Political experts discuss cyber security threats to 2020 elections at the annual Frank Fahrenkopf and Charles T. Manatt Endowed Lecture
By B.L. Wilson
The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management recognized three alumni with Alumni Achievement Awards on Thursday—the head of communications for the Washington Nationals, the chief of staff for a presidential campaign and a chief of staff for a key U.S. senator.
The honors for Jennifer Giglio, M.S. ’03, Rohini Kosoglu, M.S. ’08, and Megan Whittemore, B.A.’08 and M.A. ’10, were part of an event that Thursday evening at the Milken Institute School of Public Health that included the annual Fahrenkopf/Manatt Lecture, this year a panel discussion called “Securing the 2020 Vote: The Intersection of Campaign Management and Election Data Integrity.”
In announcing the winners of the 2019 Alumni Achievement Awards, GSPM Acting Director Christopher Deering said they “truly are the epitome of the spirit of service.”
“The evening also emphasizes civility in politics,” Dr. Deering said. “Consider those words. Civility in politics, issues near and dear to the heart of all of us here today.”
Here are the three honorees:
Jennifer Giglio: The vice president of communications for the Washington Nationals was traveling with the team and could not be present to receive her award. However, in a message, Ms. Giglio thanked GW and GSPM for “an education that had served me well each and every day.” “
The award recognized her responsibilities overseeing corporate communications and crisis and issues management for the professional baseball team and a long list of positions in public affairs for an array of corporations, nonprofits, associations and in government, including serving as deputy press secretary in the presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani and as a political appointee in the administration of President George W. Bush.
Rohini Kosoglu: The onetime mailroom manager on Capitol Hill worked her way up over more than a decade to chief of staff for Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a position she now holds on Ms. Harris’ presidential campaign.
The award noted that along the way, Ms. Kosoglu served as policy director and senior health care advisor to Sen. Michael Bennett (D- Colo.) at the time the Affordable Care Act was being deliberated in Congress and worked for Ms. Harris as deputy chief of staff to protect health care and civil rights.
She said her strongest memory of GW was the class trip to Europe and the GSPM adjunct professors with whom she now works.
She said the award forced her “to reflect on all the work we have done.”
Megan Whittemore: Recognized for service that led to a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, the chief of staff for Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) has also been the senator’s deputy chief of staff and communications director. She was press secretary for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
She thanked GSPM for “[teaching] the practical application of politics,” Ms. Whittemore said, “and that’s what makes this program truly so special. It teaches the skills to put into action when you get in the room. For me because of GSPM, I’ve been in a lot of rooms.”
She noted that those rooms have included the Supreme Court for the swearing in of a cabinet secretary, the Oval Office for the signing of legislation and the floor of the Senate where she works daily.
Last year, she was recognized by her peers and elected president of The Senate Press Secretaries Association and was acknowledged for her continued support of GW’s GSPM where she is now an adjunct.
After the awards ceremony, the panel discussed Securing the Vote 2020. The annual lecture series—the Fahrenkopf/Manatt Lecture—is endowed by the late Charles T. Manatt and Frank Fahrenkopf, who was present Thursday evening.
The panel moderator, Monique Chouraeshkenazi, a chair of the National Security Program at the Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security and GSPM adjunct professor, led the conversation that included Matt Rhoades, M.A. ’99, the presidential campaign manager for Republican Mitt Romney in 2012; Jude Meche, chief information security officer of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; and GW Visiting Scholar Mauricio Moura, the chief executive officer of IDEIA, Big Data,
Dr. Chouraeshkenazi asked Mr. Rhoades how he became involved in developing a cyber security program at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs for state and local campaign managers.
Mr. Rhoades explained that Robby Mook, who worked as a campaign manager on presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign, recruited him in the bipartisan effort because both campaigns had been hacked, the Clinton campaign by the Russians and Mr. Romney’s by the Chinese.