January Newsletter
01/10/2024, 09:00:01 AM

January Newsletter

 Leland Fellows bound for Capitol Hill offices

Meet the 2024 Leland Fellows who will live and work on Capitol Hill throughout the spring semester. A dozen University of Houston undergraduates and post-baccalaureates were selected for their academic achievements, dedication to civic engagement and commitment to public service. The Washington program was initiated by Congressman Mickey Leland, who represented the historic 18th Congressional District, including the University of Houston, until his death while on a mission to end hunger in Africa in 1988.


The latest cohort includes first-generation college students and graduates, former Hobby School interns with a variety of academic interests, including public policy, political science, economics, energy and sustainability, human development, laws, values and policy, marketing, national security, phronesis, public leadership, Spanish and sociology.


As full-time staff members in governmental offices, Leland Fellows research legislation, collaborate with other offices and interact with constituents. This year, they will experience government on Capitol Hill during the 2024 election season while building the valuable skills, knowledge and networks vital for emerging leaders seeking to make a difference through public service. Donations to the program allow students to enjoy paid housing and earn monthly stipends, affording the diverse UH student population a transformative opportunity.


The fellows include Cruz Almonaci Vargas, Edward Berning, Daniel Boyd, Camila Flores Reyes, Myriam Grajeda, Miguel Gutierrez, Gabriela Hamdieh, Marie McGrew, Winnie Phạm, Marissa Rendon Rebollar, Rohit Shajan and Dawn Treviño. Read more about the 2024 Leland Fellows.

Nominations open for Public Officials of the Year awards through Jan. 15

Help recognize exceptional Houston area public officials by nominating candidates who exemplify the highest standards in public service. The Master of Public Administration program at the Hobby School will recognize public service leaders serving their communities at the 13th Annual Public Officials of the Year luncheon in April. Strong candidates are problem solvers, innovators and ethical leaders who improve the lives of others and tackle complex challenges through collaboration. Nominations are accepted through Jan. 15 and reviewed by a selection committee led by the Hobby School Alumni Association.


The annual awards ceremony benefits the scholarship fund for graduate students in the Master of Public Administration program. For questions about the nomination process, please email Peter Koelling at pkoelling@uh.edu.



Hobby School’s Jessica Gottlieb featured in campus Scholars Walk

Hobby School faculty member Jessica Gottlieb is featured in the University of Houston Scholars Walk, a digital installation that spotlights scholars making a significant impact across academic disciplines and elevating the University's research profile. Notably, Gottlieb co-leads the multi-university Democratic Erosion Consortium, exploring the trend of "democratic erosion" at home and abroad. The initiative received a $1.7 million grant from the U.S. State Department. The Hobby School associate professor and a team from the Hobby School Center for Public Policy recently hosted an international conference featuring research on global topics examining government, urban networks, bureaucracy, polarization and state-supported rebellion. This spring, Gottlieb is scheduled to teach two policy research methods classes on statistics regression analysis and advanced methods. Her research focuses on the political economy of development, political polarization, government accountability, gender, clientelism, state capacity and taxation in new democracies with a geographic concentration in sub-Saharan Africa. 


Located between the UH Student Center and the back of the M.D. Anderson Library on campus, the Scholars Walk is comprised of 10 screens standing just over seven feet tall showcasing images and information on selected researchers' accomplishments. 

Democratic Erosion Consortium internship opportunity

The Democratic Erosions Consortium (DEC) is a research, teaching and policy collaboration with over sixty universities co-directed by Associate Professor Jessica Gottlieb. Hobby School students are invited to apply to participate in the DEC’s annual summer internship program. Undergraduate interns will serve in a remote capacity as a paid intern from June 3 through Aug. 9, working among students from partner universities, including American University, Brown University, Dartmouth College, Texas Southern University, The College of William & Mary, University of Chicago and Xavier University of Louisiana. This cross-university team will work collaboratively on projects such as expanding a database of global incidents of democratic erosion, drafting policy briefs, conducting quantitative analyses or contributing to programming in the consortium. A $5,000 stipend, travel to Washington, D.C., for the annual convening of scholars, policymakers and practitioners, and training and research opportunities are included. Interested students should email their CVs and cover letters to Professor Jessica Gottlieb to apply. In the cover letter, describe your knowledge of topics of democracy, your quantitative skills, your research or job experience and any relevant information. The application deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 31. 



