Washington DC 2017 fellows

Meet the 2017 Washington, DC Fellows
(back to NLC 2017 Fellows)

Amadi Anene, Senior Advisor to the head of SBA, U.S. Small Business Administration

Amadi_Anene.jpgAmadi Anene is a political appointee in the Administration of President Obama, where he serves as the Senior Advisor to the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). In this role, Amadi advises the Administrator on policies that affect America’s small business economy. He also builds strategic partnerships to deliver capital to entrepreneurs, generates initiatives to increase lending to historically underserved groups, and acts as the SBA lead on interagency task forces focused on city and community economic development. Prior to joining the Administration, Amadi worked at Booz Allen Hamilton where he specialized in advanced analytics and financial services. Amadi supported the national implementation of the Affordable Care Act in six states. He also led firm initiatives in tool development, and was a thought leader in finding innovative ways to use big data to detect fraud waste and abuse within private sector and government organizations. Amadi completed his college education at Harvard University earning a degree in Environmental Science & Public Policy. Amadi received a full-tuition scholarship to return to Harvard for a Master’s in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Amadi is a native of West Bloomfield, MI, where he was a three-sport varsity athlete and captain of a state championship track and field team. A current resident of Washington D.C., he remains an avid sportsman. In his spare time, Amadi enjoys morning workouts, basketball, and traveling.

Scott Astrada, Economic Policy Advisor, U.S. Senate Democratic Leadership

Scott_Astrada.jpgScott Astrada currently serves as an economic policy advisor for the U.S. Senate Democratic Leadership. Before joining the Senate, Astrada served as an attorney and political appointee inthe Administration of President Barack Obama in the White House Office of Management and Budget. Prior to joining the Administration, Astrada completed the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Fellowship program, working on the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and then for the National Council of La Raza. Before arriving in DC, Astrada was a banking and tax attorney in Milwaukee, WI. Astrada holds a JD and an MBA from Marquette University, and a B.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Currently, Astrada is completing an LLM from Georgetown University Law Center.

Jared Brown, Program Coordinator, United Negro College Fund (UNCF)

Jared_Brown.jpgJared Brown was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and raised by a village of extraordinary, ordinary people. He identifies as black, gay and Baptist and embraces his complexities and contradictions without fear or shame. Although he has adopted the perspective that no single progressive issue is greater than another, he’s deeply alarmed by the recent CDC projection that 1 in 2 black gay men will be diagnosed with HIV during a lifetime. He’s committed to empowering young black gay men to develop and apply an entrepreneurial mindset to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and other health disparities plaguing the black gay community. In this vein, he currently coordinates a $25 million national initiative designed to cultivate the next generation of African American entrepreneurs and innovators at the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). In his capacity, he awards scholarships and administers an online entrepreneurship curriculum to more than 150 undergraduate scholars representing more than 40 colleges and universities. He also serves as operations director at Black upStart, a startup social enterprise that supports black millennial entrepreneurs through the ideation and customer validation processes. Black upStart has trained 100 black entrepreneurs in the DMV area since launching in November 2015. They’ve went on to shelve products at CVS and Target, earn startup capital from Piranha Tank and the Greater Washington Urban League, compete as finalists for investments on Shark Tank, open their own brick and mortar spaces, and earn press with Black Enterprise, Washington Post and ABC News. He was selected to participate in the 2017 Build a Brother Youth Scholars Institute (BABI). The institute, sponsored by National AIDS Education & Services for Minorities (NAESM) and the Young Black Gay Leadership Institute (YBGLI), trains young black gay male scholars in the areas of grant writing, HIV/AIDS biomedical interventions and epidemiology. He hopes to use the skills acquired to build a business incubator for black gay men. Previously, Jared has served at the U.S House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. His areas of policy focus include racial equality, education, small business, labor, urban development, LGBT rights and HIV/ AIDS. He is proud alumnus of the University of Virginia’s Department of African American Studies. He also completed an undergraduate research fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley and is currently pursuing a Masters in Technology Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Tricia Bruckbauer, Director of Communications, General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church

Tricia_Bruckbauer_.jpgTricia is the Director of Communications for the General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church, which operates as the social justice and public policy agency of the Church. At Church and Society, Tricia coordinates the external communications efforts on issues ranging from criminal justice reform to reproductive health, economic justice to health care access, and immigration to gun violence prevention. She is passionate about using a faithful lens to advocate for justice and peace in the United States and around the world Tricia graduated with a degree in communications from Gonzaga University and then moved to Washington, D.C. for a year-long service program with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. She began her advocacy career as the program director of a nonprofit organizing the faith community around issues of environmental justice. During her free time, Tricia is an active member of First Trinity Lutheran Church and sits on their council. She also volunteers her time as a community mentor for the newest members of the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. Another strong passion of hers, Tricia plays basketball and volleyball with the Special Olympics of D.C., and advocates for those with developmental disabilities. She enjoys baking new recipes, good books, Gonzaga basketball, and our national park system.

