May 10, 2021

With a Career in Public Service, Statler Finds Path to Do Good

As the first “Do Good” campus in the United States, the University of Maryland encourages its students and alumni to work to make a lasting, positive impact wherever they go.

Few alumni “do good” better than L. Seth Statler, MBA ’87, who has dedicated a 30-year career to honoring fallen firefighters and helping their families.

On April 23, 2021, the UMD Alumni Association recognized Statler “for transforming idealism into impact,” with the Maryland Awards’ annual Do Good Award. The ceremony, dubbed “A Celebration of Terps,” was one of several events coinciding with the investiture of UMD President Darryll Pines.

Statler, who is the director of government affairs for the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association, in accepting the award, described how he entered public service – hesitantly – as a student intern, hired to work with the late Sen. Paul Sarbanes, of Maryland.

L. Seth Statler

“I’ve been blessed to have a number of mentors who steered me down a public service path,” he said. A family friend who ran the joint congressional committee on taxation was one, he said, and Gettysburg College Professor Ann Fender was another. University of Maryland Emeritus Professor James Grunig was yet one more. And Sarbanes, he said, left a big impact, encouraging him to join his staff after graduation – for just one year – before heading off to a career in business. He agreed, persuaded by the opportunity to advise the senator on business issues, military issues and fire service issues. That one year led to a career in public service.

Statler wrote legislation to create the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation, a Congressionally chartered foundation that honors firefighters who died on the job, served on its board and chaired the foundation’s scholarship program for 24 years, as it awarded more than $4 million to survivors. And he has continued to serve as a member of the College Park Volunteer Fire Department.

“I hope that my story somehow inspires the amazing young people on this campus to do something meaningful with their lives,” he said. “And I do very much appreciate this recognition.”

The following alumni were also recognized at the Maryland Awards event:

Jody Olsen ’72, former director of the Peace Corps, was presented with the President’s Award, for her lifelong commitment to service, learning and international opportunities.

Jazz Lewis ’11, MPP ’14, Democratic Caucus Chair and Maryland State Delegate, was presented with the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award for his efforts in addressing criminal justice reform and promoting economic opportunity for all people.

Wanda Alexis Alexander ’81, president and CEO of WAA-LLC, was presented with the Tyser Gotwals Award for giving her time and talents and for inspiring past, present and future Terps.

Joseph Kunkel ’09 M.Arch, principal at MASS Design Group and director of SNC DL, was presented with the Elaine Johnson Coates Award for working toward building an American society where Indigenous people have a seat at the table.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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