Alumni Hero


Our more than 4,500 alumni are leaders in politics, communications, and advocacy. Every year the Graduate School of Political Management celebrates the success of our alumni. We honor those who exemplify GSPM’s values through their career accomplishments and contributions to their communities, GSPM, or the George Washington University.

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GSPM Trailblazer Award Winners

The Graduate School of Political Management and Vote Lead Impact recognized the successes of four GSPM graduates who were honored as Trailblazers of the year, celebrating their efforts to inspire and motivate the next generation of political leaders and GSPM students.

See our Trailblazer Award Winners

Featured GSPM Alumni: Guardians of Democracy 2021

Diego Area

Diego Area


Diego Area is Associate Director at the Adrienne Arsht Latin American Center of the Atlantic Council. During his time there, Diego has spearheaded the creation of a multi-pronged, solutions-driven portfolio focused on promoting a stable and peaceful transition to democracy in Venezuela. Under his leadership, the Venezuela portfolio has sought to mobilize bipartisan US and international support for an end to the humanitarian, political and economic crisis.

Since 2018, Diego has overseen the creation of the Venezuela Congressional Fellowship, the launch of the Center’s network of Venezuelan women leaders, and the formation of the Venezuela Working Group, a global network of international policy leaders. Diego has also contributed to exposing disinformation in and around Venezuela and providing analysis on the information environment across Latin America. In 2020, he was selected to participate in the National Endowment for Democracy’s Penn Kemble Forum on Democracy fellowship. Prior to joining the Atlantic Council, Diego worked as a research assistant for GSPM.

Before being forced to flee Venezuela due to political persecution, Diego served as director of social development in the municipality of Sucre. He also supported a vast network of NGOs to create community-managed daily care homes for over 2,500 children. He also previously served as campaign manager in the 2015 parliamentary elections in the State of Miranda in Venezuela, the resulting victory consolidated the opposition control over the National Assembly. Diego has a master’s degree in Political Management from the George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the Universidad Central de Venezuela.


Andriy Baziv

Diego Area


Andriy Baziv is a diplomat currently representing his native country of Ukraine as part of its Permanent Mission to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland. As a member of Ukraine’s delegations to the UN Human Rights Council, Andriy works together with diplomats from different states and other relevant stakeholders on ensuring respect for fundamental freedoms throughout the world and elaboration of norms and standards of addressing global challenges to human rights. Among his latest achievements is the facilitation of the Joint Statement on the negative impact of disinformation on human rights, which has been presented by Ukraine on behalf of 56 democratic states at the most recent 47th session of the Human Rights Council last July.

Having previously served in Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry and its Embassy in the US, Andriy takes pride in contributing to promotion of international cooperation based on unwavering commitment to universal values of human rights, democracy and rule of law. Andriy holds a MPS in Political Management from George Washington University as well as Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in International Relations from Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, Ukraine.



Samantha Brown

Samantha Brown


Samantha Brown is the new Director of Communications for the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association. She came to the NRCLA from Capitol Hill, where she was Communications Director for Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08), the Lead Impeachment Manager in the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

Samantha previously served as Raskin's Deputy Communications Director and Digital Director/Press Assistant. Prior to this, Samantha was Social Media Coordinator on Raskin's successful 2016 congressional campaign. While working on the campaign, she also completed a one-year communications fellowship with the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO. A native South Carolinian, she relocated to the DMV area in 2014 to became the Staff Assistant for the Program of Law and Government at American University Washington College of Law, where Rep. Raskin taught constitutional law for a quarter-century. As a working professional, Samantha earned her MA in Legislative Affairs from GSPM in 2018. 



Lt. Col. Steven Coffee



Lt. Col. Steven L. Coffee is the Chief of the Joint Military Personnel and Senior Leader Management Division at Headquarters U.S. Cyber Command. In this role he oversees HR operations for a 1,500+ member joint military and civilian defense cyber organization.

