Facebook pixel Davenport Institute Advisory Council | Pepperdine School of Public Policy Skip to main content
Pepperdine | School of Public Policy

Davenport Institute Advisory Council


Alex Berberian

Alex works to power our future as a Grid Modernization Strategy Integration Advisor at SCE, where he manages the software and technological upgrades being made to the electric system. He was previously an Environmental Project Manager, Distribution Planner and Right of Way agent in the company upon starting off as an intern. Additionally, Alex has served as the President of the S.A.F.E 24/7 business resource group at the company, which focuses on physical and psychological safety promotion and cultural promotion. He is an adjunct instructor at Cal Poly Pomona within the Utility Planner Certification program and graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management & Human Resources along with an MBA from Cal Poly Pomona. Alex is currently a Doctor of Business Administration candidate at Taft University and enjoys playing guitar and piano with the company band.


Matt Bronson

Matthew Bronson serves as City Manager for the City of Grover Beach and was appointed by the Grover Beach City Council in May 2016.  Bronson has 18 years of local government experience in this role working for cities and counties in both California and North Carolina.  Prior to Grover Beach, Bronson served as Assistant City Manager for the City of San Mateo where he provided support to the City Council and City Manager on special projects and oversaw the City’s economic development, sustainability, communications, volunteer, and downtown parking and maintenance programs.  He also coordinated the City’s priority-setting and “high performance organization” initiative and served as interim director of the Community Development Department and an interim manager in the Public Works Department overseeing street and facilities maintenance and downtown parking.  Bronson has an undergraduate degree in environmental policy from the University of California, Davis and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Nicolle Burnham

Nicolle Burnham is the Director of Parks and Public Works for the Town of Los Gatos.  She has served in this capacity since August 2022.  Prior to joining the Town, she worked seven and a half years for the City of San José’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services in both capital programs and in an operations capacity. As part of this role Nicolle oversaw community engagement and outreach efforts for projects all across the City for projects to serve a diverse population.  Before working San José Nicolle spent 20 years as a private sector engineering consultant in the East Coast.  In that role she worked on a broad array of projects including private sector development, stormwater management and flood control, parks and playgrounds, and bridge design.  Nicolle has a Bachelors in Civil Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Connecticut.



Deborah Feng

Ms. Deborah L. Feng has more than 35 years of progressive management and administration experience with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California and more recently, with the City of Cupertino as the City Manager. The culmination of her NASA career was serving as Associate Center Director. Her responsibilities included operating the Ames Research Center, its financial management and budgeting, master planning and facilities construction, information technology, human resources, partnerships, safety and mission assurance, and communications and outreach. Her largest and most complex real estate projects included the out lease of the iconic Hangar One and its surrounding infrastructure as well as a large 2,000-unit housing project on NASA Ames property. As City Manager of Cupertino, Ms. Feng focused on ensuring reliable operations of the City and the efficient and effective delivery of services to the public. She was recognized by the Silicon Valley Business Journal as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Women in Silicon Valley in 2021. Most recently, Ms. Feng served as the Managing Director for Guggenheim Entertainment at 3 Below Theaters in Downtown San Jose, a small non-profit business, continuing her focus on efficient business operations in support of the arts. In July 2022, Ms. Feng joined the Davenport Institute as an Advisory Council Member, bringing with her diverse experiences as an executive leader at the Federal and local levels. She is Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) certified through Pepperdine University and started The Speccio Leadership Group, specializing in leadership development with foundational DEI underpinnings. Ms. Feng is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications, Radio and Television. Feng also earned her Master’s Degree in Business Administration from San Jose State University while receiving the GOLD Award from the College of Business for her leadership.


Artie Fields

Artie Fields has been the City Manager for the City of Inglewood since July 2011.

Mr. Fields served as City Manager for the City of Salinas from July 2008 to July 2011. Almost immediately after coming to the City of Salinas, Mr. Fields was tasked with the responsibility of balancing a $13 million budget shortfall resulting from a nationwide recession. Despite these fiscal challenges, Mr. Fields successfully implemented a major reorganization and several streamlining initiatives. Mr. Fields' support of economic development initiatives in the City contributed to the development of the Salinas Agricultural Industrial Center and to the approval of an Exclusive Negotiating Rights Agreement for a long-awaited mixed use development in Old Town Salinas. Mr. Fields was instrumental in securing millions of dollars in federal and State grants for programs and capital improvements, including $3.5 million for the Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant and an unprecedented amount of law enforcement funding and support at the federal and State level.

