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A Smart Investment

Real Estate and Finance Alliance matches students with alumni mentors.

All 12 of the 2011 Real Estate and Finance Alliance mentees (above) are participating in high-level summer internships in New York City after receiving mentoring from alumni.

Jessica McConnell Burt

While Wall Street firms were making thousands of job cuts during the height of the recession, GW students were being hired by prestigious firms including J.P. Morgan, UBS, Credit Suisse, Bank of America, and Citibank.

The university's success in helping students find employment at some of the most competitive jobs during one of the country's worst recessions was, in part, driven by the GW Real Estate and Finance Alliance (REFA) Mentorship Program.

The program was first envisioned in 2010 by the REFA Board of Directors, a group of 45 alumni and parents who are managing directors, partners, and CEOs at the nation's leading investment banking and real estate firms, who wanted to create a connection with current students and provide the mentorship necessary to secure high-level internships and jobs. Recognizing that students need advanced career coaching and training in order to compete for prestigious starting positions on Wall Street, members of the REFA board contributed more than $100,000 to get the program off the ground and spent hundreds of hours developing its curriculum.

"The Real Estate and Finance Alliance board is passionate about creating a connection with current students," says Josh Kuriloff, BA '81, vice chairman at real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield and co-chair of REFA. "Many of its members never had the opportunity to connect with alumni when they graduated, and they wanted to make it easier for graduating students to gain insight and advice on the hiring process to improve their chances to get hired."

The REFA Mentorship Program began in fall 2010 with seven students in their junior years who participated in 50-plus hours of résumé review, interview preparations, financial modeling, and a specialized course in career management strategies taught by Bryan Erwin, BA '97, a former Goldman Sachs vice president and current director of the Advocacy Center at the U.S. Department of Commerce. The mentees also attended training seminars and alumni presentations, as well as committed to extensive study beyond their typical course work. By summer, all seven students had prestigious internships.

"The connection with alumni who opened doors at their firms and dedicated their time to coach us through the interview process has made a huge difference," says Bill White, a current mentee who accepted an investment banking summer internship at UBS. In the fall of 2011, GW School of Business Dean Doug Guthrie dedicated resources from the school's F. David Fowler Career Center to expand the program to 12 students. Mentees from the program's inaugural year, who are now seniors, committed themselves to mentoring the next class of students to get them ready for their summer internship.

"After our successes, it is our turn to help other GW REFA members thrive," says Erin Moretti, a current mentee who accepted a summer internship at J.P. Morgan in private wealth management.

For the 2012 academic year, all of the mentees from 2010 had job offers waiting for them when they graduated, and all current mentees have high-level summer internships that they hope will lead to full-time employment when they graduate.

The REFA board hopes to continue to grow the mentorship program and expand the services of the career center to reach as many students as possible.

"We live in a rapidly changing world, but one thing that is still paramount is the importance of networking and personal relationships," said Richard Goldstein, BA '81, managing director at Havens Advisors, an investment firm. "We want to create a culture of alumni support where our students have the opportunity to build these networks to help them with their careers."

Interested underclassmen should contact the F. David Fowler Career Center in Duquès 560 for more details.

To learn how you can support the REFA Mentorship Program, please contact Sunny Levitt at 202-994-6704 or

School of Nursing Receives First Planned Gift

Annetta Weiss (center) stands with School of Nursing Dean Jean Johnson (left) and Senior Associate Dean Ellen Dawson during an event celebrating Ms. Weiss' gift.

Annetta Weiss, BA '65, always knew she wanted to give back, but finding the right area for her philanthropy was a challenge.

"I was looking to give somewhere that would really fulfill me—that would move me in some way," Ms. Weiss recalls.

When her longtime friend and financial adviser, Tom Curtis, BA '81, MA '95, encouraged her to consider the George Washington University as a beneficiary, she was intrigued. Ms. Weiss grew up in Washington, D.C., and her parents, both federal government employees during World War II, wanted her to pursue an education at GW. She enrolled at the university in 1961, the same year John F. Kennedy took office, and was on campus when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech less than a mile from her room in Strong Hall in 1963.

"We were right in the middle of everything," she says. "The world was right outside our door."

In 2009 Mr. Curtis, a planned giving donor himself, introduced Ms. Weiss to GW Senior Planned Giving Advisor Jane Kolson, and the two began their quest to identify a recipient for Ms. Weiss' estate.

In June 2011, Ms. Kolson took Ms. Weiss on a tour of GW's Virginia Science and Technology Campus. The visit included a walk-through of the new School of Nursing simulation lab and a meeting with the school's dean, Jean Johnson.

