Biographical Profiles of Current MPP Graduate Students

Tom Ahi Dror
III - Domestic Policy
Hebrew University-Jerusalem, 2003; Tel Aviv University, 2009
Mathematics and Physics, B.Sc.; Business, MBA
Haifa, Israel
Tom was born and raised in the Israeli city of Haifa, save for one year in the U.S. as a kid. He currently heads Human Capital Development in Israel’s National Cyber Bureau, creating new training and educational programs for youth and professionals. He also led the Bureau’s CyberSpark project – a public-private initiative focused on creating a cyber security cluster and ecosystem in the southern city of Beersheba. Before joining the Bureau, Tom spent more than 12 years in the Israel Defense Forces. After graduating from the elite Talpiot Program (which he was fortunate to command later on), Tom’s service combined technology, analysis and education. He has a bachelor’s degree in physics and math, and an MBA. Tom’s wife and three kids are all excited to spend a year as part of the Princeton community.
Hillary Allegretti
III - Domestic Policy
United States Coast Guard Academy, 2005; Norwich University, 2012
Management, B.S.; Organizational Leadership, M.S.
Huntington Station, New York
Hillary grew up on Long Island, New York where her love of the water brought her to her undergraduate institution, the United States Coast Guard Academy. She was a four-year varsity soccer player and graduated with a B.S. in management in 2005. Upon earning her commission as an officer, Hillary sailed the Pacific Ocean conducting counter-drug smuggling operations, flew search and rescue missions as a helicopter pilot, and conducted hundreds of commercial vessel inspections and investigations. She deployed in support of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, was critical in the re-opening of the Port of New York/New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and served as the operations officer for a major oil spill in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2012 she earned her M.S. in organizational leadership from Norwich University. In her free time she enjoys hiking, but you’ll probably find her at the gym. Following graduation from the Woodrow Wilson School, Hillary plans to return to the Coast Guard to serve as a policy and program reviewer.
Jon Austin
I - International Relations
Stanford University, 2002; Stanford University, 2004; Collège d'Europe, 2004
History/International Relations, B.A.; Sociology, M.A.; European Political and Administrative Studies, M.A.
Duluth, Minnesota
Jon joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 2005. Most recently he was the deputy political counselor in Buenos Aires during Argentina’s dramatic presidential transition. Prior to that, he was posted overseas to Afghanistan, Mexico, Iraq and Algeria. In Washington, D.C., he served as a line officer to the secretary of state. Jon is thrilled to have an academic year to study the international policy realm, a goal since the State Department issued him skill code “5505 political officer.” Jon hails from Duluth, Minnesota. His foreign languages are French and Spanish.
Asha Brooks
I - International Relations
Cambridge University, 2005
Social and Political Sciences, B.A.
London, United Kingdom
Asha is from London, and received her undergraduate degree in geography and politics from Cambridge University. She began her career in the NGO sector, advising on public relations for Oxfam and Girlguiding U.K. before joining the British Diplomatic Service in 2007. She has since advised on a wide range of topics, including migration, trade and multilateral policy, and completed two overseas postings in Kinshasa and Mexico City. Drawing on her experience overseas, Asha developed a keen professional interest in conflict, stability and security issues, which she continued to explore in her most recent role managing a £150m portfolio of conflict mitigation projects in the Middle East. At the Woodrow Wilson School Asha is looking forward to supplementing her practical experience with more theoretical approaches, as well as pursuing her interests in promoting diversity and use of technology in public policy. She enjoys art, reading and the theatre, and is excited to discover more of the United States.
Michael Buckler
II - International Development
Cornell University, 1996; Duke University, 2000
Electrical Engineering, B.S.; Law, J.D.
Washington, D.C.
Born and raised in small-town Maryland, Mike grew up with many people now known as Donald Trump supporters. As a lover of math and science, he studied electrical engineering at Cornell University and briefly considered an engineering career before deciding (wrongly, given the emergence of Silicon Valley) that electrical engineers were pretty boring coworkers who mostly flocked to the defense industry. Hoping to pursue a legal career in social justice, Mike attended Duke Law School (largely because of the men’s basketball team) and after graduation in 2000 became a patent litigator for major corporations. In 2006, Mike left his law firm to serve as a teacher with Peace Corps Malawi, where he critiqued international development from the grassroots and pit his nervous system against the antimalarial drug, mefloquine. From that formative yet challenging experience emerged Village X, a social enterprise started by Mike in 2014 to crowdfund financing for small-scale development projects led by African villages. In addition to his wife, Rachel, and daughter, Noa, Mike loves the outdoors, specialty coffee sourced from Africa, international football (soccer), and data-driven decision making. He struggles with bureaucracy, watered-down beer and “The End of Poverty” by Professor Jeffrey Sachs.
