Alumni Awards 2016: Thomas Sadowski ’89, Political Science

In the weeks leading up to the 2016 Alumni Awards Ceremony, we’ll be profiling each honoree in detail here on the blog. This year’s awardee in the Distinguished Service category is Thomas Sadowski ’89, political science, Vice Chancellor for Economic Development for the University System of Maryland.

t-sadowski_headshotAs the first person in his family to go to college, Tom Sadowski wanted to get the most for his tuition money. UMBC was his first choice, because it was close to home and first to accept his application. Now, almost three decades later, that investment is paying off in a big way. This past spring, Sadowski took over as vice chancellor of economic development for the University System of Maryland, where he works to leverage system research and build partnerships with the federal government and businesses across the state. Previously, he headed the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore and the Harford County Office of Economic Development. He can trace his passion for his work all the way back to Dr. Sari Bennett’s course on Metropolitan Baltimore, and credits Dr. Arthur Johnson and Dr. Dennis Muniak for their committed guidance. “I have been blessed to have the opportunity to work on big, game changing projects throughout my career,” he says. “UMBC believed in me and gave me the tools and ability to believe in myself.” One of his proudest moments? Working with federal, state, and local leaders to protect and enhance the Army mission at Aberdeen Proving Ground. He is proud of his education, his circle of friends and colleagues, and his family. Says Sadowski: “UMBC helped shape me and gave me faith in myself to take on big challenges and build a life without limits.”

Join us for the Alumni Awards Ceremony on Thursday, October 6, at the Earl and Darielle Linehan Concert Hall.


App-tivism: Daniel Carter ’11 on making a difference in tech

Daniel Carter graduated in 2011 with a degree in political science and information systems.

When Daniel Carter ’11, political science and information systems, first arrived at UMBC, he thought he’d be an attorney, but he also had an interest in computer programming, so he did the math and decided to add a second major. This led him down a much different path than he’d expected, and when he graduated, he entered GE’s Information Technology Leadership Program instead of law school. But that doesn’t mean he’s not using both sides of his education to call attention to various issues, from diversity in the tech sector to the effects of mass incarceration.

Today, in addition to his day job as a senior software engineer at FireEye, Carter is working on several applications that propose solutions to public policy problems. Right now, he and his childhood friend Julian Porto are developing a project called GETmaps (“GET” stands for “growth economic trends”), which uses geographic and demographic data to visualize small business impact in different areas. Users can view maps that show, for instance, how much a government invests in small business in a certain area, as well as how many small businesses a locality has.

“The point of it is to bring more attention around the impact that small businesses have on the national economy,” he says. The app was born at a hackathon sponsored in part by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and they’re working with that agency now to bring the app to life.

GETmaps was born at the Free Enterprise Hackathon last October in Washington, D.C.

Carter and Porto are are also the creators of Just Hires, which was mentioned in a recent Bustle article about D.C. tech activism. That app works like a TurboTax-Tinder hybrid to match ex-convicts with businesses looking to hire returning citizens. (At this writing, they have tabled that project to focus on GETmaps.)

When asked which of his UMBC experiences have influenced him the most, Carter can point to way more than just one. He says he wasn’t the most social kid coming into college, but that his involvement with the Filipino American Student Association (FASA) helped to break him out of his shell. He held several leadership positions within that organization, and even had the chance to build the registration site for FASA’s national conference.

“I was, like, 19 at the time, and I had just learned to program,” he says. “That was the coolest thing, to use it to help.”

He also cites the interdisciplinary nature of his education as a major influence on him: “Everything I’m doing…I’ve had a class that touched upon that.” He’d advise incoming UMBC students to take on internships, because, as he says, “the learning doesn’t stop in the classroom…You need to apply what you’re learning in your classes outside of [school].”

He realizes his path has been unconventional in more than one way. But Daniel Carter sees his efforts as part of a larger goal to balance the playing field, not just in the communities his apps are built to serve, but in the largely white, largely male tech workforce as well, especially at a time where calls for more diversity and equal representation have rung out across multiple prominent industries.

“It’s an important subject to me because I want to be able to show and talk to other people who are underrepresented. I definitely want to serve those communities, and that’s where my poli sci background comes in,” he says. He adds that since he’s graduated college, he’s been told by multiple people that his particular career trajectory has inspired them in their own.

“They saw that I’m doing it, so they can do it,” he says.

Julia Celtnieks ’13

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Happy Retriever Love Week!

