Forty Years of DC Alumni Networking Celebrated

October 26, 2020

For the last 40 years, the annual St. John’s University Alumni Insider’s View of the US Capital program has brought students and alumni together in Washington, DC, for a networking opportunity that demonstrates the far reach of the University family.

“When it became clear that the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis would prevent us from traveling to Washington, DC, the committee rallied around an effort to deliver the program remotely,” stated Carolina B. Hojaij, Associate Director, Alumni Engagement and Volunteer Programs.

Offered by the Office of Alumni Relations and University Career Services, this year’s trip took place virtually from October 13 to 15, with 32 participating students who were exposed to a wide array of informational panel discussions and guest speakers from in and around Washington, DC. They explored careers and opportunities in a variety of sectors, including the military, law, government agencies, and nonprofits.

Students attended panel discussions about leadership and networking moderated by Mark A. Andrews, Director, Alumni Relations, St. John’s University; Brian Browne ’93C, ’97G, Executive Director for University Relations and Assistant Vice President for Government Relations; Nicholas Legakis ’97SVC, ’07MPS, Director of Development, St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and William L. Murphy, Esq., Assistant Professor, Division of Criminal Justice, Legal Studies, and Homeland Security, The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies.

Through the years, the program has attracted and sustained the participation of alumni across multiple generations, who share and pass on a willingness to give back to help current students.

Art DeCelle ’78C, ’81G, Counsel at McDermott Will & Emery, shared, “Since 1982, I have looked forward to participating in one way or another every year and really enjoy it.”

The program concluded with a virtual reception and scholarship award ceremony featuring a keynote address by Barbara M. Donnellan ’79C, ’81G, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Castle Gray Associates, LLC, and Member, Board of Governors, at St. John’s University. As President and CEO of Castle Gray Associates, LLC, Ms. Donnellan leads a consulting firm specializing in coaching, leadership development, and governmental affairs. She was a long-term career employee with Arlington County, MD, and was eventually named Arlington’s first female chief executive officer.

“The Insider’s View has a rich, 40-year history and has brought students from St. John’s to the Washington, DC, region for direct learning from some of the best people in their field of work,” remarked Ms. Donellan. “No matter what your major is in college, remember these three things. Government at some level will impact your work; it is better to understand its role. Second, working together leads to better outcomes. Lastly, if something does not feel right, ask questions. So, be competent, deliberate, curious, and thoughtful, and you can go far. Do not be sidetracked by the agenda of others, and work collectively toward a larger mission.”

Before the remote alumni reception concluded, Rahsaan J. Coefield, Esq. ’05CPS, Director, EEO Investigations, Lockheed Martin Corporation, presented the following scholarship awards:

The Joseph P. Addabbo Scholarship Fund was established in 1987 in memory of Joseph Addabbo ’46L, ’84HON, a St. John’s School of Law alumnus, who was an elected official serving in the US House of Representatives. His son, Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., is a New York State Senator and a St. John’s alumnus. This fund provides partial annual scholarship support to an academically qualified undergraduate or graduate student. The recipient is selected from the pool of participants of the Alumni Insider’s View of the US Capital program and based on the submission of an essay.

The 2020 scholarship recipients of the Joseph P. Addabbo Scholarship are Alexander Brancifort, a graduate student in the Homeland Security and Criminal Justice Leadership program, and Mwihaki Kiiru, an undergraduate Communication Arts major.

The Arthur B. Carton Scholarship Fund was established in 1992 and amended in 2011 by the Washington, DC, area Alumni Chapter to honor Arthur B. Carton, Esq. ’25C, ’29L, a member of the first graduating class of the School of Law. This fund provides partial annual scholarship support to an academically qualified law school student. The recipient is selected from the pool of participants of the Alumni Insider’s View of the US Capital program and based on the submission of an essay. The recipient of 2020’s Arthur B. Carton Scholarship is Rudy Cohen-Zard.

Reflecting on the specialness of the 40th anniversary of the program, Ms. Hojaij observed, “The US Capital program exemplifies what it means to be a Johnny. This year, as we went virtual, we expanded the opportunity for more students and alumni to be involved. The result was a beautiful celebration of our 40th anniversary in DC, with strong connections and relationships that will last a lifetime. No matter where we are, or where we go, this program demonstrates what we can accomplish as a University community.”