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Career Workshop

The Political Science Department holds an Alumni Career Workshop every semester for juniors and seniors. The workshop is a great opportunity to get advice from highly successful alumni who started their careers as you will, with a political science degree from Penn State. Whether you have a clear path in mind or have no idea what you will do after you graduate, this event can help.

Susan Bessemer

Vice President of Administration and Co-Owner of Novatec, Inc.

Susan Bessemer is the Vice President of Administration and Co-Owner of Novatec, Inc. which is the leading manufacturer of plastics resin drying and conveying systems in North America with customers including Coca-Cola, Shaw Carpeting, Nestle, Nissan, Toyota and many others. She and her husband, Conrad, support the McCourtney Institute for Democracy, Paterno Fellows Program and Schreyer Honors College. They both volunteer for the colleges mentor program. Their son Andrew D’Aversa graduated from Penn State–Schreyer Honors College, with a double major in Business Management/History, and he is now in his second year at the University of Pennsylvania as a law student.


Conrad Bessemer

‘74 Pre Law

President/Managing Partner Novatec, Inc.

Conrad Bessemer is the President/Managing Partner at Novatec, Inc. which is the leading manufacturer of plastics resin drying and conveying systems in North America with customers including Coca-Cola, Shaw Carpeting, Nestle, Nissan, Toyota and many others. He is also cofounder and chairman of Prophecy Sensorlytics LLC, a startup providing sensors and analytic data platforms for business clients in the Internet of Things space. Mr. Bessemer currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Society of Plastics Industry, Washington, D.C. He and his wife, Susan, support the McCourtney Institute for Democracy, Paterno Fellows Program and Schreyer Honors College. They both volunteer for the colleges mentor program. Their son Andrew D’Aversa is a senior at Penn State–Schreyer’s, Double Major Business Management/History.



Jeffrey Bower

1969 BA Psychology and 1969 BA Political Science

1973 JD Georgetown University

Attorney/Senior Partner, Bower Law Associates

State College, PA

Jeff has over forty years’ experience in the general civil practice of law. Following service in the US Army and then earning his law degree, Jeff was Attorney and Legislative Counsel for the Federal Maritime Commission in Washington, DC. He moved back to his hometown of State College to go into private practice and actively volunteer for a variety of organizations, including the Centre Foundation, Easter Seals Central Pennsylvania, State College Rotary Club, Golden Retriever Rescue of Central PA, and the Centre County Historical Society. He was elected and served as Chairman of the Centre County Board of Commissioners for two terms.  He also previously served on the Boards of Directors of National Easter Seals and the National Association of Counties.

At Penn State Jeff helped launch the Department of Political Science board of alumni visitors. He served on the Liberal Arts Alumni Society board of directors from 1998–2012, including two years as Board President. He also served two years on the Penn State Alumni Council. Since 2004 he has mentored numerous students through the Liberal Arts mentor program who are interested in a law career. In 1997 Jeff received the College of the Liberal Arts Service to Society Award. In 2013 he received Centre Foundation’s prestigious Oak Tree Award and in 2016 he received Rotary’s Rotarian of the Year Award.

He is past President of the Centre County Bar Association, currently serves on its Board of Governors, recently completed a three-year term on the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and in May, 2016 was elected Vice President of the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation.


David Cole

Comcast- Associate Producer, Local Media Development

Philadelphia, PA

Pittsburgh Magazine- Freelance Multimedia Feature Producer

Dave Cole was born and raised in State College and graduated from Penn State in May 2013 with majors in Political Science and Visual Journalism. While at Penn State, Dave served in a variety of capacities from the inaugural Penn State Student Sustainability Advisory Council, designer for TEDxPSU, and ultimately serving as the Managing Editor of Onward State. Since graduating, Dave produced a mini-documentary focusing on the state of newspapers in Pennsylvania for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association. His photography and video stories have appeared in Slate, Pittsburgh Magazine, The McClatchy News Wire, Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, Centre Daily Times,, and other publications. Since early 2014, Dave has been working on the hyperlocal news site as an Associate Producer in the Local Media Development department at Comcast where he focuses on developing special projects that engage communities through access to information and multimedia content. Dave also serves on the Board of Directors for the Nittany Valley Society.


