2022 Equity & Inclusion Fellowship Student Recipients

The Equity & Inclusion Fellowship program supports the participation of students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds at the Annual Fall Research Conference. The goal of this fellowship program is to introduce recipients to the world of public policy and APPAM and foster a lifelong affiliation and engagement with both. Special thanks to the Equity & Inclusion Fellowship Selection Committee for reviewing applications and selecting the recipients.
We look forward to celebrating the Fellows in Washington D.C. at the 2022 Annual Fall Research Conference!
Congratulations to the 2022 Equity & Inclusion Fellowship recipients!

Abigail Banan, Purdue University

Ren-Neasha Blake Gilmore, Old Dominion University

Clement Boaheng, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Jessica Boyle Drescher, Stanford University

María Fernanda Cabezas, Brandeis University

Sih-Ting Cai, University of Pittsburgh

Justin Campos, New York University

Monica Cardenas Guzman, University of Maryland, College Park

Samantha Chapa, University of Houston

Cara Clase, University of Delaware

Avni Gupta, New York University

Eric Henderson, University of California, Los Angeles

Kimberly Higuera, Stanford University

Theodore Johnson, University of Nebraska, Omaha

Tasnim Ahmed Mahin, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Hannah Mason, Vanderbilt University

Dillon McGill, Vanderbilt University

Frania Mendoza Lua, University of Chicago

Erica Menjivar, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Hortense Minishi, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Fabiola Mora, Colorado State University

Mingean Park, Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg

Shela Pennington, Portland State University

Vanea Pharr, Old Dominion University

Jasmine Platt, Boise State University

Annie Ponce, Boise State University

Ariel Powell, Florida International University

Tsewang Rigzin, Columbia University

Sarah Riley, Cornell University

David Seaman, Georgetown University

Isaac Sederbaum, University of Washington

Hasan Shahid, Georgia State University

Taylor West, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Tiffany Wu, University of Michigan

Angela Wyse, University of Chicago

Shirley Xu, Vanderbilt University

Meng Ye, Georgia State University

Paula Ximena Zamora Riano, Texas A&M University

Manny Zapata, University of Maryland, College Park


Abigail Banan

Abigail_BananI am an economics PhD candidate in the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. My research is primarily focused on public economics topics that include crime, risky behavior, and early childhood development. In addition to research, I am passionate about teaching. I love being in a classroom. I serve as the Vice President of Teaching for the Krannert Doctoral Student Association.

I am an Indiana native and come from a large family. I graduated from Indiana University in 2014, so I feel like I have had the best of both worlds having attended both I.U. and Purdue. In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with my family and friends, playing guitar and pianoRe, watching movies, and reading.


Ren-Neasha Blake Gilmore

Ren-Neasha_Blake_GilmoreRen-Neasha is a Fulbright Foreign Student Scholar from Jamaica. She is a doctoral candidate and graduate researcher at Old Dominion University (ODU), pursuing public administration and urban policy. Her research examines information and communications technology (ICT) within coastal resilience planning. At ODU, Ren-Neasha is the president of the Fulbright Student Organization and co-vice president of the International Student Advisory Board. She was the 2022 recipient of the Mentoring Leader of the Year Award. In 2020, she received Jamaica’s Prime Minister National Youth Awards for Excellence in Academics. She also founded A1 Research Consultancy Agency, a Jamaica-based company that specializes in academic and policy research.

Ren-Neasha completed internships with the Permanent Mission of Jamaica to the United Nations in New York, and at the Public Affairs Section, United States Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica. More recently, she completed the Don Lavoie Fellowship and pre-degree training as a resiliency specialist, City of Hampton, Virginia. She will spend the next several months working on her dissertation while participating in the Frédéric Bastiat Fellowship through Mercatus Center. She prides herself as a cosmopolitan country girl, from humble beginnings to global opportunities. Ren-Neasha is committed to learning, growing, and evolving in all areas of her life.