Colonel Coffee has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, a Masters in Legislative Affairs from George Washington University, and a Masters in Clinical, Quality, Safety, and Leadership from Georgetown University. He has completed Joint and Combined Warfighting School through the National Defense University, Air Command and Staff College, and Air War College through the Air Force, Air University.

He entered the Air Force in 2001 through the Tennessee State University Reserve Officer Training Corps. Colonel Coffee also served as a military aide to President George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama on the social staff. As a White House Military Social Aide, Colonel Coffee facilitated the planning and execution of all social events and official functions on behalf of the President and First Lady.  

Colonel Coffee is a charter member and first community Chair of the MedStar Georgetown Patient and Family Advisory Council for Quality and Safety and currently assists in patient advocacy for the MedStar Health System as well as the Partnership for Patients.  He was a featured panelist during a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Person and Family Engagement Affinity Group Pacing Event discussing Organ Donation and Transplants: Lessons Learned on How to Meaningfully Engage Patients and Families to Improve Patient Safety.  Colonel Coffee developed sepsis awareness campaign material for MedStar Health and MedStar Georgetown highlighting the importance of early detection and treatment.  Most recently, Colonel Coffee was named to the Patient Advisory Councils for the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine.


Krysta Jones

Krysta Jones


Krysta Jones has committed her life to public service and developing leaders and is passionate about the power of politics to change lives. Krysta serves as the inaugural director of the Virginia Promise Partnership which aims to achieve access to affordable, quality childcare for all Virginia families by 2030. She is the voice of the Coalition before policymakers and the media and oversees the Virginia Promise Advocate community.

In 2006, Krysta founded Vote Lead Impact to educate Black leaders about the political process, and has served as Director of Outreach for two Members of Congress. She has held leadership roles for several local, state and national organizations and is currently the president of the National Women’s Political Caucus – Virginia, and the national co-chair for the Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative. Krysta is a graduate of the University of Florida, The Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University, The Women's Campaign School at Yale, and the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership.



Paulina Montañez-Montes

Paulina Montañez-Montes


Paulina Montañez-Montes plans and executes communications strategies to maximize impact across all of Protect Democracy’s projects dedicated to preventing American democracy from declining into a more authoritarian form of government. She is primarily focused on leading the organization’s digital presence. Prior to joining the organization, she was a Senior Digital Strategist at a boutique digital firm where she led email programs which raised over $2.2 million during the 2018 election cycle for a number of Congressional races, all of which were successful. She also served in the Obama administration at the Department of Commerce in the office of Secretary Penny Pritzker, where she managed a cross-sectional briefing operation across the agency’s 12 bureaus.

Paulina is a 2018 Pollie Award recipient from the American Association of Political Consultants for her digital work. Paulina earned her master’s degree from the George Washington University.


Austin Weatherford

Austin Weatherford


Austin Weatherford has more than 16 years of policy, legislative, and political experience on Capitol Hill.
He currently serves as Chief of Staff to Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.  

Following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Weatherford became the architect of the Country First Movement, founded by Rep. Kinzinger. In two months, the Country First movement raised more than $1.1 million from more than 10,000 engaged individuals with the mission to encourage a better political dialogue and support candidates who speak the truth. The movement has grown to be a force for change in the current political dialogue. Country First asks Americans to put country over party, remembering the core values that make us Americans, and end the tribalism that has poisoned our nation’s politics by modeling better online dialogue and supporting leaders committed to civility and truth in politics. 

Weatherford holds a Masters in Political Management  and earned his undergraduate degree from Furman University in South Carolina, where he was State Chairman of the College Republicans. 

GSPM Alumni Achievement Award Winners

Every year the Graduate School of Political Management gathers to celebrate the success of our alumni.  We honor those who exemplify GSPM’s values through their career accomplishments, contributions back to their communities, GSPM, or GW.

See our Alumni Achievement Award Winners


In addition to our Alumni Achievement Award Winners, we are proud to highlight the accomplishments of our other graduates. To share your story, visit our Share Your Alumni Story page.

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