Washington DC 2018 Fellows

Meet the 2018 Washington DC Fellows
(back to NLC 2018 Fellows)

Sara Barber

Professional Staff, U.S. House of Representatives - Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

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Sara Barber has been a member of the Democratic professional staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology since October 2016. Sara joined the Committee staff following a one-year Science and Technology Policy Fellowship in the same office. Her fellowship was sponsored by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).


Sara’s passion for science and politics stems from her background as a scientist. Sara earned a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Oklahoma in May 2015, where she studied remnant planetary systems orbiting white dwarf stars. During her time as a graduate student, Sara launched and institutionalized an astronomy outreach organization called Lunar Sooners - bringing telescopes to clubs, schools, and summer camps across the state of Oklahoma.


Sara is actively working to give science a voice in the policy-making process, not only through her day job on the Hill, but through her volunteer work with a new organization based in her home state. Sara coordinates the Oklahoma chapter of 314 Action (OK 314 Action), an organization working to elect people with science backgrounds to local and state office. Sara is working to build up OK 314 Action to recruit scientists in Oklahoma to run for office. Sara Barber lives in Washington, DC.

 

Alex Berger

Senior Associate, Pew Charitable Trusts

PHOTOAt the Pew Charitable Trusts, Alex works as a Senior Associate in the Public Safety Performance Project. In this role, Alex works with states to pass legislative reform packages that safely and substantially reduce the juvenile and adult incarcerated and probationary population. As part of this effort, Alex works directly with high-ranking officials from the three branches of government as well as various stakeholder groups and impacted communities to develop data-driven policy recommendations, to translate the recommendation into legislation, and to craft legislative strategies to move the recommendations into law.

Prior to joining Pew and while obtaining his Master of Public Policy from the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy, Alex served as a Graduate Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education in the Office of the Deputy Secretary. As a fellow, Alex served on the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, helping to develop federal guidance on juvenile justice education, chronic absenteeism and school nutrition programs for low-income students. Before moving to Michigan, Alex helped advance the national drumbeat for criminal justice reform as a Legislative Aide at the American Civil Liberties Union-Washington Legislative Office. At the ACLU, Alex helped cultivate a national bi-partisan coalition to elevate the criminal justice conversation and lobbied the Obama Administration as well as members of the House and Senate to pass legislation that would dramatically reduce the number of people in federal prison.

After graduating from college, Alex joined Teach for America and taught both first and fourth grade in a high-poverty school as part of the Metro Atlanta Corps. In addition, Alex has also spent significant time working on Democratic and issue-based campaigns. He served as a Students for New American Politics (SNAP) Fellow on the Chris Murphy for U.S. Senate (‘12) campaign as well as in leadership positions with Garden State Equality (‘10), Rush Holt for Congress (‘10) and Jon Corzine for Governor (‘09).

Outside of policy world, Alex enjoys direct-service work with low-income students and is an enthusiast of hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants, jazzy hip-hop, dive bars, the Boston Red Sox, and all things yoga.

Jack Britton

Pricing Analyst, Airlines Reporting Corporation

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Jack Britton is a data analyst, mediator, peacemaker and visual artist with a passion for social justice. By day, Jack applies the methods of data science to solve complex problems and inform decision-making as an Analyst for the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC). Outside of work, Jack serves as a volunteer mediator with the Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County, Maryland, where he is dedicated to creating opportunities for people and communities in conflict to find peaceful resolutions.


Jack is also a passionate activist for LGBTI diversity and inclusion in the workplace. He is the Founding President of ARC’s LGBTI employee resource group, which seeks to be both a safe resource for LGBTI staff as well as an advocacy body for improving policies on LGBTI-inclusive diversity at ARC and beyond. Before joining ARC, Jack was as a Financial Analyst with Sun Life Financial, a major insurance provider in his native Canada, where he worked in the Actuarial Financial Reporting division with a focus on using data analytics to improve Sun Life’s products. Jack was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, and he immigrated to D.C. on his own when he was twenty-two. As a recent immigrant, Jack has witnessed firsthand how easy it can be for a person or family to fall through the cracks in America’s social safety net. These experiences have left him with a commitment to highlight the stories of vulnerable communities and help improve immigration policy using his skills as a data scientist.


Jack graduated with distinction from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Canada, where he earned a First Class Honors B.A. in Economics with a second major in Philosophy. On the rare occasion he is not mediating or coding in SQL, Jack can be found painting or spending time with his husband at their home in Ward 7.

