Mariatu Santiago, Editor-in-Chief

Mariatu is a second year MPP student at the Ford School. Prior to joining the Ford School, Mariatu served as a development assistant for New America’s development team and was a research assistant with New America’s Resource Security program. Her writing has appeared in Slate, Pacific Standard, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and New America’s Weekly publication. She holds a Bachelors in International Studies from American University.

Maxwell Kaufman, Managing Editor

Maxwell Kaufman is a second-year Master of Public Policy student. He has six years of professional experience in community development, human rights research, and regional planning in the City of Detroit, India, and rural Minnesota. Maxwell’s academic interests are in diplomacy, policy analysis, and migration.



Kalena Thomhave, Web Editor

Kalena is a second-year Master of Public Policy student focused on poverty and inequality. She is a freelance policy journalist and a research assistant at Poverty Solutions.



Matt Sehrsweeney, Assistant Web Editor 

Matt is a third year dual degree student in the Ford School and the School of Environment and Sustainability, focusing on climate justice policy. Outside of his work for MJPA, he is engaged in local organizing efforts, primarily with the Graduate Employees Organization and the Climate Action Movement. He has two cats, sandwich and cannoli.




Mallak Ali Anani

Mallak is a Master of Public Policy candidate at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. She earned her B.A. in English and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan and went on to teach high school English Writing in Detroit thereafter before returning to UofM for her MPP. Her policy interests focus on education and social policy. She is especially interested in literacy access, attainment, and development and literacy’s role in establishing a person’s ability to exercise their constitutional rights. She plans to attend law school after earning her MPP.


Nicholas Birdsong

Nicholas is a first year MPP student and a Research Assistant with the Local Fiscal Health Project at the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan. He previously spent three years as a policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures working in the areas of government ethics and institutions. Nicholas holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas School of Law (L’15) and a B.A. in Political Science from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas.


Kristina Curtiss

Kristina is a first-year Master of Public Policy candidate. She is dedicated to both building smart and sustainable cities across the State of Michigan and to alleviating the socioeconomic factors that cause inequality in that process. Before coming to Ford, she did issue-specifitc policy analysis with multiple Detroit-based non-profits and became a strong advocate for regional public transportation.



Justine D’Souza

Justine is a first-year Master of Public Policy and Master of Social Work candidate whose academic and professional interests include international affairs, humanitarian issues, labor, equity, and the intersection of the aforementioned areas. Before studying at the University of Michigan, Justine worked in international education as a content creator, regularly writing and contributing to blogs, help articles, and social media responses. She currently works as a Phone Support Counselor for a youth helpline and as a member of the Student Leadership Team at the Ford School. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in French from Rutgers University where she also minored in Planning and Public Policy, International Business and Political Economy, and Organizational Leadership. When she is not working, studying, or writing, Justine enjoys performing in plays, operas, and musicals (now virtually), listening to podcasts, singing classical music, and reading non-fiction books and articles.


Chadd Dowding

Chadd grew up in the rural area of Jackson County, MI. He then pursued his undergraduate studies at Michigan State University’s James Madison College and graduated in 2011 with a degree in International Relations (IR) and Comparative Cultures and Politics (CCP). After graduation, Chadd worked for General Electric Aviation as a contract manager in-training learning the business segments and living in Cincinnati, Grand Rapids, and Boston. From 2013 to 2019, he worked for Grand Valley State University’s Hauenstein Center as the Program Director of the Cook Leadership Academy. Now, he is attending the Ford School to pursue an MPP and a career advancing human rights, especially in support of the international LGBTQ+ community.

Trish Fisher

For the past four years, Trish worked as a management consultant advising nonprofits and foundations on strategy, business planning, program development, and strategic restructuring projects. Trish graduated summa cum laude from UCLA in 2011 with a double major in History and Middle Eastern & North African Studies, and studied abroad in Egypt and Lebanon. Trish’s future career ambitions are in nonprofit, philanthropic, and government program evaluation.


Gage Garretson

Gage is a first-year Master of Public Policy student at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford of Public Policy, where he is a Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) Fellow. He is interested in international policy, minority rights and democratic inclusion. Prior to attending Ford, Gage worked with Humanity in Action Inc., interned with Humanity in Action Germany and the German Parliament in Berlin and volunteered at the Karatepe and Moira refugee camps in Greece. Gage is a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow, Public Policy & International Affairs (PPIA) Fellow and a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX-YP) Fellow.

Rebecca Mendelsohn

Rebecca is a first year Master of Public Policy candidate focused on international policy and welfare reform. Prior to attending the Ford School, she worked at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), where she conducted performance evaluations of federal programs and served as a representative in the GAO Employees Organization. Rebecca received her B.A. in Political Science from Macalester College.


Corey Miles

Corey is a first-year MPP student at the Ford School whose primary policy interests are economic justice, welfare policy, and financial regulation. Following his graduation from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Political Science and Economics, Miles embarked on a year of service with the AmeriCorps VISTA program where he worked to secure housing for refugees soon to arrive in the United States. Miles sings bass in the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club and resides in Ann Arbor with his partner and their (many) cats


Beau Scott

Beau is a first-year MPP student with an interest in social policy and public finance. A native Californian, Beau recently relocated to the Ann Arbor area with hopes to fully immerse himself in the policy environment and culture at the Ford School. He loves food and is always on the lookout for good tacos!


Claire Salant

Claire Salant is a first-year Master of Public Policy student. She studied history and math at Barnard College, and has worked as an editor, teacher, and producer. She spent the last five years teaching writing and math at SEO Scholars, a non-profit fighting for educational equity in New York City.



Celia Sawyerr

Celia is a first-year MPP student who is passionate about human rights, specifically the legal and social aspects of international migration policy. Throughout her time at the Ford School, she hopes to hone her quantitative and writing skills in order to better advocate for migrants at the systemic level. Before moving to Ann Arbor, Celia worked in Washington D.C. in the education sector managing college preparatory courses for high schoolers, executing high-level events focused on the transatlantic relationship, and teaching English as a Second Language and Citizenship classes to adult migrants. She is excited to be part of the MJPA team as an Editor.


James Vansteel

James is a third year graduate student pursuing a dual degree program of a Master of Public Policy from the Ford School and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from Taubman College. He graduated from Michigan State University in 2015 with degrees in Political Theory and English, and worked for three years at the Michigan Public Service Commission as an energy market analyst prior to coming to the University of Michigan. He grew up in the Mid-Michigan area and loves exploring the state’s many beautiful parks.