Thane J. Fake 

Emergency Management Specialist

U.S. Department of Justice

Washington, DC

Thane Fake received a B.S. in Public Service from Penn State in 1998. In 1993 and again in 1997, he worked with the Presidential Inaugural Committee. In 1996, he worked for the Democratic National Convention. From 1993 through 1999, he worked with Political Americana, a political resource firm. In May of 1999, he received a Presidential Appointment as Staff Assistant to Attorney General, Janet Reno. Thane has also been a Political Affairs Intern as well as a Presidential Correspondence Intern in the White House. He was a volunteer for the Clinton/Gore campaign in 1992 and again in 1996. While at Penn State he was President and Treasurer for the Penn State York Student Government Association as well as a council member for the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments. Thane served as a Budget Analyst for over 10 years in the Justice Management Division for the U.S. Department of Justice. Currently, he is an Emergency Management Specialist in the Justice Management Division’s Security and Emergency Planning Staff, Continuity Assurance Section for the U.S. Department of Justice.


Robert G. Gottlieb

Venable LLP Washington, D.C.
Robert G. Gottlieb is with the Real Estate Group in the law firm Venable LLP, specializing in tax, real estate and partnership law, resident in the Washington office. Mr. Gottlieb attended Pennsylvania State University and received his J.D. from George Washington University. He is a frequent lecturer at professional conferences and seminars and is a former adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and George Washington University Law School where he taught Taxation of Real Estate Transactions.


Richard A. Hayes

Richard Hayes grew up in Buffalo, NY and graduated from the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts in 1968 with a BA in Pre-Law.  Subsequently, he obtained his JD and LLM/Taxation from New York University School of Law in 1971 and 1973, respectively.   During his legal career, Richard specialized in the taxation of financial institutions. He started as a tax attorney with Citibank in NYC.  After serving as a tax principal with the   Big Eight accounting firm, Arthur Young & Co., Richard held the position of Sr. Vice President & General Tax Counsel with two major banks – First Interstate Bancorp in LA   and Wells Fargo & Co. in San Francisco — and Allianz of America Corp., the North American holding company of Allianz SE, the Munich-based global insurance and asset management organization.  During his career, Richard served in various leadership roles with the national and state bar associations and banking/insurance industry organizations. Currently retired and living in Livermore, CA in the Bay Area, Richard is active with alumni outreach for Liberal Arts as well as participating in various community and church organizations.  Richard is married with twins commencing college this Fall.


Dede Haas  

DLH Services

High-Tech Sales and Founder

Dede Haas, an award-winning high-tech sales professional and founder of DLH Services, creates innovative and successful channel sales solutions. She has developed and managed channel partner programs for enterprise and cloud based products and services for small and medium businesses and for industry leaders, such as Intel Corp, where she interfaced with Fortune 50 companies, led many diverse sales teams, and increased sales growth. She has also recruited and managed channel partners throughout the United States, Europe, India, Australia and Asia. Ms. Haas received her Certification of Achievement – Alliance Management (CA-AM) through the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals; has been a speaker, panelist and moderator for various conferences and technology organizations; and is the author of The Channel Sales Guide, which was written for Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology. Many of her articles have appeared in numerous publications such as Business Solutions Magazine, Channel Partners, and Strategic Alliance Magazine. Ms. Haas graduated with a BA in International Politics from The Pennsylvania State University.



Jeff Jubelirer 

’93 Political Science

Jeff is Vice President, Belleview Communications Group, a full-service public relations firm specializing in public relations, media relations, crisis communications and issue management.

Jeff is also an adjunct professor teaching issue & crisis management at Temple University and serves on the University’s Department of Strategic Communication Advisory Council. In addition, he writes a monthly column in the Pennsylvania Law Weekly on emerging issues in public relations.

Jeff serves on the Boards of The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Philadelphia and Susquehanna Valley, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of Eastern Pennsylvania/Southern NJ/Delaware, and Legacy Youth Tennis and Education. In May 2012 Jeff received the prestigious national Daniel Ginsberg Award for his exemplary leadership on behalf of the ADL.

At Penn State, he served as a Lion Ambassador, participated as a dancer and volunteer at Dance Marathon, and was elected to the Mortar Board leadership society and Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Jeff earned master’s degrees in both Political Science (’96) and Integrated Marketing Communications (’97) at Northwestern University.


