Biographical Profiles of Current MPP Graduate Students

Katherine Ash
IV - Economics and Public Policy
University of Vermont, 2010
French/Political Science, B.A.
Burlington, Vermont
Kate believes in the power of collective impact to solve our most pressing public challenges. Since 2013, she has served as a field representative for U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), vice chairman of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee. In this role, Kate has enjoyed working alongside diverse stakeholders to advance federal legislative and spending priorities specific to the human services, housing and education needs of Vermonters. Prior to joining the Senator’s team, she was appointed by Governor Shumlin to help manage statewide disaster recovery efforts after Tropical Storm Irene severely impacted more than 80% of Vermont’s rural communities in 2011. While at Princeton, Kate is eager to build on this experience by exploring new partnerships and collective strategies to address poverty in the United States. Prior to arriving on campus, Kate enjoyed an extended sabbatical to travel solo throughout Central America, Europe, and the American Southwest.
Jacob Ashmore
I - International Relations
United States Air Force Academy, 2006; American Military University, 2013
Aeronautical Engineering, B.S.; National Security Studies, M.A.
Ferndale, Michigan
Major Jake “NAILS” Ashmore is an American fighter pilot. He was commissioned into the Air Force in 2006 as a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. Since then, he has served worldwide as a weapons officer, joint mission commander, evaluator pilot, joint operational planning expert, and NATO Delivery Forces Commander. NAILS is a graduate of the elite United States Air Force Weapons School and is nuclear certified senior pilot in the F-15E. He has flown over 100 combat missions around the world in every major theater of war. Following graduation from the Woodrow Wilson School, he plans to continue serving in the world’s greatest Air Force as an F-15E pilot. NAILS spent his summer with his amazing wife, Ieva, and his four incredible children while finishing his duties in England and visiting his 10 siblings and their families.
Marshall Boyd
I - International Relations
United States Naval Academy, 2004
Systems Engineering, B.S.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Lieutenant Commander Marshall Boyd joins the WWS team after completing his executive officer tour at the Naval Special Warfare Development Group in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he managed a special operations team as the second in command. Marshall is a Naval Officer and active duty Navy SEAL. Commissioned in 2004 as a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with a B.S. in systems engineering, he began his SEAL training immediately after he left the Naval Academy. Over a 14-year career, he has led extensively in various levels of combat, and has executed missions spanning the entire spectrum of Naval Special Warfare capabilities. Marshall served extensively in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Africa. His most recent assignment required him to be a key interlocutor for the U.S. military war effort and fight against violent extremist organizations. Once rounds are complete at WWS, he intends to serve on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, focusing his attention towards DoD policy for special operations. Marshall and his wife look forward to the year ahead, spending time with their new daughter, and exploring Princeton and the surrounding community.
Sharif Calfee
I - International Relations
United States Naval Academy, 1996; Naval Postgraduate School, 2003
Computer Science, B.S.; Computer Science, M.S.
Toms River, New Jersey
Captain Sharif Calfee is a U.S. Naval Officer and serves as a surface warfare officer. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. Afloat, he most recently served as the commanding officer, USS McCAMPBELL (DDG 85), an Aegis guided missile destroyer, homeported overseas in Yokosuka, Japan. He has previously served aboard USS ELROD (FFG 55), USS GETTYSBURG (CG 64), and USS BUNKER HILL (CG 52), and has deployed throughout the world including the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, Mediterranean Sea, and Arabian Gulf, visiting over thirty countries in those regions. Ashore, Sharif was most recently selected for the Federal Executive Fellowship program and served as the U.S. Navy fellow to the Center for Strategic & Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), the non-partisan, national security policy analysis think-tank in Washington, D.C., where he focused on national security/defense strategy, Indo-Asia-Pacific/China strategy, and artificial intelligence/autonomous systems related issues. He previously served as a strategic planner on The Joint Staff, J-5 Strategic Plans & Policy Directorate where he worked closely with the State Department and Congress on counterterrorism security assistance/cooperation issues. After earning his MPP, Sharif will return to sea duty to command an Aegis guided missile cruiser.