Bernice Butler, Partnerships Manager, Institute for Educational Leadership

Bernice_Butler_.jpgAs Partnerships Manager at the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL), Bernice works to advance and support the growth, impact, and interaction of multiple Community Schools networks. She is responsible for facilitating communication within and across networks and supporting leaders of networks in developing goals and work plans, and implementing those plans. She collaborates with national partners to organize webinars, workshops, receptions and meetings at various conferences, creating learning opportunities through monthly conference calls, webinars, and annual convenings. Prior to joining IEL, Bernice was a senior associate at the Data Quality Campaign. While there she analyzed emerging policies and practices, convened national thought leaders, and worked with partner organizations to aid local and district leaders in using evidence to improve student outcomes. Her previous experience includes service as the program director of the Memphis Talent Dividend and Graduate Memphis, two action initiatives of Leadership Memphis. While there, she managed a community collaborative with over 80 partners to execute city-wide education initiatives. Bernice began her career in local government in Washington DC as a Capital City Fellow in 2008. She completed rotations with Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, Department of Housing and Community Development, Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. In 2010, Bernice accepted a position as an Administrative Budget Manager and Grant Coordinator of the City of Saginaw, Michigan. In this capacity, she managed the city’s Performance Management program and CitiStat initiative and managed budget functions for four city departments. In 2012 Bernice was selected as a White House Strong Cities, Strong Communities Fellow. In this capacity she worked as an advisor to the mayor of Memphis and City Administrator focused on evaluating government operations and helping build a performance management system consisting of key performance indicators, ChoiceStat, and a digital data warehouse. Born and raised in Georgia, Bernice earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University in psychology with a minor in political science. She earned a master’s in public administration, with a concentration on local government management, from the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs. She has served on the Georgia Supreme Court Committee on Justice for Children (2007–08) and Georgia’s Children and Youth Coordinating Council (2005–08). Bernice is also member of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators and a 2016 graduate of the DC Education Policy Fellowship Program.

Shakir Cannon-Moye, Senior Consultant, Deloitte Consulting

Shakir_Cannon-Moye.jpgShakir Cannon-Moye is from Edgewater Park, New Jersey. He is currently a Senior Consultant within the Deloitte Consulting practice, where he has served as a strategic advisor for several Federal agencies. Shakir recently returned from a six-month sabbatical during which he worked full-time as the Chief of Staff to the Managing Director/CEO of the Dangote Foundation, the largest private foundation in Sub-Saharan Africa. While there, he was able to help combat the social challenges that many face on the continent. Prior to joining Deloitte, Shakir received his MBA from the George Washington University, where he served as a Presidential Fellow. As a Fellow, he served on the University President’s Innovation Task Force and performed valuations on ideas submitted by faculty, staff, and students on how to reduce operational cost and redeploy those funds for academic initiatives. While pursuing his MBA, Shakir also interned at The White House, working on the National Economic Council (NEC) with a focus on improving small business’s access to capital. Shakir’s undergraduate degree is also from the George Washington University where he augmented his studies by pursuing several opportunities to study abroad at Renmin University of China, the University of Oxford and Sciences Po in Paris, France and earned a B.B.A in Finance and minor in Sociology. Outside of the office, Shakir has dedicated a significant amount of time and energy to participating in community service. Most notably, he has volunteered with Upward Bound and College Bound in DC, where he mentored and tutored local high school students. He enjoys participating in marathons and triathlons, playing chess, and listening to spoken word poetry.