David Kleppinger

McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC.

Harrisburg, PA

David M. Kleppinger graduated from Penn State University in 1977 with Highest Distinction and received his Juris Doctorate Degree from Temple University School of Law Cum Laude in 1980. Mr. Kleppinger currently chairs the Energy, Communications and Utilities Law Group at the law firm of McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC. The ECU Law Group includes fixed utility, government relations, transportation and general administrative and appellate court practices. Mr. Kleppinger’s practice focuses primarily on the fixed utility service area, which includes electricity, natural gas, water and telecommunications. The bulk of his representation is on behalf of larger industrial companies in each of the four primary areas. Mr. Kleppinger has practiced exclusively in the fixed utility area for over 20 years and in that time span has appeared before the state regulatory commissions of several states and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Mr. Kleppinger is also a board member of the Hershey Baseball Association and the Jonathan Eshenour Foundation.


Thomas Merchant 

’90 Economics; JD New York University School of Law

As General Counsel of Legg Mason, Tom is responsible for overseeing the company’s legal and compliance departments, which include over 100 employees worldwide. Since joining Legg Mason in 1998, he has been responsible for the company’s corporate legal activities, including acquisitions, financings and public company reporting. During this time, Tom has led all legal aspects of over 25 acquisitions and dispositions, including the $3.7 billion transaction in which Legg Mason exchanged its retail broker-dealer business for Citigroup’s global asset management business, resulting in Legg Mason focusing on the asset management business and Citigroup exiting the retail mutual fund business. Prior to joining Legg Mason, from 1993 to 1998, he served as a Corporate Associate at Shearman & Sterling in New York.

Tom’s wife, Jill, is a 1990 Penn State graduate in Business, and former actuarial assistant in the reinsurance industry. Tom is a proud father of three. He is an active mentor to Penn State Liberal Arts undergraduate students and supports the Paterno Fellows Program.


Annette O’Donnell-Butner

1991 Political Science

1994 J.D., Oklahoma City University

Annette O’Donnell-Butner is a Director and Chief Compliance Officer at KKR Asset Management LLC (KAM), a global investment management and advisory firm, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Kholberg Kravis Roberts & Co L.P. (KKR). With KKR since 2009, Annette is responsible for the administration of the KAM compliance and ethics program, and regulatory obligations. Previously, Ms. O’Donnell-Butner was a Senior Vice President and Deputy Director of Compliance for the Private Investment Management division of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. / Barclays PLC. In 2012, Annette joined the Board of Visitors for the Political Science Department of the Pennsylvania State University.

She is a Liberal Arts mentor and was recognized with the 2012 Outstanding Political Science Alumna Award from the College of the Liberal Arts. She and her husband, Chris, established a student enhancement fund in the Paterno Liberal Arts Undergraduate Fellows Program and a Trustee Matching Scholarship to support a Political Science Student. Annette holds a B.A in Political Science from Pennsylvania State University and a Juris Doctor from Oklahoma City University School of Law. She and her husband Chris live in Orinda with their two sons, Christopher and Anderson.


James Reehl

Jim graduated from Penn State University in 1969 with a BA in Political Science and from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1984. Prior to law school, he worked for several federal agencies, including National Labor Relations Board, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the US Department of Labor.  Jim was an in-house attorney for a large Pittsburgh union (United Food and Commercial Workers Local 23) from 1984 to 1999, and has been self-employed as a union lawyer and labor arbitrator since then.



Michael Ruger 

Comcast Cable Communications, LLC. Pennington, NJ

Michael Ruger graduated from Penn State in 1985 with degrees in political science and psychology. After graduating from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1988, he joined the Federal Communications Commission as an attorney-advisor. He worked with the FCC for six years, specializing in radio, television and cable regulation. From 1994 through 1998, Michael was an associate with Baker & Hostetler in Washington, DC, where he represented clients before the FCC and on Capitol Hill. In 1998 Michael returned to the Philadelphia area where he was a consultant to clients in the communications and Internet industries, which provided him with the flexibility to work at home while caring for his young son. Michael joined Comcast Cable Communications, LLC, in 2003, where he is currently Vice President, Government Affairs.