Biographical Profiles of Current MPA Graduate Students

Spogmay Ahmed
II - International Development
George Washington University, 2015
International Affairs, B.A.
Selden, New York
Born and raised in New York, Spogmay studied international affairs and women’s studies at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Upon graduating in 2015, she joined the International Center for Research on Women, where she specialized in policy analysis and advocacy on women’s rights issues in multilateral forums including the United Nations, G7 and G20. She also coordinated the Feminist U.N. Campaign, bringing together civil society, philanthropy, academia and former U.N. staff around a shared agenda for advancing women’s rights and gender equality at the United Nations. Spogmay, a Pakistani-American, is passionate about global affairs, human rights and advancing gender-transformative policy change worldwide. She enjoys writing, fashion, desserts and engaging in conversation about race and popular culture.
Lindsey Andersen
I - International Relations
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2012
International Studies/Political Science, B.A.
Omaha, Nebraska
Lindsey was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and is a proud Cornhusker (Go Big Red!). She discovered a passion for international human rights while attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and studying abroad in Latin America. After graduating, she worked at human rights NGO, Freedom House, and then went on to do a Fulbright research fellowship in Brazil focusing on transitional justice. She then fell into the world of internet freedom, exploring the intersection of human rights and technology at the D.C.-based organization Internews. There she led projects focusing on improving digital security and developing internet policy advocacy skills for activists and journalists in Latin America. For her summer internship, she worked at digital rights organization Access Now, where she wrote a report on the human rights implications of artificial intelligence policy. After graduation, she hopes to work in tech policy, helping ensure that the technologies we use and develop respect and protect human rights. In her free time, Lindsey enjoys traveling, being outdoors, hanging with her dog, eating chocolate, reading fantasy novels and seeing live music.
Emily Apple
III - Domestic Policy
Hunter College, 2014
Political Science, B.A.
Brooklyn, New York
A born and bred Brooklynite, Emily is excited to join WWS and learn what it’s like to live outside the five boroughs for the first time – even if that place happens to be just a short drive away. She spent the past four years working in the Mayor’s Office in New York City in the Office for Economic Opportunity and Center for Youth Employment working on policies and programs in the areas of workforce development, education, youth development and mental health. After leaving the Mayor’s Office, she spent the summer backpacking in Vietnam and road tripping through the South and Mid-Atlantic. Emily is a proud graduate of NYC public schools and the CUNY Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts in political science. She is an alumna of the NYC Urban Fellows program and the Roosevelt Institute Network. After graduating she hopes to return to New York City to continue working to make her hometown a more just and equitable place for all its residents. In her spare time, Emily can usually be found listening to a podcast, sampling new cocktail concoctions, or proclaiming the superiority of New York bagels.
Christopher Austin
IV - Economics and Public Policy
University of Minnesota, 2011
Economics, B.A.
Saint Louis Park, Minnesota
Chris learned the ways of “Minnesota nice” after growing up in Saint Louis Park, Minnesota, before attending the University of Minnesota. After graduating with a degree in economics, he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guinea. There, he worked with small businesses and eventually cofounded Dare to Innovate, an incubator aimed at empowering Guinean youth to address social problems through social entrepreneurship. Before studying at Princeton, he lived in Washington, D.C., where he managed grants for Evidence Action, an international nonprofit that scales cost-effective development interventions. For his summer internship, Chris worked at the Deputy Managing Director’s Office for Health and Human Services for the City of Philadelphia, working on eviction, homelessness, and criminal justice reform policy. After graduating, he hopes to work in city government to address economic inequality and criminal justice reform in the U.S. Chris enjoys photography, running and overly complicated board games.
Somya Bajaj
IV - Economics and Public Policy
Christ University, 2015
Economics, B.A.
Kolkata, India
Somya grew up in Kolkata and graduated in economics from Christ University, Bangalore. Her passion for public service enhanced when she was working with an NGO and subsequently started a school for kids of construction workers in Bangalore. In her first ethnographic study she worked with the people to empower them by setting up self-help groups. Her book, “Their Way, The Highway,” is inspired by one such encounter. Driven to create impact at scale, she quit her job at Goldman Sachs to join a political consultancy where she led projects with Central and State Governments on policy implementation. One of her most treasured projects includes the Education Transformation Programme to improve the quality of education across 15,000 government schools in Himachal Pradesh. Prior to WWS, Somya worked in the tribal and Naxal insurgency area of Kalinganagar, Odisha, to study resettlement and rehabilitation strategies by industries. Somya co-founded Citizens for Public Leadership, an organization that aims to train and involve the youth in politics. She spent the summer expanding the fellowship, conducting training and citizen engagement sessions across India. This summer she interned with the African Development Bank on integration strategies towards the Industrialize Africa vision of the Bank to use and enhance her village level experience towards inter-continent learning. Somya aspires to build a model village and work on rural development and strengthening local governance in India.