Erin Carhart, Manager of Youth Organizing and Engagement, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Erin_Carhart.jpgErin Carhart is the Manager of Youth Organizing and Engagement at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She first joined the Planned Parenthood family in 2011 when she began organizing in her local community for proactive reproductive health policy change. Erin has been organizing alongside young people throughout her personal and professional career seeking an intersectional movement that reflects all experiences of young people. Her commitment to centering young people and those most impacted has been at the core of all of her work especially in developing the best and brightest new leaders for this movement. Prior to working with Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Erin worked as a Project Manager for Home Headquarters and Syracuse Model Neighborhood ensuring access to affordable housing and assisted the Bureau of Research in the City of Syracuse in various projects. In addition, Erin has spoken at many colleges/universities and conferences on a range of topics including reproductive rights, LGBTQ justice, economic and housing justice, the impacts of policy change, and more. Erin graduated from Syracuse University with a B.A. in policy studies and women's and gender studies.

Yesenia Chavez, Legislative Assistant, Congressman Raúl Grijalva

Yesenia_Chavez.jpgYesenia Chavez serves as a Legislative Assistant for Congressman Raúl Grijalva, who represents Arizona’s 3rd District and is Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She advises the congressman on policy matters pertaining to judiciary, gun violence, human rights, drug policy, veteran’s affairs, defense, transportation, voting rights, LGBT and women’s issues. She started her career on the Hill through the Victory Fund & Institute’s congressional internship program in 2013. In her current role, Chavez successfully advocated for the creation of an administrative rule to protect refugees from sexual assault while in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement as well as led various efforts that resulted in a Department of Homeland Security memo on the safe housing of LGBT inmates. Yesenia has also garnered an unprecedented amount of attention on a LGBT data collection bill by acquiring the lending voice of actress Laverne Cox. Yesenia, a first-generation American, graduated in 2014 from the University of Houston with a Bachelor’s in Political Science & Liberal Studies, and minors in GLBT Studies and History. Before the Hill, Chavez worked at the Harris County Democratic Party and in her role as Vice President of the Houston Stonewall Young Democrats, focused on organizing efforts to successfully pass the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. Voted “Best Hill Staffer” in the Washington Blade’s “Best of Gay D.C.” in 2015, Yesenia is determined to build outreach towards women and people of color to create a more inclusive work environment on Capitol Hill as a board member of the LGBT Congressional Staff Association and co-director of the Latinas in the House.

Joe Flarida, Professional Staff, Energy Subcommittee Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives

Joe_Flarida.jpgJoe was born and raised in Lima, Ohio and attended Ohio State University where he received degrees in Political Science and Public Affairs. After graduating in 2012, he moved to D.C. where he began his career in energy and science policy. He is currently a Professional Staff Member of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology in the House of Representatives. He joined the Science Committee staff in December 2013 after completing an internship with the Democratic staff. After serving as the Staff and Press Assistant and subsequently as the Press Secretary and Policy Assistant, Joe moved to the Energy Subcommittee where he advises Committee members on the research, development, demonstration, and commercialization activities at the U.S. Department of Energy. His legislative portfolio cuts across the Department’s full spectrum of basic and applied research efforts. Before coming to the Committee, Joe worked for Battelle’s Washington Office conducting policy and legislative research in the company’s government affairs office. Joe currently lives in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife Blake and their dog, Molly. The three of them love to camp and backpack throughout the year. Joe is also an avid soccer player and in his spare time plays pickup in his neighborhood and enjoys playing in a couple recreational leagues. He visits Ohio often and is a devoted Buckeye football fan.

Savannah Fox, Field Organizer, Amnesty International

Savannah_Fox.jpgSavannah Fox is a Field Organizer with Amnesty International, the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization, based in Washington D.C. In her position, she develops and implements grassroots strategies on some of the most pressing human rights challenges both domestically and around the world. She also has the opportunity to train over a hundred activist around the country each year and is a trained human rights observer who has been deployed to Ferguson and Baltimore. Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, Savannah entered into the progressive movement at a young age organizing for criminal justice reform throughout the south. Upon graduating college in 2011, she turned her passion for human rights into a career by becoming the youngest Field Organizer at Amnesty International USA. Over the past six years she has led winning campaigns on death penalty abolition, women’s rights, immigrant rights, police accountability and ending gun violence. Savannah received a Bachelors of Arts in International Relations and German from the University of South Carolina and Otto-Friedrich Universitat (Bamberg, Germany). Savannah is currently the Human Rights Fellow for Young Professionals in Foreign Policy. When she is not organizing you can find her teaching exercise classes as an Instructor at Flywheel Sports or planning her next trip to a new country, adding to her goal of visiting 100 countries by age 45.