 

Mara D'Amico

Program Administrator, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

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Mara D'Amico is a passionate advocate for women's health, rights, and public participation. She works at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to make sure all women can access the full range of contraceptive methods in the United States. Mara graduated from the Clinton School of Public Service in 2014, earning a Master of Public Service degree and focusing her field work on coordinated re-entry for returning citizens, support groups for survivors of gender-based violence in Nicaragua, and policy relevant to women and girls in Arkansas. While a student at the Clinton School, she served as Student Body President. She has worked to advance women’s rights in a variety of settings, including serving as a McLarty Scholar and the Hillary Rodham Clinton Communications Fellow at the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. She also worked to coordinate policy development on global women's issues for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, and worked as a field organizer on the campaign in Grosse Pointe and Detroit, Michigan.


Mara graduated from Central Michigan University with a B.S. in International Business and Spanish. She served as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Miami Dade College in the Institute for Civic Engagement and Democracy, and as an AmeriCorps Public Ally at the University of Miami in the Office of Civic and Community Engagement, focusing on civic engagement in higher education.

Mara is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan and lives in Arlington, Virginia. Outside of work, she is a volunteer crisis counselor with Crisis Text Line, a volunteer with Girls on the Run of Northern Virginia, a board member for Offender Aid and Restoration of Arlington County, a member of the Clinton School of Public Service Alumni Board, a member of the Central Michigan University Volunteer Center Alumni Board, a graduate of the American University Women in Politics Institute WeLead Program, and a drummer with Batalá Washington.

 

Alexa Damis-Wulff

Legislative Assistant, U.S. Senate

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Alexa currently serves as a Legislative Assistant for U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) covering global and domestic health, K-12, higher education and civil rights issues. She was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and attended Occidental College where she received a bachelor’s degree in English and Comparative Literature. After graduating in 2011, she moved to D.C. to intern in Senator Merkley’s office, where she was hired as the deputy scheduler and assistant to the chief of staff. She now manages a broad legislative portfolio, including priority initiatives like the Equality Act, Senator Merkley’s comprehensive federal legislation to ban discrimination against LGBTQ Americans.


Alexa is a 2016 graduate of American University’s political training program, WeLead, and is passionate about increasing the number of women working in politics and running for office. Her interest in cross-cultural exchange developed at an early age while living in Rabat, Morocco with her family, and continued [in Washington D.C.] through a volunteer position with DC’s Central American Resource Center preparing individuals for the naturalization exam.


An avid runner, Alexa has raised money for medical research through two marathons, and is currently pursuing her certificate in Corporate Sustainability and Innovation through the Harvard Extension School. She travels back to Oregon frequently, enjoys playing tennis and reading fiction, and is an enthusiastic but average cook.

Manisha Gupta

Researcher and Consultant

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Manisha Gupta holds a Ph.D. in Social Psychology (Concentration in Peace and Prevention of Violence) from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a B.S. and B.A. in Business Administration and Social Welfare from the University of California at Berkeley. She is passionate about using her behavioral science background to help advance the success of progressive causes and campaigns, and has experience working in academic, government and nonprofit sectors across the globe to advance issues of diversity, equity and justice for underrepresented and underserved populations.


As a graduate student, Manisha was recipient of the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research and Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide Fellowships, and was elected to serve as Graduate Student Chair and Council Member for the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI). During this time, she spearheaded several initiatives to build bridges between scientists, policymakers and practitioners, as well as increase the retention of women of color and other underrepresented populations in academia.


After completing her Ph.D., Manisha served as an American Psychological Association/American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the office of United States Senator Mazie K. Hirono, where she used her expertise to inform policymaking and address issues of diversity and inclusion in education, STEM workforce, immigration, and the criminal justice system. Manisha most recently served as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the United States Department of State African Affairs Bureau. She is currently working as an independent researcher and consultant, where she continues to apply her research and data analysis skills to inform practice and policy-making.

 

Brent Johnson

Special Assistant and Traveling Chief of Staff, Executive Office of the Mayor - Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity

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Brent is currently an appointee in the Executive Office of DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, working specifically as the Special Assistant to the Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity. Prior to this role, Brent served in the Obama Administration from August 2014 - January 2017 at the Department of Commerce as Secretary Pritzker's Special Advisor and Director of Scheduling. Before joining the Obama Administration, Brent worked at the national advocacy nonprofit, Voices for Progress.


