Student Bios

Sepideh Soltaninia
MPA1
I - International Relations
University of Ottawa, 2013
International Development and Globalization, BSS
Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada
Sepideh is a graduate of the University of Ottawa, where she received a degree in international development and globalization. Following her bachelor’s degree, Sepideh worked for over four years at the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). Much of that time was spent in Jordan, Turkey and Iraq supporting WFP’s response to the crisis in Syria and in the organization’s headquarters in Rome, where she served as a project coordinator in the Office of the Executive Director. Born in Tehran and raised in the suburbs of Toronto, Sepideh has an irrational fear of earthquakes and a fondness for the origins of words.
Ana Sorrentino
MPA1
I - International Relations
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 2011
Latin American Studies/ Political Science, B.A.
Burnsville, Minnesota
Born and raised near Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, Ana attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As an undergraduate, she spent a semester studying at the Universidad de La Habana in Cuba and a semester interning in Washington, D.C. Following graduation, Ana interned at an international think tank in Amsterdam and then worked for several years at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a human rights research and advocacy organization, where she focused on U.S. policy toward Cuba and Central America. She then spent two years as a legislative assistant to Congressman Sam Farr, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee. As his point person on foreign policy and international trade, Ana advised the congressman primarily on U.S.-Latin America relations, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the foreign aid budget. Following Congressman Farr’s retirement in 2017, she returned to WOLA, where she managed a congressional outreach surge and developed a long-term plan to expand WOLA’s reach on Capitol Hill. After WWS, Ana plans to return to Congress as a legislative staffer.
Alonso Soto
MPP
II - International Development
University of Missouri, Columbia, 2005
Journalism, B.A.
Managua, Nicaragua
Alonso started his journalism career reporting on immigration and labor unions in Chicago for Reuters before heading to Ecuador to start a 12-year tour through Latin America where he wrote about everything from violent demonstrations, shocking debt defaults, a massive earthquake and the impeachment of a president. Growing up in a country torn by civil war and economic chaos, Alonso has focused on public policy in Latin America with the last six years devoted to covering economics in one of the world’s biggest economies, Brazil. He wants to further his knowledge of economics, concentrating on fiscal and industrial policies as the region enters a new era of slower growth after riding the wave of record-high commodity prices for the last decade.
Tom Stanley-Becker
MPA2
III - Domestic Policy
Yale University, 2013
American Studies/Political Science, B.A.
Chicago, Illinois
Tom grew up on Chicago’s South Side. He studied at Yale University, where he majored in political science and American studies, concentrating on urban studies and political economy. He was involved in grassroots activism in New Haven and has held internships in the Anti-Human Trafficking Office of the Israeli Ministry of Justice and in the U.K. Parliament for MP David Lammy, who represents Tottenham, an impoverished London district home to refugees and asylum-seekers from across the world. For the last three years, Tom has worked in Washington, D.C., most recently as the policy director on the U.S. House of Representatives campaign of Jamie Raskin (currently a Democratic Maryland State Senator). While in D.C., he also sang in a karaoke league. After WWS, Tom plans to pursue a career in urban economic policy.
Luke Strathmann
MPA1
II - International Development
Bates College, 2010
Economics, B.A.
Newtown Square, Pennsylvania
Luke grew up on a donkey farm near Philadelphia, and has since lived in Maine, Fiji, Massachusetts, Zambia, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and now New Jersey. After graduating from Bates College in 2010, he worked for an environmental policy consulting firm, a livestock microfinance program, an education nonprofit, and a bamboo construction company. From 2013 through 2017, he worked at MIT's Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) in the Global Policy Group, where he conducted policy outreach around education and environmental policy issues, managed the Post-Primary Education Initative, and worked closely with J-PAL’s Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) office. Luke’s interests include English mastiffs, Thai food, hiking, biking, surfing, yoga and writing short stories.
Narayan Subramanian
MPA2
IV - Economics and Public Policy
Columbia University, 2013
Earth and Environmental Engineering, B.S.
Saratoga, California
Narayan grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He graduated from Columbia University in 2013 with a B.S. in earth and environmental engineering and a minor in political science. At Columbia, he was editor-in-chief of the Columbia Political Review and a researcher at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. After graduation, Narayan worked at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C. as a research associate. In 2015, he joined Independent Diplomat, a diplomatic advisory group, to advise the Republic of the Marshall Islands on negotiations in the lead up to the Paris Climate Conference (COP21). This past spring, he served as a visiting policy analyst at UC Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment primarily working on California state policy. Narayan is pursuing an MPA/J.D. with Columbia Law School and aspires to work on U.S. and international climate and energy policy.
Stefan Szepesi
MPP
I - International Relations
Maastricht University, 2003
Economics, Master’s
Rotterdam, Netherlands
Stefan is Dutch from his mother’s side and Hungarian from his father’s side. Growing up in the Netherlands, he loved basketball and tennis, finding out very late he was miserable at both. He then took up running and studied economics in Maastricht. Deeply passionate for Europe, he was recruited by the E.U. to work overseas in trade negotiations and development policy. In 2006, he was eventually posted in Jerusalem, working as a diplomat and economic advisor on Israel-Palestine issues for the E.U. and then the U.N. in the Office of the Middle East Quartet. In 2012, Stefan published “Walking Palestine: 25 Journeys into the West Bank” and traded in traditional diplomacy for the physical diplomacy of walking in the Middle East, joining the Abraham Path Initiative, a small NGO, as executive director. He has walked and initiated projects on storytelling, walking and hospitality in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Stefan, his wife Kirsten and their two small girls are very excited to spend a year at Princeton.
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. After WWS, Aaron hopes to work at a think tank or government agency that analyzes anti-poverty policies. In his free time, he likes to eat, read, play guitar and eat some more.
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 work with other young professionals and the World Bank Group and IMF. These two experiences resulted in an interest in economic and policy research geared specifically towards African youth, one that she hopes to explore further at Princeton. She is also interested in the intersection of technology and socio-economic development and artificial intelligence policy. In her free time Anna loves to cook and dance. She co-runs a food blog on Instagram called “floursinyourhair”.
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. Mili was born and raised in the capital city of New Delhi, and relates equally with her ‘home’ state of Kerala – also known to tourists as God’s own country. She enjoys reading humor and mystery, and sketching cartoons.
Sergio Venegas Marin
MPA2
III - Domestic Policy
University of California-Berkeley, 2012
Economics, B.A.
Cadiz, Spain
Born and raised in Cadiz, Spain, Sergio received his B.A. in economics from UC Berkeley. After graduating, he spent four years working at Mission Analytics Group as a research analyst and later as a senior research analyst. Primarily involved in the quantitative analysis of public policies, Sergio focused on issues related to childcare, child welfare services, at risk youth, health care access and reform, and services for people with disabilities. His work at Mission helped inform the design and implementation of local, state, and federal social policies. While working at Mission, he also volunteered with organizations like Mission Graduates and the United Nations Division for Public Administration and Development Management. Sergio is now pursuing the Masters of Public Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School to further explore the topics of labor economics, macroeconomics and social interventions. Following graduation, he plans on returning to his home country to help disadvantage communities through effective economic and social policies. In his spare time he enjoys the outdoors, reading, traveling, exercising and spending quality time with his loved ones.
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.

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