Ashley Fox, Communications and Community Outreach Coordinator, D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large)

Ashley_Fox.jpgAshley Fox is the Communications and Community Outreach Coordinator for D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large). She develops website and social media content, manages media engagements, and drives strategy to engage District residents and community partners around legislative priorities and community concerns. She previously served as the Ward 5 coordinator for the Elissa 2014 campaign where she organized ward canvasses and conducted campaign outreach. Prior to joining local government, Ashley was a program associate at the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit focused on strengthening the civil service and improving the federal systems that support it. At the Partnership, she developed web and social media content, managed a cohort of Federal Student Ambassadors for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and built workshops for federal employees on recruitment and retention initiatives in collaboration with corporate sponsors. She also worked as a project consultant for the Excellence in Government Fellows Program, a year-long leadership development program for top-level federal employees. Passionate about the intersection of politics, poverty, and health at the community-level, Ashley’s background spans research, community engagement, and program development. She recently launched a monthly networking series for young, black professional women in the District and is a graduate of the American University Women & Politics Institute WeLead Program, an 8-month bipartisan leadership training that prepares young women to succeed in politics and public service. She is a past research scholar and has been recognized for outstanding accomplishments in writing and leadership. Outside of work, Ashley is a member of D.C. for Democracy, is a worship leader at her church in Northeast D.C., and supports Higher Heights, a black women’s civic engagement network. Her interests include travel, piano, running, and exploring parks and gardens across the District. Ashley is a native of Nashville, TN and earned a B.A. in Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis.

Bernadette Hobson, Deputy White House Liaison, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Bernadette_Hobson.jpgBernadette was appointed to serve in the Administration of President Obama, as Deputy White House Liaison at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). She oversees the personnel management, professional development, engagement, and retention efforts of 248 political and presidential appointees. She is also responsible for advancing President Obama’s Diversity and Leadership Initiative at USDA in collaboration with the Office of Presidential Personnel at the White House. Prior to her appointment, Bernadette led the coordinating efforts of the U.S. Mexico Clean Energy and Climate Policy Task Force at the U.S. Department of Energy, that resulted in a North American goal to reduce methane emissions in oil and gas sectors 40-45% by 2025. She has also worked at the National Economic Council at the White House on energy and travel and tourism, the Management Office at the U.S. Embassy Mexico City, and the Office of Commercial and Business Affairs at State. Bernadette also has 13 years of experience in financial services, private wealth management, and investment banking. Bernadette holds a B.A. in International Development Studies with Distinction from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.A. in Latin American Studies cum laude from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Meredith Howell, Senior Analyst, U.S. Department of Transportation

Meredith_Howell.jpgMeredith is a senior management and program analyst in the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Transportation. In this role, she has led performance audits and reviews of the Department’s contracting practices and contract administration functions, providing recommendations to improve their efficiency, economy, and effectiveness. Her work has covered aviation, highway, transit, and maritime programs within U.S. DOT. In 2016, Meredith served as the Ladders of Opportunity Program Manager while on detail in the Office of the Secretary at U.S. DOT. As Program Manager, Meredith managed long-term strategic programs and projects that supported the Department’s implementation of President Obama’s Ladders of Opportunity agenda, which sought to create economic opportunity for all by using transportation as a catalyst for community revitalization, job creation, and public engagement. During the detail, Meredith also served as a liaison to the White House Council on Women and Girls and White House – Office of Personnel Management Interagency Taskforce on Reducing Bias in STEM. Meredith is passionate about women’s leadership and professional development and has served as the Mentoring Program Co-chair of the Women’s Transportation Seminar, D.C. Chapter since 2013. She has also served as a mentor and new employee sponsor in the Office of Inspector General’s Mentoring Program since 2015. Based on her own experience receiving excellent mentorship and academic support at an early age, Meredith helped to launch the Student Success program Emory United Methodist Church in the Brightwood community of Northwest D.C. This partnership between the church and two neighborhood elementary schools has helped to fill gaps in enrichment programs and basic needs. Student Success has led to increased parent involvement and support of youth activities at the schools. Prior to joining the U.S. Department of Transportation, Meredith worked in real estate development consulting, property assessment, sustainable urban development, and personal finance. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning and Master of Public Administration from Cornell University. A transportation wonk to the core, Meredith loves all modes of transportation, especially the ones that allow her to explore the world. The Atlanta native loves charming cities, good food, and great company. Meredith is also an avid runner, soccer player, and arts patron.

