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New Faculty Appointments Enrich Academic Landscape at Policy School

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The University of Maryland School of Public Policy announces the addition of several distinguished faculty members, each bringing a wealth of expertise and experience to the School. New faculty include: John Ronquillo, Cullen Merritt, Ebonie Cooper-Jean, James Stillwell, Christoph Bertram, Caroline Ritter, Mel George, Manjyot Ahluwalia, Maria Borrero, Claire Squire and Guangxiao Hu.

We warmly welcome our newest faculty and the innovative contributions and collaborative spirit they bring to the SPP community. Their diverse expertise and shared commitment to drive meaningful impact in public policy through research and education promises to shape a better future for all.
Dean Robert C. Orr

Read on for more about our impressive new faculty and those in new roles:

headshot of John Ronquillo


John C. Ronquillo, Associate Professor; Director, IPL 

Ronquillo joins the School as an associate professor and the inaugural director of the Institute for Public Leadership. He brings nine years of experience from the University of Colorado Denver, where he played a key role in establishing the university's primary strategic goal of becoming an equity-serving institution. His research interests span nonprofit and public management, diversity, inclusion, social equity, public service ethics and indigenous leadership in Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities. An award-winning teacher and academic leader, Ronquillo has taught extensively across PhD, Executive MPA, MPA and BA programs. His research is published in Public Administration Review; American Review of Public Administration; Decision Support Systems; Public Integrity; Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit organizations; Transylvanian Review of Administrative Sciences; and in numerous edited volumes particularly on the subject of leadership and innovation in nonprofit organizations. He has also provided commentary to various media outlets. Ronquillo holds a doctorate in Public Administration and Policy from the University of Georgia, a Master of Public Administration from Arizona State University and a Bachelor of Arts cum laude in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, also at ASU.

headshot of Cullen merritt


Cullen C. Merritt, Associate Professor; Research Director, IPL 

Merritt has been appointed as an associate professor and research director of the new Institute for Public Leadership. His research focuses on the impact of publicness on management strategy and performance, with an emphasis on addressing public service challenges. Merritt's work has been recognized nationally by the American Society for Public Administration and the American Political Science Association. As an award-winning teacher, Merritt educates current and aspiring government and nonprofit employees on the strategies and competencies needed to lead their organizations to address public problems. He serves as an editorial board member of Public Administration Review (associate editor), Perspectives on Public Management and Governance, and Public Personnel Management and co-chair of the 2023 Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) Annual Conference. Merritt earned his doctorate in Public Administration and Master of Public Administration from the University of Kansas, and a Bachelor of Arts from Texas A&M University.

Ebonie Cooper


Ebonie Cooper-Jean, Associate Clinical Professor; Faculty Director, Nonprofit Executive Education and Training, DGI 

Cooper-Jean is an associate clinical professor and faculty director of Nonprofit Executive Education and Training, where she leads the development and expansion of nonprofit executive education and training programs, including as the academic director of the graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. She leads from a place of intention and passion, and for nearly 15 years, has used her voice, research, thought-leadership and expertise to impact and influence nonprofit racial equity, African American donor engagement, church ministry, partnership development and fundraising strategies. Cooper-Jean has worked with numerous institutions and nonprofits including WK Kellogg Foundation, The Lilly Endowment, and Washington Area Women’s Foundation. A bi-vocational leader, she also serves alongside her husband as the minister to young adults at Kingdom Fellowship AME Church (Calverton, MD). In her spare time she serves as a trusted nonprofit consultant through Friends of Ebonie, LLC, and leads the Young, Black & Giving Back Institute (YBGB) as its founder and Executive Director. Cooper-Jean is an ordained Itinerant Deacon in the AME Church, member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., received a Bachelor of Science from North Carolina A&T State University, a Master of Science from New York University and a Master of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary.

James Stillwell


James Stillwell, Associate Clinical Professor; Faculty Director, Do Good Campus, DGI

Stillwell will lead the expansion of Do Good curriculum and partnerships across the university. As a seasoned educator and dedicated Terp, he brings over a decade of experience in promoting equity, experiential learning and collaborative impact across various sectors. He returns to College Park after working in Toronto for four years, where he contributed to international ocean and forest conservation through multi-stakeholder partnerships. His background also includes launching and expanding sustainability programs, notably collaborating with Dean Orr and others at the School of Public Policy to establish the Center for Global Sustainability and organize the United Nations co-hosted Climate Action 2016 summit. Currently, Stillwell serves as the community development co-director for Harvard Alumni for Climate and the Environment, while concurrently involved in developing grants for the new Washington, DC-based nonprofit, Rising Organizers, and mentoring undergraduates and alumni pursuing careers in social and environmental impact. Stillwell holds master’s degrees in Public Policy and Sustainable Development from the University of Maryland and a bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from Harvard University.

picture of Christoph Bertram


Christoph Bertram, Associate Research Professor, CGS

Bertram’s research analyzes climate change mitigation strategies and policies, especially in the energy sector, both globally and in major economies. Bertram has more than ten years of experience in integrated assessment modeling and model intercomparison and has had leading roles in various international projects, including the scenarios project of the Network for Greening the Financial System and ENGAGE, and was a contributing author for chapters 3 and 15 of IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report. He holds a doctoral degree in Economics from Technische Universität Berlin, and master’s degrees in Physics and Political Science from Universität Tübingen.

