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Alumni, Current and Prospective Student Reception and Panel Discussion

Mayflower Hotel

No matter where you are in your career, you create a competitive edge when you understand how your current or future team, department or organization achieves its strategic goals. Employee engagement has become an increasingly relevant topic to a company’s success, as more research shows a positive correlation to productivity and retention. 

You are cordially invited to learn more about this critical topic by joining us for a special evening sponsored by the Smith Office of Executive Education.

"Shaping Tomorrow's Work Force"
Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at 6 p.m.

The Mayflower Hotel [map]
1127 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036


You will hear from a panel of Smith EMBA C-Suite executive alumni on how they communicate, instruct, inspire and ultimately retain their star performers.

Panelists include:

  • Luke J. McCormack, Smith EMBA ’05, Chief Information Officer, Department of Homeland Security
  • Shiva G. Fritsch, Smith EMBA ’08, Director of Talent Management, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • Donna Blackman, Smith EMBA ’10, Senior Vice President, Finance and Controller, Black Entertainment Network (BET)
  • Kara Sasse, Smith EMBA ’11, Head of Product Management & Marketing, Gallup

At the pre and post panel reception, you will have the opportunity to catch up with alumni as well as mingle with current and prospective Smith Executive MBA students. Members of the faculty and staff will also be on hand and look forward to seeing you again.

See you on May 7th at the Mayflower Hotel!


Luke J. McCormack


Luke J. McCormack* (Smith EMBA ’05) is a Federal Government Chief Information Officer overseeing continuing efforts to implement information technology (IT) enhancements and strengthen IT security. Mr. McCormack has extensive IT and leadership experience within government as well as in the public and private sectors. 

He previously served at the Department of Justice as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Information Resources Management/Chief Information Officer, where he provided strategic direction, management services, oversight to cross-component information technology efforts and IT infrastructure services. In addition, he has previously served as CIO for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Before joining the federal government, he served at various private sector companies including MCI and Ford Aerospace. .

Shiva G. Fritsch


Shiva G. Fritsch is the Director of Talent Management for Howard Hughes Medical Institute. As a member of the leadership team, Shiva and is focused on best talent management strategies for the institute, focused on recruitment, onboarding, employee & leadership development, and performance management . Shiva has a passion for the sciences, and devotes her career to help create a culture of high performance and high engagement, where employees are motivated to work hard and enjoy it all at the same time!

Prior to Howard Hughes, Shiva was the Director of Talent Management at Human Genome Sciences (HGSI). With a degree in Neurobiology, she was a Research Associate at HGS, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the National Cancer Institute. Shiva also holds a MBA from the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland.

Donna Blackman

Donna Blackman

Donna Meacham Blackman is a Finance, Accounting and Project Management Executive recognized for her ability to maximize corporate results and individual performance. She recently joined BET Networks, a division of Viacom, as Senior Vice President, Finance and Controller.  Prior to joining BET, she held several finance leadership positions at Marriott International, Inc., including Vice President, Development Asset Management, Vice President, Finance - Global Lodging Services, Vice President, Investor Relations and Director, Financial Reporting and Accounting Policy.

Prior to joining Marriott, Blackman was a Senior Manager with KPMG LLP in New York and Washington, DC, where she served a variety of  both public and private clients in the financial services, broadcasting, University and Not for Profit industries. 

Blackman is very active in the community and currently serves on the Board of the NEA Foundation and as Treasurer for the BE Great Foundation. She previously served on the Board for the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of Inroads, the Women and Family Issues Executive Committee of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and as Vice President of the Washington DC chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants. 

Blackman is a Certified Public Accountant and she holds an MBA degree from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Accounting from North Carolina State University.


Kara Hedges Sasse

As the head of the product strategy efforts at Gallup Education, Kara is an expert in product strategy, development, and management. Prior to joining Gallup, Kara led product development efforts for EverFi, an educational technology leader, building from scratch and then running the curriculum design, product management, and customer support teams that built EverFi’s award-winning learning platform for more than 5000 schools and universities across the U.S.  A veteran of the educational technology industry, she was an early employee of Blackboard, Inc. (NASDAQ:BBBB) and spent six years in a number of global marketing positions.  She has an MBA from the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park and an undergraduate business degree from Roanoke College.  An amateur genealogist, edtech mentor at 1776 DC, former NCAA athlete, and active globetrotter, Kara has more than 14 years of experience creating, scaling, and marketing innovative B-to-B software products for the education industry.  Kara lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband Ryan and newborn son Finn.