Our "Professional Access Roundtables” allow current and prospective students, alumni, and employers to connect and network while discussing hot topics within their professions and disciplines. These small-group, semi-structured conversations are designed to catalyze an exchange of ideas and experience to enhance students’ professional development and build community.
Roundtable discussions are led by experienced alumni and employment partner professionals, who craft an initial set of thought-provoking questions shared with students in advance. This allows attendees to prepare for and make the most of these exciting conversations. It also gives discussion leaders the ability to efficiently broaden and deepen students’ understanding of the discussion topics.
At our Professional Access Roundtable events, attendees not only benefit from meeting experts in their field but also grow their professional network by meeting others who share a common interest in a particular profession and industry. Discussion leaders from our alumni and employment partner community enjoy the opportunity to support, connect, and develop the next generation of leaders in their field.
These events aim to inspire, educate, and connect you to a world of possibilities, ensuring that your journey through the multifaceted terrain of professions and industries is nothing short of transformative.
- Discussion Leader Biographies
Chief Communications and Marketing Officer
The GW Medical Faculty Associates and the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Anne Banner serves as the Chief Communications and Marketing Officer for the GW Medical Faculty Associates and the Executive Director of Communications for the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. She has supported the SMHS community for nearly two decades. Focused on behavioral change, disease prevention, and the promotion of treatment options and research innovations, Ms. Banner has led numerous multi-faceted health campaigns. Drawing upon the various communications tactics, she has created and implemented successful campaigns in the digital, print, and broadcast arenas. Ms. Banner serves as the spokesperson for the academic medical enterprise and has built relationships with members of the media, both locally and nationally. Additionally, Ms. Banner provides media and communications guidance for the executive leadership across all divisions and departments at GW’s academic medical enterprise. Prior to joining the GW academic medical enterprise, Ms. Banner spent many years serving clients in various industries, including the travel and aviation industry, the healthcare industry, and the education industry at several public relations agencies. She has served clients in both the public and private sectors.
Senior Manager, National Security Solutions
Pete Contostavlos is a Senior Account Executive on the National Security team at Amazon Web Services, where he helps government agencies transform and modernize IT systems. He has over 25 years of experience in the military, government, and private sector. In government, he’s served on the congressional staff of US Sen. Bill Nelson (FL) as his National Security and Foreign Policy Advisor. Following his time on the Hill, he joined the civil service at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) where he held various leadership and management positions for over a decade. In the private sector, he’s served as a business development manager, leadership consultant, and IT program manager within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and National Reconnaissance Office. Pete has a Bachelor’s Degree from the US Naval Academy, a Master’s Degree in History and Public Policy from George Washington University (2000), and was a post-graduate National Security Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government where he studied National Security Policy, Intelligence Community Policy, Diplomacy, and National Security Law.
Senior Policy Advisor
Julius W. Hobson, Jr. is Senior Policy Advisor at Polsinelli, where he concentrates on assisting clients with legislative and regulatory advocacy concerning health care, appropriations, budget, taxes, and financial services. With more than 50 years’ experience working with the U.S. Congress and the Federal Executive Branch, he has served as Director, Division of Congressional Affairs, American Medical Association (AMA) where he managed the AMA’s interaction with the Congress. Mr. Hobson previously served on the staff of Senator Charles Robb [D-VA] and the Committee on the Budget. He previously served in the Executive Office of the District of Columbia Mayor where he was responsible for coordinating the city’s relations with the Congress and the Federal Executive Branch. Mr. Hobson served in the U.S. House of Representatives as a subcommittee Staff Director and as Chief of Staff to a Member of the House. While serving in the House in 1985, Mr.Hobson was the principal staff person responsible for preparing the Congressional Black Caucus alternative budget. He also handled Congressional and Federal Affairs for Howard University. Mr. Hobson served a four-year term as an elected member of the D.C. Board of Education, during which he served a term as Vice President. He is currently an Adjunct Professor in the Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University, where he has taught the graduate course on lobbying since 1994 and also teaches Legislative Writing and Research. He graduated from Howard University (BA, History) and The George Washington University (MA, Legislative Affairs).