Clement Boaheng

Clement_BoahengClement Boaheng is a dual master's candidate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass). His dual master programs are in Public Health (health policy and management concentration) and Public Policy and Administration. Mr. Boaheng is from Worcester, MA and his roots are from the country of Ghana ( West Africa). Mr. Boaheng hopes to work at the intersection of health and policy. He hopes to help advance health equity for historically marginalized and disparaged communities. Mr. Boaheng has always been an advocate for marginalized communities and hopes that his work will create an equitable amount of wellness for all communities in the United States.

Mr. Boaheng supports the Health in All Policy (HiAP) approach, which emphasizes the significance of holistic policy making that takes into account health considerations. Mr. Boaheng hopes that advancing equity will address the structural racism and discrimination that laws and policies in the United States are rooted in. Mr. Boaheng wants to create a society that gives all individuals, no matter their background or walk of life an opportunity at holistic wellness. Wellness comes in many forms, but has a foundation in having needs met, allowing opportunity for growth, and creating legitimate chances of success.


Jessica Boyle Drecher

Jessica_(Boyle)_DrescherJessica is a doctoral candidate in education policy at Stanford University and a Health Policy Research Scholar at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She received her M.Ed. in education policy and management at Harvard University and her B.A. in sociology at Colby College. Prior to Stanford, she spent several years working at Harvard’s Education Redesign Lab, where she focused on the role of city government in addressing the iron-law correlation between socioeconomic status and education outcomes. Shaped by her experiences as an unaccompanied homeless youth and first-generation college student, Jessica researches education as a lever of social mobility and explores the potential of big data to inform social policy. Her current projects are focused on examining the relationship between ecological health factors and academic achievement, with a particular focus on the opioid crisis.


María Fernanda Cabezas

María Fernanda Cabezas is an international student at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. She is in her second year pursuing a master's degree program in Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution.

Before studying in the United States, she studied Political Science focused on Public Policy and minored in Economics at the Catholic Univerisity of Chile in her home country. She went to study surveying and process tracing in the Methods School at the Catholic University of Uruguay to strengthen her understanding of research methods. It helped her to develop a mixed methodological thesis on Organized Crime in the city of Santiago. After that, she worked in the Chilean Ministry of Environment evaluating programs focused on environmental sacrifice zones, and at the International Studies Center researching city-port conflicts. Currently, she works for Everyday Peace Indicators, an NGO that conducts participatory research and evaluation in partnership with international organizations and communities affected by conflict. She is interested in public policy that targets conflict, violence, and crime.


Sih-Ting Cai

Sih-Ting_CaiSih-Ting Cai is a doctoral candidate in Health Services Research and Policy with an emphasis on health economics at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research endeavors focus on improving the provision and financing of health care, specializing in policy impacts on dialysis markets and the Health Insurance Marketplaces. She also examines how policies and incentives affect provider behavior and market competition. Sih-Ting is the recipient of Diversity Scholar with the American Society of Health Economists and the Emerging Scholar Award with the North American Taiwanese Professors’ Association in 2022. She is awarded a 2022-2023 Taiwanese Overseas Pioneers Grant from the National Science and Technology Council, Taiwan.

Prior to her doctoral studies, Sih-Ting received her MPA in Health Policy Analysis from New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, where she researched the economic burden of ESRD in the US and the effects of gentrification on access to care in New York City. She is also a registered nurse who developed an interest in health care system reform and alternative payment models while practicing in the United States, Australia, and Taiwan.


Justin Campos

Justin_CamposJustin Campos is at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service working on a Master of Public Administration (MPA) in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy. He also has a Bachelor of Arts with Departmental Honors in the College of Social Studies from Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT). His research interests are within human services programming and poverty alleviation policy. He is particularly interested in the study of short-term, lifecycle, and intergenerational poverty and evaluating interventions designed to address these dynamics of poverty.

He is the editor-in-chief of the NYU Wagner Review, NYU’s public service academic journal. Justin is also currently a philanthropy fellow at the New York Community Trust where he works on grantmaking to projects and programs related to workforce development, education, human justice, human services, and youth development. He was formally at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC working with the Institute’s global economy project that conducted research and analysis on a wide range of economic issues. He is fluent in Spanish.


Monica Cardenas Guzman

Monica_Cardenas_GuzmanMy name is Monica Cardenas Guzma, I was born in Mexico and grew up in California. I'm DACAmented, which means I'm also undocumented, I live and work in the US because of a federal executive order policy called Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This was passed by President Obama in June of 2012.

