Student Bios

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.
Rebecca Lim
I - International Relations
University of Virginia, 2015
East Asian Studies/Political and Social Thought, B.A.
Burke, Virginia
Rebecca grew up in Northern Virginia, but most recently calls Miami, Florida, home. While she was an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, she interned in the public affairs section of the U.S. Consulate in Shenyang, China, and studied abroad in Shanghai. She graduated with a degree in East Asian studies and political and social thought and completed an honors thesis on political dissent in Hong Kong. Prior to joining the Woo, she taught English to 80 adorable and energetic kindergarten through sixth grade students on a rural island off the coast of Taiwan through a Fulbright grant. Rebecca then spent two years as an analyst at an international law firm, where she worked on cases ranging from high-stakes disputes involving multinational corporations and state-owned entities, to asylum proceedings for victims of domestic violence from Latin America. After graduation, she hopes to work on conflict prevention and resolution at a government agency or international organization. Rebecca will try any food at least once, loves learning languages, and dreams of visiting every national park in the United States.
Ella Lipin
I - International Relations
Duke University, 2010
Asian and Middle-Eastern Studies/Political Science, A.B.
Portland, Oregon
Ella is from Portland, Oregon. She recently served in the Obama administration as the Egypt country director in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. She also worked in the speechwriting office of the Secretary of Defense. Previously, Ella worked at the Council on Foreign Relations and taught English at Al Azhar University in Egypt as a Fulbright fellow.
Abyssinia Lissanu
I - International Relations
Princeton University, 2016
Politics, A.B.
Somerset, Kentucky
Abby is an Ethiopian-American hailing from the South, with an interest in international relations and human rights. She also has a deep love for Spain after a semester spent there abroad, which led her to write a senior thesis on new waves of immigration in the country, thus combining multiple interests. She spent the year before starting the MPA working at an NGO in Costa Rica. Abby’s hobbies are travel, running and reading. After graduation, she plans to pursue a law degree and work in the arena of international law, specifically as related to protections of minority or vulnerable groups.
David Logan
Grinnell College, 2009; Princeton University, 2017
Political Science, B.A.; International Relations, MPA
New Orleans, Louisiana
David was born and raised in New Orleans. After graduating from Grinnell College, he returned home to teach U.S. history and coach debate at a New Orleans public school. Three years later, he moved to the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang to work as a Princeton-in-Asia fellow, teaching English, being humiliated by his students on the basketball court, and learning to eat silk worm pupae. Before coming to the Woodrow Wilson School, he studied Chinese at Tsinghua University in Beijing and served as a Global Policy intern at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center, and completed the summer Middlebury Chinese Language School. He has conducted research for the Brookings Institution, the Arms Control Association, and the National Defense University’s Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. David completed the MPA degree in 2017 and enjoyed his time at the Woo so much that he decided to stick around and pursue a PhD. In the 2017-18 academic year, he will serve as a fellow in Princeton’s Center for International Security Studies and deputy director of the Center’s Strategic Education Initiative. David’s professional interests lie in arms control, nonproliferation and strategic stability, particularly in the context of the U.S.-China relationship. He spends much of his free time thinking about the state of post-Katrina New Orleans, recruiting people to Woo intramural teams, and exploring hip hop from across the world.
Paulina Lopez Gonzalez
IV - Economics and Public Policy
Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, 2015
Economics/Political Science, B.A.
Puebla, Mexico
Paulina grew up in Puebla and moved to Mexico City for college where she became an avid theatre spectator and an amateur runner. She earned a B.A. in economics and a B.A. in political science and she is very interested in policy that aims to tackle gender inequality. She holds a certificate in gender, sexuality and law. Convinced of the importance of interdiscipline, Paulina became a member and spent a year as coordinator of a plural youth group that discusses Mexico’s most pressing issues with experts from various fields. Upon graduation, she spent two and a half years working at the economic research division of the Mexican central bank, contributing to research projects related to the analysis of policies that seek to improve the conditions of Mexican women. Paulina is excited to broaden her scope of the policy-making process at the Woodrow Wilson School, where she also hopes to learn from successful gender equality policies within the United States and around the globe. Upon completion of her graduate studies, Paulina wants to return to Mexico to work in one of the many nonprofit organizations that perform outstanding work fighting for gender equality.
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.
Eric McCrery
III - Domestic Policy
United States Naval Academy, 2011
International Relations, B.S.
