Skip to main content

Alumni Board

Current Board Members

Mary U​lmer Jones 1983, 1986

Board Chair

Mary Ulmer Jones has two degrees from the University of Kentucky: a B.A. with distinction in Political Science in 1983 and a J.D. in 1986. As a law student she served on the staff of the Kentucky Law Journal. She was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in 1986 and is a member of the American Bar Association and the Atlanta Bar Association. She is currently Senior Vice President/Associate General Counsel with Bank of America. She has celebrated twenty-nine years with Bank of America, having joined the Legal Department in May‚ 1991. In her capacity as one of the Bank's senior labor and employment law in-house counsel‚ Mary provides legal advice and litigation management to the Bank's Human Resources department. Her responsibilities include providing legal support to several HR functions and lines of business within Bank of America. She lives in Atlanta, has three sons and a daughter, and is involved in Pebble Tossers, an organization that provides opportunities for local youth.

Hadeel Abdallah 2019

I am a Muslim-Palestinian-American from Lexington, Kentucky. I am interested in policy, fashion, and the impact of the textile industry on the world. The foundation for my interests lie in questioning how political institutions write the narratives of oppressed peoples, and how those people challenge such discourses. During my undergraduate career, I studied political science, Arabic, and Islamic studies, focusing on the motivations behind international solidarity movements, particularly South African, Palestinian and Black American solidarity. I am also the founder of the University of Kentucky Bilal ibn Rabah Scholarship, a monetary assistance program for students from underserved backgrounds to obtain a higher education debt free. My other passions include designing, filmmaking, and writing.

Hadeel is a Rhodes Scholar.

Michael Baer

Since joining Isaacson, Miller in 2005, Michael has specialized in conducting searches for deans, provosts, vice presidents, chancellors, and presidents at mid-size to large public and private institutions. As the senior vice president of the American Council on Education, the major coordinating body for the nation’s colleges and universities, he oversaw all campus-based programs, including one that identified and prepared women and minorities to move into senior administrative positions. This commitment to diversity mirrors the firm's. Michael began his career as a professor and, later, department chair in political science at the University of Kentucky before serving nine years as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He also spent eight years as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Northeastern University. He has led and served on numerous national higher education and community boards. In addition, he has published extensively on interest groups in American politics, civic participation, and state and local government. He is on the Board of Strategic Partnership LLC that manages Jobs for America's Graduates, an organization that helps at-risk youth graduate high school and secure jobs or enroll in post-secondary educational institutions.

Burke Earley 1993

A native of Louisville, Robert Burke Earley graduated in 1993 from the University of Kentucky with a B.S. in Political Science. Burke’s passion for pets and animals in general set him off on a career in Veterinary Science. He has served as a sales representative for Proctor & Gamble / Iams and a sales manager for Merial, LTD.  Currently, he is an owner/agent for Trupanion Insurance.  Burke graduated from the Blue Ridge School outside of Charlottesville, Va. and has continued to support Blue Ridge School by serving as Past President of the Parent Association (his son graduated from Blue Ridge in 2018) as well as a charter Member of the Alumni Leadership Council. In 2021 he was a recipient of the Anthony T. Noel Alumnus of the Year Award given to those who have demonstrated devotion to Blue Ridge School by volunteering their time, energy, and support to their alma mater and fellow alumni. He is a current member of the Board of Trustees. Burke has been a resident of North Carolina since 2000. 

Chris Gorman 1965, 1967

Chris Gorman earned both his BA (1965) and JD (1967) from the University of Kentucky. He also completed the Government Program for Senior Executives in both State and Local Government from the John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1987. His experience spans both the private and public sectors. His public sector work includes time with the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, the District Commissioner for Jefferson County, and was highlighted as the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Kentucky from 1992 to 1996. His work in the private sector spans 32 years of legal experience. He is currently a Partner with Conliffe, Sandmann and Sullivan, practicing administrative law, business law and litigation, consulting regarding corporate compliance with government regulations, and government relations/public affairs.

Michael W. Johnson 1991

A Kentucky native, Johnson earned his undergraduate degree in Political Science and Journalism at the University of Kentucky where he currently serves on the alumni board for the College of Arts and Sciences. Michael W. Johnson serves as NSSGA President and CEO. Before this current role, Johnson served as the executive vice president, chief lobbyist, and top political officer with the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA). Johnson also served as vice president of government affairs with the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) before NBWA. Johnson is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Association Committee of 100 and is an American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Key Industry Association Council member. He has also been named a “Leading Association Lobbyist” and a “Young & Aspiring Association Professional” by Association TRENDS in the past. 

