School of Public Policy Announces Inaugural Advisory Board Members

Posted March 26, 2018

The Georgia Tech School of Public Policy established an Advisory Board in fall 2017 and announces its inaugural board members: Michael Cassidy, president and CEO of Georgia Research Alliance; Fatimot Ladipo, regional director for External Affairs for AT&T; Amanda Shailendra, economic development and site selection specialist for Google Fiber; and Susan Van Aacken, public health advisor for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“The board will include distinguished alumni, community and industry leaders, and friends and supporters of the School, said Chair Kaye Husbands Fealing. Board members will be appointed by the chair based upon a recommendation by the faculty.

Cassidy holds a master’s degree in Technology and Science Policy from Georgia Tech and a B.B.A in Marketing from Georgia State University. Ladipo graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts in African-American Studies and earned a Master of Science in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. Shailendra earned her bachelor’s from Wake Forest University and a Master of Science from Georgia Tech, where she was a MacArthur Fellow. Van Acken earned an M.S. in Public Policy in 1999 from Georgia Tech and an undergraduate degree from Furman University in Political Science.

The School of Public Policy is a unit of the Georgia Tech Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.

About Robert L. Ashe III

Robert L. Ashe III is a Partner at Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore, LLP. He represents both plaintiffs and defendants in state and federal courts. He focuses on issues involving politics, governments, and governmental authorities throughout Georgia, particularly the City of Atlanta, metro Atlanta governments, and the Georgia General Assembly.

In 2010, Ashe was appointed by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta City Council to serve on the Board of Directors for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA). He was elected each year by his colleagues to serve as the chairman of the board for 2014 through 2018.

Ashe’s government and political experience includes: negotiating transfers of government assets worth tens of millions of dollars; supervising teams of governmental finance experts and attorneys; planning and executing a multi-year, public communications and advocacy campaign resulting in a successful multi-billion dollar sales tax referendum; negotiating consolidation of Atlanta’s court system; and advising the election and re-election campaigns of the three most recent Atlanta mayors, several members of the Atlanta City Council and the Atlanta Public School Board, and numerous Georgia General Assembly members. In addition to his service on the MARTA Board, Ashe is a former Advisory Committee member of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, a member of the American Constitution Society, a Marshall Memorial Fellow, a graduate of Leadership Atlanta, and he was voted among the 100 Most Influential Georgians in the 2018 Georgia Trend magazine. Ashe is a native Atlantan, and grew up in Midtown, where he resides with his wife and three children. 

About Michael Cassidy

As president and CEO of the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA), Cassidy has led the GRA through its emergence as one of the nation’s premier organizations for technology-based economic development.

Cassidy is responsible for creating the vision and charting the direction of GRA. He works to generate broad-based support for GRA’s mission, building and sustaining the non-profit’s powerful set of relationships with companies, economic development and professional organizations, universities, and leaders at the local, state, and national level.

Early in his career, he worked at IBM, where he gained a forward-thinking perspective on how the growth of technology would change society. As he began to explore the intersection of government policy and complex undertakings in science and technology, he decided to pursue a career in policy, beginning with a graduate program at Georgia Tech.

While at Georgia Tech, he brought his policy expertise to the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), the Institute’s award-winning technology business incubator. After graduating, he became a full-time ATDC employee and eventually the Center’s general manager.

Cassidy has helped GRA expand its role and the potential of university research and entrepreneurship as a strategy to grow Georgia’s economy. In 2009, he co-founded the GRA Venture Fund, LLC, a public-private investment fund that invests in the most promising startups launched around scientific discovery.

Cassidy serves on the boards of the State Science and Technology Institute (SSTI), the Health Care Ethics Consortium, Georgia Advanced Technology Ventures, the Global Center for Medical Innovation, Georgia’s Bio/Med Investor Network, Atlanta Emerging Markets Inc., the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and the Lake Lanier Sailing Club.

About Fatimot Ladipo

Fatimot Ladipo has over 15 years of experience in government and community affairs, including several years focused on education legislative issues. As assistant director of federal relations at the Georgia Institute of Technology, she promoted the strategic vision and goals of the Institute as they pertained to federal research and education programs and policies. Ladipo also served as the legislative and media liaison for the Georgia Student Finance Commission, the state agency that administers the HOPE Scholarship.