Mr. Fields served as the Assistant City Manager for the City of West Covina from November 1998 to July 2008. During this period he was responsible assisting with general management of the City, overseeing the local cable TV programming and public relations functions, as well as, and providing support to the City Council on all policy matters. Mr. Fields also served as Interim Finance Director, Interim Human Resources Director, and Interim Community Services Director during his tenure in West Covina.

Throughout his career, Mr. Fields has become known for his ability to work with a variety of non-profit, community based, and business groups to solve problems and address issues in the community and City organization. He has also worked extensively on programs involving youth services, community relations, legislative functions, budgeting, and served in leadership roles with numerous special task forces and staff development programs.

Mr. Fields started his career in 1986, working with municipal governments throughout California. In addition to the aforementioned cities, Mr. Fields has worked for the cities of Beverly Hills, Manhattan Beach, Pasadena, Pomona, and San Leandro. In 2002 he was awarded the John H. Nail Memorial Award, presented annually to an outstanding municipal assistant who has contributed significantly to his/her city government and the advancement of the community as a whole.

Mr. Fields is a current member of the International City Manager's Association (ICMA), the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, and a Life Member of San Gabriel Valley NAACP. He holds a Bachelor Degree in Psychology and a Master Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California. He is a San Gabriel Valley native having grown up in La Puente. He currently resides in Los Angeles. 


Madeline Graf

Madeline Graf is the Public Information Officer for the City of Dixon. She oversees city-wide communications, media relations and community engagement. In addition to her work in Dixon, Madeline is an Adjunct Professor in CSU Sacramento’s Master of Public Policy and Administration Program teaching a course in Collaborative Governance. 

Prior to working for the City, Madeline served as the Administrative Services Manager/Chief Board Clerk for Citrus Heights Water District where she managed five program areas including public information and engagement, human resources, risk management, legislative affairs and clerk of the Board duties.

In addition, Madeline previously worked at the Institute for Local Government (ILG) a non-profit based in Sacramento, CA. At ILG, Madeline researched best practices in public engagement and worked with local governments and their communities to address their public engagement and communications challenges and needs. 

She holds a B.A. in Political Science & a B.S. in Community & Regional Development from UC Davis and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy & Administration from CSU Sacramento.


Dante Hall

Mr. Hall has over 20 years of local government experience in the areas of Community Engagement, Planning and Community Development, Economic Development, Redevelopment, Public Works, Finance, and Human Resources. Currently, he is the City Manager for the City of Hercules in California and is responsible for overseeing all departments and the daily management of City services.

Before joining the City of Hercules, Mr. Hall was the Assistant City Manager for the City of Foster City in California where he provided general oversight to the Community Development, Public Works, and Parks and Recreation Departments, in addition to expert analysis and advice to the City Manager, City Council, and department heads on a variety of issues.

Mr. Hall also served as the Assistant City Manager for the City of El Monte, the Community Development Director for the City of Half Moon Bay, and the Redevelopment Administrator for the City of Moreno Valley.  Mr. Hall holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.


Michael Huling

Michael Huling is a city planner in Clark County, Nevada, and an Advisory Council Member at the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership. He was born in San Diego and grew up in Poway, California, which he affectionately describes as “The Best City in the World.” Michael graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He then earned a master’s degree in public policy from the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy. While at Pepperdine, he was a graduate research assistant for the Davenport Institute, where he contributed to research, writing, curriculum development, and program implementation. Michael has experience in public policy, political campaigns, local government, and public engagement, and has been published in several publications, including PM MagazineICMAELGL, and The American Conservative. He is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, studying family-oriented community development.


Caitlin Robinett Jachimowicz

Ms. Jachimowicz is the Director of the Center for Social Justice and Public Service as well as the Public Interest JD program at Santa Clara Law.  She serves as adjunct faculty and advisor for students.  Ms. Jachimowicz is currently the elected Treasurer for the city of Morgan Hill and was formerly on the City Council.  Passionate about giving back to her community, Caitlin sits on the board of the Edward Boss Prado Foundation, a non-profit in Morgan Hill, CA; and is on the Advisory Board for the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy.

Caitlin is a graduate of Santa Clara University School of Law where she received a certificate in Public Interest and Social Justice. She also served as the Student Bar Association President, Editor-in-Chief of The Advocate, and participated in various organizations and community service groups throughout law school. Caitlin served as a law clerk for the Panetta Institute of Public Policy and was a Congressional Aide for Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren before practicing criminal defense and civil litigation for over ten years.

In 2020, Caitlin was named one of the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40” and received the recognition of Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce’s Woman of the Year.

Caitlin is married to fellow SCU Law alum, Josh Jachimowicz (’11), and they have two young children.


