Biographical Profiles of Current MPA Graduate Students

Ana Cristina Alonso Soria
II - International Development
Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey-San Luis Potosi, 2013
International Business, B.A.
San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Ana Cristina grew up in San Luis Potosí, a beautiful colonial city in central Mexico. In 2011 she was selected into the Yale Visiting International Student Program. After spending her junior year as an undergrad in Yale College, she returned to San Luis to earn her B.A. in international business at Tecnologico de Monterrey. Upon graduation she moved to Mexico City, to work at the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit. While at the Ministry, she became part of the Technical Secretariat of the National Productivity Commission, a high-level public-private body that generates productivity and long-term economic growth policies. Ana Cristina is passionate about literature and loves wandering around Mexico City discovering new libraries and cafes. In the future, she would like to go back to her country to work on economic development policies at the federal level.
Jacob Appel
IV - Economics and Public Policy
Columbia University, 2006
Mathematics, B.A.
Montclair, New Jersey
A recovering evaluation geek, Jake began his career working on and writing about randomized controlled trials for development. Before coming to the Woodrow Wilson School, he spent four plus years consulting in the social innovation sector, helping nonprofits, foundations, and for profits develop programs and campaigns that actively engage their constituents in doing good. He completed his summer internship at the NYC Crime Lab. Jake is a lover of travel, music, Saison beer and chopping vegetables.
Bethany Atkins
III - Domestic Policy
Pacific Lutheran University, 2007
Global Studies/Political Science, B.A.
Missoula, Montana
Bethany hails from Montana and grew up eating venison and huckleberries. She attended Pacific Lutheran University in Washington state, where she rowed on the crew team, studied abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico, and ended up with two majors and two minors out of sheer indecision. Since graduating, Bethany served in the Peace Corps Guatemala Sustainable Agriculture program and spent a handful of years working in Portland, Oregon, in energy efficiency and demand-side management organizations. Just prior to entering the Woo, she completed Rocky Mountain School of Photography's 2015 summer intensive program in Missoula, Montana. This past summer, she worked in Washington, D.C., on the U.S. Government Accountability Office's Natural Resources and Environment team.
Edward Atkinson
I - International Relations
Oberlin College, 2011
Economics/Mathematics/Music Performance, B.A./B.M.
Houston, Texas
A native of Houston, Edward graduated from Oberlin College with a dual Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music in economics, mathematics and percussion performance. He most recently worked as a senior research assistant at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C., where his research centered on monetary policy, financial stability and shadow banks. Prior to joining the Fed, Edward was a Fulbright English teaching assistant in Pula, Croatia and a data analyst at Moody’s Analytics in San Francisco. As a 2016 Rosenthal fellow, he spent the summer interning in the Political Section of the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Swetha Balachandran
IV - Economics and Public Policy
Nanyang Technological University, 2012
Accounting/Banking and Finance, BAcc/BBus
Noida, India
Swetha was born in the Netherlands and grew up in a suburb near Delhi, India. She went on to study finance and accounting at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Upon graduation, she joined the Boston Consulting Group and worked as a consultant for government agencies and private corporations across Southeast Asia. Her projects spanned different policy issues such as public transportation, infrastructure and manpower productivity. Swetha’s interest in public health and development took her to the Global Fund in Geneva where she worked on improving program quality and efficiency of health programs in sub-Saharan Africa. After graduation from WWS, she plans to go back to India to work with the urban poor on issues of health and education. Swetha loves traveling and exploring new places, is always planning her next adventure and identifies as a global citizen.
Jaime Benrey Bejar
IV - Economics and Public Policy
Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, 2013
Economics/Political Science, B.A.
Mexico City, Mexico
Jaime was born and raised in Mexico City. He was an economics and political science dual major, and served in diverse roles and settings in both the private and public sector. His work as an analyst at the Mexican Federal Institute for Government-Assisted Housing (INFONAVIT), as researcher and adviser to the chief economist at the Mexican Ministry of Finance, and as business development coordinator at a social housing company, has provided him a far reaching understanding of the challenges faced by the housing industry in Mexico, particularly those of workers in the lowest socioeconomic threshold. This past summer, Jaime interned at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C., with the Office of the Executive Director for Mexico and the Dominican Republic. After graduate school, he wishes to work in the design of new and viable policies to alleviate poverty, reduce inequalities and forge decisions that can lead developing countries – such as his own – down a new path of economic development and growth. He has been a volunteer with the Mexican Jewish Community and the Grand Masonic Lodge of Mexico. During his spare time, Jaime enjoys playing squash, soccer and chess. He loves traveling, world history and trying new foods.