Nathan Dietz


Nathan Dietz, Associate Research Professor; Research Director, DGI; Director, Do Good Lab 

Dietz has been appointed as research director, Do Good Institute, and director, Do Good Lab, to oversee the growth of the Institute's research agenda.



Caroline Ritter, Visiting Associate Research Scholar

Ritter is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Texas State University. Ritter’s current research and book project examine the interplay of education and immigration policy, national security concerns and government-business ties in the evolution of English-language instruction in the United Kingdom after 1945. This research carries implications for contextualizing and engaging contemporary challenges. Ritter holds a doctoral degree in British History and a master’s degree in British History from the University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in History and Environmental Studies from Swarthmore College.

Headshot of Kathleen Kennedy


Kathleen Kennedy, Assistant Research Professor, CGS

Kennedy’s research focuses on how corporate investment impacts climate-tech start-ups and innovation, how granular data can inform technology scaling in integrated assessment models, and mitigation pathways for difficult-to-abate activities.


Headshot of Mengye Zhu


Mengye Zhu, Assistant Research Professor, CGS

Zhu’s research focuses on energy transition and climate mitigation, particularly from a political economy perspective. Her research delves into the role of state-owned enterprises in economic decarbonization. Zhu holds a doctorate in Public Administration from Tsinghua University, a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh, and a bachelor’s degree in Management Sciences from Beijing Foreign Studies University.

Mel George headshot


Mel George, Postdoctoral Research Associate, CGS

George brings a unique perspective as an electrical engineer. His research explores the intersections of technology, energy-climate policies, sustainable development and energy equity. Prior to his academic career, he worked in various roles within the Indian government's energy sector. George received his doctorate in Policy Studies from the University of Maryland.

headshot of Manjyot Ahluwalia


Manjyot Ahluwalia, Principal Faculty Specialist and Senior Manager, CGS

Ahluwalia works on the CGS Methane Program and serves as Asia director for the Global Methane Hub. Her previous experience includes coordinating the Alliances for Climate Action initiative and serving as a member of the Expert Peer Review Group for the UN-backed Race to Zero Campaign. Ahluwalia holds a doctorate in Public Policy and Administration from American University, a master’s degree in Sustainability from Arizona State University and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Xavier’s College in Mumbai, India.

Maria Borrero


Maria A. Borrero, Faculty Specialist; Post-masters Research Associate, CGS

Borrero focuses on energy transition and climate change mitigation. Her prior experience in the energy sector in Latin America informs her research on clean technology deployment, energy policy analysis and corporate institutional affairs. She researches coal and natural gas phaseout, how corporate investment impacts climate innovation, the impacts of subnational efforts on climate goals, and conducts integrated assessment modeling. Borrero holds a master's degree in Public Policy from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree in Economics and bachelor's degree in Economics from Los Andes University, Colombia.

Claire Squire


Claire Squire, Faculty Specialist; Post-masters Research Associate

Squire focuses on energy transition and climate mitigation, particularly the land use-climate change-energy nexus and U.S. subnational policy. She researches coal phaseout, expansion of biomass utilization, and sustainable development, particularly within an Indonesian context, impacts of subnational policy on the attainment of U.S. climate goals, and conducts integrated assessment modeling. Squire holds a master's degree in Public Policy from the University of Maryland and a bachelor's degree in Environmental Management from Indiana University.

Guangxiao Hu, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Hu’s research interests include environmental and energy economics, environmental justice and spatial analysis. Her research focuses on analyzing the relationships between pollution and racial disparity/socioeconomic indicators. Hu holds a doctorate in Geographical Sciences from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree in Environmental Sciences from Peking University, China and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Hunan University, China. 

Additionally, two colleagues have been promoted: Lucy Qiu and Ryna Cui.

headshot of Lucy Qiu


Lucy Qiu, Professor; Associate Dean, Research and Faculty Affairs; Senior Fellow, CGS

Qiu has been promoted to professor for her outstanding contributions to economics and energy policy research. She also recently took on the role of associate dean to integrate our research vision, processes and support systems as a core part of faculty affairs. 

Headshot of Ryna Cui


Ryna Cui, Associate Research Professor; Associate Research Director, CGS

Cui has been promoted to associate research professor for her remarkable work in clean energy technology, economics, modeling and policy.

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Megan Campbell
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