Meet the New GW Alumni Association Executive Committee Members

The GWAA is welcoming 11 new members to the Executive Committee dedicated to strengthening the GW alumni community.

July 13, 2023


The GW Alumni Association (GWAA) is welcoming new Executive Committee members who are dedicated to strengthening and promoting an invested alumni community. 

Led by GWAA President Maxwell Gocala-Nguyen, who began his term on July 1, the committee is composed of 20 members who were invited to serve based on their common passion for and commitment to the George Washington University. Here is a look at the new Executive Committee members:

Angela An, M.P.S. '17, is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning journalist at the CBS affiliate in Columbus, Ohio. She anchors the morning news on Wake-Up CBUS on WBNS- 10. While at GW, An received the prestigious Founders Award from the Graduate School of Political Management. She is also part of the GW Asian Pacific Islander Alumni Network. An has covered stories around the world from the 2004 tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia to “Jungle” Jack Hanna's final appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman” in New York City. She was also recognized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for her coverage sharing stories of those who have served and sacrificed.

Ryan Barnette, B.S. ’06, is an anesthesiologist and critical care specialist in Los Angeles. Serving on the Executive Committee is his first experience participating in a leadership capacity with the GWAA. While a student at GW, Barnette worked at the GW Student Health Center and volunteered with several community-based organizations.

Bret Caldwell, B.A. ’92, M.A. ’96, is an international representative at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Caldwell was instrumental in establishing the Teamsters archives at GW, developing the Teamsters Labor History Research Center at Gelman Library and endowing the James R. Hoffa Teamsters Chair in Modern Labor History. He is a member of the GW Athletics Advisory Council and previously served on the GSPM Board of Advisors. He was a member of the Program Board as a student and served as chair in the 1991-92 academic year.

David Earl, B.A. '09, M.A. '16, is the chief development officer for the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. He engages UVA alumni and friends in supporting the center's mission to improve American Civics education and inspire greater participation in politics and elections. Previously, he served in various roles supporting GW Athletics and has volunteered with the Young Alumni Network.

Maria Fera, B.A. '15, is an associate director of the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate at Columbia University’s Columbia Business School. Fera focuses on alumni, the community and the real estate industry. During the pandemic, she began volunteering with GW by hosting monthly coffee chats with students. Fera served as a Thrive Guide to first-year students and a Bicentennial Ambassador. While at GW, she was a member of the Epsilon Sigma Alpha community service sorority and participated in GW Alternative Break. 

Bethann Schaffzin Kagan, B.B.A. ‘89, is a partner at Shein Law in Philadelphia where she is both a co-managing attorney and a seasoned trial lawyer specializing in plaintiffs’ complex litigation, including cases where clients develop mesothelioma and lung cancer after exposure to asbestos. She is involved in many charitable organizations that raise funds for celiac disease research, childhood cancer research and assisting families dealing with cancer diagnoses. Kagan is also a proud GW parent. She has been an active GW alumna, including judging the New Venture Competition annually. Kagan said she is proud to serve on the GWAA’s Executive Committee. 

Steve LaForte, B.A. ’86, J.D. ’93, is a graduate of the Elliott School of International Affairs and GW Law. LaForte has a 25-year career as a structured finance attorney and C-Suite executive in the post-acute care industry. He has advised and led some of the largest companies in that sector. LaForte has previously served GW as chair of the Luther Rice Society Advisory Council, the Seattle Alumni Network and the Healthcare Industry Alumni Network. In 2018, LaForte was honored to receive GW’s Outstanding Alumni Service Award. 

Felicia Rodriguez, B.A. ’07, M.A. ’13, is a program coordinator in the Development Cooperation Directorate of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris. Rodriguez coordinates teams of policy analysts and economists in the Financing for Sustainable Development Division, which measures, mobilizes and aligns finance for the 2030 development agenda. She has served as an active alumni volunteer in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Paris since 2013.

Calvin Sanders, B.A. '18, M.B.A. '20, is the chief financial officer of BOLT, a staffing and recruiting firm specializing in public sector and light industrial recruitments based in Northern California. Sanders previously served on GW's marketing alumni leadership group. As an undergraduate student working in the Colonial Connection office, Sanders raised about $30,000 for student scholarships, campus improvement initiatives and student organization. 

Traci Scott, M.A. ’96, works as a communications strategist. She has served as a senior adviser to the secretary of Veterans Affairs, a political adviser to 16 Army generals, a press officer in Iraq during Operation Iraq Freedom and as a communications director for congressional 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. Scott is a Presidential Leadership Scholar and in 2021 was honored with the GW Monumental Alumni Award. She currently serves on the GSPM Board of Advisors.

Kalpana Vissa, B.S. ’18, M.P.H. ’20, is a special assistant at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). Vissa advises senior leadership on organizational operations, strategic planning and cross-component initiatives to fight fraud, waste and abuse in order to improve HHS programs and the people they serve. Outside of her role at HHS-OIG, Vissa holds an adjunct faculty position in GW’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences, developing and teaching undergraduate public health and health sciences courses. She also serves as a founding member of the GW Women’s Leadership Program Alumni Advisory Board and volunteers for the Title IX Office. Vissa was selected to pursue her master’s degree as a Presidential Fellow, where she also was a member of the Safety and Security Advisory Board, Board of Trustees Volunteer Engagement Taskforce and Committee on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response.