Voters’ guide for Penn State board of trustees election

The sun illuminates the Old Main bell tower on the Penn State campus on Friday, Dec.  17, 2021.

The sun illuminates the Old Main bell tower on the Penn State campus on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.

Beginning April 10, eight candidates will be competing for enough alumni votes to fill the three open seats on Penn State’s board of trustees, and voters may find the slate looks much different than in past years.

Ballots for Penn State’s annual board of trustee election will be available to Penn State alumni through May 5. The board is comprised of nine alumni-elected trustees with staggered three-year terms, which results in three seats becoming open each year.

Penn State Forward was formed in 2021 by a group of Penn State students and alumni in an attempt to bring more diverse and progressive candidates to the board, which is the university’s highest governing body.

The campaign is supporting the candidacy of three alumni: OB-GYN and sexual violence proponent Dr. Farnaz Farhi; atmospheric scientist and nonprofit founder Christa Hasenkopf; and educational equity advocate and community organizer Edward Smith.

“When you look at the current demographics of the board, it’s not as diverse as Penn State’s student body,” Farhi said. “There’s value in diversity and we represent a wide range of experiences and identities that can add value to the board and help continue to move Penn State forward.”

The candidates representing Penn State Forward are hoping to advance four core priority areas: climate action, educational equity, student safety and university transparency.

“Our campaign falls into the history of relatively small groups of people wielding their own power, using their lived experiences and their ability to organize and mobilize to foster greater change,” Smith said.

Other candidates include three incumbents, the former executive director of Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship and a State College financial advisor.

Alumni who received a ballot for the nomination phase of the election will automatically receive the ballot election. Alumni may also request the ballot at All online voting must be completed by the close of the election at 9 am on May 5.

Here is a closer look at the eight candidates, based on information provided by the board:


Facebook: Ted Brown PSU


Bio: CEO of KETCHConsulting, INC., A crisis management, disaster recovery planning firm in State College … elected to the board of trustees in 2013 and re-elected in 2016 and 2019 … had a 30-year career with IBM .. received his bachelor’s degree in science from Penn State in 1968 and was president of Theta Delta Chi and Parmi Nous … only recipient of the Disaster Recovery Institute’s Consultant of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Awards … Pennsylvania Army National Guard veteran

Position statement: 1. Honoring the Paterno legacy, 2. Safer campuses, 3. Reduced tuition, 4. Higher enrollment, 5. Crisis mitigation, 6. Board transparency, 7. Academic rankings, 9. Protecting The Nittany Lion Inn and enhancing Beaver Stadium


Facebook: Barbara Doran – Penn State Trustee


Bio: CEO of wealth advisory and asset management firm, BD8 Capital Partners, in New York. Spent more than three decades working on Wall Street at major firms … elected to the board of trustees in 2013 and re-elected in 2016 and 2019 … three-sport varsity athlete at Penn State, first reporter to cover sports for The Daily Collegian and first Penn State woman to be selected to both the US National Women’s Field Hockey and Lacrosse teams … graduated from Penn State in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in English before earning a master’s degree from Harvard Business School.

Position statement: 1. Making tuition more affordable, 2. Supporting diversity, equity and inclusion, 3. Improving academic rankings


Facebook: Penn State Forward


Bio: OB-GYN at GW Medical Faculty Associates in Washington, DC, where she is also a faculty member at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences and a member of GW’s Anti-Racism Coalition and the Anti-Racist Transformation in Medical Education. has over 15 years of experience studying and caring for survivors of sexual violence … graduated from Penn State in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and women’s studies before completing graduate studies at the University of Oxford and earning her medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine where she continued her work addressing sexual violence

Position statement: 1. Investing in climate action, 2. Ensuring student safety and educational equity, 3. Prioritizing transparent governance


Facebook: Barry Fenchak for Trustee


Bio: Investment advisor in State College … served as an adjunct instructor at Penn State teaching courses in personal and corporate finance and accounting from 1996 to 2016 … received bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Penn State in 1984 and received master’s degree from the Smeal College of Business in 1991 before opening an investment management and financial advisory practice in State College … has been actively involved in Penn State board of trustee events since 2005

Position statement: 1. Increasing affordability, 2. Sponsoring beneficial research, 3. Advocating for stakeholders, 4. Improving academic rankings, 5. Addressing the costs of administrative waste


Facebook: Penn State Forward


Bio: Atmospheric scientist, environmental equity advocate and founder of OpenAQ, an environmental nonprofit that houses the largest open air quality database in the world … received bachelor’s degree in astronomy and astrophysics from Penn State in 2003 before teaching for Teach for America … earned her Ph.D. in atmospheric and oceanic sciences from the University of Colorado and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to conduct air pollution research in Mongolia … formerly served at USAID and the US State Department as the first chief air pollution advisor to the medical director … was awarded Eberly’s Outstanding Alumni Award in 2016 and Schreyer’s Outstanding Scholar Alumni Award in 2017

Position statement: 1. Investing in climate action, 2. Ensuring student safety and educational equity, 3. Prioritizing transparent governance


Facebook: Re-elect Bill Oldsey


Bio: Elected to the Penn State Board of Trustees in 2013 and reelected in 2016 and 2019 … retired president of McGraw-Hill Education and former publishing industry executive with more than three decades of experience … earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Penn State in 1976 … received the Penn State Alumni Fellow Award in 2009 and the College of Liberal Arts Leaders Award in 2012 … current committee assignments include Academic Affairs, Research, and Student Life (Chair), and Legal and Compliance. Subcommittee on Long-Range Planning and Legal, Executive Committee, Corporation for Penn State, Middle State Reaccreditation, Presidential Recruitment / Selection Committee, Task Forces on Intercollegiate Athletics and Greek life.

Position statement: 1. Increasing affordability and driving the value of a Penn State education, 2. Improving academic rankings, 3. Creating an inclusive and caring community, 4. Honoring the Paterno legacy


Facebook: Maribeth Roman Schmidt For Penn State Trustee


Bio: Board chair for Variety, the Children’s Charity of the Delaware Valley that serves children and young adults with disabilities, and founder of Bucks County Challengers Football and Cheerleading for children with disabilities … former public relations and management and founder / CEO of Vault Communications, which she sold in 2014 to focus on philanthropy … former spokesperson and executive director for Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, a grassroots organization advocating for improved and transparent university governance … received her journalism degree from Penn State in 1988 before getting a master’s degree in English from Arcadia University

Position statement: 1. Increasing alumni participation, 2. High quality education, 3. Tuition cost control, 4. Honoring the Paterno legacy


Facebook: Penn State Forward


Bio: Senior program officer with The Kresge Foundation’s Education Program, community organizer and higher education expert … earned his bachelor’s in economics in 2006 and master’s in education in 2010 at Penn State, where he was the president of Black Caucus and founder of the Intergroup Dialogue Program … earned his Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania and held positions at the WE Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, NASPA’s Research and Policy Institute, and the Institute for Higher Education Policy, and consulted for New Jersey’s Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, the Community College of Philadelphia, and the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Education.

Position statement: 1. Investing in climate action, 2. Ensuring student safety and educational equity, 3. Prioritizing transparent governance

Melissa Manno is an intern reporter for the Center Daily Times. She grew up in Bucks County and is a senior at Penn State studying journalism.


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