Student Bios

Aaron Tobert
MPA2
IV - Economics and Public Policy
Colgate University, 2014
Economics, B.A.
Pennington, New Jersey
Aaron grew up in Pennington, New Jersey, right next to Princeton. He attended Colgate University in central New York, where he studied economics and philosophy. Upon graduating, Aaron worked as an economic research assistant at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). His typical work at the FDIC involved collecting, cleaning and analyzing financial data. He also worked extensively on stress testing, which forecasts whether banks would be healthy enough to survive another crisis, and measuring the too-big-to-fail subsidy for large banks. This past summer, Aaron interned at the New York City Office of Management and Budget. After WWS, he hopes to work at a think tank or government agency that analyzes anti-poverty policies. In his free time, Aaron likes to eat, read, play guitar and eat some more.
Henrietta Toivanen
PhD
Claremont McKenna College, 2017
Biophysics/International Relations, B.A.
Kuopio, Finland
Henrietta is a first-year Ph.D. student at the Woodrow Wilson School with interdisciplinary research interests at the intersection of science, technology, and international security. Her research focuses particularly on nuclear arms control, non- and counterproliferation, and other nuclear policy issues. She grew up in Kuopio, Finland, in a Finnish-Polish home, before moving to California to receive her bachelor’s degree in biophysics and international relations at Claremont McKenna College. Her past professional experiences have been in Washington, D.C., Switzerland and India, and most recently she worked at the Center for Global Security Research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Abraham Trindle
MPP
I - International Relations
Purdue University, 2012
History/Political Science, B.A.
Martinsville, Indiana
Abe grew up in Martinsville, Indiana, and studied history and political science at Purdue University. He is a military officer with deployments in Latin America and the Middle East. In his spare time, Abe enjoys reading, exploring outdoors, and entertaining his nieces and nephews.
Anna Twum
MPA2
IV - Economics and Public Policy
Pomona College, 2014
Economics, B.A.
Accra, Ghana
Anna grew up in Accra, Ghana and studied economics at Pomona College. After college, she moved to Washington D.C. and took up a position at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a research analyst. Her work at the International Monetary Fund was focused on macroeconomic capacity development. Outside of the IMF, she was involved in African youth advocacy. These two experiences resulted in an interest in economic and policy research in the area of industry, trade and infrastructure. She is also interested in the intersection of development and tech policy particularly artificial intelligence policy and Blockchain technology. She spent the summer of 2017 at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Rwanda office, where she mainly worked on industrialization policy in Uganda.
Mili Varughese
MPA2
II - International Development
St. Stephen’s College, 2009; Delhi School of Economics, 2011
Physics, BSc; Economics, M.A.
New Delhi, India
Mili started her professional career in 2011 as a consultant with the Urban Utilities and Governance division of PricewaterhouseCoopers in India. In her three years at PwC, she served clients including ADB, JICA, DFID, IFC and the World Bank. Her assignments included providing technical assistance to government departments, evaluation of donor funded programs, and strategic advising on sector challenges such as municipal finance, private sector participation, and service delivery to the poor. In 2014, she joined the World Bank’s global water practice. Over the next two and half years, she contributed to the design and implementation of loans for water supply and sanitation, water security and urban development in India, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia. She also undertook research projects on the economics of water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Notable among them was the estimation of the global costs of achieving the SDG targets on WASH. Undertaken in collaboration with UNICEF and WHO, the study was published by the World Bank in January 2016 and informs donor dialogue on financing the targets. This past summer, Mili went back to the World Bank as a specialist consultant on water operations in South Asia. Mili is a budding tango dancer and serves as the president of the Princeton Tango Club. She also enjoys reading humor and mystery, and sketching cartoons.
