Meet The Staff

Todd Collins Photo

Dr. Todd Collins, Director, Public Policy Institute

Todd Collins is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Director of the Public Policy Institute. His work on the courts, public policy, immigration, media, the presidency, and Congress has appeared in Political Research Quarterly, the Maryland Law Review, PS: Political Science and Politics, Judicature, Law and Policy, White House Studies, Politics and Religion, and other journals. He has won awards in recognition for outstanding research and teaching.
Contact Dr. Collins at tcollins@email.wcu.edu.

 Edmonds Photo

Emily Edmonds, Administrative Assistant

Emily Edmonds is a graduate of Western Carolina University, with a special studies degree in Political Science, Philosophy, and Economics. For the PPI, she performs administrative duties and works with the graduate assistants. She also serves as the director of the Western North Carolina Food Policy Council, hosted through the Public Policy Institute, and enjoys working with campus initiatives around local food and community development in the WNC region.
Contact Emily at emedmonds@email.wcu.edu.

The 2014-2015 PPI Team

PPI Staff 2014 

Graduate Assistants

Travis Allen Photo

Travis Allen - Public Affairs

Travis, who is from Murphy, North Carolina, graduated from Western Carolina University in 2014 with a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice. This is his first year in the MPA program. After graduation, he plans to pursue a career with the federal government. 

Contact Travis @ tkallen1@catamount.wcu.edu.

Brian Burgess Photo

Brian Burgess - Public Affairs

Brian is originally from Shelby, North Carolina, and received his B.A. in Religious Studies at Brevard College in 2011. After studying East Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University, he transferred to Old Dominion, where he focused on Theory and Philosophy. Brian is now pursuing his MPA at Western Carolina University, and hopes to work with impoverished areas in Western North Carolina upon graduation. Brian feels that understanding the things that bring people together as a community, such as music, religion, and language, can ultimately only help us find common grounds, and build more resilient and meaningful communities. For the PPI, he is able to channel his strengths into such projects as a Landlord and Tenant Law Brochure for Renters, the "Focus on Franklin" community engagement project in Macon County, the North Carolina Nonprofit Survey, and other projects. 

Contact Brian @ burgesbd@gmail.com.

Heather Britt

Heather Britt - Public Affairs

Heather is from Lexington, North Carolina, and graduated from Western Carolina University in 2014 with a B.A. in History and a B.S. in Political Science. She began working at the PPI as a graduate assistant in the fall, when she enrolled in the MPA program. After graduating, Heather plans to work in local government, with the goal of becoming a Town or City Manager. 

Contact Heather @hlbritt2@catamount.wcu.edu.

Carlye Gates Photo

 Carlye Gates - Public Affairs

Carlye began working at the PPI in the fall of 2014. After graduating from the University of Florida in 2010 with her B.A. degree, she worked with the Asheville City Schools Foundation, managing and evaluating teacher grants and supporting students, especially those living in poverty. She has collaborated on a variety of community-based projects related to food security and education. Her interests lie in social policy, nonprofit capacity-building, qualitative research, and program evaluation. Following graduation from the MPA program, Carlye hopes to play a role in improving the effectiveness and impact of social programs. 

Contact Carlye @ carlyegates1@gmail.com.

Ana Stewart Photo

Ana Stewart - Public Affairs

Ana is originally from Russia, where she was a professional volleyball player. She received her B.S. degree in Economics at the University of Louisville in 2007 as a student-athlete, and later worked as a volleyball coach in New Jersey. She entered the MPA program in the fall of 2014 and began working at the PPI in the same semester. After graduation, she hopes to work in the Asheville area with nonprofit organizations focused on solutions to poverty.  

Contact Ana @ astewart@email.wcu.edu. 

Undergraduate Research Associate

Garrett Whipkey Photo

Garrett Whipkey  

Garrett is now a senior majoring in Political Science and Music at Western Carolina University. He is WCU's 2014-2015 Student Body President and is involved in many leadership activities across campus. Garrett is excited to be entering his second full year as a research associate in the Public Policy Institute. 

Contact Garrett @ gswhipkey1@catamount.wcu.edu

PPI Alumni

Joshua Purdy - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs

Samuel Riddle - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs

Drew Tucker - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs

Billy Schweig - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs

Thaddeus Huff - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs

Charlie Foxx - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs

Sami Disu - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs (2008-2009)

Brooke Crompton - Graduate Assistant-Public Affairs (2009-2010).  Currently employed with the City of Asheville

Robert Blankenship - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs

Darren Dodd - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs

Wade Livingston - Undergraduate Student.  Currently Assistant Professor at Clemson University

Michael Hancock - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs

Jonathan Sofley - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs

Trisha Harden - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs (currently employed with the City of Asheville)

Amanda Shirk - Undergraduate Student in PSC and Education

Jason Coggins - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs

Ronnie Hewitt - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs

 Demorris Davis - Undergraduate Student in PSC

John Westbrooks - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs (currently employed as a US Air Marshal)

Alex Pellom - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs (currently the Emergency Preparedness Planner with the City of Jacksonville, FL)

Greg Hirsch - Undergraduate student in PSC

Teena Watty - Undergraduate student in PSC

Alexandra O'Halloran - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs

Andrew Bowen - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs (currently employed with the Town of Maggie Valley)

Ashleigh Swayze - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs

Austin Ritch - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs

Laura Dintsch - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs

Maggie Chandler - Graduate Assistant - Public Affairs

 

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