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Department of Political Science Distinguished Alumni Award

The Department of Political Science has many distinguished alumni, both among its undergraduate majors and its graduate students. In 2000, the Department decided to honor one of them each year by asking them to return to campus to speak to top students at our annual student recognition reception and by bestowing upon them the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Michael R. Nelson, Distinguished Alumnus 2024

Michael R. Nelson

Michael R. Nelson received a BA in Political Science from The Ohio State University, a JD from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, and an LLM in Tax from the University of Florida Graduate Tax Program.

Michael serves as Vice Chair of The Ohio State Political Science Advisory Board and is a fervent supporter of the Department and the University.  He and his wife, Laura, established the Laura L. and Michael R. Nelson Scholarship Fund in the Arts & Sciences to support deserving Political Science undergraduates.

Michael is Senior Director, Global Tax Audits & Controversies at Pfizer Inc. He has law firm, Big Four, and industry experience spanning 35 years in tax. Michael has held roles as regional tax counsel, global tax counsel, and as vice president of tax with Fortune 500 companies in the telecommunications and healthcare industries. Michael has advised on diverse tax matters, including cross-border transactions, mergers & acquisitions, supply chain planning, transfer pricing, audit defense and tax controversy.

Residents of Dublin, Ohio, Michael and Laura have three children and three granddaughters.

Dr. Reginald (Reggie) Wilkinson, Distinguished Alumnus 2023

Dr. Reginald Wilkinson

Dr. Reginald (Reggie) Wilkinson graduated with his Bachelor of Arts degree from OSU’s Department of Political Science in 1973. He came to the university as a first- generation college student, after growing up in Detroit and Cleveland. Dr. Wilkinson first arrived at Ohio State as a participant in the Higher Education Opportunity Program, a college-access program designed to expose graduates of Ohio’s inner-city high schools to the university.

After completing his undergraduate degree, Dr. Wilkinson earned a master’s in higher education administration from Ohio State and a doctorate in education from the University of Cincinnati. Although his original hope was to become a university president, his career took him in a very different direction when he started working for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. After rising through the ranks at that agency, he was named the director of ODRC by then-Gov. Voinovich in 1991 — a position he would hold for the next 15 years. When he retired in 2006, he was the longest-serving prison director in the country. During his time in office, Dr. Wilkinson oversaw dramatic reforms in the Ohio prison system, including bringing greater focus on mental health services and prioritizing career programming to prepare incarcerated citizens for success after release. After his retirement, Dr. Wilkinson came out as a vocal critic of the death penalty and advocated for reform.

Since his retirement, Dr. Wilkinson has been a tireless public servant, serving on numerous public and private boards and commissions. This included work on the Ohio Peace Officers Training Commission, the Governor’s Council on Juvenile Justice, the Columbus Community Safety Advisory Commission, and Ohio’s State Board of Education. After the tragic murder of Ohio State University student Regan Tokes in 2017, Gov. DeWine also appointed Dr. Wilkinson as co-chair of a new working group to conduct an in-depth examination of post-release supervision in the state.

Although he never did become a university president, Dr. Wilkinson has served in various capacities in the higher education field. In 2012, he joined the Tiffin University Board of Trustees, and in 2020, Gov. DeWine appointed him to the Ohio State Board of Trustees, on which he currently serves. In addition, he is a member of the board committee that is currently overseeing the search for the next OSU president.

Troy Judy, Distinguished Alumnus 2022

Troy Judy is a co-founder of The Batchelder Company, a Columbus-based lobbying, government affairs, and political consulting firm. Troy served as the Senior Political Advisor to Speaker William G. Batchelder and the Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee (OHROC) where he helped win a record 65-34 seat majority. He also held senior leadership positions in the 2010, 2012 and 2014 campaign cycles, taking the caucus from a 46-member minority to 65-member majority. Prior to his most recent role at OHROC, Troy served as Chief of Staff of the Ohio House of Representatives from 2009-2014. On behalf of Speaker Batchelder, he was responsible for overseeing all departments and operations of the House which employs over 230 employees and maintains a $20 million annual budget. Troy holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from The Ohio State University after graduating in 2005.

Matthew Kaido, Distinguished Alumnus 2020

Matt Kaido

Matthew Kaido is from Zanesville, Ohio and is a 2014 graduate of The Ohio State University with a B.A. in Political Science. He has worked as a Staff Assistant to former Congressman Pat Tiberi, a Policy Analyst for the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee and as a Legislative Liaison for Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. Matt is currently the Director for Strategic Initiatives at the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, a community foundation serving Ohio's 32 Appalachian counties and serves on the Ohio State Department of Political Science Advisory Board.