I moved to the east coast to attend the University of Maryland, College Park. I am currently a second-year doc student in the Education Policy program at the College of Education. My research passions include immigrant students and first-generation college students.


Samantha Chapa

Samantha_ChapaSamantha Chapa is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Houston. Her National Science Foundation-funded research focuses on the political rights and representation of migrants and people of color. She has presented work on immigrant inclusion in urban politics, the effects of policy on anti-immigrant sentiment, and the international diffusion of sophisticated migrant tracking methods both domestically and internationally.

Prior to graduate school, Samantha worked as a Department of Justice Accredited Representative with the Immigration and Citizenship program at BakerRipley, a nonprofit in Houston. In this capacity, she provided legal representation to refugees, asylees, immigrant youth, and survivors of abuse. She also worked on the Welcoming Houston initiative, where—along with her team—she proposed inclusive immigrant integration policies to Mayor Sylvester Turner. She completed her Bachelor’s in English and History at Rice University, where she nurtured a love of civic engagement, community development, and local politics.


Cara Clase

Cara Clase is an Urban Policy Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Delaware who will soon be making her post-doctoral debut as an energy insecurity researcher.  In particular, Cara is interested in the nexus between urban energy insecurity and green housing standards.  Cara has a strong background in quantitative research: she received her Bachelor's in Economics and Mathematics from Millersville University and her Master's in Economics at the University of Delaware.  Cara is an alumna of the Environmental Fellowship Program at Yale University and a 2021/22 Ford Dissertation Fellowship Alternate.  In her spare time, Cara does grant writing for her local animal shelter and participates in musical theatre.


Avni Gupta

Avni_GuptaAvni Gupta is a 4th year PhD Candidate in Public Health Policy and Management at the New York University School of Global Public Health. She holds a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and clinical training in Dental Surgery from India. Her research spans questions related to the design of health benefits in the private health insurance market and their impact on access, disparities and costs; health care spending and quality; and implementation of healthcare programs, with an overarching goal of informing policies that support efficiency and equity in health care. Her dissertation focuses on benefits, access, costs and quality of care in Medicare Advantage. She has published more than thirty papers, eleven as first author. She has written blog pieces for Health Affairs and Medicare Care and has presented in several conferences in the US and internationally. Her work has been covered in media outlets such as Reuters, Healthcare IT News, NBC and Wall Street Journal. She enjoys hiking, running, cooking and board games.


Eric Henderson

Eric Henderson (he/him) is a master's student in Public Policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. His research interests include crime and drug policy, economic justice policy, and social safety net programs. More specifically, he is interested in programs and policies that prevent people from entering the criminal legal system and identifying ways to increase access to social support programs for the most vulnerable. In addition to his studies, Eric works as a graduate student researcher with the UCLA Bunche Center for African American Studies.

Before graduate school, Eric pursued a career in policy advocacy with experience in local and state policy advocacy, community organizing, and budget advocacy. He has a demonstrated track record of working with diverse groups to advance social justice policy and a strong understanding of data analysis and social science research. Eric is a proud non-traditional college student who attended community college before transferring to UCLA. He graduated Cum Laude with departmental honors with a bachelor's degree in Sociology and a minor in African American Studies. While an undergraduate, he researched the effects of incarceration on employment outcomes in a study modeled on the work of the late Dr. Devah Pager.


Kimberly Higuera

Kimberly_HigueraKimberly Higuera is an MPP and doctoral candidate in sociology and current DARE fellow from San Diego, California. Between being the daughter of immigrants and having grown up in a border town, her interest in migration was almost inevitable. Her research focuses on contemporary immigrants in the US and how social contexts and policies bolster or inhibit immigrant mobility and wellbeing. Her dissertation explores remittance patterns and behaviors between the U.S. and Mexico, the social meaning remitters and receivers attach to these remittance transactions, and how these transactions impact relationships across borders.

She got her B.A in sociology with minors in Child Research and Policy and Latinx Studies from Duke University. Before graduate school, she worked in Durham, NC with Duke’s Center for Child and Family Policy conducting maternal health research by day and serving as an ESL teacher for adults by night.


