Current students


Sean Conklin is a current PhD Student at Florida Atlantic University. He recently completed his Masters in Nonprofit Management at FAU and currently works for Palm Beach County as a program evaluator in the Ryan White Program. He works specifically on the new federal Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative and Palm Beach County’s Needle Exchange Program. He was drawn to the PhD Program due to an interest in Public Service Motivation, but his interests in the field are dynamic and varied. After being chosen as an inaugural recipient of the Leroy Collins Public Ethics Academy Scholarship in 2020, his interest in ethics and its impact on public systems has grown.

Sean has interest in teaching and research, though his true passion lies in applying research and data to improve public systems. He hopes to use his education to continue his public service – locally, statewide, or federally. In his free time, he can be found watching movies, playing tabletop games, exercising, or attending local events and fundraisers.


Albena Dzhurova is a Public Administration PhD candidate and a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the School of Public Administration. Her dissertation topic: “The “Alien” Plight of the U.S. Immigration Policy: A Narrative Policy Analysis of the DREAM Act Legislation” seeks to explore the origins of the DREAMers-turned-DACA-children issue within the setting of the U.S. immigration policy-making. Albena did her Master’s in Administration at Barry University, North Miami where she graduated summa cum laude. Prior to that, she worked as a loyalty marketing consultant to luxury hotels around the world and has extensive managerial, HR, and sales and marketing experience. Albena’s academic interests include public policy, organization studies, and interpretive methods. She has recently published an article in Administrative Theory & Praxis, titled “Symbolic politics and government response to a national emergency: Narrating the COVID-19 crisis”. She is an active member of the Association of Doctoral Students at the School of Public Administration and is the co-organizer of the annual ADSPA Colloquium dedicated to showcasing PhD students’ research.  Albena is originally from Bulgaria.



David Goldman is a doctoral candidate within the Public Administration program at Florida Atlantic University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies at Rutgers University and his Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning at Virginia Tech. David has experience in managing local government planning, development, finance, and budget teams. David’s research interests include studying how local governments react to economic adversity. David enjoys acting with improv troupes and in community theater and playing ultimate frisbee.


Seerna Hoerrman

Serena Hoermann, MBA serves as Assistant Director for the Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions (CUES) within the FAU's Department of Urban and Regional Planning. Serena Hoermann is program manager for the FAU Partnership for Sustainable Communities. Another current project, the Urban Stories Festival, uses storytelling to build community. Serena is pursuing a doctorate in public administration with an emphasis on urban planning. In 2014-2017, she supported FAU's Center for Environmental Studies (CES) as coordinator for the Florida Climate Institute. She received a Bachelor of Science Cum Laude in Systems and Information Science and an MBA in Marketing and International Business from Syracuse University. Read In the Lab. At the 2019 conference, Arctic Futures 2050 in Washington, DC, she presented a poster, “Let’s talk about moving a community and building resilience.”  Her article, “Little Haiti, Miami—Resilient in the Face of Displacement,” will appear in March 2021 in the biannual peer reviewed journal In Context.


Ryan Lofaro is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Public Administration at Florida Atlantic University. He received a B.A. in Political Science from FAU and spent one year in the MPA program at the university before entering the Ph.D. program. His current research interests include lived experience representative bureaucracy theory, social construction of target populations, health crisis events, and emergency management. He recently had peer-reviewed articles accepted for publication in Critical Policy Studies, Administrative Theory & Praxis, Public Voices, Contemporary Drug Problems, International Journal of Public Leadership, and Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management. Additionally, he is a 2022 ASPA Founders’ Fellow, member of the Pi Alpha Alpha Honors Society, and recipient of the Graduate Student Thesis and Dissertation Scholarship award, Adriana Castellano Scholarship, John Canada Scholarship, the Florida Atlantic University Presidential Fellowship, and the Florida Atlantic University Dean’s Fellowship.

Maria Lungu

Maria Lungu is currently a Ph.D. student in the School of Public Administration. She attended the University of Charleston as a Welch Colleague Presidential Scholar and received a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Business Administration with a minor in Leadership. She then went on to complete a Juris Doctorate at The University of Tennessee College of Law and an MBA from Belmont University. It was at UT where her passion for research and social advocacy/equity issues was realized. There she served as a research assistant to two distinguished professors and a former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice. Maria’s interest focus is on social equity, vulnerable communities, law, and policy.  Her goal is to become a tenure track professor upon graduation. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, spinning, beach days, and 90s sitcoms.



