ICAR Alumna Honored: The Honorable Deborah A. P. Hersman, GMU's Alumna of the Year
On April 14, 2010 the Mason’s Alumni Association hosted the Celebration of Distinction in Dewberry Hall on the Fairfax Campus. This year’s event—attended by ICAR Director, Dr. Andrea Bartoli, Associate Director for Administration, Julie Shedd, and Graduate Admissions and Student Services Director, Erin Ogilvie—was even more of a celebration for the ICAR community than usual, as two ICAR Alumni received awards honoring their accomplishments. The Honorable Deborah A. P. Hersman, Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, received the University’s highest alumni acknowledgement, Alumna of the Year, marking the first time that an ICAR alumnus has received the honor.
Ms. Hersman received a B.A. in political science and a B.A. in International Studies from Virginia Tech and graduated from ICAR’s Masters program in 2000. After graduation, she served as a staff member and a senior legislative aid to US Representative Bob Wise (D-West Virginia) and then as a senior professional staff member of the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation where she was responsible for a number of transportation issues. Ms. Hersman became an NTSB board member in 2004. During her five years on the Board, she has been the lead member at 17 major accidents across the nation, including the collision of two Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority trains last summer.
In June 2009, Hersman was nominated by President Obama to serve a two-year term as Chair of the National Transportation Safety Board. She was subsequently confirmed by the US Senate and sworn in on July 28, 2009. Hersman is the youngest person to ever fill that post, and is concurrently serving a second five-year term as an NTSB Board Member.
In keeping with her generally hands-on approach to life, Ms. Hersman is HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard) certified. She is a Child Passenger Safety Technician and holds a commercial driver's license with endorsements for passengers, school bus, and air brakes. She also has a motorcycle endorsement and a pilot's license is next on the list. Ms. Hersman is married to her high school sweetheart, Niel Plummer, and is the mother of three busy boys ages eight, six, and three. In her “spare” time she runs triathlons!