A couple of weeks ago, we put out a call on social media for couples whose love stories began at UMBC. We got so many great responses that while Valentine’s Day may have come and gone, we’ve decided to extend the holiday through Friday to share your stories on the blog. Happy Valentine’s Day the Second through Sixth!

6A62BF94-A2AB-498D-851A-7D908DC79B425698E789-DEBD-4338-9169-2032D4566156 (1)In August 2000, Kenneth Knight ’03, information systems, and M.S. ’05, information systems, was a transfer student looking for advice on his classes. During a fire drill, a mutual friend led him to Angela Washington Knight ’03, information systems, and M.S. ’05, information systems, and from then on, Kenneth says, they were “inseparable.” They have been married since September 2003. (Photo courtesy of Kenneth Knight.)

IMG_5400Leah Concannon Mayer ’02, psychology, met Patrick Mayer ’02, philosophy and political science, the first month of their freshman year at UMBC, and the two were longtime friends by the time they started dating in 2003. They dated long distance while attending graduate school in separate parts of the country, and got married in 2006. They both work at Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan, where Patrick is an assistant professor of philosophy and Leah directs the McNair Scholars Program, and have two children. (Photo courtesy of Leah Mayer.)

Kat Joe PicJoe Fleshman ’14, economics, met his wife Kat Schuster Fleshman ’14, theatre, during their freshman year at UMBC. They started dating in early 2011 and “quickly became attached at the hip.”

“UMBC was so important to our relationship because we grew up here together. We have great memories of [H]omecomings, Quadmanias, and working with ResLife and the Commons to leave our marks on the campus. We gave everything we had to this school, and it gave us more than we could have ever hoped for in return. We were lucky to have many of our closest friends and UMBC family involved with our wedding in June 2015.

“I know I’m the happiest I’ve ever been because of the opportunities that UMBC gave us to allow our relationship to blossom,” Joe writes. (Photo courtesy of Joe Fleshman. And yes, that is Nick Offerman of Parks and Recreation and UMBC Homecoming 2013 fame.)

image.pngStephanie Fields Lightfoot ’95, sociology, worked at the UMBC Bookstore as an undergrad, and Leon Lightfoot ’94, information systems management, was a frequent browser among the shelves. In 1993, Stephanie says, “he finally got the nerve” to approach her, and so began their courtship. A visit to the Shriver Center during her senior year led Stephanie to join the Peace Corps, a decision Leon supported “with hopes that [she] would return to him after two years.”

Indeed, when Stephanie stepped back onto U.S. soil after her service, Leon was waiting there with a ring. After 17 years of marriage and two children, Stephanie says, “If it weren’t for UMBC, there would be no Lightfoot family of [four].” (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Lightfoot.)

Read UMBC Magazine’s 2014 feature on UMBC couples here.


Roundup: UMBC in the News

One of the things that makes UMBC great is how wonderful our alumni, students, faculty, and staff are. Because of these amazing people, UMBC often finds itself “in the news,” so each week, we’ll be sharing with you a round-up of the most newsworthy achievements from our community.

For more UMBC news, head to the Insights blog!

Career Q&A: Alexander Bush ’09, Political Science

Every once in a while, we’ll chat with an alum about what they do and how they got there. Recently, we caught up with Alexander Bush ’09, political science, a former Humanities Scholar who went on to law school at Pepperdine University in California. In addition to his full-time job as a personal injury attorney in Baltimore, Bush co-hosts Baltimore Barristers, a radio call-in show about legal issues.

profile photoNAME: Alexander A. Bush
JOB TITLE/EMPLOYER: Co-host of the Baltimore Barristers radio show on CBS 1300 AM and Associate Attorney at Ingerman & Horwitz LLP
MAJOR/MINOR: major in History, minors in Political Science and French

How did you decide to go to law school? What has the trajectory of your law career been, leading up to “Baltimore Barristers”?

I’ve learned the importance of career flexibility. My plan at Pepperdine Law was to do death-penalty defense. While I was very pleased that Maryland ended the death penalty soon after my graduation, it did keep me from getting a permanent position with the Public Defender’s Aggravated Homicide Division.

Fortunately, a diploma from UMBC, with its ever increasing reputation and rankings, helped me in the job market.  Since then I [have] accepted a position at Ingerman & Horwitz, the state’s largest workers’ compensation firm, located in Baltimore City. I still get to handle criminal defense cases, but now I specialize in personal injury.

