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Peace Corps Fellows Alumni

Brett Michaelson


Peace Corps Fellow, 2015 Applied Economics

Brett is currently a Development Specialist with Invest Aurora, where his primary function is to support business attraction efforts. Under the umbrella of business attraction, Brett acts as the primary point of contact for requests for information. He uses real estate software to conduct research on ownership, land use, and development potential. Brett combines his research with information on available state and local incentive programs, such as tax incremental financing, small business job creation tax credits, and special redevelopment districts. In coordination with the development team, Brett analyzes and interprets this information to generate reports on development feasibility for clients.

Brett served in Paraguay as a Community Economic Development Volunteer. In his position, Brett worked on a wide variety of projects with community partners, including assisting with the local Education Committee’s endeavors, planning events, creating an innovative savings incentive program, and forming a youth group.

“My graduate experience with the Stevenson Center most directly helped me by introducing me to the economic development career path,” Brett notes. “Without their assistance, I would not have grasped the fundamental intersection of policy and business. Most importantly, the Stevenson Center is valuable because of the continued support structure of the faculty, staff, and peers.

Julie Ornee

Peace Corps Fellow, 2012 Sociology katie

Julie is a research associate with the Frost Research Center at Hope College. In her role, Julie conducts research for nonprofits, businesses, and the college to help inform decisions and future planning. Julie incorporates qualitative and quantitative research and conducts surveys, focus groups, and interviews.

Julie served as a youth development Peace Corps Volunteer in Macedonia. Her responsibilities included grant writing, teaching English, serving with an English debate team, and supporting a leadership club for teen girls.

“The Stevenson Center did a great job preparing me for my current role,” Julie said. “I consistently use knowledge gained from the community project and design, statistics, and research methodology courses. Course content and assignments were practical and provided an introduction to local nonprofits, government offices, and other key stakeholders.

For her 11-month internship, Julie was with the United Way of McLean County.

“This opportunity provided me with a great experience in community assessment and research and later turned into a full-time position with the organization.”

Eric Giddens

Peace Corps Fellow, 2003 Political ScienceEric

Eric is the Prairie Energy Coordinator at the Tallgrass Prairie Center at the University of Northern Iowa in Ceder Falls, Iowa. His current project is focusing on how energy biomass can combat climate change and restore potentially damaged ecosystems. Eric served with the Peace Corps in Leostho as a water development advisor before coming to Illinois State.

For his 11-month professional practice internship, Eric was placed with the Southwest Georgia Regional Development Center where he aided rural communities in their efforts to write Community Development Block Grants and promote adult literacy programs throughout the Southwest Georgia region.

"Both of these experiences helped me prepare for the work that I'm doing now," Eric noted. "Grant writing experiences is highly valuable for anyone doing community development work because funding is generally a continual issue. The presentation that I did during City Council and County Commission for the literacy program boosted my confidence with public speaking and working with elected officials and public boards."


2016-08-12T10:47:46.575-05:00 2016