Gorgin Mansourian has been a resident of South Florida since 2012 and is currently a Ph.D. student in the Public Administration program at Florida Atlantic University. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in International Business and a Master of Business Administration degree from Southern Connecticut State University. He is also a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the School of Public Administration. Having lived and worked in multiple countries throughout his professional career, he is passionate about foreign policy, public service expenditure policy, and government budgeting. Gorgin is an avid hiker and outdoors enthusiast with a passion for preserving Florida's natural resources and trails system.


Jean-Claude M. Ndongo is a Ph.D. student in Public Administration at Florida Atlantic University. He is a recipient of the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship and a Bill Anderson Fund (BAF) fellow. His research interests include public budgeting and financial management, public procurement as well as disaster and emergency management. He has an extensive background in financial services with Fortune 500 institutions in the United States where his experience ranged from managing investment portfolios to providing financial planning advice and banking services to individual and business clients. He has served on the boards of various non-profit organizations and is a member of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA), the Academy of Management (AOM), and the Africa Academy of Management (AFAM). 


Andrea Ramos is a PhD candidate in Public Administration. She received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Florida Atlantic University and a Master of Science in Public Health from the University of Miami. Her master thesis: “Evaluating the Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan for the People Experiencing Homelessness in Broward County” allowed her to examine the various emergency preparedness determinants for this population sub-group. Prior to her pursuing a PhD, her field experience includes working in emergency services and being a member of the South Florida Disaster Medical Team (DMAT-FL5). She is also an active member of the American Public Health Association (APHA), the Florida Emergency Preparedness Association (FEPA), and serves as the president of the Association of Doctoral Students in Public Administration (ADSPA) at FAU. 


Her research interests include disaster preparedness and resilience, emergency management, opioid abuse, human rights, and health promotion and wellness. Currently her research focuses on questions of opioid related overdoses in relation to the opioid crisis and epidemic in South Florida and the evaluation of evacuation and sheltering plans for vulnerable populations including carless and transportation-dependent for all counties in the State of Florida.


Dominick John Spano is a student in the Public Administration Ph.D program at Florida Atlantic University. He is originally from Brooklyn, New York, but has been living in Florida for many years. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Business Management from the University of Miami and MBA from Florida Atlantic University.

 Dominick has nearly 6 years of work experience in the banking industry, but decided to pursue a Ph.D in public administrations due to a strong interest in the field. His areas of study and research include leadership and organizational behavior in the public sector. His article on these topics will be published in the Spring 2021 Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy, and Governance. Dominick is proud to be a part of Florida Atlantic University. 


Ben Trautman

Benjamin Trautman is completing a PhD and working as a graduate assistant in the School of Public Administration at Florida Atlantic University. Prior to starting this program, he honorably served for over twenty years in the United States Coast Guard performing operational duties ranging from law enforcement to waterways management. He has experience managing teams, departments and other jurisdictional agencies working in high stress missions that respond to large scale disasters, drug interdiction, and various other demanding operations. He has proudly deployed globally to represent the United States and work with international partners, including to combat zones in the Middle East. Presently, he sits as the chairman for the City of Vero Beach Marine Commission as well as holding other positions within the community. Benjamin has earned his Bachelors of Public Management with a minor in Disaster Management and his Masters of Public Administration from Florida Atlantic University. His research interests are focused on governance and networking particularly in the field of disaster management.


Mike Turtz

Michael Turtz is currently a PhD student in FAU’s School of Public Administration, where he received his MPA in 2014. He also earned his bachelor’s degree from the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, with a concentration in Political Science in 2012. His research interests are Higher Education Public Policy and Public-Private Partnerships.

Michael Turtz is the Administrative Staff Assistant in the Office of the Provost, working with the entire Division of Academic Affairs. In this capacity, Michael acts as administrative support to the Office Staff and to the University Faculty Senate. Prior to assuming his current position, Michael worked as the Annual Giving Coordinator for the Division of Institutional Advancement.


Kristen Walden is a current doctoral student within the Public Administration program at Florida Atlantic University. She started her higher learning at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, where she earned her Bachelor's degree in Biology. Kristen then continued her education by receiving her Master's in Educational Leadership at Florida Atlantic University. She is a fellow in the William Averette Anderson Fund, whose mission is to expand inclusive hazard disaster planning for communities of color. Kristen's overall goal is to utilize the Public Administration program's knowledge to evaluate equitable practices and advance diversity reform in the public sector.

Kristen's research interests include social justice narratives, public policy reform, educational inequity, and crisis management. Kristen is a South Florida native and, in her free time, enjoys traveling and exploring different cultures.