Christine Blumauer
I - International Relations
Institut d’études politiques de Lille, 2007; Westfalische Wilhelms Universität, 2007; Universität Hamburg, 2010
Political Sciences, B.A.; Political Sciences, B.A.; Peace and Security Studies, Master
Freiburg, Germany
Christine was born and raised in Germany but is half French and half Austrian and really feels European at her core. A Madagascan grandmother and several trips to Thailand as a child add a twist to her identity, especially when it comes to dance moves and culinary preferences. She holds a master’s degree in peace and security studies from the University of Hamburg, Germany; and a French-German B.A. in political science/European studies from Sciences Po Lille, France and the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Münster, Germany. Her previous professional experiences include academic work on conflict analysis in the South Caucasus (with an emphasis on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict) and Turkish-Armenian relations. In 2009 and 2010, she worked with the South Caucasus office of the German Konrad-Adenauer Foundation on regional peace-building and democracy promotion initiatives among Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. From 2012 to 2013, in her position as public affairs officer for The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) in Paris, she launched the TEAS operations in France by developing its communication strategy and major advocacy and awareness-raising campaigns to promote the development of French-Azerbaijani relations. Christine was most recently a research associate with the Eurasia Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, which gave her the opportunity to learn more about democracy promotion in the American context.
Conner Brannen
IV - Economics and Public Policy
Wesleyan University, 2010
Economics, B.A.
Lyme, New Hampshire
Conner grew up in rural New Hampshire before earning a bachelor’s degree in economics and international relations from Wesleyan University. As an undergraduate, she spent a year in Tanzania as a Boren scholar working for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). After graduating, she returned to East Africa to work as an evaluation coordinator for Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) in Busia, Kenya. After returning to the states, Conner spent the next four years in the policy group at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) in Cambridge, where she managed the Governance and Political Economy program and J-PAL’s cost effectiveness analysis work. This past summer, she completed her internship at Canopy, LLC and The Russell Family Foundation in Seattle.
Alexander Brockwehl
I - International Relations
Union College, 2011
Political Science/Spanish, B.A.
Guilford, Connecticut
Alex grew up near New Haven, Connecticut, home to the best pizza this side of the Atlantic. After studying abroad in Mexico and developing a passion for political theory, he graduated from Union College in 2011 with a degree in political science and Spanish. After graduating, he worked for a year with a nonprofit in rural Ecuador, managing a high school scholarship program and assisting a few small-scale social enterprises, including a local artisans’ group and women’s cooperative. For the next four years, he worked for Freedom House, a democracy and human rights NGO, where he supported civil society organizations throughout Latin America to advocate before international human rights bodies and inform domestic policymakers about threats and challenges to political rights and civil liberties. He also contributed frequently to the Freedom House blog and conducted field research on topics such as indigenous rights in Peru and mass social protests in Chile. After graduating, Alex hopes to continue advancing human rights, whether by working in a policy role within government or conducting research or advocacy in the nonprofit sector. A cellist in his early years, Alex decided to forgo his initial aspirations to emulate Yo-Yo Ma in favor of sports like soccer and skiing. He spent the summer before grad school with his family in Greece and friends in Tanzania.
Alessandra Brown
III - Domestic Policy
Georgetown University, 2009
International Business/Marketing, B.S.
Houston, Texas
Alessandra was born and raised in Houston, Texas and graduated with a degree in marketing and international business from Georgetown University. She most recently resided in Sacramento, California, where she served as a budget analyst with the Department of Finance, overseeing critical public safety infrastructure projects. Before joining Finance, she worked on environmental and land use policy with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, interned with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and organized communities around energy issues in Washington, D.C. and Cleveland, Ohio. She spent the summer before grad school visiting family in California and Texas. After graduating from the MPA program, Alessandra hopes to continue her career in public service in government, and work on policy that assists in the development of sustainable and equitable cities.
Chloe Brown
III - Domestic Policy
Williams College, 2010
Arabic Studies/Religion, B.A.