Maryam Janani, Strategy Consultant, Dalberg Advisors

Maryam_Janani.jpgMaryam Janani is a strategy consultant at Dalberg Advisors where she assists U.S. government agencies, multilateral organizations, NGOs, and private companies reach their social impact objectives. Her work ranges from producing a landmark report on the economic returns to diversity in the tech industry to determining the market entry strategy for a low-cost life-saving medical device. Outside of Dalberg, Maryam is a reproductive justice advocate, and speaks and writes on issues of abortion access and stigma. She has given opening remarks for an audience of approximately 10,000, and contributed to an amicus brief for the Supreme Court case, Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Previously, Maryam consulted for the State of Minnesota on potential strategic paths for health care reform under the Affordable Care Act’s State Innovation Waiver. She has also worked in Kenya where she conducted impact evaluations of education and health interventions to inform policy, and established a community health worker program with a local NGO. She later launched two multi-country leadership development programs in impact evaluation with the University of California, Berkeley's Center for Effective Global Action. Maryam is a Mexican-Iranian-American born and raised in Texas. She graduated from Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School with a Master in Public Affairs, concentrating in Economics and Public Policy with a certificate in Health and Health Policy. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Neurobiology with minors in Health Policy and Spanish from Harvard.

Harry Krejsa, Research Associate, Center for a New American Security (CNAS)

Harry_Krejsa.jpgHarry Krejsa is a Research Associate at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), working in the Asia-Pacific Security Program. At CNAS Mr. Krejsa publishes reports, delivers conference studies, and advises policymakers on strategic, political, and economic developments in Asia. His analysis has been featured in Politico, Bloomberg Radio, and the Japan Times, and he provides Chinese-language television commentary on current events. Prior to joining CNAS, Mr. Krejsa worked as a Policy Analyst for the Congressional Joint Economic Committee advising Democratic members of Congress on economic policy. He also served as a researcher with the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs at National Defense University, where he published a report on Chinese investment in the United States and its security implications. Mr. Krejsa has led a field analysis on political transition in Myanmar, piloted anti-terror training programs in South Asia, and served as a Fulbright Fellow in Taiwan. Mr. Krejsa has contributed to organizing and policy formulation for Democratic campaigns, including for Secretary Clinton in 2016 and in 2008 as an elected Iowa state delegate for then-Senator Obama. He holds a master’s degree in International Relations from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and a B.A. from Grinnell College, for which he also studied at Nanjing University in China.

Mike Schoengold, Conflict Advisor, State Department's Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations

Mike_Schoengold.jpgMike B. Schoengold is a Conflict Advisor at the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO). At CSO, Mike works in the Office of Near East Affairs, advising policy leaders on American defense, diplomacy, and development policy in the Middle East. Prior to the State Department, Mike worked throughout the Middle East and South Asia on democracy & governance, stabilization, and economic development projects and programs. He started his career with the large international development-consulting firm, Chemonics International, where he managed programs and led business development initiatives in Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, and Afghanistan. In 2011, Mike moved to the Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan where he created and implemented a monitoring and evaluation plan for the largest civilian-led stabilization project in the world. More recently, Mike worked at International Business Machines (IBM) where he helped lead a team of over 140 sales professionals, helping to significantly grow IBM’s business relationship with a global Fortune 50 company. Mike also spent time as a Strategy Consultant for Deloitte Consulting in Abu Dhabi, where he worked on a Public-Private-Partnership assessment and multiple feasibility studies. Mike attended Northwestern University for his Bachelor’s Degree and graduated from Georgetown University with a Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) and a Master of Business Administration (MBA). He is proficient in Arabic and is a Board Member of the Clark and Hinman Foundation.

Jessica Smith, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, 1B07 Government of the District of Columbia

Jessica_Smith.jpgJessica Smith is an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in ANC 1B, which includes Columbia Heights, LeDroit Park, Howard University, Lower Georgia Avenue, and the U St. and 14th St. Corridors. In this role she acts as one of the closest elected officials for DC residents and ensures they have representation throughout the larger governing process. Jessica works hard to guarantee all her constituents have a voice in one of the largest and most diverse areas in DC during a time of rapid community change. She was just elected to serve her second term and currently chairs the Commission’s Public Safety and Community Engagement Committee. Jessica also works at DC127 where she manages a family preservation program that ensures families experiencing crisis have the support they need to stabilize their situation and keep their children out of foster care. Prior to these positions, she worked at the Kaiser Family Foundation on the Commission for Medicaid and the Uninsured and also managed a campaign for a Virginia House of Delegates race. She has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan where she studied social policy and evaluation within communities and social systems. Jessica lives in Columbia Heights with her husband. She loves yoga, cats, and waffles and is currently trying to find ways to enjoy all three at the same time.