Old Hickory, Tennessee
Eric was born and raised in the great state of Tennessee. After earning a B.S. in international relations from the United States Naval Academy, he became a Marine Corps infantry officer. He deployed to Afghanistan and Europe and spent his final tour at the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory where he experimented with unmanned systems and new organizational structures within infantry units. His academic interests include defense strategy, international economics and trade, and federal budgetary and legislative processes. After WWS, Eric would like to continue serving within the U.S. national security field. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Sloane, who works in defense policy in Washington, D.C.
Patrick McDonnell
I - International Relations
University of Notre Dame, 2011
Political Science, B.A.
Chardon, Ohio
Patrick was born and raised in northeast Ohio. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 2011, Pat joined the U.S. Army and commissioned as a military intelligence officer. During his time in the military, he deployed both to Europe and Afghanistan where he developed an interest in the intersection of law and policy. This past summer, he concluded a second tour in Europe and took some time off to be with his family. After graduating from the Woodrow Wilson School, Pat hopes to work in the public sector on security issues.
Claire McGuinness
II - International Development
Seton Hall University, 2014
Diplomacy & International Relations, B.S.
Spring Lake Heights, New Jersey
Claire grew up alongside her tight-knit family in small towns on the Jersey Shore and in Dublin, Ireland, before receiving a B.S. in international relations from Seton Hall University. While in school, she held internship positions with the Clinton Foundation, Obama for America, and Advancing Human Rights. A social enterprise enthusiast, Claire spent the last three years working with a group called VisionSpring to expand access to affordable eyeglasses. In 2018 she joined the VisionSpring India team as a strategic projects manager in Delhi, where she spent six months working with the M&E and program reporting teams. Following graduation, she looks forward to continuing to apply innovative social enterprise solutions to development challenges. Claire is never happier than when reading a good book or digging into a new challenge on the rock-climbing wall.
Katrina McLaughlin
III - Domestic Policy
University of California-Berkeley, 2014
Environ Economics & Policy/Political Science, B.S./B.A.
Davis, California
Katrina’s professional interests lie at the intersection of energy, climate and public lands policy. Following undergrad she worked for two years on energy policy at Resources for the Future, an environmental economics think tank in D.C. Looking to get out from behind a desk, she then spent two seasons serving with AmeriCorps on public lands across Nevada, Montana and Wyoming. Most recently, she worked at an environmental law organization where she learned more than she ever thought she would about Rocky Mountain ungulates. Katrina is originally from northern California and enjoys rambling around outdoors on bike or foot.
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.
Jenna Mellor
III - Domestic Policy
Harvard University, 2008
Social Studies, A.B.
Galloway, New Jersey
Jenna, a harm reduction specialist, has ten years of experience working at the intersection of direct service and public policy. She believes that harm reduction is about human dignity and seeks to dismantle and re-envision social service models that do “for” rather than redistribute decision-making power and resources. Jenna’s most formative experiences include leading the flagship Outreach program at HIPS in Washington, D.C., supporting folks engaged in sex trade and criminalized drug use; coordinating medical services and creating avenues for youth leadership at a youth shelter in Newark, N.J.; and navigating housing and immigration services for constituents in Congressman Jerrold Nadler’s district office. Immediately prior to studying at Woodrow Wilson, Jenna served as associate director at Point Source Youth, a national nonprofit that promotes and supports Housing First and youth-centered solutions to youth homelessness. She is passionate about her home state of New Jersey, where she is on the board of New Leaders Council-NJ and the New Jersey Abortion Access Fund. In her spare time, Jenna loves dancing and spending time outdoors near bodies of water, especially in the Pine Barrens, a N.J. ecological treasure.
Djeniffer Melo
II - International Development
Yale University, 2012
Economics, B.A.
West Haven, Connecticut
Djeniffer was born in São Nicolau, one of the ten small islands of Cabo Verde, off the west coast of Africa. Her family moved to Connecticut when she was eight years old. Upon graduating with an economics degree from Yale University, she began her professional career in corporate finance with IBM in New York. In 2015, she seized the opportunity to transition into development economics by accepting an offer to work for the Ministry of Finance in Cabo Verde. Since then, Djeniffer has supported the government in various projects. She worked as a transaction manager and financial analyst dealing with privatization and public-private partnerships (PPPs), a role which was later expanded to include monitoring state-owned enterprises in the energy sector. Delivering the government’s structural reform and development agenda helped her gain cross-industry exposure in sectors such as transportation, energy, housing, water and sanitation. Key highlights of her time with the government included the sub-concession of the country’s main ports and shipyard as well as the divestment of the national airline. Djeniffer is working on solidifying her skills in public policy in order to play a more active role in solving development issues at a local or international level. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling (preferably to warm places), going out for nice meals and spending time with friends.