Theodore Johnson

Theodore_JohnsonTheodore W. Johnson, MPA, is a third-year doctoral student pursuing his doctorate in public administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and is also an Instructor within their Aviation Institute. He teaches several undergraduate courses such as Introduction to Aviation/Aerospace and Diversity in Aviation. Previously, he served as the Aircraft Dispatch Program Director at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) where he taught two senior-level undergraduate courses and assisted over 10 students in earning their Aircraft Dispatcher certificate. Theodore’s career in higher education began when he was selected to lead the program in January 2018, five months after graduating with his bachelor’s degree in Aviation Management. This position melded his passions for aviation and higher education.

Theodore earned his Master of Public Administration degree from EMU in April 2020, further solidifying his commitment to equity and inclusion. His research interests focalize social, racial, and educational equity, and inclusion with especial emphasis on the recruitment/retention of racial minorities to advance equity and promote opportunities in traditionally underrepresented fields (e.g., aviation/aerospace). Currently, Theodore serves on the Board of Directors for the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals and as the Secretary for the American Society of Public Administration’s Section on Transportation Policy & Administration.


Tasnim Ahmed Mahin

Tasnim_Ahmed_MahinI'm a Bangladeshi economist currently working as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Department of Economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where I'm also pursuing my Ph.D. in economics as an Ogle Fellow. My current research interests are in the areas of environmental policy, resilient market design, poverty alleviation, and experiential economics.

I got my undergrad degree in electrical engineering and decided that I wanted to work with people to solve social and economic problems. Before heading to graduate school, I worked in the International Development Enterprises (IDE), Swisscontact, and BRAC on different USAID, FCDO, SDC, and EU funded projects. I've extensive experience in leading action research projects focusing on market systems development (MSD) and social and behavior change (SBC). I've also worked on the Feed the Future initiative. Apart from these, I've been part of several volunteers and civil society organizations in Bangladesh and served in various capacities.


Hannah Mason

Hannah_MasonHannah Mason is currently an Emergent Bilingual Specialist and Instructional Coach in Nashville, Tennessee. Previously, she worked as an English learners (EL) intern at The Century Foundation, focusing on dual-language immersion programs in public schools and conducting quantitative research. In addition to working at TCF, Hannah has conducted qualitative research at NYU’s Center for Policy, Research, and Evaluation. Hannah is currently pursuing a MPP at Vanderbilt University with a specialized concentration of K–12 education policy. She graduated from The University of Georgia with a BA in religion and a minor in teaching English to speakers of other languages. In the future, Hannah hopes to conduct large-scale research projects across the globe that focus on dual language students and low-income black and brown children’s access to high-quality secondary education.


Dillon McGill

Dillon McGill is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Leadership, Policy, & Organizations at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. His research focuses on the effects of school choice policies and school finance reforms on school and student outcomes. Prior to starting the Ph.D. program, Dillon managed the educator leadership pipeline at Teach For America Phoenix, where he also designed and led the region's diversity, equity, and inclusion professional development sequence for all first- and second-year teachers. He also trained, coached, and consulted with hundreds of teachers and school leaders as the Lead Trainer for the Arizona Charter Schools Association, but his passion for education began in the classroom, where he taught high school English to students in the west valley of Phoenix. He holds a B.A. in sociology from Pepperdine University and an M.A. in education policy from Arizona State University.


Frania Mendoza Lua

Frania_Mendoza_LuaFrania Mendoza Lua, MSW is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. Her research considers disjointed yet overlapping lines of inquiry– the health of children and youth in immigrant families, immigration policies and enforcement, and social policy. She is interested in examining how these areas intersect, and how this intersection may provide a deeper understanding of Latine individual health, and health disparities in the United States affecting Latine communities. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, Mendoza-Lua’s research underscores the importance of examining policy, social, and cultural factors concurrently to understand health behaviors and health outcomes of Latine communities in the United States.