A native of Dallas, Texas, Brent received his bachelor's degree from St. Edward's University in Austin, TX, and his Master of Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. Brent lives in Washington, DC with his husband Kyle.

 

Sanford Keith

Director, Business Development, Service Year Alliance

PHOTOSandy is the Director of Business Development at Service Year Alliance, building funding partnerships that help fuel Service Year Alliance's ambitious mission: to make a year of service a common expectation among young Americans to tackle important challenges while transforming their own lives. Sandy cultivates major donors, national foundations, and corporate partners to fund Service Year Alliance’s work. Sandy has an unwavering belief in the power of volunteerism and service to solve America’s biggest challenges.

Sandy’s nonprofit career started with a term of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at Jumpstart for Young Children working to build their regional fundraising efforts, which launched his lifelong commitment to service. Sandy spent six more years at Jumpstart in various fundraising roles out of their Washington, DC office. After that, Sandy served as the Director of Development at Council for a Strong America, a public policy organization working to improve America's public safety, national security, and economic growth through research-based investments in children. Sandy managed numerous funding partnerships to support the organization’s work.

Sandy grew up in Baltimore and graduated from the University of Maryland College Park with a B.A. in English and Philosophy. He currently lives in Washington, D.C. Outside of work you’re most likely to find him on a mountaintop somewhere or in the gym practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Desireé Luckey

2L Student, Georgetown University Law Center

PHOTODesireé Luckey is a civil rights advocate and political communications professional based out of Washington, D.C. As an undergraduate student at Howard University, she received a full academic scholarship, participated in the College of Arts and Sciences Honors Program, and served in various roles in the Howard University Student Association as well as several departmental committees and organizations.

After graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Art in Sociology and Political Science minor, Desireé began working with Obama for America DC. As Operations Coordinator, she recruited, interviewed, hired, and onboarded fellows for the Fall Fellowship program and managed operations for a team of over 100 members. She also served as an African Americans for Obama Outreach Fellow, connecting her alma mater and Black young professionals across the DC Metro area to the Obama campaign. Her work on campaigns continued in 2014 as a Field Organizer with Battleground Texas in San Antonio, working on behalf of Wendy Davis for Governor and supporting Democratic candidates down ballot. In 2015, Desireé joined the office of Councilman Roberto C. Treviño as Communications and Community Outreach Coordinator, managing media appearances and social media accounts, executing biweekly and special events for constituents, and managing the District 1 City Council Project Fund budget to support district and city-wide events. While in San Antonio, she gave a TED Talk on intersectional feminism for TEDxSanAntonioWomen 2015 and joined the steering committee for TEDxSanAntonio 2016.

Upon returning to Washington, D.C., Desireé was an Account Management Associate at POLITICO Pro, providing high-quality customer service to Pro subscribers and resumed studies at Georgetown University Law Center. During the summer of 2017, she was a Voting Rights Project legal intern at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. As a 2L student, Desireé is a Research and Program Assistant for the Office of Residence Life and the Office of Equity, Community, and Inclusion and she will be a legal intern with the ACLU Voting Rights Project in New York City for Summer 2018. In 2017, she was appointed to the Mayor’s Advisory Committee to the Office of LGBTQ Affairs and is part of the Host Committee for the Creating Change 2018 Conference.

In her spare time, she enjoys reading, cycling, mentoring, and eating her way through the Washington, D.C. Metro area. Upon graduation from law school, she hopes to pursue a career in civil rights litigation, fighting for progressive values.

 

Amanda Mims

Insurance Verification Manager, Contemporary Family Services, Inc.

PHOTOAs the current Insurance Verification Manager for Contemporary Family Services, Inc., a behavioral health agency serving the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Louisiana, Amanda is diligent in helping the residents of our nation’s capital become insured. She is highly committed to the goals of the organization by providing an array of human services to children and their families, and ultimately, helping them become change agents.

Prior to her current position, Amanda has worked as a Case Analyst for the Law Offices of Chandra Walker Holloway, P.C. and as the Convention Registration Manager for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). In that position, she was able to coordinate a national convention for a major mental health nonprofit. Additionally, NAMI has afforded her the opportunity to advocate on Capitol Hill in 2014 and 2017. Last year was especially instrumental because she was able to speak with legislators before the Senate’s vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. She was able to express her personal trials in dealing with mental health challenges and also the importance of healthcare expansion in the Mississippi Senators’ offices. Thus, the Senate’s rejection of the repeal bill was a triumph for her family, her consumers, and the country as a whole.