Andy Smith, K-12 Data and Policy Analyst, The Education Trust

Andy_Smith.jpgAndy Smith is a K-12 Data and Policy Analyst on the K-12 Policy and Practice team at The Education Trust, a national non-profit advocacy organization founded to push, prod, and cajole our country toward educational justice. In this role, he collects, analyzes, and interprets education data related to student achievement, attainment, and opportunities to learn. Specifically, his current work focuses on the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015. Prior to joining The Education Trust, Andy participated in the Education Pioneers Graduate School Fellowship as a Policy Research Associate for the Partnership for Children and Youth in Oakland, Calif. While there, he collected and analyzed data to garner support for state-funded high-quality, after-school programs. He also has served as an Ella Baker Trainer for the Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools® program, where he worked on a team to train over 1,500 young leaders annually. In addition, he served as a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Assistant at an elementary school in Durham, N.C. A native of Gaston, N.C., Andy holds a master’s degree in public policy, concentrating in education policy, from Vanderbilt University Peabody College of Education and Human Development, as well as a bachelor’s degree in international comparative studies from Duke University. He is also an alumnus of the Center for Public Research and Leadership at Columbia Law School. In his spare time, Andy enjoys playing flag football, cheering on the Duke Blue Devils, dancing, and eating free food.

Akash Tharani, Teacher Recruitment, Selection, and Retention Coordinator DC Public Schools

Akash_Tharani.jpgAkash Tharani is a Teacher Recruitment, Selection and Retention Coordinator with DC Public Schools where he is focused on ensuring that all DC students have access to a world-class education. In this role, he designs and implements the recruitment strategy for the Midwest region, as well as serves as the point of contact for several local universities, in order to find top talent to join DCPS. Akash also co-chairs the selection committee for DC Public Schools’ Teacher of the Year Awards and supports a cohort of principals with sourcing and hiring teachers. Prior to his role at DC Public Schools, Akash worked at the Posse Foundation, a comprehensive college access program that identifies, selects and awards local high school students full-tuition scholarships to attend top-tier colleges through a supportive cohort model. After working as a Trainer in a youth development capacity, Akash was promoted to Career Program Manager and served on the leadership team for the D.C. office. In this new role, Akash was responsible for supporting the career development, retention and overall success of 240 students on campus, as well as 300 local alumni. He also managed relationships with 20 industry leading local and national companies, ranging from Kirkland & Ellis LLP to Freddie Mac, that provided internships and full-time opportunities to Posse Scholars. Akash’s passion for education began in Chicago where he taught high school math as a Teach for America corps member. He has remained involved with the organization serving as co-chair of the Collective DC, TFA’s local alumni of color board. Akash has a B.A. in Mathematics from Boston College and a Master’s in Teaching from National-Louis University.

Abby Walsh, Criminal Justice Policy Analyst and Campaign Manager

Abby_Walsh.jpgAbby Walsh is a criminal justice policy analyst and campaign manager for a major non-profit based in Washington, DC. Abby started her career working within the justice system to strengthen state drug court programs and modernize the federal judiciary. She quickly realized that lasting progress toward effective criminal justice policy would require allies and champions outside the system. Since 2012, Abby has worked to bring comprehensive, evidence-based criminal justice reform to Oklahoma, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, Kansas, West Virginia, and Hawaii, and educated lawmakers in many other states. While states have begun to address the detrimental effects of mass incarceration on our communities, the structural and systemic changes needed for meaningful and lasting improvement require ongoing commitment. To help states combat the drivers of incarceration, Abby has most recently focused her efforts on addressing the opioid epidemic through expanded access to treatment and strengthened alternatives to incarceration. A Massachusetts native, Abby has lived in DC for over a decade – though she still roots for the Red Sox. She is a graduate of American University’s School of Public Affairs, GW’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Administration, and Boston University Academy. On the rare occasion she is not boarding a flight, Abby can be found at a local yoga studio or spending time with her husband and stepson at their home in Anacostia.