Matthew J. Borges, Distinguished Alumnus 2019

Matthew Borges

Matthew J. Borges serves as Director of Roetzel Consulting Solutions, bringing 25 years of state and national political experience to RCS, to shape strategies and tactics that help clients achieve their goals. As a veteran political participant and advisor for many successful political campaigns at the local, state, federal, and national levels, he has built a strong political network throughout Ohio and the United States. In 2013, Mr. Borges was elected Chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, having previously served as its Executive Director. He served as Chairman from 2013 to 2017. Mr. Borges' previous experience includes serving as Executive Director for the Kasich-Taylor New Day Inaugural Committee and managing Dave Yost’s successful campaign for Ohio Auditor of State. Previously, he served as Chief of Staff and Campaign Manager for Treasurer of State Joseph Deters. He was also a lead representative for Senator John McCain and Sarah Palin’s Presidential bid in 2008, and worked with the Office of the Vice President, Dick Cheney, where he acted as Lead Advance Representative from 2001 to 2007. Additionally, he ran the successful 2010 primary bid for Bob Gibbs for Congress and consulted for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) in 1992, 2000, and 2010. Matthew Borges graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.A. in Political Science in 1994.

J. Michael Cavanaugh, Distinguished Alumnus 2018 

J. Michael Cavanaugh

J. Michael Cavanaugh is a partner at the Washington, D.C. office of Holland & Knight LLP, law and lobbying firm with 1,250 professionals in 27 offices worldwide. After joining Holland & Knight in 1997, Mike has served as co-chair of the firm’s Energy Practice, on the firm’s Directors Committee and the board of the Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation. He has managed client projects covering all 50 US states and over 60 foreign countries. Mike also teaches international law as an Adjunct Professor at the American University Washington College of Law. Mike graduated from The Ohio State University in 1971 with a B.Sc. (cum laude) in Political Science. He was active in Ohio Staters, Bucket & Dipper and Sphinx. He received his Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School in 1974, with an internship with the Center for Law and Social Policy in Washington DC, serving on the Center’s Board of Trustees (1973-4). From 1974-77, Mike served as attorney at the US Maritime Administration, advising on nuclear shipping and environmental issues, and as counsel for the US Merchant Marine Academy. From 1977-97, Mike was an attorney and managing partner of Graham & James, an international law firm based in San Francisco, specializing in antitrust litigation and international law. Mike is currently developing a solar power start-up in Rwanda. He serves on the board of Akilah Institute, a women’s college in Rwanda, and various academic boards including the OSU Political Science Department Advisory Board. Mike and his wife Susan, married 40 years, have four sons and three grandchildren. They reside in Arlington, Virginia.

Julie Bell Lindsay, Distinguished Alumna 2017 

Julie Bell Lindsay

Julie Bell Lindsay currently serves as a Managing Director and the Deputy Head of Global Regulatory Affairs at Citigroup Inc., a position she has held since February 2017. In this role, Julie plays a key role in formulating and coordinating Citi's regulatory advocacy priorities across the numerous regulatory agencies with oversight over Citi, including the Federal Reserve Bank, OCC, SEC and CFTC. Julie joined Citigroup in February 2009 as General Counsel, Capital Markets and Corporate Reporting. As the General, Julie led Citigroup's internal legal team responsible for Citigroup's public disclosures and global capital markets activities. During this time, her significant leadership accomplishments included managing Citigroup's $20 billion TARP repayment in December 2010, which involved the largest-to-date public equity offering in U.S. capital markets history, as well as leading the legal teams responsible for Citigroup's $58 billion exchange offers designed to boost Citigroup's capital levels during the financial crisis. Prior to joining Citigroup, Julie served as Counsel to Commissioner Cynthia Glassman at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission where she counseled the Commissioner on all issues and matters relating to public company disclosure obligations, corporate governance standards, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and Financial Accounting Standards Board, enforcement matters and issues affecting registered foreign companies. Julie also has securities and public company reporting and governance experience as Counsel and Associate at law firms in Washington DC and Palo Alto, CA, respectively. Julie graduated from The Ohio State University in June 1993 with a B.A. in Political Science and received her J.D. from Vanderbilt School of Law in May 1996. Julie serves on the Board of Directors of the Association of Securities and Exchange Commission Alumni, Inc. and as a Member of the Advisory Board of the Department of Political Science at The Ohio State University.