Prior to pursuing doctoral studies, Mendoza-Lua was a social worker and youth organizer in Washtenaw County, Michigan and managed multiple university and community youth participatory action research projects at the University of Michigan. Mendoza-Lua received a Master of Social Work (MSW) from the University of Michigan, School of Social Work, and Bachelors’ degrees in Political Science and Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles where she was also a Ronald E. McNair Research Scholar.


Erica Menjivar

Erica_MenjivarErica Menjivar is student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Policy where she is pursuing a Master in Public Policy and Administration. She has devoted a great deal of her research to the intersectionality between race, gender and the social determinants of health in addition to immigration policy and the refugee resettlement experience in the United States. She has contributed to a cross national examination of health equity in relation to obesity, and the gaps within the current welfare systems impeding successful refugee resettlement integration. Her passion for helping others goes beyond the classroom setting, and she started a small philanthropic project geared at aiding impoverished families in Honduras on her own. The project yielded items for more than 100 families in various regions of the country, and school supplies and textbooks for one of the local elementary schools.

Prior to pursuing a masters degree, Erica earned a Bachelors degree in Global Studies from the University of California Riverside with a concentration in Latin American countries.


Hortense Minishi

Hortense_MinishiHortense is a Fulbright Scholar pursuing her Master of Human Rights at the University of Minnesota-USA with a concentration in International law, International Relations, and International Security. Originally from Kenya, Hortense is a Human Rights Lawyer and holds a Post-graduate Diploma in Law and a Bachelor of Laws Degree (LLB). Hortense has a deep penchant for human rights and public policy and has worked as a Human Rights Lawyer for over 7 years with varied organizations throughout Sub-Saharan Africa promoting and advocating rights of children, youth and women in the fields of armed conflict, peace, and security, forced displacement, migration, and refugee resettlement.  As a Black African woman, she is passionate about advancing equality, diversity, and social justice as well as promoting, protecting, and safeguarding the rights of vulnerable/marginalized groups and under-represented communities. She is currently an intern at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Development and Economic and Social Issues Branch (DESIB). Her mantra has always been to leave a little sparkle wherever she goes and through the APPAM Fellowship, aspires to inspire others to believe that we can all make a difference in building up stronger, equitable, inclusive communities and the world!


Fabiola Mora

Fabiola_MoraFabiola Mora (she/her pronouns) is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Higher Education Leadership program at Colorado State University. She has worked in higher education for over ten years addressing access, equity, and justice issues to transform educational environments. Her research interests include examining and challenging systems of power, privilege, and oppression that perpetuate violence on historically minoritized populations in higher education. Specifically, Fabiola is interested in exploring how institutional researchers and data users infuse critical approaches into their work. Because research and data are used to inform institutional and public policy decisions, Fabiola is excited to understand better how equity and justice are embedded in these processes to facilitate organizational and systemic change. Lastly, in her work and research, Fabiola hopes to remain grounded in honoring the lives, the voices, and the humanity of the communities she comes from and serves.


Mingean Park

Mingean_ParkMingean Park is a third-year Ph.D. student in public administration and policy at the School of Public Affairs at Penn State University Harrisburg. He is trained in public administration and policy and holds an M.P.A. from Rutgers University at Newark and Seoul National University. He was a researcher and a research assistant at research institutes in Korea (National Assembly Budget Office, Gyeonggi Research Institute, Population Association of Korea, Korea Development Institute). He also completed his military service as a sergeant in the Korean army. His research interests include governance, public finance, public health, population, and well-being. He is working on research that studies pro-natalist policies for alleviating low fertility, the effects of the special supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children on maternal and infant health, the association between governance and happiness, trends of the motherhood penalty, and the impact of public service motivation on turnover intention. Most of his work employs quantitative methods and tries to find a unifying theme in social science. He believes that research initiatives can make a better world.


Shela Pennington

Shela_PenningtonShela Pennington lives in Oregon where she attends Portland State University’s (PSU) Master’s degree program for Public Policy Advocacy and Leadership. She received her Bachelor’s in Child, Youth, and Family Studies at PSU, supplemented by a Minor in Sociology with a focus on mental illness and addiction. Shela is intentional in her academic pursuits for restoring the valuing of family and community across systems, including education, medical, public health, food, and criminal justice systems. Her current research, as a McNair Scholar focuses on supporting the needs of children and families residing in Title 1 schools. She is a proud representative of her university where she shares mutual values of equity, diversity, and inclusion.


