Nicholas Birdsong, Editor-in-Chief

Nicholas is a second-year MPP student whose primary subject matter interest is in the study and analysis of state institutions. This past summer, he worked on projects for CARE International and the Detroit Equity Counsel. He has also served as a policy analyst with the Local Fiscal Health Project at CLOSUP. Prior to Ford, Nicholas spent three years as a policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures working in the areas of government ethics and institutions. He holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas School of Law (L’15) and a B.A. in Political Science from Washburn University.


Kristina Curtiss, Managing Editor

Kristina is a second-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-specific policy analysis with multiple Detroit-based non-profits and became a strong advocate for regional public transportation.


Carmen Altes, Web Editor

Carmen is a first-year MPP student at the Ford School. She is particularly interested in surveillance and privacy, incentivizing ethical corporate behavior, and consumer informed consent. Before moving to Ann Arbor, she worked with copyright permissions at Harvard Business School. Carmen received a B.A. from Brandeis University, double majoring in English Literature and Philosophy.


Elina Morrison, Assistant Web Editor

Elina is a first year MPP candidate and a first generation graduate student. She recently completed her undergraduate degree earlier this May, and received dual degrees in English Literature and International Studies with double minors in Human Rights Studies and Economics at the University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA). She is a PPIA Princeton University alumna, and has academic and professional experience in the fields of housing, immigration, and foster care policy. Globally, she has completed work in the fields of development economics, genocide studies, and teaching abroad in Ghana, Rwanda, and China. Her research interests are in human rights, comparative social policy, systems thinking, and journalism. She hopes to have a career where she can leverage more compassion in the policy-making world and make policy more accessible through various forms of storytelling.


Cassidy Uchman, Communications Director

Cassidy is a second-year Master of Public Policy student. She is passionate about poverty alleviation and equitable access to quality early childhood and K-12 education. Previously, she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA working on fundraising and communications for a youth development and food access nonprofit in Washtenaw County, Michigan.




Timothy Arvan

Timothy Arvan is a first year Ph.D. student in political science and public policy. He also serves as Research Officer and Associate Fellow of the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law, based in Montreal, Canada. Tim’s research explores questions of international environmental politics, with an emphasis on the political economy of climate change. He holds an M.Phil. (with Distinction) in Environmental Policy from the University of Cambridge, and received his B.A. (with Honors) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and the Program in the Environment from the University of Michigan.


Hanna Cumming Brown

Hannah is a dual-degree J.D./M.P.P. at the Law School and the Ford School. She is also a Weiser Diplomacy Fellow. Her policy interests include international human rights, refugee, asylum and migration policy, long-term poverty solutions, and the intersection of these issues with corporate social responsibility and social impact investing.  She spent her 1L summer working at Eventide Asset Management on the Portfolio Team, including work on the issue of forced labor in the global solar supply chain due to China’s policies in Xinjiang. Her previous professional experience includes serving as Business 360 Manager at Eventide Asset Management,management consulting at Bain & Company, and work for international development and social impact organizations, including legal work on behalf of refugees and asylum-seekers and work in social entrepreneurship and sustainable development. She speaks French, Modern Standard Arabic, and four dialects of Arabic fluently. She received her undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Princeton University.


Samir Deshpande

Samir is a first-year Master of Public Policy student focusing on international policy and international economic development in service of global solutions for climate change. Concurrently, he is a health communications fellow at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, the DOD’s largest biomedical research laboratory. He holds a B.A. in chemistry and history from Kalamazoo College.


Clare Knutson

Clare is a second-year MPP student whose policy focus is social policy, mainly transportation, workforce development and housing. She completed her summer internship at the City of Detroit’s Housing and Revitalization Department. Before coming to the Ford School she worked as a design engineer in the auto industry most recently working on batteries for plug-in hybrid Jeeps. She holds a B.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering from McGill University. In her spare time Clare likes to bake, play ultimate frisbee and spend time with her two greyhounds.


Omar Masood

Omar is a second-year master’s student, pursuing degrees in Public Policy and Islamic Studies. He is particularly interested in education policy as it pertains to refugee and displaced communities. While as an undergraduate at the University of Rochester, Omar worked as a volunteer tutor with the local refugee population.”



Maia O’Meara

Maia is a second-year Master in Public Policy student at the Ford School studying migration, international policy, and data science. Prior to returning for her graduate degree, she worked in D.C. as a Research Analyst at Child Trends, using quantitative and qualitative methods to research and evaluate programs for young people with experience in foster care across North America. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in Public Policy Studies and a minor in Human Rights in 2016.



Rebecca Mendelsohn

Rebecca is a second-year Master of Public Policy candidate at the Ford School. At Ford, Her primary interests include social policy and welfare reform. She is also the President of the International Policy Student Association and has completed internships with the Global Health Institute, the City of Dexter, and the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services. Prior to graduate school, Rebecca worked at the U.S. Government Accountability Office. She completed her undergraduate studies in Political Science and Human Rights & Humanitarianism at Macalester College.


Christian Neubacher

Christian Neubacher is a first-year Master of Public Policy student concentrating in international policy, with a focus on diplomacy, international trade, and sustainability. Christian has previously interned for the Executive Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and has worked as a teacher in Sweden. He holds an MA in European Politics from Columbia University and a BA in Economics and International Studies from the University of Michigan.


Hannah Orban

Hannah is a Fulbright scholar and first-year Master of Public Policy candidate at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Hannah is committed to improving the lives of people with disability in Australia and the United States through effective social policy. Previously, she has worked on education policy and programs for students with disability at the NSW Department of Education, in her home city of Sydney, Australia. Hannah received a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Philosophy, Italian Studies and Art History at the University of Sydney.


Celia Sawyerr

Celia is a second-year Master of Public Policy student studying data analysis methods and international policy as it relates to migrant integration and the rule of law. She also serves as the Outreach Chair for Students of Color in Public Policy (SCPP) and works as a Research Assistant with CLOSUP. Prior to the Ford School, she worked in higher education and taught ESL and Citizenship classes to adult migrants in Washington, DC. Celia earned a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University where she focused her studies on human rights in Africa and Latin America. She is excited to return to MJPA as an Editor.


Dyanne A. Vaught

Dyanne A. Vaught is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Economics and the Ford School of Public Policy. She works in the fields of international trade and macroeconomics, with research using both administrative and naturally-occurring data to explore firm sourcing decisions, price measurement, and trade policy. During her time at the University of Michigan, she has received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and has worked as a Dissertation Fellow and intern at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation as part of the American Economic Association Summer Fellowship Program. Prior to the Ph.D., Dyanne worked at Columbia University’s Program for Economic Research, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. She received her undergraduate degree from the College of Charleston.


Derek Zeigler

Derek is a dual degree student with Ford and the Law School pursuing a JD/MPP. He completed his 1L year before starting the first year of his MPP program in August 2021. He is passionate about voting rights law as well as environmental law and policy. He spent his 1L summer as a Legal Intern for the Michigan Department of State’s Bureau of Elections working on issuing campaign finance complaint determinations and assisting in administrative rulemaking. He will return to Washington, D.C. this summer to work for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, Voting Section as a Legal and Policy Intern. Prior to attending law school, he was a Paralegal Specialist at the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division, Defense, Industrials & Aerospace Section for two years. Derek is originally from Virginia Beach, VA and graduated from the University of Virginia in 2018 with distinguished majors in Leadership & Public Policy as well as Political Philosophy, Policy & Law.