For the 2018 – 2019 academic year, the staff of Brief Policy Perspectives is:
Jessica Blackband is a second-year MPP candidate concentrating on environmental regulation at the George Washington University. Prior to pursuing her long-standing interest in policy, she worked in science communications at a climate change research center and a wildlife conservation organization. She graduated from Florida State University in 2015 with a B.A. in philosophy and a B.S. in environmental studies.
Jennifer Spangler is a first-year Master of Public Administration candidate at the Trachtenberg School. She is a lifelong Marylander; she grew up in Hagerstown (located in Western Maryland) and went to the University of Maryland, College Park (Go Terps!), where she majored in Government and Politics and Criminology. Before coming to GW, she worked as a legal assistant at an energy law firm and held internships in federal and state government. Jennifer plans to focus her studies on state and local government management, or on management and communications generally. In her free time, she enjoys reading and exploring the D.C. restaurant scene.
Travis Reginal is a second-year MPA candidate in GW’s Trachtenberg School and is a research assistant at the Urban Institute where he conducts criminal justice research. He is a graduate of Yale University where he studied sociology and education studies. Travis has written and spoken on the matter of low-income, first-generation college students for a number of outlets such as the New York Times, PA Times, NBC News, and American RadioWorks.
Jennifer Hyde is a first-year Master of Public Policy with Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies candidate at George Washington. She is originally from Massachusetts where she received her undergraduate degree in International Affairs from Gordon College. Jennifer currently works as both a Graduate Teaching Assistant and Research Assistant at GW. She plans to focus her studies on women’s development in post-communist Eastern Europe.
Reeve Jacobus is a first-year MPP candidate concentrating on program evaluation. Originally from Jackson, Mississippi, Reeve received his B.A. in philosophy from Birmingham-Southern College in 2015. Shortly after graduating, he joined the Peace Corps, where he served for two years in northern Uganda as a public health volunteer focusing on issues of peace and justice. After returning to Mississippi in 2017, Reeve became involved with Mississippi Votes, a new nonprofit focused on civically engaging young Mississippians and creating a voting culture throughout the state. He remains involved as a member of the Board of Directors. Reeve currently works as the Learning and Evaluation Intern at Convergence Center for Policy Resolution. He is passionate about criminal justice, voting, and all things Mississippi.
Lena Nour is a first-year MPP candidate concentrating in program evaluation. After graduating with a B.A. in Government and International Politics from George Mason University, she continued her passion for public service by developing a talent pipeline from institutions of higher education into federal service as a HR Specialist for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Prior to joining FERC, Lena interned with the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Partnership for Public Service and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In her spare time, she enjoys walks in the park and spending quality time with family and friends.
Maya Pendleton is a second-year MPP candidate focusing on social policy, race, and gender. She is currently a Policy Analyst at the Center for the Study of Social Policy and provides monitoring and technical assistance to child welfare systems operating under federal consent decrees to improve outcomes for children and families. Maya has also worked with BEST Kids, a nonprofit that partners with the District of Columbia’s Child and Family Services Agency to provide mentorship to children in foster care and Freedman Consulting, where she researched the impact of technological innovation on economic mobility. She holds a BA from Georgetown University where she studied Government, African American studies, and Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies.
Thomas J. Rachko, Jr. is a first-year MPA candidate at the George Washington University. He currently serves as a program associate in the US Program at Human Rights Watch. Prior to pursuing a degree in public administration at the Trachtenberg School, he completed the 2016-2017 New York City Urban Fellows program at the New York Police Department Office of Management Analysis & Planning. He graduated from the City University of New York Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College in 2015 with a B.A. in history. Thomas enjoys cooking, eating, and comedy.
Kaid Ray-Tipton is a first-year MPA candidate in GW’s Trachtenberg School and is a program associate at Impact Justice where he works on sexual safety in confinement. Previously, Kaid worked for several elected officials and a voter registration campaign in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In the inaugural Brown University Journal of Philosophy, Politics & Economics, Kaid published his work titled, “Latent Effects of Cannabis Legalization: Racial Disproportionality and Disparity in Washington State Drug Convictions, 2000-2015.” He is a graduate of the University of Washington—majoring in sociology with distinction and communications, and minoring in diversity and gender, women, and sexuality studies.
Jenna Shelton is a first-year Master of Public Policy (MPP) student concentrating on program evaluation at the George Washington University. Originally from California, she graduated from UC Berkeley in 2016 with a minor in public policy and a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies. She is particularly interested in using program evaluation and evidence-based policymaking to improve government benefit programs. She previously designed and conducted a audit of UC Berkeley’s research spaces for ADA accessibility and wrote a corresponding policy analysis. Her recommendations were included in campus-wide policy recommendations and are undergoing implementation. Jenna is currently working as a project assistant for the Evidence-Based Policymaking Initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center. With her degree and knowledge of evaluation, she hopes to improve federal programs for low-income communities and minorities. When she has free time, she enjoys trivia nights with friends and baking cookies.
Ethan Steakley is a first-year MPP student at the George Washington University. He is from Lindsay, Oklahoma and earned his BA in Political Science and BS in Psychology from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. Working at the Oklahoma State Legislature prompted his interest in policy. He plans to focus on national security and foreign policy. Outside of school, he enjoys traveling and taking his dog for long walks.
Morgan Wilderman is a first-year Master of Public Policy candidate considering concentrating in social policy. She is originally from Westbrook, Connecticut and graduated from College of the Holy Cross in 2018 with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Human Rights and in Latin America and Latino Studies. In the past, she has interned for the National Coalition for the Homeless, Career Resources Inc., The Connecticut Attorney General’s Office and the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund. With her degree, Morgan plans to pursue a career advocating for low-income families and children. In her spare time Morgan likes to workout, cook and play guitar.
Caitlyn Valadez is a first-year MPA candidate at the George Washington University. Originally from Canyon Lake, TX she graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2016 with a B.A. in government and certificate in business. As a Bill Archer Fellow, she interned full-time at the U.S. Department of Education in the Office of Postsecondary Education. For the last 2 years she has worked as the Strategic Enrollment Initiatives Policy Coordinator for DC Public Schools. Prior to pursuing her passion for increasing access to higher education she worked in the Texas State Legislature, conducted policy research for Project Vote Smart, and interned for a boutique law firm.