CAS Advisory Board
CAS Advisory Board chair
Jackie Cirillo-Meisenberg serves as Chair of the College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board. She received her BA from the School of Communications at American University and is the parent of a 2015 alumna from the College of Arts and Sciences.
Jackie became involved in philanthropy while raising a child with dyslexia, which led to her current position with Big Brothers Big Sisters Family Services of Westchester, where she is involved in development, mentorship, and community programs for at-risk youth.
Previously Jackie worked at Young & Rubicam in advertising and left to become a freelance associate producer. More recently Jackie has dedicated her time to youth mentorship and believes a good education and positive mentorship is what all youth deserve. She is very proud of one young adult who is enrolled at SUNY Binghamton, and another who is the first in her family to not only graduate high school, but a four-year college with a degree in accounting, and is currently working in an accounting firm in Long Island and studying for her CPA exam.
James Cassel is the Chairman and Founder of Cassel Salpeter & Co. He earned his BS from the College of Arts and Sciences in Political Science and Government and Economics. James went on to earn his JD from the University of Miami School of Law.
James is an investment banker who uses his unique experience as a dealmaker and attorney to guide clients and help them achieve their goals. Nationally recognized for his investment banking expertise, Jim frequently lectures on timely issues related to middle-market investment banking.
Before founding Cassel Salpeter & Co., James was Co-Founder and Chairman of Capitalink, an investment banking firm that was acquired by Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. He was also a former board member and president of the South Florida Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth, and a former advisory board member of the University of Miami’s “The Launch Pad” business incubator program for entrepreneurs.
Matt Cheney is the Founding Managing Partner of CleanPath Emerging Markets, LLC, a global initiative to create jobs and local clean energy economies in emerging markets, with the primary focus on resident stakeholders without access to electricity. Matt is also a Managing Partner for Conveyance Capital Partners, a utility scale clean power play in the US, and the Managing Director of CleanPath Ventures LLC, a global clean power finance platform.
Matt is developing software as a service in the clean energy industry (Enact Systems, Inc.), providing rural electrification solutions (Black Rock Laboratories), developing the national arena for community solar (Shared Solar LLC), and with Catalyze LLC, a soft cost reducing software initiative. Matt was also the CEO of Fotowatio Renewable Ventures LLC and founded and served as CEO of MMA Renewable Ventures. He was the CEO of NUON USA, leading NUON’s renewable energy investment strategy while managing its US mergers and acquisition effort. He took NUON USA private in 2004.
Matt has more than 30 years in the fields of civil engineering, energy, and environment, including experience with USAID, the National Rural Electric Co-op Association, the US DOE, and on the boards of the Solar Electric Power Association, the American Council for Renewable Energy, and Black Rock Solar. He holds a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies and a BS Degree from American University. He is active in clean tech industry entrepreneurship, participating as an investor, advisor, and board member of clean technology start-ups. His vices include textiles, tennis and the appreciation of things fermented (wine!). He has actively supported clean energy associations.
Scott Dodson is the Executive Director of the Library of Virginia Foundation where he oversees fundraising efforts, events, and literary programming in support of the Library of Virginia, the 200-year-old official Library and Archives of the Commonwealth.
Scott has more than 20 years of experience in cultural and performing arts management, specifically in the areas of fundraising, marketing, communications, and strategic planning. He has also held leadership positions with the Richmond Symphony in Richmond, VA; West Virginia Symphony Orchestra in Charleston, WV; Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras in Chicago, IL; and The Wilma Theater in Philadelphia, PA. He is a past President and current Board Member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Central Virginia, a board member of the Robinson Theater Community Arts Center, a current participant in Lead Virginia, and member of Leadership Metro Richmond class of 2022.
Scott is a Certified Fundraising Executive, who holds a Master of Arts in Arts Administration from American University and a Bachelor of Music in Music Industry from James Madison University. He lives in Richmond, VA, with his wife, daughter, and Snickers the rabbit.
Mike Engler is an accomplished senior executive with more than 30 years of experience in international and domestic business. He currently advises organization leadership and consulting firm leaders on creating sustainable transformation and improved performance. Previously, Mike led PepsiCo Worldwide Flavours, an independent global organization within PepsiCo. All central functions and field operations reported directly to Mike. This included Global Insights, Strategy, Finance, Business Information Services, Tax, HR, R&D, Flavour and Beverage Quality, Supply Chain, and Procurement.
While leading transformation in PepsiCo Worldwide Flavors, Mike aligned PepsiCo executive officers, and forged relationships with foreign government ministers, economic development boards, and the broad employee base. He also created clear, enterprise-wide direction and ownership from the senior team to the front line.
Prior to his work with PepsiCo Worldwide Flavours, Mike held positions with the Chrysler Corporation and Procter and Gamble. He has completed coursework with Georgetown University, received his BS in Chemistry from American University, and his MBA from the University of Detroit.