Anna Engwerda-Smith
IV - Economics and Public Policy
University of Western Australia, 2003; Australian National University, 2012
English/History, B.A.; International Policy, MPP
Albany, Western Australia, Australia
Anna has come to Princeton from Canberra, Australia's political capital, after five years at the Prime Minister's department. Most recently, she led a team that advised the Prime Minister and the Cabinet's Expenditure Review Committee on the federal budget and proposals in domestic policy areas representing two-thirds of federal government spending. She has also worked on infrastructure investment and financing, competition policy, banking regulation, communications policy and the G20, with previous roles at the Australian Embassy in Washington, D.C., the House of Representatives and other federal, state and international agencies. Upon graduating, she hopes to continue pursuing her interests in corporate governance, public finance and policy areas in which governments, firms and markets can partner to build value and improve social outcomes. Outside of work, Anna is passionate about the outdoors, being active, design, and food.
Stephanie Epner
I - International Relations
Vanderbilt University, 2008
Communication Studies, B.A.
Haworth, New Jersey
Stephanie was born and raised in Haworth, New Jersey, a small town just outside New York City. After spending some time in the private sector, she joined the Obama Administration, serving as chief speechwriter to the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and, from 2013-2017, as speechwriter and communications advisor to the secretary of state. During her tenure at the State Department, Stephanie drafted the secretary’s speeches, op-eds, and talking points on the full range of U.S. foreign policy challenges, accompanied the secretary on official travel to more than 50 countries, and managed the secretary’s public engagement on climate change and other environmental issues. Most recently, she was an adjunct professor at the George Washington University and a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where she advised former Secretary of State John Kerry, Carnegie’s visiting distinguished statesman, on a range of projects. Stephanie is interested in the intersection of climate change and broader global security issues and hopes to use her time at the Woodrow Wilson School to expand her understanding of the climate-security nexus.
Rohit Gupta
IV - Economics and Public Policy
Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi 2004
Electrical Engineering, BTech
Punjab, India
Rohit grew up in Punjab and graduated from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi with a major in electrical engineering. After briefly working in different technology based research roles, he felt his calling lay in public services. He was selected as an Indian Administrative Services officer in 2006. He has worked as district magistrate, which is the head of District Government in India, in six different districts. As district magistrate, he was responsible for direct supervision of more than twenty government departments, maintaining law and order in jurisdiction, and coordinating with multiple agencies to ensure the holistic development of district. He has also served as municipal commissioner of Jodhpur, a city of million plus population in Rajasthan. He passionately believes in promoting and executing policies that protect the environment along with economic development. He likes to spend his time outdoors; and he is always looking for a new book to read and a reason to travel.
James Holtsnider
I - International Relations
University of Colorado, 2006
Physics, B.A.
Cresco, Iowa
Jim is a career State Department foreign service officer, most recently assigned to U.S. Mission to Somalia as the management officer to reestablish operations in Mogadishu. He previously served as a general services officer for Tri-Mission Rome; as special assistant in the office of the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources; as a watch officer in the State Department’s Operations Center; as a political advisor at Regional Command East in Bagram, Afghanistan; as Vice-Consul in Tunis, Tunisia; and as a provincial action officer on Provincial Reconstruction Team Ninewa in Mosul, Iraq. Before joining the Foreign Service, Jim served for six years in the United States Marine Corps. He earned an undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Colorado. Jim is married and has two children.
Noah Koerper
III - Domestic Policy
Whitman College, 2007
Environmental Humanities/Philosophy, B.A.
Golden, Colorado
Noah grew up in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and earned his B.A. at Whitman College in Washington. Upon graduation, he moved to the Southwest to work as a river guide, outdoor educator, and natural science teacher. He joined U.S. Senator Michael Bennet’s staff in 2010, leading public outreach and policy initiatives across Colorado’s western slope and central mountains. In this role, Noah worked closely with Colorado communities to guide the senator’s work in forestry, public land management, and rural development. Amidst this work and later as the senator’s state policy director, he sought to create unique, consensus-building initiatives in search of new ways to address divisive issues such as climate change and resource extraction. After graduating, Noah plans to return to the Intermountain West to rejoin his wife and continue working towards resilient rural communities and sustainable land management.
Grace Lee
II - International Development
University of British Columbia, 2005; Cambridge University, 2007
International Relations, B.A.; Development Studies, MPhil
North Vancouver, Canada
Mountains, forests, ocean. Beautiful British Columbia is where Grace proudly calls home but curiosity led her to traverse the world to support vulnerable populations in fragile states for the last nine years. Before joining the “Woo” community at Princeton, she was the acting head of Development Cooperation at the Embassy of Canada in Juba, South Sudan where she was responsible for Canada’s development program on maternal health, governance, and food security. Previously, she worked on atrocity prevention and conflict mediation policy issues at the Stabilization Reconstruction Task Force at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Canada and was first posted as a political officer at the Embassy of Canada in Kabul, Afghanistan. When not responding to the challenges of fragile states, you can find Grace volunteering for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, whitewater rafting down the Nile in Uganda, snowboarding the Austrian Alps, or discovering a new song to play on her bass guitar. After graduation, she dreams of returning to Beautiful British Columbia.
