A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

Ian Lisman

By Rob Riordan on March 22, 2019

Ian Lisman, MPP ’15, had a clear personal mission when he enrolled at Mason in 2013: Help his fellow veterans. A U.S. Army combat veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm, Lisman had spent the previous decade working to address challenges facing veterans, including homelessness, poverty, and successfully reintegrating into civilian society.

Ian Lisman, MPP ’15, is a veteran who has dedicated his career to giving back to those who serve. Photo by Ashley Ohara Anderson

“For me, it’s just a sense of a duty to my fellow veterans,” he says. “When I returned from Desert Storm, I had some difficulties adjusting and trying to find what I wanted to do. I had some people who helped me get on track, so I want to pay that forward.”

Beginning in 2003, Lisman worked on veterans programs for the Denver Department of Human Services while earning his undergraduate degree. In 2011 he moved to Washington, D.C., where he gave congressional briefings and lobbied Congress for the National Alliance to End Homelessness. With that background, Lisman knew a master’s degree would be a great next step.

Affording that next step would be difficult, though. Lisman had been covered under the old GI Bill, and he was no longer eligible for educational benefits. A scholarship opportunity at Mason, the ERPi Service-Disabled Veterans Scholarship, provided just the help that Lisman needed. The scholarship—which is awarded by ERPi, a consulting firm led by president and CEO Chris Jones, MPP ’99— enabled him to complete his graduate program at the Schar School of Policy and Government in three years, while continuing to work full time. It also helped him travel back to Colorado to spend time with family.

“I had some student debt already, so the idea of stacking on more to get my master’s was definitely concerning to me,” he says. “I was determined to pay out of pocket as much as I could. I was living in D.C. at the time so, in addition to helping me avoid a financial burden, [the scholarship] allowed me to spend some quality time with my aging parents and other family over the holidays.”

Following graduation, Lisman returned to Colorado for a position with Advocates for Human Potential, where he has been providing technical assistance and training to providers of homeless veterans reintegration programs.

“Chris Jones and the whole team at ERPi have become a kind of a second family for me. Now that I’m back in Colorado, it’s not as easy to get there, but it’s been awesome to watch them grow as a company. They’ve continued to expand the scholarship program to help more veterans. I can’t say enough good things about them.”

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