María Francisca Vidal
MPA1
II - International Development
Universidad de Chile, 2012; Universidad de Chile, 2014
Industrial Engineering, BEng; Management and Public Policy, Magister
Santiago, Chile
Francisca was born and raised in Santiago de Chile. She studied industrial engineering as an undergraduate and earned a Master in Management and Public Policy at Universidad de Chile. Upon graduation, she started working at the Center for Public Systems, a research center at the Universidad de Chile focused on the improvement of management capabilities of the Chilean public sector. She was the director of the Projects and Studies Area for three years, participating in more than 20 studies for different ministries and public offices, where she discovered her interest in health policy. She was also a part-time teacher at Universidad de Chile for undergraduate students in industrial engineering. After graduation, Francisca’s goal is to return to Latin America and work as a development practitioner in the health area. In her free time, she enjoys practicing ballet at an amateur level and traveling to new countries.
Kayla Vinson
MPA1
III - Domestic Policy
Yale University, 2011; University of Pennsylvania, 2012
African-American Studies/Sociology, B.A.; Social Studies, MSEd
Atlanta, Georgia
Kayla is an MPA/J.D. student completing her J.D. as a Public Interest scholar at NYU School of Law. Before returning to school, she taught high school at an alternative school in East New York, and middle school at Harlem Children’s Zone. Her background in sociology and experiences as an educator led her back to graduate school in order to build the skill set necessary to be a meaningful participant in the movement to transform urban public schools. Kayla holds a MSEd in secondary education from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. cum laude from Yale University.
Kate Vlach
MPA1
III - Domestic Policy
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 2007
Political Science/Women’s Studies, B.A.
Washington, D.C.
Kate is currently pursuing joint degrees at the Woodrow Wilson School and Georgetown University Law Center. Immediately before returning to school, she served as senior manager of state legislative affairs at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists where she guided physician leaders in advocating for evidence-based women’s health policy. Prior to that, Kate spent six years in the legal and policy departments at NARAL Pro-Choice America lobbying on reproductive health legislation – most notably the Affordable Care Act. She graduated with highest honors from the University of North Carolina and interned with Planned Parenthood Association of South Africa during a semester abroad in Cape Town. A native Washingtonian, Kate has volunteered for almost a decade with the D.C. Abortion Fund and hopes to continue assisting the organization remotely while at Princeton.
Mark Walker
PhD
University of Tennessee, 2012
Nuclear Engineering, BSc
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Mark is a Ph.D. candidate in science, technology and environmental policy (STEP) in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. His dissertation research focuses on the development and implementation of international safeguards approaches for verifying the peaceful use of gas centrifuge enrichment technology. During his Ph.D. studies, he participated in internships at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Department of Safeguards, Division of Concepts and Planning, as well as at the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Prior to arriving at Princeton, he gained experience as an undergraduate student at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, working on technical measures for arms control verification. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Timothy Weedon
MPA1
II - International Development
University of Bath, 2008
Business Administration, B.S.
London, United Kingdom
Following a semester studying abroad in Toronto, Tim graduated with first class honours in business administration from the University of Bath. He began his public service career on a graduate intern programme at the Cabinet Office, where he worked on a review examining how the U.K. measures poverty and life chances. He also spent time as a researcher for the Global Leadership Foundation, a network of former world leaders that works to promote good governance. He then moved to Yunnan Province, China, where he taught English in a state middle school on a British Council programme. Upon return to London, Tim became head of office for a member of parliament, where he helped lead a successful campaign for a new Modern Slavery Act. He then went on to work in the Home Secretary’s private office, and headed up development of the government’s strategy for tackling modern slavery and human trafficking in the U.K. and internationally. Tim was most recently chief of staff to the U.K.’s first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, working with the commissioner to lead advocacy efforts to ensure that a strong anti-slavery target was included in the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. In his spare time, Tim enjoys most sports, traveling – ideally getting lost off the beaten path – and photography.
James Ladi Williams
MPA2
II - International Development
John Jay College, 2015
Public Administration, B.S.