Vanea Pharr

Vanea_PharrI am a Navy veteran who served for more than 16 years on active duty before transitioning to a civilian career. I currently work in facilities management as an Assistant Director of Campus Building Services at The George Washington University, and serve as a Lieutenant Commander in the Naval Reserves. Additionally, I am pursuing a PhD in Higher Education with aspirations of working in public policy in the areas of education and social mobility. I am passionate about the power of education to change life trajectories, break the cycle of poverty, uplift communities, and provide wide-ranging opportunities for underserved and/or vulnerable populations. However, to realize these ideals, policymakers must be extremely intentional in crafting briefs and providing the research to lawmakers that will support the changes they try to implement. This is where I see my role in society moving forward. Additionally, I am a mother of one daughter, age 17, and one fur baby, age (almost) 2. My academic background is in mathematics, education, and engineering, and I enjoy reading books, watching movies, and listening to diverse music genres. I also love to travel and sample delicious wines.


Jasmine Platt

Jasmine_PlattJasmine Platt (she/him) is a third-year Public Policy and Administration PhD student in the School of Public Service at Boise State University (BA in Poetry '15, MPA '19) concurrently serving as a Policy Analyst Student Trainee for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Volpe National Transportation Systems Center. Her research interests include government contracting ethics and equity, public service motivation, corporate social responsibility, and intersectoral regulatory compliance. Her professional background with the Idaho Transportation Department’s Office of Civil Rights inspires her dissertation—"Owed Work Ahead: PSM, CSR, and the Deconstruction of Davis-Bacon Noncompliance in Transportation Contracting"—which explores the impact of over 25,000 federally-funded businesses’ prevailing wage (non)compliance on female and minority highway and bridge construction workers using the public records of 28 states from 2010-2019. In 2022, she received awards from the Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA), Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), International Bridge, Tunnel, and Turnpike Association (IBTTA), and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). To make up for the glassy-eyed, paint-drying effect of some of her research interests and professional ambitions, she takes time to enjoy a rotating cast of eccentric hobbies.


Annie Ponce

Annie_PonceAnnie Ponce was born and raised in Honduras, Central America, and has been deeply connected to the community through public service from a young age. She earned a Master’s in Political Science from the University of Salamanca in Spain and a Bachelor’s of International Relations from the Catholic University of Honduras. She is in her second year in the Public Policy and Administration Ph.D. program at Boise State University in Idaho.

Annie has previous experience in management and procurement for the U.S. Department of State and is currently working in the Service-Learning Program as a Graduate Assistant. Her current research interests are refugee and immigrant populations studies, gender equity, Latin American development, non-profit management, and international organizations. Additionally, she spends her free time volunteering at the International Rescue Committee, enjoying time outdoors, traveling, podcasting and learning about diverse cultures.


Ariel Powell

Ariel_PowellAriel Powell is a 4th Year PhD Candidate at Florida International University in the public administration department. Unlike most of the other students in the department, Ariel entered into the PhD program directly from undergraduate where she earned her BA in Political Science in Spring 2019 and finally her en route Masters in Public Administration in Spring 2022 from FIU.

Broadly speaking Ariel is interested in policies that impact minority and underrepresented groups with a more narrow focus on the equitable impact of the implementation of criminal justice and education policies.



Tsewang Rigzin

Tsewang Rigzin is a doctoral candidate at the Columbia University School of Social Work. His research is at the intersection of welfare, health, immigration policies, and population wellbeing. His research examines the policy effects of social welfare programs and health policies on the wellbeing of immigrants and other racial/ethnic minorities in the United States and globally. Currently, Tsewang is investigating the fiscal implications of exclusionary immigrant policies on host countries and their impact on immigrants’ wellbeing. His extended research interest includes inequality, poverty alleviation, and social entrepreneurship.

Tsewang has more than six years of experience as a development practitioner in developing countries. Before pursuing doctoral studies at Columbia University, Tsewang was a Deputy Director with the Tibet Fund, a nonprofit organization based in the US and India that promotes cultural preservation, economic stability, and resilience of Tibetan refugee communities in India and Nepal. Tsewang holds MSW from Mangalore University in India and Masters in Development Practice from Emory University, Atlanta, USA.