Ms. Weiss was immediately impressed by the quality and dedication of the nursing faculty and saw an opportunity to raise the profile of the school, which was established in 2010. In addition, Dean Johnson reminded Ms. Weiss of her aunt, Frances, a nurse and midwife who was present at Ms. Weiss' birth.

"Frances was more like a grandmother to me; we were very close. When I visited the School of Nursing, I got that feeling I had been searching for," Ms. Weiss says.

Nearly three years after her search began, the university held an intimate ceremony honoring Ms. Weiss' two-part gift, which Dean Johnson describes as "significant, and the first of its kind, for the School of Nursing"—an endowed scholarship to aid graduate students in the Nurse Practitioner Program and an endowment for the dean's discretionary fund in memory of her Aunt Frances.

"The reach of this gift goes so far beyond the students who reap the benefits of this scholarship," Dean Johnson says. "Every student who benefits from this gift will care for thousands of people in their careers. This gift has a wonderful, multiplying effect."

Ms. Weiss designated the bulk of her planned gift to the Nurse Practitioner Program, a distance-education curriculum that prepares nurses to take on the role of a primary care provider. The program, taught almost entirely online, allows students to remain in their communities while pursuing advanced education. Distance-education students are ineligible for most kinds of financial aid, so Ms. Weiss' scholarship will help keep finances from being a barrier to education.

"This gift is very special to me," Ms. Weiss says. "I wanted what was best for GW and for me. Our quest led me here, and it's reassuring to know that what I'm doing is special."

GW Honors Scholarship and Fellowship Donors

Senior Albert Cramer, a four-year recipient of Power & Promise Fund support, gives the keynote address at the 2012 GW Power & Promise Celebration of Scholarships and Fellowships.

More than 70 students had the opportunity to personally thank the donors who helped make their education possible at the annual GW Power & Promise Celebration of Scholarships and Fellowships. The event, which took place April 20 at the Fairmont Hotel, celebrates the people who establish and contribute financial aid to students.

"The idea of the Power & Promise campaign is to emphasize the power of education and the promise of future leaders we're educating with the help of the generosity of so many of our supporters," said GW President Steven Knapp at the event. "We want you to know how much we deeply appreciate what you have made possible."

President Knapp announced the creation of the GW Power & Promise Fund for student aid in 2008 to increase access and affordability for current and future GW students. Currently, three out of five GW students receive some sort of financial aid, with many receiving assistance from the more than 400 donor-funded scholarships and fellowships. Eleven new endowed scholarships and fellowships were created in fiscal year 2012.

Albert Cramer, a senior studying history in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, told the crowd during his keynote address that he would not have been able to attend GW without the merit-based and endowed scholarships he received. Mr. Cramer, who grew up in Philadelphia, is an only child and a first-generation American. He has also been able to study abroad in Paris, intern on Capitol Hill, and go on a service-learning trip to Costa Rica during his time at GW.

"GW's commitment to me was more than temporary, but rather lifelong," said Mr. Cramer. "GW is more than an institution. It's a community that truly cares about its young scholars."

Women Global Leaders

Students attend conference in Abu Dhabi with help of Mount Vernon Legacy Fund.

Professor Michelle Allendoerfer (third from right) and GW's delegation of Women's Leadership Program students and graduate teaching assistants at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (From left) Shaeera Tariq, Samantha James, Anna Loup, Amanda Dudley, Michelle Allendoerfer, Michelle Jurkovich, Deise Galan.

When a group of undergraduates headed to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in March, the official purpose was to make presentations at an international women's leadership conference focused on sustainability. But the journey offered many more experiences, including exposure to a different culture, networking opportunities with women from around the world, informal discussions about global development, and dinner in a palace.

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience," says Michelle Allendoerfer, an assistant professor of political science who accompanied the students to the three-day conference. "I think the students will really cherish the cross-cultural experiences they had. But even more, as they interacted with students their own age, I think they realized that young women all over the world have some of the same stresses."

Overseas conferences usually focus on the work of graduate students, but the Women as Global Leaders Conference, which takes place every two years, provides a rare opportunity for undergraduates to present before an international audience. Nine students involved in the Women's Leadership Program on the Mount Vernon Campus were selected by conference organizers to make presentations at the conference, hosted by Zayed University, United Arab Emirates.

Students paid their conference registration fee, but travel expenses were provided by the Mount Vernon Legacy Fund, a philanthropy initiative on the Mount Vernon Campus.

When it appeared that the registration fee was out of reach for one student this year, Rachelle S. Heller, associate provost for the Mount Vernon Campus, worked out an arrangement: The student and her family would provide half the fee, and the university would underwrite the rest.

A Mount Vernon Campus staff member mentioned the situation to an alumna, who then offered to pay the family's half. "It was a fabulous show of support from our alumnae," Dr. Heller says.