Chief Operations Director
House of Representatives - Rep. Nanette Barragan
Desiree Kennedy is a policy and political professional in Washington, D.C. Desiree currently serves as the Chief Operations Director for Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán of California’s 44th District, a role she has held since April of 2022. In this role she is responsible for ensuring that the Congresswoman has everything she needs to be successful in serving her constituents, including overseeing the operations of the District and D.C. offices and working to determine and execute the overall strategies sof the team. Prior to joining the Congresswoman, Desiree was a leader in the Corporate and Government Affairs department for Elekta Inc., a global medical device manufacturer specializing in cancer care. There, she was responsible for the daily operations of the department, leading the lobbying and government relations portfolios, overseeing the political action committee Elekta PAC, and leading the internal communications operations for the Americas, among other responsibilities. While at Elekta, she was named Employee of the Month three times and received the Employee of the Year Award in 2021. Before joining Elekta, Desiree spent time on Capitol Hill and with the U.S. Department of the Interior, as well as in government relations and communications capacities for PBS and National Geographic. Desiree also serves as a campaign consultant for local races in the Washington, D.C., area. Desiree received a B.S. in legal studies and a B.A. in political science from Nova Southeastern University, a Master’s Degree specializing in Political Management from the George Washington University, and a certificate in Health Care Economics from Harvard Business School Online. She currently resides in Washington, D.C.
Global Head of Policy Mobilization
Sharon McBride is a seasoned public affairs executive with extensive global experience influencing laws regarding technology and ecommerce policy. Serving as an advocate for workers and small businesses, Ms. McBride leverages her passion for giving people a voice in their governments with her strategic campaign experience and strong acumen for disciplined execution. She currently serves as Global Head of Policy Mobilization at DoorDash where she amplifies the policy viewpoints of Dashers, merchants and consumers through DashRoots, the DoorDash advocacy network she launched earlier this summer. For nearly 20 years, Ms. McBride led eBay’s public affairs operations which included the digital advocacy, seller advocacy, and public policy research teams. Having created a first-of-its-kind customer digital grassroots network of over 1M sellers representing over 100 countries, Ms. McBride also built the Small Business Ambassador Network - over 1K small businesses who are willing to engage personally with government officials on policy issues around the world. She also imagined and headed the eBay Public Policy Lab, which researches eBay’s international economic impact in empowering small enterprises to engage in global commerce. Ms. McBride built the first tech company government relations website (www.ebaymainstreet.com), grew the Political Action Committee by 400%, and originated the digital and seller advocacy programs from scratch. Ms. McBride has received several awards, including the Luminary Award from eBay and the Veteran Practitioner of the Year from the Professional Women in Advocacy. She has an undergraduate degree in Communications with a double major in Political Science & Theater Arts from Northwestern University and a Master’s in Arts Management from the H. John Heinz School of Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. Ms. McBride serves as the Chairman of the BIPAC Board of Directors.
Communications Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse
National Institutes of Health
Anne Rancourt is the Communications Director at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Prior to joining the NIDA team in 2020, she worked at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases where she led communications on HIV, allergy, and immunology. She has an extensive communications background in media relations, brand management, and public health campaigns. She began her career as a journalist at The Washington Post and NBC News. Ms. Rancourt has a bachelor’s degree in English from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in Strategic Public Relations from George Washington University.
President & CEO
Business-Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC)
Tim Riordan is President and CEO of The Business Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC), a bi-partisan non-profit organization that empowers the business community to engage in the political process and advocate for pro-business policies and candidates. Before joining BIPAC, he was Vice President of Membership and Partnerships at the Connected Commerce Council, working with small businesses across the country to ensure their access to essential digital technologies, tools, and platforms. He has also held senior positions at state and local government consulting firm Stateside Associates as well as the DC Chamber of Commerce. He began his career in technology market research and has also worked in fundraising as well as direct response marketing.
Communications and Research Lead
Traci Scott is a 1996 graduate of GW’s Graduate School of Political Management. She currently is a Communications and Research Lead at the MITRE Corporation in McLean, Virginia. In her career as a communications strategist, she has served as a Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, a political advisor to sixteen Army Generals, a Press Officer in Iraq during Operation Iraq Freedom, and as a Communications Director for members in the House and Senate. In her broadcasting career, she worked for CBS News, and as a reporter on KLAS TV in Las Vegas where she was inducted into the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Traci was in the Inaugural Class of Presidential Leadership Scholars in 2015. Through it she started a non-profit, The Green Dress Project. In 2021, Traci was honored, along with 70 other alumni, to receive the GW Monumental Alumni Award. She currently serves on the GSPM Board of Advisors and on GW’s Alumni Association board. Traci has written a book about her adventures in Iraq entitled, Take Off Your Hoop Earrings Before You Put on Your Gas Mask: A Civilian Chick’s Survival Guide to a War Zone. She is also the daughter of a Tuskegee Airman, Captain Jesse Scott.
Office of Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-04)
Samara Sheff is a communications professional with a passion for pursuing public service through political action. Ms. Sheff comes from a military family and moved around a lot growing up. She received an undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Alabama, and a Master's degree from George Washington University in Legislative Affairs. In 2017, Sheff started as an intern on the Hill. From there, she caught the Hill bug and now serves as Communications Director for Rep.Gwen Moore.