Sarah Riley

Sarah_RileyI’m an information science PhD candidate at Cornell, where I’m fortunate to be advised by Karen Levy and Solon Barocas. My research is funded by the Microsoft Research Ada Lovelace Fellowship. I study municipal algorithmic systems, race/ism, and inequality. My dissertation focuses on the administration of pretrial risk assessments in Virginia. I use a mixed-methods approach to understand how human discretion in the pretrial process—particularly on the part of pretrial officers—affects risk scores, pretrial detention decisions, and life outcomes for accused people.

My interest in municipal algorithmic systems arose while working at the New York City Department of Education to re-engage out-of-school youth, and volunteering for the Dignity in Schools Campaign, a national coalition working to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. I also have a master’s in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley and internship experience with a variety of organizations, including Data 4 Black Lives and Crime Lab New York.


David Seaman

David_SeamanDavid A. Seaman: MS Candidate (2023), Addiction Policy and Practice, Georgetown University; JD Candidate (2025), University of Michigan Law School; BA Program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, University of Michigan. Research Assistant for Removing Barriers to Recovery: Community Partnering for Innovative Solutions to the Opioid Crisis. As a person with lived experience, David brings special knowledge to the intersection of criminal justice, drug, and addiction policy. David is well equipped to synthesize his lived experience and his interdisciplinary training in political economy to evaluate different policies’ disparate impacts to disadvantaged groups, and the barriers to the mainstream economy that marginalized populations experience.

As an intern with the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), David conducted research and made recommendations regarding how ONDCP might address stigma and leverage behavioral economics and monetary incentives to facilitate the adoption of recovery-ready workplace policies nationally. This product will support ONDCP's work to advance administration policy priority. David’s personal experience with addiction, recovery, and the criminal justice system helped ground his understanding of key policies and their impact. David is committed to the prioritization of policies that serve public health, promote economic stability, and preserve parity for mental health and substance use disorder treatment.


Isaac Sederbaum

Isaac_SederbaumIsaac Sederbaum (he/him) is a fourth-year PhD student at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. His research focuses on the intersections of State power, administrative burden, and the rights of trans people. More specifically, he is interested in how lawmakers are utilizing administrative burdens to remove trans people from public life, and the resiliency of trans people in the face of these attempts. Prior to his doctoral work, Isaac worked as a researcher at the Vera Institute of Justice aiding states in reducing the number of children they incarcerated for status offense, and the Center for Court Innovation. Outside of academia, he is the co-Director of Wild Composite Racing, a gender-expansive cycling team that races at some of the largest gravel events in the country.


Hasan Shahid

Hasan_ShahidI am a Ph.D. candidate at the Economics department of Georgia State University who is currently on the 2022-2023 job market. I am an applied microeconomist with an interest in health, labor, and development economics. I enjoy using econometric tools to evaluate the intended as well as the unintended consequences of health policies and innovations in medical treatments. My dissertation explores the mental and physical health impacts of HIV/AIDS funding and treatment.





Taylor West

Taylor_WestTaylor West is a Master’s in Public Policy (M.P.P.) student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Taylor is interested in health data and programming. At school Taylor works as a research assistant where she analyzes data using various software’s, and she is also a general body member of the American Mock World Health Organization (AMWHO) where she attends meetings to understand and propose solutions for domestic and global health issues. Additionally, Taylor has been on both the deans list and presidents list since she started college. Taylor completed an internship with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) throughout more than half of her undergraduate degree program. Raised in Maryland, Taylor delights in playing soccer, running, and volunteering with kids in her free time. Taylor plans to one day work for an organization that works towards improving health outcomes through the utilization of various types of data.


Tiffany Wu

Tiffany_WuTiffany Wu is a doctoral student in the Combined Program in Education and Psychology (CPEP) at the University of Michigan and an IES Predoctoral Fellow. She is also pursuing a dual master’s degree in Statistics. Tiffany is broadly interested in PreK-12 education, sustainable research-practice partnerships, and using causal inference and machine learning methods. Specifically, she is interested in exploring how various education interventions and policies influence students’ executive functioning and social-emotional learning skills, and how they in turn impact later life success. Her goal is to apply this research to inform the development of more effective and equitable education interventions and teaching policies.