Dr. Irene Glowinski served as the Deputy Director of the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), NIH (National Institutes of Health, from 2007 until her retirement in March 2019. One of three extramural divisions at NIAID, DMID manages a complex national and international research program in infectious diseases by supporting basic, pre-clinical, and clinical investigations into the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of a broad range of pathogens including those related to biodefense, and emerging diseases such as pandemic influenza. The Division's annual research budget is approximately $1.7 billion, the research portfolio includes over 1,000 projects, and there are approximately 200 staff members.
Irene was responsible for strategic planning, managing, developing, and evaluating DMID's portfolio, and for the policy, legislative, and communications activities of the division. From 2000-2007, Irene served as Chief of the Office of Scientific Coordination and Program Operations at DMID. Previously, Irene served as Assistant Chief in the Office of Scientific Review at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH; as Deputy Director for the Risk Science Institute; and as a Congressional Science Fellow of the American Chemical Society where she served on the staff of the House Science and Technology Committee.
Irene received her PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Michigan. She did her postdoctoral training as a Pharmacology Research Associate Trainee in chemical carcinogenesis at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and continued at the NCI as a senior staff fellow in molecular oncology. Irene’s undergraduate degree is in chemistry from American University.
Charles Gurian is a 1972 American University graduate with a BA in Economics. He went on to receive a Master’s in City Planning from Harvard University and worked for several years as a city planner for New York City. Charles received an MBA in finance and accounting from the University of Chicago and spent the next ten years as a consultant working with governmental and healthcare organizations, eventually specializing in serving closely held businesses. He then shifted gears and spent the last 25 years of his working career as a senior administrator for law firms, serving in management roles in general administration and human resources.
During his working life, Charles devoted significant time to community service, including roles as the Founding President of the South Loop Neighbors Association in Chicago, a board member and Treasurer for Beth Emet synagogue in Evanston, IL, and a board member, Treasurer, and Board President for the Career Resource Center in Lake Forest, IL. In retirement, Charles continues his community service, serving as a docent with the Chicago Architecture Center and as an advisor with the Career Resource Center.
While at AU Charles played soccer as a first-year student. He also served as Chair and Secretary of the CAS Student Academic Council and as a student representative to the University Senate. Charles has been a happy supporter of AU since he graduated, maintaining the close connections he developed while on campus.
Current AU Parent
Hamoon Hedayat is an accomplished sales executive, leader, and trusted partner who has led large teams providing enterprise software solutions to the telecommunications, financial services, and healthcare industries.
Hamoon currently serves as a Director in the Google Cloud Platform team. Prior to Google, he served at Oracle as a Group VP in a variety of cloud, software, and consulting sales roles since 1997 where he generated several billion dollars in sales. Most recently, he led a large team of Oracle sales executives focused on Fortune 100 telecommunications accounts.
Before Oracle, Hamoon was a Manager at Price Waterhouse, where he had a key leadership role in the largest implementation of imaging systems in the world at Sallie Mae, and at General Electric, where he was an Edison Engineer developing software for the GE database engine.
Hamoon immigrated to the United States at the age of 16. He received his BS, Cum Laude, in Mathematics and Computer Science at St. Edwards University where, for his senior thesis, he wrote software to solve the Rubik’s Cube using the original Apple Macintosh 128K. He also pursued his MS in International Communications at American University. He is an avid soccer fan and enjoys traveling around the world. He and his wife Nancy have three daughters.
Dr. John I. Miller is a board-certified neurosurgeon practicing in Brooklyn, New York, who specializes in the triage and management of trauma affecting the brain and spine. He has additional specialty training in pediatric neurosurgery and many years of experience in the treatment of congenital malformations, brain tumors, aneurysms, acute strokes, subarachnoid hemorrhage, and hydrocephalus, as well as problems afflicting the spine. He practices at NYU Langone Hospital Brooklyn and is on staff at several prestigious Manhattan-based institutions.
John also currently serves as a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at NYU School of Medicine and is a Fellow with the American College of Surgeons, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. He previously served as President of the New York Society for Neurosurgery. He received his BS in Chemistry from American University and his MD from Georgetown University.
CAS/BS '75, CAS/MA '79, CAS/PhD '80
Dr. Sara Nieves-Grafals is a triple AU alumna who served as Vice President of the Alumni Board and is a member of the President's Council on Diversity and Inclusion, and the Latino Alumni Alliance Leadership Circle.
She is retired from a 32-year private practice in clinical psychology specializing in psychotherapy and psychodiagnostics evaluations. Sara published articles on the treatment and diagnosis of trauma. Additionally, she has publications on travel and cooking with her husband. A native Spanish-speaker, she speaks five languages and is currently studying art history through the Alumni Audit Program. She believes that learning is a life-long experience. Sara dances flamenco and is passionate about American University. She is an active member of the AU community.
As Executive Vice President of the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Foundation, Ms. Rabin plays a key role in defining organizational funding needs and shaping the philanthropic opportunities that invite donors to become involved through their gifts of time, talent, and treasure. She is responsible for all fundraising activities and personnel. Under her leadership, the foundation was able to raise a record-breaking $24 million in the fiscal year 2019.