Serving others is what Amanda truly loves to do. She has volunteered with the Thurgood Marshall Academy for their annual MLK Scholarship Day. She has volunteered with the Capital Area Food Bank and Foods and Friends, Inc. Both organizations help to alleviate the hunger crisis in the greater Washington, DC area. She has taught life skills’ classes at Calvary Women’s Services, an organization that provides housing, health, education, and employment programs for homeless women in the District. She is the chair for the Recruitment and College Fairs Committee with the Washington Area Tougaloo Alumni Chapter and is the past Social Activities Committee chair for the DC Metro Gates Millennium Scholars Alumni Association.

Amanda Mims was born and raised in Mississippi. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Tougaloo College in 2007 and her Master of Public Health with an emphasis in Health Policy and Administration in 2009 from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is currently working on her Medical Billing Specialist Certification at Prince George’s Community College.

 

Alicia Molt-West

Deputy Chief of Staff, United States Congress

PHOTOAlicia Molt-West is Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director to Congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin.

She has over 8 years of experience working on Capitol Hill and advises the Congressman on policies pertaining to education, technology, telecommunications, voting rights, and federal appropriations.

During her time working in Congress, Alicia has successfully worked in support of legislation to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, reauthorize the federal Perkins Loan Program, and helped create stronger federal reporting regarding rural Americans’ access to broadband. Alicia also leads policy initiatives and events for several Congressional caucus’ including the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Rural Broadband Caucus, and the Public Education Caucus.

Alicia is originally from Northbridge, Massachusetts and holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of the Holy Cross and a master’s degree in Government and Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University. She is a registered yoga instructor teaching classes at both Vida Fitness and Equinox. Alicia is also a member of the junior-board at DC Central Kitchen.

 

Israel Nery

Presidential Management Fellow, U.S. Small Business Administration

PHOTOIsrael Nery is a first generation Salvadorian-Mexican, born in Compton, and raised in Los Angeles, CA. Israel completed his undergraduate studies at the California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB), where he earned a B.S. in business Administration, and graduated with honors in 2009. Israel earned his M.B.A. from Woodbury University in 2011. He then earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Illinois College of Law in 2014.

Israel was a college athlete playing for the men’s soccer team at CSUMB, and awarded the All-Academic Award by the California College Athletic Association (CCAA). While attending graduate school at Woodbury University, Israel worked for RockCorps, a pro-social production company that uses music to inspire people to volunteer and get involved in their community. As a law student, he worked and volunteered for private and public organizations such as the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California, Neighborhood Legal Services, AFL-CIO, the Office of Legislative Affairs for Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, and the Student Opportunities for After-School Resources (SOAR) program. Israel was heavily involved with the student body at the University of Illinois College of Law by serving as President of the Latina/o Law Student Association, being elected as a representative for the Student Bar Association, and selected as a student liaison for the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law Standing Committees. For his efforts, Israel was awarded by the Illinois College of Law the Rickert Award for Excellence in Public Service, the most prestigious award bestowed by the College of Law to students who have demonstrated an outstanding degree of commitment to work in the public interest.

As a CHCI Law Graduate Fellow, he worked for the United States House Committee on Financial Services under Maxine Waters [D- CA43]. He had his White Paper titled “The Earned Income Tax Credit Conundrum: The Unintended Exclusion of Latina/o Children” published by the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy. After his tenure as a CHCI Fellow, Israel Nery was named a Presidential Management Fellow, and is currently appointed with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and served as a Detailee at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Outside the workplace, Israel Nery serves on boards and committees for numerous organizations, and is a Reserve Police Officer for the Metropolitan Police Department. During his free time, you can find Israel cooking, staying fit, and playing soccer.

 

Jessica Pinckney

Deputy Director of Government Affairs, In Our Own Voices

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Jessica Pinckney is the deputy director of government affairs at In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, a policy initiative centered on abortion rights and access, contraceptive equity and comprehensive sex education for black women. In this role, Jessica coordinates the development, implementation, and evaluation of In Our Own Voice ’s national and state policy work.

Jessica previously served as government relations manager for YWCA USA, one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in the country. In this role, she was the primary contact to federal legislators and their staff working to impact policy and legislation related to racial justice and civil rights, women’s empowerment and economic advancement, and women’s health and safety. Jessica has also served as the legislative analyst at the University of California (UC) Office of Federal Governmental Relations, representing one of the most recognized and renowned public institutions of higher education in the country.