Tiffany received a B.S. in secondary education from Northwestern University and a M.A. in psychology from the University of Chicago. She worked as a public high school teacher in Chicago and then as a research analyst for the education non-profit LEAP Innovations prior to starting her PhD. In her free time, she likes to paint, play the piano, and rock climb.


Angela Wyse

Angela_WyseAngela Wyse is a PhD student at the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy. Her research focuses on poverty and homelessness in the United States. She holds a B.A. in Public Policy from the University of Michigan and a Masters of Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Before attending the Harris School, she was a U.S. Foreign Service Officer for five years and completed postings in Casablanca, Morocco and Karachi, Pakistan.




Shirley Xu

Shirley_XuShirley H. Xu is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations at Vanderbilt University. Broadly, her research interests focus on how race and ethnicity shape the experiences of students and teachers within the U.S. education system and on the racial politics of policymaking. In particular, she is interested in the challenges to diversifying the teacher labor market, the supports and outcomes of English learners, the mobilization of Asian Americans with respect to affirmative action, and the use of critical quantitative methods in education. Prior to pursuing her doctorate, Shirley taught high school English language arts and literature and English as a Second Language in Houston, TX. She received her bachelor’s degree in English and teaching certification in grades 7-12 English Language Arts and Reading from Rice University.


Meng Ye

Meng_YeMeng Ye is a Ph.D. student in public policy at Georgia State University. Her research interests lie in nonprofit management, cross-sector collaboration, nonprofit marketization, and its social outcome implications. She has published a journal article and several book chapters on topics including social enterprise policy in China, nonprofit fundraising, and asset management.

In her former role as the Deputy Director of the Center for Charity Law of China Philanthropy Research Institute, Meng worked closely with civil society organizations and policymakers in China. She conducted research and consulting projects on the nonprofit sector, funded by both domestic and international stakeholders such as the Ford Foundation, the Gates Foundation, and Asian Development Bank. She consulted the National People’s Congress and National Development and Reform Committee regarding refining the regulatory systems for the nonprofit sector. She also helped draft local policies on nonprofits and social enterprises in Beijing, Shenzhen, and Yunnan.

Meng is a lawyer qualified in China. She received her LLB and LLM degrees from Beijing Normal University, and also earned a second LLM in commercial and nonprofit law from University College Dublin with the support of the European Union’s Erasmus Mundus Scholarship.


Paula Ximena Zamora Riaño

I am a third-year Ph.D. student in Economics at Texas A&M University (TAMU). I am interested in topics of industrial organization, development economics, and behavioral and experimental economics. I am currently analyzing the welfare implications of government-mandated insurer closures and government intervention in the retail market.

Before attending TAMU, I worked as a Research Fellow at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington DC. I worked on trust and government transparency topics and supported the Behavioral Economics Group. I am originally from Colombia, where I earned my bachelor's and master's degrees and began my professional career. I interned at the Central Bank of Colombia and worked as a research assistant at Universidad del Rosario, where I conducted field and lab experiments.


Manny Zapata

Manny is third-year PhD student studying Urban Education within the Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership program at the University of Maryland, College Park. His research interest explores the intersection between ethnic and racial identity politics among Afro-Latinx students in urban schools. He is also interested in the connection between policy and practice that impacts immigrant and newcomer youths experiences in schools. After completing his PhD he hopes to enter the policy sphere while working at a think tank or non-profit organization that uses data driven research to shape policies that impact students of color and those from low-income backgrounds.

He received his B.A. in English and Textual Studies and Political Science from Syracuse University, an M.A.T degree in Secondary English Education (7-12) from New York University, and an M.A. in Education Policy, with a specialization in law, from Teachers College, Columbia University. Before beginning his PhD, Manny was a former middle school English teacher at a charter school in NYC. He hopes to expand and leverage his critical thinking, analytical, and research skills to become a changemaker for urban communities and work towards crafting sound and equitable policies in schools.