Nicholas Leiter
I - International Relations
United States Coast Guard Academy, 2005
Management, B.S.
Mount Airy, Maryland
Nick is joining WWS after most recently serving at U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, where he was responsible for air-sea rescue and law enforcement operations across the Caribbean. He served at the forefront of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief efforts following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in September 2017. Commissioned in 2005 as a graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy, he completed Naval flight training in 2007 and has amassed nearly 3,000 flight hours as an MH-65 helicopter instructor pilot and Rotary Wing Air Intercept mission commander ensuring air sovereignty around the nation’s capital and the President of the United States. Following graduation, Nick looks forward to flying a desk in the Office of Congressional Affairs or as a DHS policy and program reviewer before returning to leadership roles at a Coast Guard Air Station. Nick and his wife, Lauren, look forward to introducing their two young daughters, Jolene and Scarlett, to the three other seasons while in Princeton. They all spent the summer enjoying reliable electricity and potable water services as well as spending time with family and friends in Nick’s home state of Maryland.
Jill Luxenberg
I - International Relations
Brown University, 2008
History/Middle Eastern Studies, A.B.
Baltimore, Maryland
Jill works in international trade capacity building at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Before joining USDA in 2010, she was a staff writer at an economic intelligence company in Istanbul that focused on emerging markets. While living in Turkey, she traveled extensively in Europe and the Middle East. Although they are longtime Washington, D.C. residents, both Jill and her husband are proud Baltimoreans.
Juliana Regina Macedo do Nascimento
III - Domestic Policy
California State University, Los Angeles, 2014
Sociology, B.A.
Long Beach, California
Juliana was born in Natal, Brazil, and moved to Orange County, California in her teenage years. She earned an A.A. at Cypress Community College and her B.A. in sociology with an emphasis in diversity and inequality from California State University, Los Angeles. At college, Juliana practiced student organizing around issues of accessibility, affordability, and quality of public higher education in California, especially for undocumented immigrant students. She went on to work with labor unions to help build coalition between students and workers. For the past three years, she has worked with the California Faculty Association as the Southern California internship program coordinator, strengthening the coalition between students and faculty and organizing on issues that directly affect CSU. At Princeton, Juliana will focus her MPP on domestic policy. She later plans to work in public service creating and advocating for policy in protection and service of immigrants as well as affordability to higher education for all.
Daniel Mejia
II - International Development
Harvard University, 2007
Government, A.B.
Lawrenceville, New Jersey
Dan is a proud Jersey boy excited to be coming back home to the Princeton area after being based primarily overseas for the last 11 years. He is a former foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State who served in Jakarta, Beijing, Toronto, and Washington D.C. H.Q. in a wide variety of political, environmental, and consular roles. In his two years prior to Princeton, Dan served as the global policy officer for the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization in Beijing, promoting the sustainable use of bamboo for smallholder livelihoods throughout the Global South for the only multilateral organization headquartered in China. Dan started his career working in political and security issues but has become increasingly interested in the intersection of international development and environmental public policy. He speaks fluent Spanish and intermediate Chinese Mandarin, and he graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Government. In his spare time, Dan is glued to his New York Times app and finding the most creative ways to collect and redeem frequent flyer miles and hotel points to travel the world.
Olubunmi Otegbade
IV - Economics and Public Policy
Baylor University, 2006
Electrical & Computer Engineering, BSE
Lagos, Nigeria
Bunmi is building a workforce-for-the-future in Africa. Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, he co-founded Generation Enterprise, a non-profit reducing unemployment and poverty by providing transferrable skills and career pathways for youth through an AI-enabled skills education tool in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. He helps advance Government participation in the African technology ecosystem through AVDD.gov.ng, which funded over 80 impressive civic tech startups, and featured Mark Zuckerberg. He is an investor in food, healthcare, and energy startups, and serves as a policy advisor to Lagos State Government in TVET. Prior to his entrepreneurial pursuits, Bunmi was a management consultant advising Africa’s biggest companies in manufacturing, telecoms, and banking across Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, and South Africa. Upon graduation, he plans to continue working in the development space, particularly in the deployment of social and public investments.

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