Public Service Fellows

To honor the commitment to public service made by RSEA members, the Board has chosen to promote public service in state government by sponsoring four graduate student fellowships over a 5-year period. 

At its meeting on February 27, 2020, the Board of RSEA agreed to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding between the Retired State Employees Association and The University of Texas System to create a fellowship in state public service. A gift amount of $50,000 was pledged, to be paid over five years at $10,000 per year. 

The funds will be used to create four $2,500 fellowships annually for second-year graduate students in either the Masters in Public Policy or Masters in Global Policy Studies programs at the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas in Austin. Recipients are expected to show an interest in pursuing careers in state government in Texas upon graduation. 

Shown below are the first three classes of RSEA Public Service Fellows:

RSEA Fellows Introduction by Dean DeShazo - FY 22-23

2022-2023 Retired State Employee Association Fellows

Jacob Cleveland

Jacob is a 2nd year graduate student at the LBJ School of Public Affairs with a concentration in health & social policy. He is a lifelong Texan who grew up in San Antonio and received a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Texas State University. Jacob initially had an interest in pursuing a graduate degree in research psychology, but the pandemic and ongoing mental health crisis made him realize that research only goes so far if people cannot get access to the mental health care they need. Jacob joined LBJ with the goal of expanding access to mental health services for all Texans. This past summer, he interned in the Texas State Senate and rediscovered his love for the legislative process. Jacob is looking forward to the upcoming session in 2023. He greatly appreciates this generous fellowship and looks forward to pursuing a rewarding career in public service of his community.

Ryan Hurt

Ryan Hurt is a second-year Master’s of Public Affairs student at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Prior to LBJ, Ryan graduated from UT Austin with a BA in Government and Plan II Honors in 2021. His motivation for attending the LBJ centered around acquiring the hard skills necessary for effective policy analysis and implementation. His interests lie primarily in program evaluation, performance auditing, and higher education policy. During his first year of graduate school, Ryan served as the Policy Fellow for the Texas Association of Community Colleges and assisted with data analysis pertaining to the community college funding formula. He will continue in this role through Fall 2022. This summer, Ryan interned at the Government Accountability Office in Washington D.C. He intends to bring this experience to the Texas State Auditor’s Office or the Legislative Budget Board during the upcoming legislative session. Ryan is passionate about utilizing fiscal accountability, strong oversight, and cogent policy analysis to support state lawmakers and intends to work within one of these support agencies upon graduation. Ryan thanks RSEA for this fellowship. As a born and raised Texan, he is honored to be selected. He looks forward to making the Retired State Employees Association, and the state of Texas, proud in his final year of grad school and beyond.

Allie Gurtz

Allie Gurwitz is currently entering her second year of the Masters of Global Policy Studies Program at the LBJ School. Before coming to LBJ, Allie earned a bachelor’s degree in Government from Georgetown University. Allie’s primary focus as a graduate student at UT is to synthesize her interest in international relations and love for Texas, specifically in the areas of homeland security and counterterrorism. Allie has work experience in the Texas Legislature, the Texas Supreme Court, and most recently in the Texas Department of Public Safety's Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division this past summer. She hopes to continue her career in public service after graduation either at Texas DPS or the Texas Legislature. She thanks RSEA so much for your support as she continues on her path of service to our great state!

Julie Range

Julie Range is attending the LBJ School to sharpen her policy and implementation skillset. She is interested in how legislation and the administration of our laws can best strengthen our governance to best prepare Texans for the future. As a former air pollution control engineer and mom, her policy focus is on energy and the environment and public education. She just accepted a position as Legislative director for State Representative Vikki Goodwin but could also envision a future career at a state agency. Julie sincerely thanks you for your investment in her efforts.

2021 Retired State Employee Association Fellows

Alaina Ruth Turnquist

Master of Public Affairs (Candidate)

Alaina is a Masters of Public Affairs student who is pursuing a certificate in state and local finance. She is passionate about de-mystifying financial terminology and increasing accessibility of the important decisions that hide behind big words. She recently finished working in the 87th Legislature where she got to work on family leave plans for state employees and see first hand the dedication of public servants across state agencies. Originally from Minnesota, the LBJ School has provided a unique opportunity to see a different state government at work.

Ardian Shaholli

Master of Public Affairs (Candidate)

After years of working at the state legislature and multiple non- profits, Ardian wanted to acquire more technical knowledge that could help advance his passions. The LBJ School provides a perfect combination of theoretical and applied learning. Whereas most policy schools either focus exclusively on public policy or administration – LBJ ensures that both are adequately incorporated into a student’s learning experience. Ardian is currently pursuing a state and local finance certificate. Ultimately, he plans to work for a research-oriented, non-

partisan agency like the Legislative Budget Board. He greatly appreciates RSEA’s commitment to ensuring he achieves his academic and professional goals.

Krista Gelhausen

Master of Public Affairs (Candidate)

Krista Gehlhausen is a rising 2nd year MPAff and dual degree with the Community & Regional Planning Program. She selected the LBJ school because of its proximity to the state Capitol, stellar reputation, and the ability to study both policy & planning together. She is interested in food and housing policy, with experience working in the Texas Legislature, the Governor's Office, and with the Texas Department of

Housing and Community Affairs. Ultimately, she would love to work for the General Land Office, Texas Department of Agriculture, or the TDHCA. She would like to thank everyone who made this opportunity possible.