In her spare time, Jessica serves on the Board of Directors for Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington. Jessica holds a M.A. in Government with a concentration in Political Communications from John’s Hopkins University and a B.A. in Political Science with an emphasis in Public Service from the University of California, Santa Barbara.



 

Talisha Rice

Senior Program Manager, ProInspire

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With experience in the nonprofit and private sectors, Talisha operationalizes ProInspire’s Leadership Development Programs: Custom Programs, Managing for Success, and ProInspire Leadership Institutes. ProInspire is a nonprofit organization with the mission of developing leaders for organizations addressing the world's greatest challenges. Talisha has overall strategic responsibility to help enhance the quality and capabilities of leadership within the social sector.


Prior to joining ProInspire, Talisha was a 2015 ProInspire Fellow at FHI 360, a global human development organization dedicated to improving lives through a rigorous, evidence-based approach and integrated, locally-driven solutions. She managed business relationships with funders and partner organizations to identify new business opportunities within the Business Development and Diversification team. Before FHI 360, Talisha worked at JP Morgan Chase & Co. as a Financial Analyst in Prime Brokerage and Trust and Estates Finance and as an Associate in PricingDirect, a wholly owned subsidiary of JP Morgan Chase & Co.


After launching her career on Wall Street, Talisha transitioned to the social sector to utilize the skills that she had developed at JP Morgan Chase & Co. to create impact in the nonprofit space. Talisha is a graduate of Tuskegee University and holds a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting and Finance. Outside of work, Talisha enjoys getting involved in financial literacy endeavors in the community, performing arts, boxing, and running. She loves traveling around the world and meeting people from various cultures and learning more about their individual stories.

 

Charlynn Stanberry

Legislative Director, U.S. Representative Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09)

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Charlyn Stanberry currently serves as Legislative Director for Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09) where she manages Rep. Clarke’s legislative portfolio, oversees her committee work on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee and manages her work with the Smart Cities and Multicultural Media Caucus. Prior to this position, Charlyn served as Vice President of External Affairs for Net Communications, Regional Voter Protection Director for the Hillary for America Campaign, Counsel for the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council and Professional Staff for the Congressional Black Caucus.

Charlyn earned her J.D. from Florida International University’s College of Law and her B.S.B.A. and M.P.A. from the University of Central Florida. While in law school, Charlyn served as Southern Regional Chair and Attorney General with the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA). In 2015, she was awarded the NBLSA Alumni of the Year award for her exemplary contributions to the legal profession and diligent work advocating on behalf of marginalized communities.

Charlyn is a native of Jacksonville, Florida and currently resides in Arlington, Virginia. In her spare time, she enjoys dancing at BalletNova Center for Dance where she serves on the Board of Directors. Additionally, she serves as Rising Chair for the Junior League of Washington’s Leadership Institute and as a Leadership Fellows Coach for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

 

Jesse Vogel

Managing Director, Partnership for Responsible Growth

PHOTOJesse Vogel is the Managing Director of the Partnership for Responsible Growth, a bipartisan organization working to advance market-based climate change policy at the federal level. He is also a member of the Executive Board and Leadership Council of Launch Progress, a PAC building the bench of progressive leadership by investing in first time candidates for state and local office. Previously, Jesse served as the Assistant to the Managing Director of Tax Equity Advisors, a clean energy investment firm focused on deploying corporate capital in solar generation projects. He has served as a consultant on international climate policy for the Center for American Progress and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, and has published research on issues of global justice in climate cooperation based on fieldwork conducted at three United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiating sessions. Vogel has worked on local, state and federal campaigns, from Ohio’s fight to preserve collective bargaining rights in 2011 to Hillary for America in 2016. He received his B.A. from Oberlin College.

Monae White

Program Associate, Advancement Project

PHOTOMonae White is a Program Associate with Advancement Project, a multi-racial civil rights organization, where she conducts research and policy analysis on voting rights, education justice, policing and criminalization efforts. Prior to her current role, Monae served as the Special Projects Manager for the White House Liaison Office at the U.S. Department of Education under the Obama Administration. In this role, she supported efforts to recruit, develop, and retain a diverse and inclusive political appointee team. Monae has also served news in the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate and U.S. Department of State.

Monae is a graduate of Spelman College where she studied political science.
While at Spelman, she worked as the Director of the Spelman College Mock Trial Team and studied as an Associate with the Spelman College Social Justice Fellows Program.