Before joining the foundation, Jenine was Campaign Director for the Smithsonian Institution, leading the Smithsonian's first national, comprehensive campaign of $1.75 billion to benefit its 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park, and nine research facilities. Ms. Rabin’s 24-year career in fundraising also includes running programs at American University, Stetson University, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and Washington Very Special Arts.
Jenine earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at American University and an MBA at Stetson University. She is a member of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Association for Fundraising Professionals, and the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy. She serves on the Children’s Miracle Network CDO Advisory Board and actively speaks on fundraising topics at conferences. Jenine lives in Saint Petersburg with her husband Drew, and their daughters, Verity and Chance.
Robert Sheehan is the Associate Director of Regional Advancement at the University of Chicago. Originally from Germantown, TN, Robert received his BA from American University in 2014, studying Vocal Performance and Arts Administration. With a desire to make a larger impact in the world, Robert began his career in higher-education fundraising in 2014, starting on the ground floor.
While at the University of Chicago’s Law School, Robert helped navigate the office through a leadership transition and developed processes that ensured the school could stay on track to meet its ambitious campaign goal. In 2016 Robert joined the Regional Advancement team at the university and is responsible for major and principal gift fundraising on the Eastern Seaboard and in the Pacific Northwest. In this role, Robert has worked closely with academic leadership to expand the university’s footprint in his region, including working on gifts to the Institute for Molecular Engineering and other university priorities.
Robert lives in Chicago, and when he is not advancing the cause of the University of Chicago, he enjoys making ice cream in nontraditional flavors and volunteering for a college-access nonprofit.
Peggy Brooks Smith
Peggy Smith began her real estate career more than 50 years ago. She became the first woman to be hired by a commercial division of a large Washington, DC, regional real estate brokerage firm, Shannon & Luchs, where she was later named Vice President of Commercial Sales.
Peggy transacted commercial and investment property sales for her clients: multi-family, office, retail, shopping centers, and industrial properties, as well as land assemblages, equity joint ventures, and tax-deferred exchanges. Among Peggy’s numerous property closings were the initial land assemblage for 1200 K Street, NW, one of Washington's major office buildings. She was involved in an equity placement/joint venture of the 83,600 square foot medical building at 2141 K Street, and later assisted the same investors to purchase the former National Rifle Association headquarters at 1600 Rhode Island Avenue for rehabilitation and conversion to a Marriott Courtyard hotel. After joining Marcus & Millichap in 1997, Peggy’s sales transactions included numerous multi-family and retail properties in Washington, DC, and Montgomery County. In 1991, Peggy received a Certified Commercial Investment Member designation, a commercial real estate professional curriculum referred to as the "PhD" in commercial real estate.
In 1980 when there were few professional women in the various aspects of commercial real estate, Peggy became one of the founders of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW DC) and served as its President from 1983-1984. Peggy received her BA degree from American University. Having served as President of the Board of Governors of the Alumni Association, and a founder and President of the Real Estate Alumni Chapter, she was honored by AU with a prestigious Alumni Recognition Award for her success as a "commercial realtor, an innovative alumna, a founder of professional organizations, and an outstanding ground-breaker for the city.” She also served as the first Chair of the Real Estate Council of AU’s Kogod School of Business.
CAS/MS '93/PhD '95
Dr. James Talamonti is a Senior Physicist and Chief Engineer at Raytheon Corporation with more than 20 years of experience providing program management and technical expertise to various agencies within the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community including the Central Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and Office of Naval Research. He currently leads the next-generation laser communications business development initiatives for the Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services Division.
Dr. Talamonti has managed and grown multi-million dollar national and international programs to develop and implement new detection algorithms for intelligence applications. His experience in physical science and engineering includes AI/ML algorithm development, EO/IR system design, analysis, and exploitation to design and development of high-nergy lasers systems. Dr. Talamonti provides strategic direction of IRAD programs, recommending technological application to government programs to accomplish customer goals, as well as long-range company product line objectives. His current focus is on productizing a patented, high-speed laser communication system for use in satellite-to-satellite systems as well as commercial 5G networks. Additionally, he directs the growth of machine learning and 3D modeling algorithms and holds several active and pending patents in these technologies.
Dr. Talamonti holds a BS degree with a dual major in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Michigan. He earned both his master's and doctoral degrees in Physics from American University. Dr. Talamonti won a NASA Graduate Student Research Program Fellowship through the AU Physics Department, which funded his dissertation research on precision space-based laser metrology.
Chris is head of Americas Commodities Compliance at Goldman Sachs. He is a member of the Firmwide Physical Commodities Review Group. He joined the firm in 2018 as a Vice President.
Prior to joining Goldman Sachs, Chris worked in the Market Regulation Department at CME Group, responsible for the surveillance of US natural gas and electricity markets. Previously, he was an energy reporter at S&P Global Platts covering Dodd-Frank implementation at the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission in Washington, DC.
Chris is a member of the Futures Industry Association’s US Commodities Committee and contributes to the Climate Risk Working Group and CFTC Position Limits Working Group. He earned a BA in Economics from American University’s College of Arts and Sciences in 2009.