Toshiro Baum
I - International Relations
Johns Hopkins University, 2011
International Studies, B.A.
Seattle, Washington
A native of Seattle, Toshiro (or Toshi) attended Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore where he studied international relations. After graduation, He moved to Morocco where he lived and studied renewable energy policy for over a year on a Fulbright grant. He returned to Washington, D.C., where he worked for the National Democratic Institute on democracy strengthening programs in the Middle East and North Africa. In 2015, Toshi joined the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as an adviser in USAID’s Asia Bureau. His most recent position was in USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives, where he managed stabilization programs in Libya. Toshi enjoys running, cooking, and has a one-year old puppy named Evie.
Paloma Bellatin Nieto
II - International Development
Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2014
Political Science and Government, BSS
Lima, Peru
Paloma was born and raised in Lima, Peru. She studied political science and interned at the think tank GRADE on projects related to segregation, gender and violence in rural areas. After graduating top of her class, she worked in the Social Protection Division of the FAO-UN Rome headquarters on policy support regarding decent rural employment and rural youth. She later returned to Lima to work in the World Bank IFC on rural community development in conflict-prone mining areas. Paloma also co-founded the Young Professionals in Agricultural Development (YPARD) Peru chapter, and led a team in advocacy for better policies for rural youth. During the summer of 2018, she worked in Liberia for Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) on RCTs regarding cash transfers and gender based violence reduction projects. In the future, she would like to go back to Peru and hopes to develop policies that address poverty, inequality and conflict.
Margo Berends
II - International Development
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2014
Economics/Political Science, BSBA/B.A.
Aurora, Colorado
Margo grew up in Aurora, Colorado, where she spent her time swimming and pining for the beach rather than skiing or snowboarding. She graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with degrees in economics and political science. When she wasn’t cheering on the Huskers, she interned in Washington, D.C., and studied abroad at Oxford University and in Benin, where she developed a passion for evidence-based international development. After graduating in 2014, Margo spent a year teaching English to primary school students in Foix, France. She then moved to Washington, D.C., to intern with the Africa Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars before taking a full-time position with Global Communities, where she managed international development programs in the Middle East and Latin America. While in D.C., Margo was also an active member of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP), publishing op-ed articles as a Sustainable Development Fellow and serving as the associate director of the YPFP Fellowship Program. This past summer, she returned to France for an internship at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and visited fellow Woos in London and Greece.
Aditi Bhowmick
IV - Economics and Public Policy
Cornell University, 2016
Economics/Government, B.A.
Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Aditi has worked as a research associate at J-PAL South Asia for two years. She has worked on a randomized evaluation of several nutrition and education interventions to improve child development in Tamil Nadu (southern India) and a randomized evaluation of a government-run school quality assurance system in Madhya Pradesh (central India). Aditi has an undergraduate degree in economics and government from Cornell University. She has authored newspaper editorial columns in collaboration with the J-PAL South Asia media team and used to write as an opinion columnist for the Cornell Daily Sun. After completing her MPA, she hopes to return to India to work in the gender education policy space with government and continue working on her writing.
Ana Billingsley
III - Domestic Policy
Hunter College, 2013
Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies, B.A.
San Francisco, California
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Ana moved to New York to attend the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College where she majored in Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino studies with a minor in public policy. Ana worked as a research assistant at the Center for Court Innovation, conducting assessments with justice-involved men in East Harlem and Newark, New Jersey. She went on to become a New York City Urban Fellow at the NYC Department of Correction (DOC) where she developed and facilitated workforce programming for incarcerated women. Prior to starting graduate school, Ana served as the Director of Workforce Development at the DOC, working with nonprofit and education stakeholders to implement employment and reentry programming for young adults on Rikers Island. Upon completing her first year of graduate school, Ana interned at the W. Haywood Burns Institute, where she worked on research and recommendations to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system. Upon graduation, Ana plans to continue working on local criminal justice policy reform, with an emphasis on developing alternatives to incarceration. Ana is an alumnus of the PPIA Junior Summer Institute at University of California-Berkeley, and the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service at NYU Wagner.