A conversation with former senior White House advisor Daleep Singh  

The Hobby School is hosting the Science, Economics and Technology for Houston (SETH) Lecture with inaugural speaker Daleep Singh at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 18 in the Foundation Room at the John M. O'Quinn Law Building.


Singh is the chief global economist and head of Global Microeconomic Research at PGIM Fixed Income, an asset management arm of Prudential Financial, Inc. He previously served in the White House as U.S. deputy national security advisor for international economics and deputy director of the National Economic Council, President Biden's top international economics advisor, driving policy formulation at the intersection of economics and national security. Faculty organizer Chris Bronk, the Hobby School's expert on cybersecurity, is part of a multi-university lecture series including the Center for International Studies at the University of St. Thomas and the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. A reception will follow the lecture.


Internship program recognized at Commissioners Court

The Hobby School's Civic Houston Internship Program was recognized at Harris County Commissioners Court for its history of creating transformative opportunities for University of Houston students and inspiring the next generation of leaders. Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Lesley Briones sponsored the county resolution highlighting the hands-on experience and real-world application provided to mission-oriented students every fall and spring semester in governmental offices in the Houston region and with area nonprofits, private organizations and electoral campaigns.


Several Hobby School alumni joined program director Jessica Ruland at the resolution presentation, where she shared the program's profound impact seen in the Hobby School’s intern alumni serving as leaders in various sectors. Among them were Harris County Clerk Teneshia Hudspeth, whose passion for public service began as a Mickey Leland Fellow, and interns from the fall 2023 cohort of Civic Houston Interns, the largest in the program's history, with 52 students representing different classifications and majors across the university. In addition to their internship experiences, the historic cohort contributed over 700 volunteer hours on voting and civic engagement projects surrounding the 2023 Houston election. Since its inception in 1996, the Civic Houston Internship Program has introduced over 1,700 undergraduates to public service. 



James Thurmond named Hobby School professor of practice

Thurmond holds a doctorate in political science and public administration, a master's degree in public affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, and a bachelor’s in political science and economics from Texas A&M University.



Student organizers hold town hall

Hobby School students Bryanna Nimmons and Gabriela Hamdieh organized a student-led town hall to foster community, encourage peer support and gather input on the Hobby School student experience. The agenda included an icebreaker with “Pete the Public Policy Possum,” open discussion and an overview of student resources and opportunities for leadership growth and research at the Hobby School. Stay tuned for more engaging student-led events in the new year.


Nimmons and Hamdieh are part of the Hobby School Next Generation Leadership Academy, a chapter of The Volcker Alliance's Next Generation Service Corps, directed by program director Emily Janowski. The alliance is a national network of students seeking innovative careers rooted in public service and social impact and a program strongly aligned with the Hobby School's mission to increase civic engagement and real-world experience across industries and sectors.

Hobby School in the News


Hobby School faculty members and researchers are sought-after experts in their fields, contributing to conversations on the most pressing topics of the day that affect public policy and address Texans’ opinions on issues of importance to the state and nation. In December, national and regional stories on the results of the Houston runoff elections cited Hobby School surveys and experts. The Texas Trends report on the acceptance of electric vehicles in partnership with Texas Southern University’s Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs was also featured in the headlines. In 2023,Hobby School news collectively appeared 1,788 times in broadcast, online and print media outlets.


Complete List of Hobby School Media

Hobby Happenings


Hobby School Happenings captures lectures, events, application deadlines, programs and collaborations hosted or co-sponsored by the Hobby School and its centers. Mark your calendars and join us for the next Hobby School happening.


Monday, Jan. 15
Public Officials of the Year Nomination Deadline
Submit a Nomination


Tuesday, Jan. 16
First Day of Spring Classes


Wednesday, Jan. 17, 9 a.m.
Houston Matters Political Roundup, Renée Cross
Houston Public Media’s News 88.7
Listen Online


Thursday, Jan. 18, 4 p.m.
Deja New? The Implications of Geopolitics Old Normal on the Global Economy
Daleep Singh, former Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics
Security, Economics and Technology for Houston Lecture

The Foundation Room, First Floor, John M. O'Quinn Law Building


Friday, Jan. 26, 12-1:30 p.m.
Understanding Sexual Violence through Care Theory
Sarah Clark Miller, Penn State University
Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center, Care Lecture Series


Friday-Saturday, Jan. 26-27
Old Lessons for New Challenges Conference
Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center
Student Center South, Heights and Skyline Rooms


Wednesday, Jan. 31
Democratic Erosion Consortium Internship Application Deadline


Tuesday, Feb. 6, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Graduate Programs Information Session


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