Christopher Brown, Distinguished Alumnus 2016

Judge Chris Brown is a lifelong resident of Central Ohio. He graduated from Columbus South High School in 1998, before attending the Ohio State University. Chris graduated from OSU in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. He received his juris doctor from Capital University Law School in 2005. In 2005, Chris was hired by the Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. He spent four years in the Special Victims Unit, prosecuting sexual and physical abuse crimes. In 2012, Chris joined J. Scott Weisman Law Offices, practicing criminal defense. In his time as both a prosecutor and defense attorney, Chris handled over 30 jury trials. In 2014, Chris was elected to serve as judge in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, General Division, making him one of the youngest judges in Franklin County. Judge Brown hears cases involving felony criminal offenses and civil matters in excess of $15,000. Judge Brown is licensed to practice law in the State of Ohio, as well as the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, and the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. He and his wife Jennifer have one daughter, with one on the way in October.

Brian Perera, Distinguished Alumnus 2015

Brian Perera, a 1992 graduate of the Department of Political Science, currently serves as the Assistant Vice-President for State Relations in the Office of Government Affairs at The Ohio State University. Prior to taking on this role in 2014, Brian had a distinguished 20-year career in the Ohio Senate, where he served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Budget & Finance, earning a reputation as a leading expert on state budgeting. He is a former member of the National Association of Legislative Fiscal Offices (NALFO) within the National Conference of State Legislatures and has served as the staff vice-chair of the Budgets & Revenue Committee since 2011. Brian also serves as a board member and trustee for multiple organizations in Central Ohio, including the Columbus Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Steering Committee and the Upper Arlington Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee. Following appointment by the Ohio Adjutant General and the White House, Brian is a local draft board member for the Selective Service System. 

Gregory Schultz, Distinguished Alumnus 2014 

Gregory Schultz has served as Senior Advisor to the Vice President and Special Assistant to the President of the United States during the Obama Administration. Prior to this, he served as the Executive Director of Business Forward, working to facilitate opportunities for American business leaders to discuss job creation and the country's economic recovery with the administration. Greg also served as the State Director of Ohio for President Obama's 2012 reelection campaign, the Ohio Deputy Political Director for the Obama campaign in 2008 and the Political Director for Hillary Clinton's primary campaign in Ohio. Prior to joining the Obama campaign, he was the legislative liaison in the Department of Administrative Services for Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. Additionally he served as Executive Assistant to the Governor, responsible for the Bureau of Workers Compensation, Rehabilitation and Corrections, Youth Services, and Veterans Affairs. He has held various campaign management positions in local and statewide campaigns across Ohio. Greg is a graduate of The Ohio State University, where he received a Bachelor's in History and Political Science (2003) and a Masters in Education (2004). 

Alison Storsve, Distinguished Alumna 2013

Alison Storsve is a State Department Foreign Service Officer serving as a course coordinator and teacher of political-economic tradecraft and negotiations courses at the Foreign Service Institute, School of Professional and Area Studies. Alison was a senior watch officer from 2011-2012 in the Operations Center, a 24-hour crisis, briefing and alerting center that directly supports the Secretary of State and other State Department executives. She served on the interagency Afghanistan team at the U.S. Mission to NATO (2008-2011) where she negotiated with 47 allied and partner nations on the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and on NATO's fledgling partnership with Iraq. She was the State Department's representative to the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kunar, Afghanistan (2007-2008), a political-consular officer at the Peshawar Consulate in Pakistan (2006-2007), and a general services officer at the embassy in Maseru, Lesotho (2004-2006). Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Alison taught history, geography and political science at Columbus School for Girls and lived in Turkmenistan as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Alison graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in Political Science from The Ohio State University in 2000 and speaks Pashto and French. 

Richard Terapak, Distinguished Alumnus 2012

Richard Terapak has chaired the PorterWright's Health Care Practice Group since 1997. Mr. Terapak possesses an in-depth knowledge of commercial transactions gained while Senior Counsel with Bank One, and state and federal compliance issues through his directorship of the Ohio Ethics Commission. Today, however, he is focusing on the health care industry. He works with several local hospitals ambulatory surgery centers and physician organizations in a variety of legal matters that monitor federal and state enforcement efforts as they impact the health care industry. Mr. Terapak is also the Partner-in-Charge of Community Relations at PorterWright. He obtained his B.A. from The Ohio State University in 1968 and then in 1971 he received his J.D. from the Moritz College of Law. He has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America book in the area of Corporate Law.