Michael Kasperzak

Mike Kasperzak is a Public and Government affairs consultant representing a wide variety of clients, including start-ups, non-profits and developers and is a former member of the Santa Clara County Airport Commission.  He served on the Mountain View City Council for 16 years, serving as Mayor in 2003 and 2012. Prior to his election, Mike served as a Parks & Recreation and as a Planning Commissioner.  He also ran for the California State Legislature representing the 24th Assembly District in 2016.

Professionally, Mike was a commercial mediator with Silicon Valley Mediation Group, and is a member of the Advisory Board of Nextdoor.com, a San Francisco based neighborhood social networking startup.  Prior to establishing his mediation practice, Mike practiced law for 11years as a defense trial attorney specializing in Aviation and products liability.

Actively involved in the community, Mike is a former Co-Chair the Los Altos Community Foundation, KMVT 15, and is current Chair of the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.  He also Chaired the local chapter of the American Red Cross where he also served as a national management volunteer at Red Cross Headquarters.   He has served on the Board of Directors of Acterra, the Community School of Music and Arts, Avenidas, the Santa Clara County Bar Association and Lewis and Clark College. 

Mike attended Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in Business Administration and Economics in 1976.  He received his JD from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1982.


Jim Keene

In his career in local government, he served as City Manager of Palo Alto and Berkeley, California and Tucson, Arizona.

He also served as the Executive Director of the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), Coconino County Manager (Flagstaff and Grand Canyon), Director of Strategic Issues and ICMA West for the International City and County Management Association, and President of the Alliance for Innovation.  He earlier served as Deputy County Administrator for planning, development, and preservation in Northern Virginia’s Loudoun County and held several positions in Montgomery County, Maryland.

He has taught at the University of Maryland and Northern Arizona University, the University of California at Berkeley, and most recently teaching in Executive Programs at Stanford University and the University of Virginia.

His life-long commitment to public service has been driven by a passion for the American experiment in self-government; place-making; sustainability; community building and civic engagement; and innovation to transform government.                           


Jennifer King

Jennifer King practiced appellate law for over 30 years, both in private practice and as a Senior Judicial Attorney at the Second District Court of Appeal. She utilized her legal training in her roles on the Palos Verdes Estates City Council, including a term as Mayor, and on the Palos Verdes Estates Planning Commission. Her local government experience included leadership positions with Cal Cities’ Los Angeles Division and the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority. She is committed to civic education, teaching Constitutional Law as an adjunct at USC’s Gould School of Law, and Policy Formulation and Implementation at USC’s Price School of Public Policy. She has also served on the boards of several non-profit organizations, where she facilitated strategic planning efforts. She recently advanced her study of local government, receiving her Doctorate of Policy, Planning and Development (DPPD) at USC’s Price School of Public Policy, where she received the DPPD Outstanding Dissertation Award for 2024.


Justin Lovell

Justin Lovell has more than 15 years of experience in local government management. Since 2019, he has served as the Director of Administrative Services with West County Wastewater District in Richmond, California, where he oversees the finance, human resources, and information technology divisions. He is currently the 2024 President of the Municipal Management Association of Northern California and is on the board of the Institute of Local Government. Justin has led several initiatives to improve internal processes, secure financing for large capital projects, champion better use of technology and create organizational structures and systems that support staff career development.  His background includes policy development, budget and financial forecasting, project management, sustainability initiatives, and process improvements. Justin is a graduate of Leadership ICMA, a two-year leadership and management program for local government professionals and he completed the Water and Wastewater Leadership Center at the University of North Carolina. His experience includes positions with the city of South San Francisco in finance, public works, and the city manager’s office, service in the AmeriCorps Bay Area Youth Agency Consortium working with at-risk youth, and a Peace Corps Volunteer working in environmental education in Bolivia. Justin earned a Master of Science in Urban Policy Analysis and Management from The New School in New York, New York, and a Bachelor of Science in Recreation Administration from San Diego State University.


Lydia Romero

Lydia is currently the City Manager for the City of Lemon Grove. Lydia previously served as the Deputy City Manager for the City of San Marcos, the Assistant to the City Manager for the City of San Rafael, a Staff Analyst for the League of California Cities and an administrative analyst for the City of Duarte. Lydia holds a BA in Political Science from CSU Long Beach.


