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Glenn College Honors Alumni Achievement, Service

News Type Alumni News

The 2022 Alumni Award Winners from left to right: Angie Crandall, Priyanka Bhatt and Karl Gebhardt.

The John Glenn College of Public Affairs presented its annual alumni awards at its 10th annual Leadership Forum. 

Lasting legacies, social justice and lifelong commitment to the college mark the careers and service of three alumni honored on Oct. 28. 

Alumni Award for Career Achievement 

Karl Gebhardt, MA ’97 
Retired Executive Director, Ohio Lake Erie Commission, and Deputy Director, Ohio EPA
Former Trustee, Genoa Township

As Karl Gebhardt drives around Ohio and sees the state’s nature preserves, he reflects on his time working with Gov. Bob Taft and Sen. John Glenn on the Clean Ohio campaign, which provided a funding mechanism to protect green space, to clean up brownfields and to provide trails and parks for the public.  

Fowler Woods State Nature Preserve was one of the first he worked on at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. 

“I laid out the trails, I cut the trails, I wrote the brochure. And now I can go out and I can walk it and my grandkids can walk it, and hopefully their kids someday will walk it as well. And so having a small part of that is important,” he said. “It’s also important to realize that I didn’t do all that by myself. I was fortunate to have worked with a lot of very passionate people who did have the emotion and the foresight to get some of these programs in place.” 

During his 45-year career in the public, private and nonprofit sectors and as an elected official, he was involved in many such programs that will leave lasting legacies. Among them: legislation that created the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and laying the groundwork to find solutions for Lake Erie’s water quality challenges.  

He describes his years of public service as crossing the policy arena and the people arena in areas including natural resources, agriculture, economic development and energy. He worked at the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and also in public affairs consulting. 

His advice to today’s public affairs students: Learn to work with people. 

“There are going to be people who are difficult to work with, but you’re going to have to figure out how to work with them, or work around them,” he said. “And I’ll probably guarantee that you’ll learn more working with the difficult people than you will working with those that are easy to work with.” 

Meet a variety of people, he said, and treat every contact as if it’s an interview, because you never know who you’re going to be working with or even working for down the road. 

Don’t make your job your identity, he added, because you don’t want to internalize and personalize things when the going gets rough.  

“Have some fun and find a career that you’re going to enjoy, that you have a passion for,” he said. “And if you don’t enjoy it, find something else. There’s a lot of opportunities out there. You don’t have to stay in one job for 45 years. I didn’t, and it was probably the best thing I did.” 

Young Alumni Achievement Award 

Priyanka Bhatt, JD/MA '17
Senior Staff Attorney, Project South

Priyanka Bhatt has always been very passionate about social justice.  

“You know, I'm an immigrant myself. I was born in Nairobi, Kenya. My parents were born in India. And we moved here at a very young age. During my early childhood, living in Brooklyn, I was able to see the firsthand impacts of systemic issues like structural racism, like lack of affordable housing, lack of proper medical care, underfunded schools like the one that I attended,” she said. 

“I had so much respect and admiration for my parents who literally uprooted their whole life to come to this country for better opportunities for my brother and me,” Bhatt said. “And so, it's really important to me as a first-generation immigrant to build a better world that challenges the structural issues that I witnessed growing up. With that as my background, I knew I wanted to do social justice work. I am so honored that I had the opportunity to really fulfill my dreams by going to the Moritz College of Law and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs.” 

“Priyanka is a fierce advocate for human rights in the U.S. South,” said Kevin Caron, a steering committee member of Georgia Detention Watch, who nominated her for the Glenn College Young Alumni Achievement Award. 

Bhatt is senior staff attorney at Project South, which cultivates strong social movements in the South powerful enough to contend with some of the most pressing and complicated social, economic and political problems. 

She played a key role in defeating anti-immigrant legislation in the Georgia General Assembly. She also authored reports that helped to end immigrant detention in the City of Atlanta and Irwin County Detention Center and that brought international attention to the gynecological and sexual abuse of women in detention at the Irwin County Detention Center and Stewart Detention Center by documenting human rights violations occurring inside. 

“She continues to give back to her community by connecting with current law students at the Ohio State Moritz College of Law and helping them prepare for job interviews through the Moot Interview program,” Caron wrote in his nomination.  

She also joined the Board of Directors at Sur Legal Collaborative, a nonprofit organization in Atlanta that advocates for more protections for immigrants in the workplace and against ICE enforcement. 

“I think the most rewarding part of my job is seeing firsthand how the resistance of detained immigrants has the power to change the world in which we live,” Bhatt said. 

“I often think back to the many, many lessons I learned here,” she said of the Glenn College. “For example, program evaluation and making sure you're doing the things you say you're doing, that you have an evaluation process. And thinking about leadership and human resources and how to deal with difficult situations and thinking about budgeting. I think the John Glenn College did such an amazing job preparing us to overcome any type of situation that we're facing in the public sector.” 

Alumni Service Award 

Angie Crandall, MPA ’97, PhD ’08
Organizational Change Management Officer, Ohio Attorney General’s Office 
Past President, Glenn College Alumni Society, and Glenn College Instructor

The Glenn College has been a part of Angie Crandall’s life since 1994. As a two-time graduate, a student employee, alumni society committee member and past board president, she’s built a special affinity for the college family.  

“Every time I walk into Page Hall, I feel like I'm coming home with just a really warm feeling,” she said. “Preparing future leaders for service is really important and impactful. What Glenn College graduates do is amazing, and being a part of helping to shape that is really inspirational.” 

Crandall, who is also a college instructor and student mentor, finds the passion of college faculty and staff, as well as alumni, contagious. 

“We have a sense of shared values of public service and public engagement, transparency and accountability,” she said. “We critically discuss lots of different issues all of the time. We see things from different perspectives, but we do it in a way that is that is civil. And we all learn from each other.” 

That civil discourse, she said, models Sen. John Glenn’s respect for others, which she incorporates into her classroom.  

“I think the students really embrace that and follow his lead,” she said. “He's such a wonderful role model.” 

She advises students to do what they think is right and understand their values and ethical behavior.  

“You’re representing your brand of kindness. I think kindness is key — treating others like you want to be treated,” she said.  

“The college has done so much for me: all the education, the opportunities, the experiences that I've had both during and after my degrees. Throughout my career they've been invaluable, both personally and professionally,” she said. “And even if I volunteered every day for the rest of my life, I don't think I can give back in kind what I’ve been given by the college.” 

“I often think back to the many, many lessons I learned here,” she said of the Glenn College. “For example, program evaluation and making sure you're doing the things you say you're doing, that you have an evaluation process. And thinking about leadership and human resources and how to deal with difficult situations and thinking about budgeting. I think the John Glenn College did such an amazing job preparing us to overcome any type of situation that we're facing in the public sector.”