Carter G. Phillips, Distinguished Alumnus 2011

Carter G. Phillips (B.A. 1973) is the Managing Partner of the Washington DC law office of Sidley Austin LLP. In June 2011, The Ohio State University awarded Mr. Phillips the Honorary Degree, Doctor of Public Service. Mr. Phillips served as a law clerk to both Judge Robert Sprecher on the U.S. Court of Appeals and Chief Justice Warren E. Burger on the U.S. Supreme Court and as Assistant Solicitor General before joining Sidley Austin, where he has maintained an active appellate practice. A prominent member of the Supreme Court Bar, he has been named by The National Law Journal as one of America's 100 Most Influential Lawyers. His 71 arguments before the Supreme Court are the most of any lawyer currently in private practice. The Ohio State Alumni Association presented him its Professional Achievement Award in 2007 in recognition of his distinguished career in and outstanding contributions to the legal profession. He and his wife Sue Henry have endowed a professorship in the Department of Political Science.

Richard Medley, Distinguished Alumnus 2010

Richard Medley is a 1975 B.A. from the Department. He went on from OSU to Yale University, where he received a PhD degree in 1979. Dr. Medley has served as the chief economist for the U.S. House of Representatives Banking Committee. He was a partner, Managing Director, and Chief Political Advisor at Soros Fund Management. In 1997, he founded Medley Global Advisors, which became the leading policy intelligence advisor to the world’s largest investment banks and asset manager. After selling MGA to private equity investors in 2005, he became Chairman of Medley Capital, which has a growing family of separately managed funds.

Michael Watson, Distinguished Alumnus 2009

Michael Watson is a federal judge in the Southern District of Ohio. After serving in the Air Force from 1975 to 1978, he enrolled at Ohio State, and he received his BA in Political Science in 1983. He obtained his law degree from Capital University Law School in 1987. He served as Chief Counsel to Governor George Voinovich, a judge to the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, and a judge to the Tenth District Ohio Court of Appeal before being appointed to the federal bench in 2004.

Rob Edmund, Distinguished Alumnus 2008

Rob Edmund is a 1995 B.A. from the Department. He went on from OSU to Harvard Law School and subsequently returned to Columbus, where he became a partner at the law firm of Porter Wright specializing in labor and employment law. In January 2008, he moved on to become director of Policy and External Relations for the Ohio Business Roundtable, a non-partisan organization of 80 chief executive officers of Ohio's largest business enterprises. He works with them to advance the Roundtable's public policy agenda in such areas as education and healthcare. He also teaches as an adjunct professor of employment law at Capital University Law School. He is also very active in the community, serving on the Board for United Way of Central Ohio, a former president of Columbus Early Learning Centers and past chair of the Columbus Bar Association's Labor and Employment Committee. He was the founding president of the OSU College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Alumni Society. Among several other honors, he has received the William Oxley Thompson Award for early career distinction from the Ohio State University Alumni Association.

Stephanie Powers, Distinguished Alumna 2007

Stephanie Powers is a 1986 graduate from Ohio State. After being president of the senior class council at OSU and receiving the Black Student Leadership Award here, she went on to receive her law degree from Georgetown University. She supervised the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's responsibility under the Voting Rights Act and she was a minority counsel for the House Judiciary Committee at the time of the impeachment hearings of President Bill Clinton. She is now a counsel in the law office of Patton Boggs in Washington, D.C where she provides legal advice and legislative counsel on international trade, intellectual property, and immigration issues. She also devotes significant time to pro bono efforts related to refugees, human rights, and global development.

Michael Lanese, Distinguished Alumnus 2006

Michael Lanese graduated from Ohio State in 1986 with his BA in Political Science and English. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a captain of the football team. Mike was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where he received a BA in 1988 in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. He served as a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy. He is the Chief Executive Officer and a co-founder of Clear Saleing, an innovative company that helps online advertisers optimize, based on profitability, their ad-spend allocation among search engines and other advertising options. As CEO, Mike is responsible for building the company’s strategic vision, designing and launching the online service, creating the sales and marketing plan and raising investment funds. Prior to Clear Saleing, he served in several management roles covering technology and finance at Linmar Systems, National City Bank and Nomura Securities International.

Jan Allen, Distinguished Alumna 2005

Jan Allen holds a bachelor's degree in political science, a master's degree in social work, and a juris doctor from the College of Law, all from The Ohio State University. She has had careers as a lawyer, social worker, and public relations professional. She is a veteran of government and politics, having served as a top aide to former Gov. Richard Celeste and having been an informal adviser on numerous political campaigns. She has been very active at The Ohio State University, working with several campus organizations. She currently coaches leaders and emerging leaders as Director of the Field Center and as a Professional Certified Coach.

