Event Details

Meet and network with DC area Cornellians and students who are part of the Cornell in Washington Program. 

The program includes a panel discussion with DC area alumni who will share how their Cornell University education influenced their career decision to live and work in the DC area.

Event Details

Date: Thursday, March 23, 2023
Time: 6:00–8:00 p.m. ET
Location: The University Club
1135 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
Cost: $30 Alumni | $25 Young Alumni | Free for current Cornell students
Appetizers will be provided. Cash bar will be available.


  • Annalise Schoonmaker ’14, Cornell Club of Washington, DC, Co-President


  • Nieva Brock ’88, Senior Counsel, Office of General Counsel, Defense Intelligence Agency
  • Justin Kondrat ’14, Lead Horticulturist, Smithsonian Garden Orchid Collection, Smithsonian Institution & Cornell Club of Washington, DC, Co-President
  • Damien Rashard Sharp MPA ’22, Strategic Communications and Media Relations Specialist, Federal Relations, Cornell University
  • Melanie Stansbury MS ’07, US Representative, New Mexico 1st District, US Congress
  • Beth Van Duyne ’95, US Representative, Texas 24th District, US Congress
  • Margaret Weitekamp MA ’96, PhD ’01, Curator and Department Chair, Space History, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Meet the Panelists 

Nieva Brock ’88 is currently serving in a joint duty assignment from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) as the Senior Counsel to the Director, Information Management and Compliance. There she is building a new directorate for DIA that ensures DIA compliance with privacy and civil liberties as it performs its human intelligence (HUMINT) mission. She also advises on DIA’s anomalous health incident (AHI) response; Freedom of Information, Privacy Act, Intelligence Oversight, and Records Management compliance; and ensures the Department of Defense Security Classification/ Declassification Review Team complies with classification management as it assists the Military Commissions and Department of Justice in handling terabytes of classified information in detainee cases.

Justin Kondrat ’14 has been leading the Smithsonian Gardens’ Orchid Collection since 2018. He earned his B.S. in Plant Science from the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University and has acquired experiences from Botanic Gardens across the US and abroad. At Smithsonian Gardens, Justin has implemented major improvements to the Orchid collection with a focus on Conservation, Outreach, Display, Innovation and Education (CODIE). When not attending the orchid collection Justin is an advocate for members of the LGBTQ+ community and persons with learning disabilities.  Justin firmly believes that he wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for horticulture and its ability to help us transcend limitations that we place upon others and ourselves; horticulture naturally invokes inclusion and invites all to feel welcome.

Damien Rashard Sharp MPA ’22 is an inaugural graduate of the Cornell Jeb. E. Brooks School of Public Policy where he received a master’s degree in public administration. Damien currently serves as the Strategic Communications and Media Relations Specialist for Cornell University Relations where he works to connect Cornell’s experts to policy making circles and the media. Prior to joining Cornell, Damien worked as a liaison for Piedmont Environmental Council where he worked to advance its historic preservation goals. A graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, Damien currently serves on the Hampden-Sydney Young Alumni Council. Damien enjoys cooking and entertaining and spends most of his recreational time doing so.

Melanie Stansbury MS ’07, born and raised in New Mexico, leads with determination and compassion. She has dedicated her career to finding solutions to water issues, poverty, and climate change — representing New Mexico in the Legislature and now in Congress. She is a champion of efforts to address hunger, food, and water insecurity, conservation and climate change, and economic development and recovery. Stansbury worked in communities across the state as a STEM educator, researcher on land and water issues, and served as a former staffer in the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the White House Office of Management and Budget. As the Congresswoman from New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, she is working hard to lift up the voices of our communities and tackle our biggest challenges—from economic development, to food and water security, to climate change.

Beth Van Duyne ’95 proudly represents the 24th Congressional District of Texas, which includes portions of Dallas and Tarrant counties. Now in her 2nd term, Beth was selected to serve on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee which is responsible for initiating tax and financial policies.  Assigned to the Taxation and Oversight Subcommittees, Beth is focused on delivering solutions to help individuals keep more of what they earn, businesses to expand operations and compete in globally competitive markets, and hold Administration policies and management accountable for actions which are detrimental to U.S. economic expansion or growing prosperity for our families. As a Texan, Beth is particularly interested in fostering policies that will empower our country with an abundant, affordable, and reliable energy supply to lower costs for families and deliver the power needed for our nation to enjoy an expansion of U.S. based manufacturing. 

Margaret Weitekamp MA ’96, PhD ’01
 serves as chair for the Space History Department at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and curates the Museum’s social and cultural history of spaceflight collection, more than 5,000 artifacts that include both space memorabilia and space science fiction objects. These everyday mementos of the space age—which include toys and games, medals and awards, buttons and pins, as well as comics and trading cards—complete the story about spaceflight told by the Museum’s collection of space hardware and technologies. Her book, Space Craze: America’s Enduring Fascination with Real and Imagined Spaceflight (2022) is based on that work.

This event is co-sponsored by the Cornell Club of Washington, DC and Cornell University Alumni Affairs.