Natasha Hirschfeld
I - International Relations
Yale University, 2007
International Studies/Political Science, B.A.
Gaborone, Botswana
Natasha attended elementary school through college in Botswana, South Africa, Hong Kong and the United States. Her diverse educational background set the tone for an international career. In 2008, she joined Botswana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation where her first posting was to set up a Botswana diplomatic mission in Mozambique in 2012. Natasha arrived in Maputo just as Mozambique assumed the Southern African Development Community (SADC) chairmanship. SADC meetings gave her a panoramic view on regional matters at technical, ministerial and head of state levels, and exposed her to a myriad of issues ranging from curbing child marriages to mitigating energy deficits. After international baccalaureate and college summers spent volunteering at orphanages in Thailand and Cambodia, and at women’s development centers in the Dominican Republic and Somaliland, it seemed through regional diplomacy that she had finally merged her love for international relations with her passion for social justice. At Princeton, Natasha hopes to acquire a policy skill set that will enable her to contribute to cross-cutting regional solutions. In her free time, she enjoys barbecuing with her husband and meeting people from different walks of life.
Alexandra Kahan
I - International Relations
Cornell University, 2008
History, B.A.
Stockton, California
Alex joins the Woodrow Wilson School after serving in the Obama Administration since the 2009 inauguration. She most recently served at the State Department in the Counselor’s Office, where she focused on a broad range of the secretary’s priorities, from Venezuela policy, to anticorruption efforts, to city diplomacy toward climate change goals. While at the Department, she also worked on Ebola response during the height of the outbreak. Prior to State, Alex spent over five years at the White House as advisor to the deputy national security advisor to the president, where she oversaw the management of the Deputies Committee policymaking process in support of the administration’s national security priorities, and as advisor to the vice president’s national security advisor. Alex grew up in California but inexplicably moved to the East Coast for college, studying history and Italian studies and graduating with honors from Cornell University. She is a mediocre but enthusiastic runner, enjoys cooking without recipes, and measures the success of her travel based on where and what she’s eaten.
Uriah King
III - Domestic Policy
Wright State University, 1998
Political Science, B.A.
Dayton, Ohio
Uriah is the special projects officer at the Self-Help Credit Union, the nation’s largest and oldest community development financial institution. In this capacity, he focuses on new product and business development, operational improvements and other priority initiatives. Previously, Uriah played a leading role in fighting predatory lending at Self-Help’s policy and research affiliate, the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL). He worked at CRL for over ten years, including five years directing CRL’s efforts in dozens of states, including strategic planning, administration and policy objectives. He also directly supported many successful state legislative and ballot efforts and co-authored multiple reports on predatory lending practices. Before coming to CRL, Uriah worked at the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center in Dayton, Ohio helping provide direct services to victims of predatory mortgage lending and coordinating investigations into complaints of predatory lending. The investigations resulted in dozens of class-action and individual lawsuits against now well-known predatory lenders.
Ari Maas
III - Domestic Policy
Rutgers University, 2006; New York Law School, 2013
Civil Engineering, B.S.; Law, J.D.
Nanuet, New York
Ari is a captain with the New York City Police Department and is currently assigned as the executive officer of Transit District 1, responsible for the safety and security of the millions of commuters who use the NYC Subway daily. Ari has been a police officer since 2003. Along the way he has worked in various assignments including patrol, policy and planning, technology and counter-terrorism. He also has been involved in Emergency Medical Services since he was 16 and is a life member of the West Orange, New Jersey Volunteer First Aid Squad (where he grew up) and still teaches new EMTs. Ari currently lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley with his wife who is pregnant with their first child. Upon graduation, he plans on returning to the NYPD and putting his Woody Woo education to good use in the executive ranks of the Department. In his free time, Ari enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, and running (having completed three half-marathons) and is looking forward to finding a nice, flat and paved route to go running around Princeton.
Vasanthakumar Namasivayam
II - International Development
Madras Medical College, 1998; Coimbatore Medical College, 2002
Medicine/Surgery, B.M./B.S.; Medicine, M.D.
Delhi, India
Vasanth grew up in Salem, South India. He attained his bachelor’s degree in medicine from Madras Medical College and his medical degree from Coimbatore Medical College. Life has been very kind to him. He was blessed with great parents, education, wife, profession and a smart kid. To make a larger contribution to the society, he changed his profession from medicine to Indian Administrative Services (IAS). Twelve years in IAS has taken him to different corners of India and taught him valuable lessons. The scope in IAS to contribute to the society is unparalleled. He aspires for a stint in prestigious international organizations like WHO or the U.N. Policy making as secretary to the Government of India is the natural career progression, and he also wishes to contribute in health policy formulation. Vasanth sincerely believes the MPP at the Woo will aid him in attaining his goals with required competencies.