Colleen McMahon, Distinguished Alumna 2004

Colleen McMahon is a federal district court judge in New York. She graduated from Ohio State in 1973 with her BA in Political Science. She went on to Harvard Law School and then, degree in hand, off to private practice in New York City until 1995. She then served as Acting Justice of the New York County Supreme Court (Criminal Term). She was chair of The Jury Project, a task force that issued a much praised report on comprehensive jury reform in New York State, as well as chair of the Committee on Women in the Profession and the Committee on State Courts of Superior Jurisdiction of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. She was Director of the Committee for Modern Courts and remains active in the jury reform movement. In 1979-80 she served as special assistant to Donald McHenry with the U.S. Mission to the U.N. She was appointed to the federal bench in 1998.

John Kasich, Distinguished Alumnus 2003

John Kasich graduated from Ohio State in 1974 with his BA in Political Science. Four years later, at age 26, he was elected to the Ohio Senate, and four years later in 1982, at the age of 30, he won election to the United States House of Representatives. He spent 18 years in the House of Representatives in Washington. As Chair of the powerful House Budget Committee, he was a prime architect of the budget agreement that turned almost 15 year's worth of federal budget deficits into the budget surplus that we inherited at the beginning of the 21st century. Since leaving the Congress in 2000, Representative Kasich simultaneously has pursued multiple careers. He is a Managing Director at Lehman Brothers, with his investment banking responsibilities for health care, power and utilities, technology, and financial institutions. As a television host and contributor for Fox News, he can be seen on his Saturday show "From the Heartland" and as a substitute host on "The O'Reilly Factor." As Chairman of the New Century Project, he is leading a national grassroots effort dedicated to electing leaders who believe in the power of the individual.

Professor Richard Sisson, Distinguished Alumnus 2002

Richard Sisson served as Board of Trustees Chair in Comparative Politics from September 1998 until his retirement this year. He graduated in 1958 with a B.A. in International Studies, and in 1960 with an M.A. in Political Science from Ohio State. He then earned his Ph.D. in 1967 from the University of California at Berkeley, after which he held a variety of academic and administrative positions at the United States Military Academy, the University of California at Los Angeles, and Ohio State. He was OSU's Provost from 1993 until 1998 and Interim President from 1997 through 1998.

James C. Cotting, Distinguished Alumnus 2001

James Cotting graduated with honors from OSU in 1955, with a major in Political Science and a commission in the U.S. Navy. His focus as an undergraduate student was on international relations and foreign trade, which he almost immediately put into practice on active duty in the Navy. After completing his Navy active duty tours, Cotting started a business career that included positions with U.S. Steel, Ford, General Foods, and International Paper. He joined International Harvester in 1979 as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, becoming Executive Vice President and Vice Chairman and then Chairman and CEO in 1987 - by which time the company had been renamed Navistar to symbolize its move out of agricultural equipment. Under his leadership, Navistar flourished for the next eight years. He is currently a Director of USG Corporation, a Governor of the Chicago Stock Exchange, and a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago. He also has advised a number of U.S. Presidents over the years.

Carter G. Phillips, Distinguished Alumnus 2000 

Carter G Phillips

Carter G. Phillips graduated summa cum laude from Ohio State in 1973 with his BA in Political Science, then went on to earn his JD (magna cum laude) from Northwestern University in 1977. Currently he is the Managing Partner of the Washington DC office of Sidley Austin Brown and Wood. Mr. Phillips served as a law clerk to both Judge Robert Sprecher on the U.S. Court of Appeals and Chief Justice Warren E. Burger on the U.S. Supreme Court and as Assistant Solicitor General before joining Sidley and Austin, where he has maintained an active appellate practice. A prominent member of the Supreme Court Bar, he has been named by The National Law Journal as one of America's 100 Most Influential Lawyers. Mr. Phillips has argued 37 cases before the Supreme Court, 30 after leaving the Solicitor General's office. Among the recent cases he has argued before the Supreme Court are ones involving the constitutionality of Maine's prescription drug program and the legality of incentive payments to physicians in managed care organizations. He also authored the influential amicus brief for the United States Military in the University of Michigan affirmative action case. Mr. Phillips is a member of the American Law Institute, the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, and he is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and Chairman of the Federal Circuit Advisory Committee.