—Mary Dempsey

For more information on the Mount Vernon Legacy Fund, the Women's Leadership Program, or other Mount Vernon Campus initiatives, please contact Liz Raymond at or 202-242-6606.

New Gifts: Philanthropy Reaches Across GW

Several recent gifts are supporting a number of areas of the university. Among them:

Endowed Funds

• Lara Oboler, MD '95, and her husband, Louis Jaffe, made a $100,000 pledge to establish the H. George Mandel, PhD Endowed Memorial Scholarship at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences. The need-based scholarship will be awarded to a student in his or her final semester to be applied to student loan debt.

• The university has signed a memorandum of understanding with an anonymous donor for an estate gift representing a $3 million commitment to endow a faculty position at the School of Business.

• Joetta Miller, MA '71, recently made a commitment to establish The Joetta Miller Graduate Fellowship. The endowed fellowship will provide tuition support to outstanding female graduate students, with a preference for international candidates.

• John Madigan, BA '80, has recently made a planned giving commitment of $100,000 to establish the John Madigan Student Aid Endowment at the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. The endowment will support students who are majoring in political science and wish to pursue a career in public service.

• Avram S. Tucker, BBA '77, has made a major gift pledge to establish The Avram S. Tucker Endowed Chair in Strategy and Leadership at the School of Business. Mr. Tucker has served on the GWSB Board of Advisors since 1999.

• Chair of the East Asian Languages and Literatures Department at GW Young-Key Kim-Renaud recently made a contribution of $100,000 to establish the Young-Key Kim-Renaud Endowed Fund for Korean Language and Literature. The fund will support students, faculty, research funding, guest lecturers, and symposia on Korean language and literature. Total funds contributed of more than $2.5 million will go toward an endowed professorship in Korean language and literature.


• In March, a Columbian College of Arts and Sciences alumna volunteer leader challenged 3,600 CCAS alumni to give to GW by March 31. Thanks to the participation of more than 3,700 alumni, this alumna has pledged to give $100,000 to CCAS.

• James Quigley, BA '82, agreed to give $100,000 to the Elliott School of International Affairs Annual Fund if 900 ESIA alumni made gifts by the end of March. More than 1,000 alumni answered the challenge by March 31, 2012.

• Mary Miller, MBA '81, who has supported the Annual Fund for 33 years of consecutive giving, has agreed to make a commitment of $100,000 to the School of Business after more than 2,400 GWSB alumni met her Annual Fund Challenge of giving by March 31, 2012.

• Scott Amey, MS '75, and his wife, Deb, have committed $1 million to the Science and Engineering Hall in the form of a challenge match. The Ameys will match gifts to the SEH from graduates of the School of Engineering and Applied Science dollar for dollar up to $1 million in 2012 and 2013.

If you are interested in participating in the Amey Challenge or would like to learn more about ways you can support the SEH, please contact Jim Howard in the SEAS Office of Development and Alumni Relations at 202-994-4121 or by email at

Other Gifts and Pledges:

• The Autonomous Region of the Azores in Portugal, through the Regional Bureau of the Communities, recently provided $54,000 to promote and support the teaching and research of the Portuguese language and Lusophone cultures at the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

• A pledge of $800,000 has been made to the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences to help fund Associate Research Professor Sidney Fu's oncogenomics program, which seeks to identify molecular biomarkers for early breast cancer detection and treatment.

•  Sassan Kimiavi, BS '85, MS '87, DSc. '98, and his wife, Gazelle Hashemian, MS '97, new members of the School of Engineering and Applied Science National Advisory Council, pledged $100,000 to the Science and Engineering Hall.

• A $500,000 unrestricted gift was pledged to the Law School by an anonymous donor.

• Aran Hegarty, MS '97, a sponsor and judge for the Sixth Annual School of Engineering and Applied Science Student Research and Development Showcase and a new member of the SEAS National Advisory Council, pledged $50,000 to the Science and Engineering Hall.

• A $1 million gift was made to the Law School by James Humphreys, JD '79, a member of the GW Board of Trustees. Mr. Humphreys, who joined the board in 2006, has asked that his donation be put toward providing scholarship money for law students.

• The Carnegie Corporation of New York has made a grant of $2 million to the Elliott School of International Affairs. This grant funds the following three projects:

  • PONARS (Program on New Approaches to Research and Security) Eurasia, a global network of social scientists promoting scholarly work and policy engagement topics within the Eurasian space.
  • The Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS), a collaborative network designed to enhance the Middle East's political science field and its engagement.
  • The Rising Powers Initiative Aspiring Powers Project, a research program hosted by the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, which focuses on tracking the internal foreign policy debates in China, Japan, India, Russia, Iran, and South Korea.