Xavier Magazine

Political Connections

Molly Donlin | Leading the presidential election effort of John McCain in Arkansas is Molly Donlin, a 2004 international affairs graduate and presidential scholar. Donlin was appointed to the position of Republican National Committee “Victory 2008” Arkansas  director in June by RNC Chairman Robert M. “Mike” Duncan. In announcing Donlin’s appointment, Duncan noted that it was important to have “qualified, experienced and dedicated individuals” in such positions.

Donlin was a former field director in central Florida for Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign. Before that she was a presidential appointee in the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs, where she served as assistant to the director.

From August 2005 to December 2006, Donlin served as deputy director of volunteer development for the Republican National Committee. She also was the 72-hour field director for Hamilton County for the Ohio Republican Party.

Despite Barack Obama’s difficulties in Arkansas—losing by more than 50 percentage points to Hillary Clinton in the primary—and the recent history of Republican victories in the state’s presidential elections, Arkansas Republican officials weren’t taking another GOP win for granted and were counting on Donlin’s leadership to deliver the state for McCain.

Damon Jones | As Damon Jones put it, “I spent the summer with 50,000 of my closest friends.” The 1997 communications graduate was director of press relations at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. The 33-year-old took a leave of absence from Procter & Gamble to help journalists from 134 countries cover the convention. “Being a lifelong Democrat, I didn’t want to sit on the sidelines this election because we have a great candidate,” says Jones. “I wanted to be in the midst of the action. The best part was playing a meaningful role in something special and historic.”

It was a lot of hard work. “I put in some 20-hour days,” he says. “Thousands of media members from around the world were at the convention and each wanted to tell a unique story. I had a lot of competing priorities to deal with, from the objectives of the convention to the objectives of the journalists. I tried to balance all those demands.”

As Jones interacted with all kinds of personalities, he says he learned a lot about himself. “I went from a corporate environment to a political environment, and I had to hit the ground running,” he says. “It was helpful in giving me a broader perspective.”

Xavier Magazine

Polish Patents

It’s the little things that make Tara Weinmann’s job interesting. Really little things, actually—nano-sized things. For many, when science gets that tiny, it becomes scary. But for the 2004 natural science graduate, it’s all a matter of perspective. “Nano-technology is like having a crack and trying to fill the cracked surface with bowling balls,” she says. “You can’t fit many in the crack, and you aren’t going to have that smooth surface. Fill the crack with marbles, however, you have a smooth surface.”

It’s that understanding that helped Weinmann, a  research chemist for Ashland Inc., collect her third patent. She and her co-worker/mentor Hida Hasinovic were granted a patent in May for a cleaning and polishing composition for metallic surfaces. The product, known as “Eagle One,”  is sold in auto parts stores as a car polish.

For Weinmann, the development was rough—at least on her car. She and Hasinovic would spend their days going from the lab to the parking lot, using their own cars for testing, trying to come up with something better—a better composition, a safer ingredient, a less costly formula—than the competitor. In the end, they came up with their own invention.

For Weinmann, getting to this point has been a struggle. Since working at Ashland, she had to battle and defeat a tumor on her mastoid bone. She also had to overcome some bad advice after failing an organic chemistry test: change majors.

“Three patents later, I wonder what would have happened had I listened to that advice,” she says. “It’s so redeeming to walk into an AutoZone and see the products I helped develop. Technology is changing even the most superficial of fields. I’m not curing cancer or developing nanobots. I’m making wheel polish, but it is exciting to be able to do it more efficiently than ever before.”