Amanda Rotella

Amanda Rotella has spent the last 10 years in the public sector working for local governments and non-profit organizations in strategic project management and community engagement roles. She recently joined the City of Mountain View Economic Development Team, where she will be supporting businesses and overseeing community projects. Amanda has successfully shepherded highly controversial projects through multi-phased engagement and approval processes. She is known for enthusiastically taking on tricky civic projects, building defensible community processes, and designing creative approaches to public sector issues. Amanda received both her Bachelor's and Masters in Political Science from Fordham University (Bronx, NY). As a lifelong learner, she is regularly pursuing professional development opportunities and recently received certifications in Leading Smart Communities from the Davenport Institute and High Performance Leadership from ICMA.In her free time, Amanda is outside as much as possible: hiking, taking her dog to the beach, or training for her next triathlon.


Megan Schede

Megan is the Deputy City Manager for the City of Roseville, CA and has served on the City Manager’s Executive Team since 2010. She has worked at the Capital region’s only full-service city since 2007. She leads organizational culture and leadership efforts, City Council initiatives and public affairs, legislative, media, and community relations.

Megan’s a member of the Advisory Council for the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University and is a guest speaker at both the School of Public Policy and the College of Business Administration at SacState. 

She was named Influencer of the Year in 2019 by the California Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. She was named the 2023 recipient of the Award for Advancement of Diverse Communities by the City Managers Department of the League of California Cities.

She previously was Sacramento County’s Communications and Media Director, after spending 10 years in the private sector at public-relations and advertising firms in Hawaii and Florida. Her clients included ports and airports, travel and tourism, indigenous peoples, utilities, financial sector, and energy companies.   

Megan served four years as a Navy officer in Florida and Hawaii after earning a B.S. in journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago.  She was the third woman in 65 years to lead the school’s midshipman battalion. 

Her volunteer service on nonprofit boards spans education, health care, economic development, youth development, and includes a nine-year term on the National Board of Directors of Girl Scouts of the USA. 

Megan is the mom to a son, 23, and a daughter, 20. After raising her children as a single parent for 18 years, Megan married her husband in 2020. 


Yvette Sennewald

Yvette Sennewald, is a graduate of California State University, San Bernardino with a BA in Geography.  Yvette oversees the Neighborhood Engagement Division in the Community & Economic Development Department and is responsible for developing the City’s neighborhood programs.  Since her move to the Neighborhood Engagement arena, she has redesigned the City’s neighborhood programs, incorporating Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) principles into every aspect of program delivery.  ABCD teaches us to focus on the assets within communities rather than the needs, while providing encouragement and empowerment to residents to work together for the greater good of the community.  

Prior to her work in the Neighborhood Engagement Division, she was a Senior Project Planner for the Planning Division and assisted developers with processing their projects through the entitlement process.  Because of her Planning background and knowledge of zoning regulations, she was selected to create a program that would assist neighbors in asset mapping, identifying a vision for the future of their neighborhoods, developing an action plan/strategy to create positive change within the community, and working with Neighborhood Leaders to see those dreams come to reality.  Yvette’s most recent assignment is to create a Citywide Public Engagement Policy


Melissa Spagnuolo

Melissa Spagnuolo is a dynamic professional with a passion for fostering community connections and engagement. With a proven track record in cultivating revenue-generating partnerships, Melissa is a compassionate leader who emphasizes personal growth, accountability, and achieving tangible results. Originally hailing from Apple Valley, California, she has proudly called Los Angeles home for over a decade. Outside of her professional pursuits, Melissa finds joy in traveling, cherishing quality time with family, and basking in the sun of the beautiful outdoors.



Almis Udris

Almis Udrys (SPP '01) believes that government CAN work. With a 20-year public service career spanning numerous legislative, executive and board-member roles in the State of California and the City of San Diego, including as founding Director of San Diego's nationally-recognized Performance & Analytics Department, Almis has been involved in all facets of policy-making, civic engagement, and operational execution. Almis continues to support state and local governments as Senior Director of Professional Services for OpenGov, a govtech company powering more effective and accountable government.


Kurt Wilson

While Dr. Kurt Wilson’s career progression is an inspiring example to many, what makes him a great leader is his ability to unlock the individualized potential in others. He is a mentor, a teacher, and a community ambassador who has shepherded steady change through periods of ambiguity. For 25+ years, Kurt Wilson has chartered new courses in the public sector, proving an ability to lead steady transformation. He made history when he led the City of Stockton, California through a bankruptcy filing and escorted its evolution into the second most financially healthy large city in America—earning 3 All-American City Awards and being partially documented in a Harvard Kennedy School case study.  He is a two-time appointee of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and he is a founding member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He is also the youngest person elected to City Council in Rialto, CA.  Kurt Wilson lends a voice on Boards helping children, the impoverished, and parents in search of funding to bury their young children. Further, he mentored special needs children and launched a Boys & Girls Club, as well as a Police Activities League in addition to volunteering as a sworn peace officer.