Rachel Osterloh

Master of Public Affairs (Candidate)

Rachel Osterloh is from Austin, Texas. After receiving her undergraduate degree in Government from UT Austin and spending several years in higher education advocacy, Rachel started her journey as a MPAff student at The LBJ School of Public Affairs. She has professional experience in advocacy, campaigns, and with the Texas Legislature. With her LBJ education, Rachel will be ready

to advance public policy in support of Texas families. She's very grateful to receive support from the Retired State Employees Association in pursuit of her graduate degree.

2020 Retired State Employee Association Fellows

Sarah Dodamead

Master of Public Affairs (Candidate)

When Sarah began her undergraduate career at Florida State University, she decided to study physics and astrophysics with a minor in mathematics. Throughout her undergraduate degree, she spent the summers abroad as a fellow and as a researcher under grant funding to pursue research topics related to the social impacts of climate change. She then applied for and received the critical language scholarship in the summer of 2016 through the US Department of State. With the scholarship, she went to West Bengal, India

for three months and studied at the American Institute for Indic Studies to learn the Bengali language and study their culture. The following year in 2017, she received FSU’s Idea Grant, which allowed her to travel to Bangladesh to work as a visiting researcher at the International Center for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD).

In her graduate studies, she has been lucky enough to tie together her passion for addressing climate change and human development by delving into real-world actionable solutions. Her graduate thesis work within the Webber Energy Group focuses on decarbonization policy pathways in Texas. Working within the powerful Texas economy and energy market space has been exciting and fulfilling. Her current research has made her realize how much of an impact she can have working within Texas policy. Innovation is born here. Her favorite instance of innovation she has ever been aware of is the restructuring of the wholesale power market that was born through policy here in Texas. She wishes to continue a meaningful career leveraging her technical skills in energy policy, locally, and globally between Texas and the outside world.

She is excited to take the research she has been doing in the Webber group on decarbonization policies to the legislative session this coming January to present our findings and hopefully have an impact. She hopes to work at an agency within Texas’ energy market.

“Thank you for so much the support as I pursue my research and career goals within Texas’ power sector.“ - Sarah Dodamead

Brenna Lyles

Master of Public Affairs (Candidate)

Brenna Lyles is a second year Master of Public Affairs candidate at the LBJ School. Prior to entering graduate school, Brenna worked as a journalist for a regional newspaper covering state and local issues; she then transitioned into a role as an associate for a national consulting firm, where she provided policy guidance and technical assistance to states and cities across the country seeking to improve their response to homelessness. Brenna decided to pursue her Masters at the LBJ School to sharpen her public policy analysis and decision- making skills, while broadening her exposure to new policy arenas beyond the realm of housing and homelessness. She has also used her time at the LBJ School to better understand Texas’s unique policy environment and the intricacies of state

government, as well as the modern challenges facing our rapidly expanding state — which will inevitably require smart statewide policy to address.

Over the summer, Brenna was given the opportunity to further explore Texas government through a role with the Government Affairs Division at the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), where she engaged with various transportation and legislative issues. Her work for TxDOT included analyzing the effectiveness of various safety measures in reducing roadway collisions and fatalities and exploring impacts of recent state revenue shortfalls due to COVID- 19 and recent volatility in oil markets on long-term state highway funding. The position not only provided a richer understanding of critical issues facing the state but further solidified her interest in a career in state government. Following graduate school, Brenna hopes to pursue a long-term career in government affairs for TxDOT or another state agency and one day hold a director-level position. Brenna is passionate about creating policy that ensures Texas is equipped for continued economic and population growth – from building a smart, sustainable statewide transportation system, to ensuring public safety for all Texans, to fostering a resilient, diverse workforce.

Brenna is honored to be recognized as a Retired State Employees Association (RSEA) Fellow and wishes to express her sincere gratitude to RSEA for their support.

Bethany Offer

Master of Public Affairs (Candidate)

Bethany Offer is a second-year student at the LBJ School currently seeking a Master of Public Affairs. Before coming to LBJ, Bethany completed her undergraduate degree in English and Government at UT Austin and had multiple internships in the Texas Legislature. Upon graduation from undergrad, she completed an

AmeriCorps service year in Austin with Literacy First, a program that does literacy intervention with K-2 students. These experiences solidified her interest in education equity and policy, and motivated her to attend the LBJ School.

After her time at LBJ, Bethany hopes to continue to uplift student voices and support Texas teachers. Ideally, this will manifest within organizations such as the Texas Education Agency or the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Thank you for your assistance in achieving these goals.


Molly Ellsworth

Master of Public Affairs (Candidate)

Molly Ellsworth is getting her Masters of Public Affairs, focusing on environmental policy. Before attending the LBJ School, she spent three years working at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in the Air Quality Division. Molly’s passion for environmental justice issues ultimately led her to continue her education. Her internship this summer at the Environmental Defense Fund allowed her to work with communities in Houston that are disproportionately impacted by air emissions. She hopes to continue working in environmental policy

after graduation and knows that Texas is the place to be to make a significant impact.

She is incredibly grateful for this opportunity and for your support as she continues her education.

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