Lagos, Nigeria
Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, Ladi moved to New York City in 2011 for undergraduate studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY), where he studied public administration with a minor in economics. After graduation, he served as a NYC Urban fellow at NYC Opportunity, a unit within the New York City Mayor’s Office that designs, implements, and evaluates innovative, evidence-based programs tackling poverty. At NYC Opportunity, he worked on subsidized jobs programs for young adults facing barriers to employment and educational opportunities. Ladi recently completed a summer internship in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where he supported the executive management team at Rising Academy Network on projects related to education access and systems design. He plans to use his time at the Woodrow Wilson School to hone the necessary skills to confront the social development challenges in his hometown, and to assist governments in becoming more intentional in their responses to poverty. In his spare time, Ladi enjoys cooking, dancing to Afrobeats music, and watching English Premier League football.
Lauryn Williams
MPA2
I - International Relations
Stanford University, 2014
Political Science, B.A.
Long Beach, California
Lauryn was born and raised in perpetually sunny Long Beach, California. She moved to the Bay Area for college and graduated from Stanford with a B.A. in political science and honors in international security studies. Lauryn developed an interest South Asian nuclear issues while writing her undergrad honors thesis and continued to work on this subject after receiving a Junior Fellowship from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. After completing the one-year research fellowship with the Nuclear Policy Program, Lauryn remained at Carnegie as a project manager for an additional year. Over this two year period, she researched various nuclear topics, traveled internationally, and published a report and multiple op-eds. During the 2015-16 academic year, Lauryn also served as the residential assistant for dozens of Stanford undergrad students participating in the Bing Stanford in Washington program. In the summer of 2017, Lauryn worked on countering weapons of mass destruction policy within the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy at the Pentagon. She focused on global health security, Cooperative Threat Reduction programs and policy reviews. Outside of school, Lauryn is passionate about mentorship and enjoys visiting new places, seeing live performances and being outside in the sun.
William Willoughby
MPA1
III - Domestic Policy
University of Georgia, 2013
History, B.A.
Savannah, Georgia
William was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia. He attended the University of Georgia where he worked on the university radio news show and earned his B.A. in history and a minor in music performing cello. After graduating, he started his career as an education policy analyst at the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget focused on early childhood and postsecondary education. His other work includes research with Emory University on evaluating programs designed to improve school climate in elementary schools and as a consultant to Georgia and Kentucky on finance and policy regarding their foster care systems. William spent the summer prior to attending Princeton exploring national parks and wilderness preserves of the western United States. After WWS, William intends to work with governments or public sector organizations in program evaluation or public budgeting, particularly in the fields of education or, more broadly, social policy.
Charles Wilson
MPP
I - International Relations
United States Coast Guard Academy, 2003; National Graduate School of Quality Management, 2011
Management, B.S.; Quality Systems Management, M.S.
Houston, Texas
Charlie joins WWS after most recently serving as the director of aviation operations at the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station in Traverse City, Michigan, where he was responsible for air-sea rescue and law enforcement operations across the Great Lakes. Commissioned in 2003 as a graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy, he completed two shipboard tours leading counter narcotic, migrant interdiction, and humanitarian operations throughout the Caribbean and Pacific basins onboard the Coast Guard Cutters MOHAWK and DRUMMOND, while sunburned in Key West, Florida. He completed Naval flight training in 2009 and has amassed nearly 3,000 hours as an MH-65 helicopter instructor pilot and as an Airborne Use of Force mission commander. Following graduation, Charlie 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. Charlie and his wife, Christy, look forward to the return of the other three seasons while in Princeton, and spent the summer thawing with their children Luke, Eli, and Emilia along the Jersey Shore.
Hope Wollensack
MPA2
III - Domestic Policy
Tufts University, 2011
Political Science, B.A.
New Haven, Connecticut
Born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut, Hope attended Tufts University where she studied political science and helped found the Africana Studies Program. Her interest in social justice and activism led her to join Teach For America where she became a social studies teacher in New Orleans, Louisiana. As a teacher, Hope lead professional development on active anti-racism, critical consciousness and cultural relevancy in teaching. Hope was the middle school assistant principal at Mildred Osborne Charter School where she provided instructional coaching for 12 teachers, led professional development, and created rigorous and culturally relevant curriculum in social studies. Most recently, Hope was a summer fellow with the Biden Foundation conducting policy research to increase community college access.

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