Allia S. Kabbani 2014

Allia S. Kabbani graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts from the College of Arts and Sciences as dual-major in Political Science, with an interest in national security; and in International Studies, with a focus in International Relations in Africa and the Middle East. She also received a Minor in Arabic and Islamic Studies.  Allia currently serves in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in the Office of International Affairs in Washington, D.C. While an undergraduate student, Allia worked as a campaign coordinator in Lexington during the 2012 elections. After graduation, she returned home to Washington, D.C. and worked with the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation, and Trade, before accepting a full-time position in the Office of International Affairs.  While in her current role, Allia was selected to serve as a detailee in the Department of State’s Office of Legal Adviser. Allia is a recipient of the 2019 Criminal Division’s Assistant Attorney General’s Awards for Distinguished Service to the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Ben Kessinger

Ben Kessinger 2002

A Lexington native, Ben Kessinger graduated from the University of Kentucky with his BS in political science in 2002. After managing bloodstock portfolios and racing syndicates for several years, Ben joined the Kessinger-Lee financial group in 2011 where he now enjoys his role as First Vice President. Ben has served the greater Lexington community through his seat on the Legacy Council with the UK Markey Cancer Foundation and his role as an event committee member with Step-by-Step, a local organization that provides resources to young moms. 

Lindsey Maggard 2011

Lindsey currently serves as the Public Affairs Coordinator at the National Association of Counties. She works directly under the Director of Public Affairs, as well as overseeing and managing the NACo Achievement Awards and the Counties Matter Challenge: Brilliant Ideas at Work.

Before joining NACo, Lindsey was the State Party Programs Coordinator at the Democratic National Committee, working with the Political Team as the direct liaison to 50 state parties across the United States. Prior to that, she worked in the United States Senate with the Select Committee on Ethics. A proud Wildcat, Lindsey holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Kentucky, as well as a Master's in Political Management from The George Washington University.

Penny Miller 1965, 1986

Penny Miller received both her MA and PhD in Political Science from the University of Kentucky. Starting at UK as an associate professor, Dr. Miller, quickly rose and served the department greatly in her role as the Director of Undergraduate Studies. In her research and professorship, she had a keen focus on legislative processes, parties and elections, local/state governments, Kentucky politics, and women in politics. Leaving the department in 2005, Dr. Miller left behind an incredible legacy of extraordinary teaching, service, and student involvement. 

Geoffrey R. Morgan 1977, 1980

Geoff has acted as lead securities and corporate counsel for several public and private companies in public and private offerings of equity and debt. He has served as borrower’s and lender’s counsel for debt financings and syndicated loan participations. He has served as lead issuer’s counsel and underwriters’ counsel for many public offerings of both equity and debt and been lead counsel in many M&A transactions for public and private companies. He has also led public company change-of-control transactions and has represented companies and boards of directors in proxy contests. Geoff has also represented boards of directors and special committees of boards of directors of public companies in internal investigations of corporate wrongdoing and in SEC and Nasdaq investigations into corporate misconduct.  He has worked closely with forensic accountants in investigations of corporate misconduct and has acted as co-counsel representing executives in both criminal and regulatory proceedings against executives.

Since 2007, Geoff has been named one of “The Best Lawyers in America,” in the area of corporate governance and compliance and corporate law. In that regard, he frequently counsels both public and private companies in best practices for corporate governance.

Geoff is the only lawyer serving as a member of the Small Business Advisory Committee of the Financial Accounting Standards Board. Geoff is also a member of The Economic Club of Chicago. Geoff is the Firm’s General Counsel.

Ashley K. Thomas 2015

Ashley joined Clifton Budd & DeMaria, LLP in June of 2021. She defends management clients in a variety of labor and employment matters, including wage and hour litigation, employment discrimination claims, and harassment and retaliation suits. She also represents employers in grievance and arbitration proceedings and administrative actions before federal, state and local agencies. Ashley further counsels clients on their compliance obligations and day-to-day labor and employment related issues. She is part of Clifton Budd & DeMaria’s team that advises on the labor and employment implications of real estate transactions.

Ashley holds degrees from Notre Dame Law School ( J.D. 2019) and the University of Kentucky (B.A. 2015), where she graduated summa cum laude. Prior to joining Clifton Budd & DeMaria, Ashley’s practice consisted of handling a variety of matters throughout all phases of litigation. Additionally, Ashley also served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Radames Velazquez Jr., J.S.C., in the Superior Court of New Jersey.