Currently, Ladipo serves as regional director for External Affairs for AT&T where she is responsible for advancing AT&T’s legislative and regulatory agenda at the local and state level. She also serves as a liaison to the AT&T Foundation, administering local grant programs.

Prior to joining AT&T, Ladipo was executive director of Government Relations for Kennesaw State University (KSU), serving as the liaison to state and federal policymakers, University System of Georgia officials, and business and civic leaders. In that role, she was also responsible for identifying priorities for KSU and developing action plans that required governmental, legislative, and community support.

Ladipo also worked as director of government affairs for the Georgia Dental Association, where she oversaw all government relations activities, including lobbying federal, state, and local officials, and educating association members about the legislative activities of the organization.

Ladipo’s governmental relations experience includes having worked in the federal government, as an associate analyst for the Congressional Budget Office and as a management analyst for the Department of Commerce. She also has held positions with other state agencies and in city government, serving as director for policy and legislation for the lieutenant governor of Georgia and as a legislative analyst for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs with the City of Atlanta.

About Amanda Shailendra

Amanda Shailendra, an affiliate of the Pendleton Group, is an economic development and site selection specialist whose experience includes corporate recruitment, expansion projects, and leading strategic negotiations for Google, Inc., and more than 100 economic development projects for the City of Atlanta and State of Georgia. Her work for the State of Georgia’s Department of Economic Development includes leading the recruitment of Mercedes-Benz USA’s Corporate Headquarters, working with Health IT firm Athenahealth to expand its physician practice management and electronic medical records practice in Metro Atlanta, and supporting the State’s efforts to recruit other major business moves to Georgia, including Baxter Pharmaceuticals, Kia Motors, Verizon Wireless, AirWatch, Premium Waters, and Unisys.

An affiliate of Pendleton Atlanta, Shailendra founded PATH Consulting, LLC to provide economic development planning and community development services that provide a direct PATH to success for her clients. She advises corporations and public entities, relying heavily on her experience at Google, Inc. and the Georgia Department of Economic Development. She connects clients to an extensive network of current and former colleagues with the goal of putting their leaders on the right path to efficiently and effectively achieve their goals.

She most recently led Google Fiber, Inc.’s expansions in metro Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill. In this role, she provided governmental, community, and public relations advice and worked with multiple client teams to support efficient and timely deployment of the Google Fiber network.

Prior to establishing PATH Solutions, she served as director for Life Sciences and Corporate Solutions for the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), where she led the location of new headquarters for Mercedes-Benz USA, Athenahealth, Porsche Cars North America, and AT&T Mobility.

Shailendra currently serves on the Advisory Board for Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy. In 2015, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal appointed her to the Georgia Non-public Post-secondary Education Commission (GNPEC) and the Tuition Guarantee Trust Fund (TGTF).  She is a 2011 graduate of Leadership Georgia, and a 2008 graduate of L.E.A.D. Atlanta, where she also served as Co-chair of the Class of 2010 - 2011. She serves on the Honorary Board of Trustees for Atlanta Ballet and the Board of Advisors for the Preschool at Second-Ponce Baptist Church. She previously served on the Board of Director’s for Dad’s Garage Theatre Company and the Georgia Economic Development Association.

Shailendra is a native of Augusta, Georgia. She and her husband, Paul, live in Atlanta with their daughters, Taylor and Harbans, and two dogs, Scout and Finch.

About Susan Van Aacken

Susan Van Aacken is a public health advisor for the National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) within the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Diabetes Translation.

Susan works with organizations looking to create community programs that offer a CDC-approved curriculum to address prediabetes and slow the rise of type 2 diabetes in the U.S. The National DPP is a public-private partnership of community organizations, private insurers, employers, health care organizations, and government agencies working to delay and/or prevent type 2 diabetes among high risk adults. In 2014 during the Ebola crisis, Susan was called upon to rotate into CDC’s Atlanta-based Emergency Operations Center as a communications subject matter expert. Previously, she has held a range of leadership positions in policy and communications roles for the CDC and has received awards for her work like her recognition for Excellence in Setting Long Range Public Health Goals for vaccination coverage objectives as part of Healthy People 2020 from the National Centers for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Van Aacken has worked for the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee and for a small business trade association.


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Rebecca Keane
Director of Communications