from the Los Angeles field office. As an analyst-in-charge, he is responsible for managing performance audits that evaluate programs administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including the Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. Coast Guard, among others. During his 10-plus years, he has been involved in and managed performance audits overseeing DHS aviation, border and maritime security operations, plus has traveled internationally to conduct fieldwork. As a dedicated public servant and organizational steward, Josh also serves as an adjunct faculty member and teaches courses on enhancing diversity and inclusion issues across the agency. A former Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow, he has dedicated his career toward promoting the inclusion and full participation of underrepresented groups in the public service arena and advocates for their leadership roles throughout the federal government. Josh earned his bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and a dual master’s degree in public administration and international relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
  • Lorenita Holloway is an administrator in residence for Green Dot Public Schools and a science educator. Born and raised in an urban community and having spent the majority of her 16-year educational career in the neighborhood where she was raised, Lorenita has had an opportunity to provide students within her memorable community experiences that have fueled their passion for observation, exploration, questioning and the pursuit of their happiness and success. She believes collaborating with like-minded individuals to create opportunities for students is the main pillar in today’s educational environment. Lorenita’s  goal in this work is to help stakeholders understand that school communities are bettered by incorporating the knowledge, experience and diversity from within their communities to facilitate the creation of learning experiences that incorporate a reflective process for students to understand the way they learn what they know. She enjoys working with other educators to develop applicable, real-life scenarios and educational pathways that facilitate student development of critical thinking skills. Lorenita holds a doctorate of veterinary medicine  from Tuskegee University, a master of education in educational leadership from Concordia University and a master of education in science education from University of Phoenix.
  • Lani Lutar is the president of Responsible Solutions, a public affairs firm specializing in advocacy, coalition-building and government relations. She has more than 15 years of experience in public policy analysis, business development, strategic marketing and media relations. Prior to establishing Responsible Solutions, Lani led three local nonprofit organizations over a period of 10 years: San Diego County Taxpayers Association, Equinox Center and the Asian Business Association of San Diego. Lani serves on the board of directors of One San Diego, San Diego Coastkeeper and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. She also is a member of the advisory boards for the Pacific Arts Movement, Asian Business Association of San Diego and Mayor Kevin Faulconer's Asian Pacific Islander Advisory Group. She earned an MPIA from GPS and graduated magna cum laude from San Diego State University with a B.A. in psychology.
  • MaryAnne Pintar is the district chief of staff to Rep. Scott Peters, where she manages Peters' San Diego office and staff and serves as communications director for his San Diego and Washington, D.C., offices. In 2012, MaryAnne played a critical role in getting Peters elected to Congress. Prior, MaryAnne had her own public affairs consulting business, Pintar Communications. In that capacity, she worked on several citywide candidate and initiative campaigns, including the campaign to change the City of San Diego from a city manager form of government to a strong mayor/strong council form of government. In the 1990s, MaryAnne served as press secretary, communications director and chief of staff to then-Mayor Susan Golding. She holds a B.A. in journalism and an M.S. in mass communications from San Diego State University.
  • Colin Santulli is the director of clean transportation policy at the Center for Sustainable Energy, where he directs alternative fuel programs such as the California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (for the California Air Resources Board) and similar statewide incentive projects in Massachusetts and Connecticut. These statewide, multifaceted market transformation projects include broad consumer outreach components, consumer and dealer surveys and data analysis, as well as the processing and distribution of thousands of incentives per month. He also oversees the development and implementation of regional plug-in electric and alternative-fuel vehicle readiness plans, plus various vehicle adoption programs and consumer awareness initiatives—most notably, the San Francisco Metropolitan Transit Commission’s “Experience Electric” campaign that provided plug-in electric vehicle test drives for more than 4,250 drivers during a six-month promotion. Colin holds an MPIA from GPS a bachelor’s in business and management from East Carolina University. He also has served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Tom Wong is an assistant professor of political science at UC San Diego and is currently serving as an adviser to the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. His research focuses on the politics of immigration, citizenship and migrant “illegality." His work also explores links between immigration, race and ethnicity, plus the politics of identity. Tom’s research has been used by policymakers both in the U.S. and in Mexico, as well as by organizations that serve immigrant communities. He is the lead researcher on one of the first nationwide surveys of undocumented youth. He also is on the leadership committee of the California Immigrant Policy Center, the board of the New American Leaders Project, and on the advisory council of Unbound Philanthropy. Tom consults on campaigns and elections, specializing in mobilizing low-propensity voters of color and immigrant communities. He has a Ph.D. in comparative politics, immigration politics and policy, human rights from UC Riverside.
  • Myrna Zambrano is the district office director for Senator Toni Atkins. Previously, Myrna was the district director to Christine Kehoe when she was in the assembly from 2000-2004, in the Senate from 2004 to 2012, and served as chief of staff when Kehoe served on the San Diego City Council from 1993 to 2000—during which both she and Atkins worked together on her staff. Myrna grew up in National City, Calif., attended Sweetwater High School and received her B.A. from Yale University.
  • Peter Zschiesche is a trustee for the San Diego Community College District, where he has served since 2002. His primary, District E, encompasses San Diego’s urban core neighborhoods and much of downtown San Diego. Peter serves as vice president for community development on the San Diego Community College District’s board of trustees, too, using his many community connections to bring the colleges’ programs to their fullest possible participation with local community development and service organizations. He has lived and worked in this district since the early 1970s, first as a machinist in the shipyards, later as a labor leader, and more recently as the founder of the Employee Rights Center. He also developed expertise in workforce development first as an officer in a local joint apprenticeship committee and later as labor’s representative on both the Private Industry Council and San Diego Workforce Partnership for almost 15 years. He is a veteran officer of the U.S. Army, where he served for two years as a financial adviser of the Korean Military Advisory Group in Korea and Vietnam. Peter has won several awards from the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, Barrio Station, Cesar E. Chavez Commemorative Committee, Interfaith Center for Worker Justice, Associacion de Liderazgo Communitario, and Project New Village. He holds a B.A. in economics from Bucknell University and an MBA from University of Michigan.



Leading from the front
Oct. 31, 2019 | By Rachel Hommel | GPS News
In our third annual Public Service Weekend, non-tradition is celebrated as students explore their role in changemaking and paving the path forward

Enhancing diversity for a better future
Dec. 21, 2018 | By Rachel Hommel | GPS News
In our second annual Public Service Weekend, undergraduate changemakers unite to craft twenty-first century policy

Paths to Public Service
April 27, 2017 | By Anthony King and Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News
GPS hosted ambitious, diverse students for the inaugural Public Service Weekend at UC San Diego


View photos from our 2019 Public Service Weekend