W. Alexander Vacca 1997

W. Alexander Vacca, Ph.D., received his MA in Political Science from the University of Kentucky in 1997, and is Corporate Director- Business Assessment at Northrop Grumman.  In this role, he is responsible for assessing and forecasting the broader strategic, financial, competitive, and technological trends affecting the global defense industry.  He has supported the development and competitive capture of major aerospace and electronic systems and mergers and acquisitions in his twenty-one years at Northrop Grumman.  Alex has provided pro bono research and analysis for OSD-Director of Net Assessment, Naval Research Advisory Committee, and the Eisenhower School military aircraft and advanced microelectronics industrial base studies, as well as chairing industry wide studies on the national security industrial base.  He also holds a BA from Miami Ohio (1995) and PhD from Rutgers University (2009), both in Political Science, and has published occasionally on matters of technological change in military organisations.  

Past Board Members

Kenneth Coleman

Kenneth M. Coleman is Director for Partner Programs at the Association of American Universities. Prior to that, Ken spent 45 years in scholarship about Latin America. Most recently, Coleman participated in the Latin American Public Opinion Project, for which he directed and co-authored a study of public opinion in Nicaragua in 2014, after having co-authored similar studies in Mexico in 2006 and Honduras in 2008. Ken has been a faculty member at the Universities of Kentucky, New Mexico, and North Carolina-Chapel Hill, as well as a faculty associate of the Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan. At the University of Kentucky, he served as Director of Latin American Studies and Chair of Political Science in the late 1980s.

Deborah DeWeese

Previous Board Chair

Louisville native Deborah DeWeese served as a Jefferson District Judge and Senior Status Judge from 1994 to 2013. Deborah is graduate of Pleasure Ridge High School, the University of Kentucky, and the University Of Louisville School Of Law. Deborah chaired the first Jefferson County Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Council, was a member of the Jefferson County Crime Commission, served as Chief District Judge, and served for several years as the Vice Chair of Bridge haven Mental Health Services. Deborah also presided as Judge in Teen Court, Drug Court and Truancy Court. She is currently a Jefferson Circuit judge, serving family court since 2015. 

Read more about Judge DeWeese here.

Tim Ingram

Timothy M. Ingram is the founding partner of Ingram Injury Law, P.A., a personal injury law firm located in Clearwater, Florida. Mr. Ingram attended the University of Florida College of Law from 1982-1985, where he received his Juris Doctor Degree. Mr. Ingram attended the University of Kentucky for his undergraduate studies from 1978-1982. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.  Mr. Ingram is admitted to the Florida Bar, the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida and the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Mr. Ingram is a member of the Florida Justice Association, the American Association for Justice, the Clearwater Bar Association, the St. Petersburg Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. 

Lauren Smith Madden 

Lauren Madden graduated from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2014 where she served as a Managing Editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review and worked as a member of the Vanderbilt Legal Clinic. Lauren earned two Bachelors of Arts from the University of Kentucky in 2011 in Economics and Political Science. Lauren focuses her practice in the area of regulated businesses, including franchising, financial institutions and health care. Her experience includes drafting franchise agreements and preparing franchise disclosure documents (“FDD”s), as well as research and analysis of federal and state franchise regulatory compliance issues. She also frequently works with financial institutions and health care providers regarding mergers and acquisitions and regulatory compliance matters.

Laura Neack

Laura Neack is professor of political science at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. She teaches courses in world politics, foreign policy analysis, and international security. Professor Neack is the author of three editions of The New Foreign Policy (2003, 2008, and 2014), Elusive Security: States First, People Last (2007), and National, International, and Human Security (2017). She is the co-editor of two books, Global Society in Transition (2002) and Foreign Policy Analysis: Continuity and Change in Its Second Generation (1995). Professor Neack is the editor-in-chief of the peer-reviewed quarterly International Studies Perspectives (2015-2019) and formerly edited International Politics (1998-2003). She received her undergraduate degree in 1982 and her doctorate in 1991 from the University of Kentucky and she is a life-long member of the BBN. She lives in Northern Kentucky.

Pete Schirmer

Pete Schirmer received his MBA from Georgetown University, his MPP from the University of Michigan and his BA from the University of Kentucky. He has been Director for Innovation at RAND since 2012. He previously managed RAND’s Defense Policy Sciences Group and served as Associate Director of the Manpower & Training Program in the RAND Arroyo Center (the Army Research Division). Before joining RAND in 2002, he worked in the research department of a NASDAQ-listed financial institution and for a state government think tank.

Paul-Dekara Sime

Paul-Dekara Sime completed his BA, Summa Cum Laude, in May 2017 with a 4.0 GPA. He received the Arthur Ashe Sports Scholar Award in 2017 and was on both the Dean’s list and Athletics Director Honor Roll all four years of his scholastic career. Paul’s 4.0 GPA in political science is even more impressive by the fact that English isn’t his first language. Sime is from Guadeloupe where French is the primary language. Paul was also a member of the University of Kentucky Soccer team through his academic career where he received honors such as the C-USA All-Academic and was a three-time C-USA Academic Medalist.  He was also active as a summer camp assistant coach in 2016.