Peter Birke
III - Domestic Policy
Washington University-St Louis, 2013
Economics, B.A.
Madison, Wisconsin
Peter attended Washington University in St. Louis, earning a bachelor’s degree in economics. Upon graduation, he interned at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, where he assisted research on the changing geography of poverty in U.S. metropolitan regions. He went on to work for New York City government for nearly three years, first as a New York City Urban Fellow and then at the Department of Small Business Services, where he was part of a strategic planning team advising City Hall on emerging economic development issues. For the past two years, Peter worked at the Markle Foundation leading projects for their Skillful initiative and Rework America Task Force. Upon graduation, Peter hopes to develop policy solutions that build prosperous and equitable regional economies in the United States. Peter enjoys lap swimming, cycling, reading and baseball. He hails from Madison, Wisconsin, but family ties and the vast reach of WGN bred him to become a die-hard Cubs fan.
Benjamin Brenner
I - International Relations
McGill University, 2011
History, B.A.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Ben’s career started in a dingy room underneath the U.S. Capitol building, where he spent untold hours copying news clips for now-retired Senator Carl Levin of Michigan. Somehow, this (and other things) fed his fascination with government, and he spent the subsequent eight years working in Congress and the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE). In the Senate, Ben worked his way up from the copy room to become a legislative adviser to Senator Levin, and over those years he focused (unsuccessfully) on crafting policies to reduce U.S. gun violence and (successfully) on supporting public-private research and development partnerships. At DoE, he served as an appropriations adviser to their renewable energy and nuclear security programs, and helped secure billions of dollars in appropriations to maintain astoundingly powerful weapons that he wishes were not necessary. At Princeton, Ben hopes to think through big questions: whether convoluted bureaucratic models can be updated for modern challenges; how to address evolving nuclear threats; whether IT platforms and policies can or should be managed in the public interest; and if he is actually, finally ready to get a dog.
Patrick Brown
III - Domestic Policy
University of Notre Dame, 2011
Economics/Political Science, B.A.
Redmond, Washington
Before coming to Princeton, Patrick spent four years at Catholic Charities USA, one of the nation’s largest social service networks, working in government affairs and communications. He served as a liaison with the University of Notre Dame in the creation of a research center that identifies and conducts impact evaluations of innovative, effective, and scalable anti-poverty programs. He also spent a year working in local journalism, and completed his WWS internship working on urbanism projects at the R Street Institute in Washington, D.C. He has written for America magazine, National Review, The Washington Post, and First Things, and is returning to the Woo after a year at home with two toddlers.
Brendan Burns
III - Domestic Policy
Vanderbilt University, 2015
Economics/Public Policy Studies, B.A.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Prior to arriving at Princeton, Brendan’s life was a tale of two cities. After growing up in Raleigh, North Carolina, he moved west to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend Vanderbilt University. There, he studied economics and public policy and developed an interest in public service in the oft-overlooked lower levels of American government. Immediately after college, he went back to Raleigh to work with North Carolina’s Medicaid program. Most recently, Brendan doubled back to Nashville, where for two years he was a Commissioner’s Fellow in the Tennessee Department of Health. Among other projects, he researched and wrote three white papers detailing Tennessee’s past and then-ongoing policy responses to the opioid epidemic, and he helped create a primer for staff on how the Department’s budget is developed and structured. After Princeton, he hopes to test and evaluate programs on the city or state level. When it is not too cold, Brendan enjoys cycling; when no one is around, Brendan enjoys trying to teach himself how to play the piano.
Anthony Chase
III - Domestic Policy
University of Michigan, 2012
Political Science/Arabic/Islamic Studies, B.A.
Kalamazoo, Michigan
Anthony is interested in the economic future of struggling American cities. Before the Woodrow Wilson School, Anthony served as a program director for Humanity in Action in New York. In that position, he led and developed fellowship programs about urban and civic issues in Detroit, Atlanta, Washington, Cairo, Paris, Berlin and Warsaw. He also worked as a project manager for Bibliothèques Sans Frontières in Paris and now serves on the board of the organization’s U.S. branch, Libraries Without Borders. He is a fellow with the Urban Design Forum in New York. A native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Anthony holds a B.A. in political science and Arabic/Islamic studies from the University of Michigan. He loves biking, cooking and Brooklyn.