Santa Barbara, California
Chloe grew up in Santa Barbara, California, and graduated from Williams College with a degree in Arabic studies and religion. While at Williams, her work focused on representations of violence and national identity in popular culture, and her language study took her to programs in Egypt and Yemen. After graduating, Chloe moved to New York, where she worked as a playwright and arts administrator. As a writer, her work has been produced at venues across the city, and her play about the Manhattan Project, “Obedient Steel,” was a finalist for the National Playwrights Conference at the O’Neill. Chloe also spent several years as co-artistic director of Tugboat Collective, and literary manager of UglyRhino Productions, before joining Theatre Communications Group, a national arts-service nonprofit focused on issues of equity and diversity, funding, and governance in the field. She is excited to broaden her interest in community engagement by focusing her studies on urban policy and planning at the Woodrow Wilson School. In her free time, Chloe enjoys podcasts, cooking, and the good parts of the internet.
Patrick Brown
III - Domestic Policy
University of Notre Dame, 2011
Economics/Political Science, B.A.
Redmond, Washington
Patrick grew up outside of Seattle and attended college at the University of Notre Dame, where he was station manager of the fine arts radio station and a member of the marching band. After graduating cum laude, he moved to Washington, D.C., spending four years at Catholic Charities USA, one of the nation’s largest social service networks. While on CCUSA’s government affairs and communications staff, he served as a liaison with Notre Dame in the creation of a research center that identifies and conducts impact evaluations of innovative, effective, and scalable anti-poverty programs. He has written for National Review, First Things, The Washington Times, Public Discourse, and The Federalist, and in his free time enjoys watching baseball with his wife and son.
Graham Campbell
IV - Economics and Public Policy
Centre College, 2012
Economics/French, B.S.
Fonthill, Ontario, Canada
Graham grew up in a small town in Canada but immigrated to Cincinnati shortly before his 12th birthday. After refining his taste for Cincinnati chili, he attended Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, where among other things, he studied economics and French and was a member of the cross country and track teams. Upon graduation, he worked as a research assistant at Canada’s central bank, where he analyzed real movements in the Canadian economy and researched the dynamics of Canadian trade. In 2013, Graham joined the International Monetary Fund as an analyst in their African Department, where he traveled to the island archipelago of Comoros to monitor and advise the government on external debt sustainability and trade. This past summer, he interned at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, analyzing new developments in the credit card market. At WWS, Graham is honing his skills in economics and statistical analysis to prepare for a career in economic or trade policy. His interests include, but are not limited to, traveling, fine food, the Oakland Raiders and evening rounds of golf.
Mariella Castaldi
III - Domestic Policy
Oberlin College, 2011
Latin American Studies/Politics, B.A.
Santa Rosa, California
Mari is from the San Francisco Bay Area. She has also lived in Illinois, where she was born; Ohio, where she studied at Oberlin College and worked organizing migrant farmworkers; and Nicaragua, where she studied and worked after graduation. She then returned to Oakland, California to promote economic justice as a legal advocate at the East Bay Community Law Center. In her time at the Law Center, Mari spearheaded research, policy advocacy and community organizing around the reform California’s criminal fines and fees system. Going forward, she hopes to continue to work against the criminalization of poverty. In her spare time, Mari loves cooking, singing in choirs, and hanging out with her dog, Tess.
Vivian Chang
III - Domestic Policy
Carnegie Mellon University, 2013
Biophysics/Hispanic Studies, B.S./B.A.
Columbus, Ohio
Vivian is a native of Columbus, Ohio, sprouting from dual Taiwanese and Buckeye traditions. She attended Carnegie Mellon University, completing dual bachelor’s degrees in biological physics and Hispanic studies. During college, she spent a summer in Costa Rica studying at UCR and volunteering with La Red de Mujeres para el Desarrollo, learning to love gallo pinto. Prior to the Woo, she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA, working with Latino and immigrant communities in Illinois, and most recently at the School District of Philadelphia. This past summer, she interned at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) working on policy briefs and research, especially regarding state and local policies in alignment with the EPA Clean Power Plan. Following that she studied at the Taiwan Mandarin Institute in Taipei, returning to her roots in the motherland while reveling in the land of bubble tea and vegan Buddhist buffets. At WWS, Vivian is the WWAC Sustainability Chair, co-chair of the Gender and Policy Network, and heads the Forum on Asians and Asian-Americans. As an itinerant urban denizen, Vivian is excited to return to a big city post-WWS and pair her social justice, environmental policy career with more volunteering, civic engagement and underground music venues.