My co-host, Stephen Caramenico, and I came up with the idea for a radio show only about two months ago. We were fortunate to find an opening on 1300AM Tuesdays at 7pm. It has been a challenge balancing a heavy caseload and all the work that goes into the show, but I’m really enjoying it.

As a lawyer, what made you decide to do a radio show? Did you have any experience with the medium prior to breaking into that realm?

My current position as a litigation attorney gets me lots of trial experience, but I also wanted to find a way to incorporate politics and public policy into what I do. Since [my] co-host and I started the Baltimore Barristers in September, we’ve had two state delegates on to discuss proposed changes in the law, and a county council chairman to discuss the future of marijuana dispensaries.

It’s also a good career move given how competitive my field is. You can be the most skilled lawyer in the city, but if no one knows your name, you won’t get any clients.

I had no background in radio before this. It has been quite the learning experience. I’ve been lucky to have a great producer at CBS 1300 AM. I’ve yet to have any major technical slip-up or (my greatest fear) use any fine-inducing salty language on air, so I am feeling confident.

Since CBS 1300AM is mostly a sports talk station, my co-host and I have embraced our sports fan audience with stories on whether fantasy sports sites like FanDuel and DraftKings are gambling (the answer: maybe), Deflategate, and more.

What is it like to answer people’s legal questions?

The first step in doing it empathetically is understanding the vast difference between the public’s perception of the law and what the law actually says. Most of us have our own sense of basic fairness and just assume that’s how the law works. I think having a Master’s in Alternative Dispute Resolution [from Pepperdine’s nationally-recognized Straus Institute] helps me to build rapport and trust with someone even while I’m telling them something they really don’t want to hear about the law.

On the radio, I make it clear that there is no attorney-client relationship (and obviously no confidentiality) in on-air advice. I’ve had to tell callers not to give me any identifying information on the air, and then have spoken to them privately after the show.

What about your experience at UMBC stands out the most to you?

The Humanities Scholars program has had a great positive impact on my life. It provided me with a small, supportive community and was the impetus for a lot of great experiences like study abroad, funded research, and a living-learning community dorm. But it was more than just the program[.] [The] whole culture of UMBC worked for me. Being a nerd (in my case, a history and law nerd) is cool here.

I also had a number of great professors with whom I’ve been lucky to have lasting relationships, but especially Dr. George LaNoue, who taught my constitutional law courses and gave me a lot of great advice while applying to law schools. While I was at Pepperdine, Dr. LaNoue and I co-authored a paper on 1st Amendment issues with internal review boards, which we presented at a conference at Cambridge in the UK.

Knowing what you know now, what would you tell a brand new UMBC student?

There are a lot of opportunities to take advantage of, so start planning early. Give yourself time in the beginning to try new experiences, but once you’ve found what you like, go for it!

For me, it was a study abroad in Cameroon and France that I was able to tie into research in the UK, which then led to presenting my research at URCAD. That was a great experience, especially for an undergrad who wouldn’t usually have an opportunity like that.

You can listen to past Baltimore Barristers podcasts here.

Roundup: UMBC in the News

One of the things that makes UMBC great is how wonderful our alumni, students, faculty, and staff are. Because of these amazing people, UMBC often finds itself “in the news,” so each week, we’ll be sharing with you a round-up of the most newsworthy achievements from our community.

For more newsmaking moments and campus updates, check out UMBC Insights!

Alumni Awards 2015: Allan Kittleman ’81, Political Science

In the weeks leading up to the Alumni Awards Ceremony, we’ll be profiling each of this year’s honorees in detail here on the blog. Our last winner, in the Distinguished Service category, is Howard County Executive and former Maryland State Senator Allan Kittleman ’81, political science.

KittlemanAllan Kittleman was elected Howard County Executive in 2014. Prior to that, he had served as Minority Leader in the Maryland State Senate, on the Howard County Council, and as an attorney on workers’ compensation cases. He grew up in Howard County, working on his family’s farm in West Friendship and commuting to UMBC to earn his political science degree. After graduating, he received a J.D. from the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. His father Bob Kittleman served in the State Senate from 1982 until his death in 2004. Allan was appointed to succeed him that year, and won election in his own right in 2006 and 2010, becoming minority leader in 2008. He stepped down after publicly expressing his support for marriage equality, and ran for Howard County Executive in the 2014 election cycle.

The Alumni Awards Ceremony is tomorrow, October 8. There’s still time to register!