Andrew Newman
III - Domestic Policy
Williams College, 2004; American University, 2007
Political Economy, B.A.; Law, J.D.
Tampa, Florida
Drew was most recently the chief of staff at Single Stop, a leading national anti-poverty nonprofit organization headquartered in New York, N.Y. An attorney by training, Drew received his J.D. from American University’s Washington College of Law. After serving as a judicial law clerk at the D.C. Court of Appeals, he spent five years at the D.C. Council – the city/state legislature for Washington, D.C. There, he served as legislative director/chief counsel for Councilmember Mary M. Cheh and directed the Committee on Transportation and the Environment. He attended Williams College and remains very involved as an alumnus, having co-chaired the annual giving program and currently serving on the campaign and alumni boards. He was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, and is involved in his family’s 121-year-old, four-generation family business, the J.C. Newman Cigar Company. Drew currently lives in New York, N.Y. with his wife and their two rescue dogs.
Cillian Nolan
II - International Development
Yale University, 2003
English, B.A.
Dublin, Ireland
Cillian has over a decade of experience as a conflict researcher, examining the sources of violent conflict and advocating policies geared towards its effective management and prevention. He worked for eight years at the International Crisis Group, first in research and advocacy at the organization’s Brussels headquarters, and then as a Southeast Asia field analyst, based in Indonesia and Timor-Leste. In 2013, he became co-founding deputy director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, an NGO focused on explaining the dynamics of conflict in Southeast Asia. Cillian’s primary research interests are in police and security sector reform and the long-term challenges of democratic transitions, state-building and rule of law consolidation.
Steven Petric
I - International Relations
Northwestern University, 2004; University of Essex, 2010
Communication Studies/Legal Studies, B.S.; Refugee Care, M.A.
Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Hailing from Wisconsin, Steven spent the summer transitioning back to the United States after a year and a half in Iraq, where he directed an emergency and humanitarian response across multiple governorates, including in some of the most hard to reach and challenging locations. Before that, Steven and his wife were in Afghanistan, where they “honeymooned,” moving to Kabul a few months after marrying. Steven’s public sector work spans Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Before venturing into the public sector, he spent three years in the private sector in New York and London. Steven holds a Bachelor of Science from Northwestern University, where he was a member of the men’s varsity swimming team, and a Master of Arts from the University of Essex, U.K.
Silvana Rodriguez
II - International Development
Stanford University, 2002
International Relations, B.A.
Washington, D.C.
Born in Venezuela of Colombian parents, Silvana grew up mostly in the American Midwest. She escaped to sunny California, where she received a bachelor’s degree in international relations at Stanford University. After briefly conducting research on Iran’s weapons capabilities at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, she joined the private sector for several years as an associate at AALC (formerly Armitage Associates) in Washington D.C., where she assisted defense and energy clients with projects in the East Asia, Afghanistan, and the former Soviet Union in evaluating and mitigating political risk and assessing market entry feasibility. Itching to go overseas, Silvana joined the State Department as a U.S. diplomat in 2006. Her first several assignments included the U.S. Embassies in Madagascar and Argentina, followed by a tour covering Russia’s foreign policy and political-military affairs on the Russia Desk in Washington D.C. Prior to Princeton, she spent three years at the U.S. Embassy in Colombia working on peace process issues and political-military affairs. Silvana and her husband Lee Payne, a fellow U.S. diplomat and Naval reservist, enjoy the outdoors, Lee’s homemade beer, playing guitar, dancing, and hanging out with their one-year-old son. After Princeton, Silvana plans to return to the State Department in Washington D.C., where she hopes to focus on public-private partnerships.
Joshua Roper
III - Domestic Policy
Yale University, 2004; Harvard University, 2008
Psychology, B.A.; Law, J.D.
Bensalem, Pennsylvania
Josh works as a policy and legal advisor for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. In this role, he has drafted and advocated for ordinances, regulations and executive orders related to a wide range of public health topics, including chronic disease prevention, lead poisoning, ex-offender reintegration, disease surveillance and environmental health. Before joining the City of Philadelphia, Josh worked in private practice as a litigator and regulatory attorney in Philadelphia and Washington. Before law school, he taught at a school for students with learning disabilities in New York. Josh was born in Princeton and grew up outside of Philadelphia in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. He received a law degree from Harvard and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Yale after attending Simon’s Rock College.

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