Journal Staff

Policy Perspectives Volume 26 currently features an Editor-In-Chief, Managing Editor, and a Layout and Design Editor, along with eight Authors and eight Associate Editors.


MarissaEsthimer_WEB copyMarissa Esthimer is a second-year Master of Public Policy (MPP) candidate focusing on immigration and social policy at the George Washington University’s Trachtenberg School. Originally from Buffalo, NY, she graduated from Cornell University in 2012 with a BA in government and anthropology and a minor in international relations. She is currently an Analyst Intern at the U.S. Government Accountability Office, and previously spent nearly five years working as an editor and communications professional at the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank focused on the movement of people across borders. With her degree, she hopes to evaluate policies impacting minority and low-income communities. In her spare time, she enjoys attending live performances, trying new restaurants, and playing with her cat.

Managing Editor

Claire Oto croppedClaire Oto is a second-year MPP candidate focusing on national security and defense policy at the George Washington University. Originally from Sacramento, CA, she graduated from UC San Diego in 2017 with a B.A. in comparative politics and minors in European history and photography. She currently works on the communications and public affairs team for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Layout and Design Editor

Ellen WangEllen Wang is a second-year Masters student in the Environmental Resource Policy (ENRP) program. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s DAAP program with a B.S. in graphic communication design in 2017. She is working to combine complex ideas and concepts with better visual communication and storytelling methods. Ellen loves food, comics, board games, and travelling.



img-7615Ahoefa Ananouko is an MPP student with a passion for service and social justice, and a strong advocate for ethical values in the policy making process. A refugee-immigrant from Togo, she has strong interest in the impact of policies on low-income and other marginalized communities. During undergrad, she volunteered with the regional Girl Scouts Beyond Bars program, facilitating visits between girls and their incarcerated mothers. She later interned with the Cascade Pacific Council Boy Scouts of America, assisting with life skills education and curriculum management for at-risk youth in local public schools. Before coming to Trachtenberg, Ahoefa served as Civic Engagement Chair for the Urban League of Portland Young Professionals, a volunteer auxiliary of Portland’s chapter of the National Urban League. She also served as a member of the Multnomah County Citizen Review Board, where she worked to bring transparency and oversight to cases of youth in foster care, ensuring accountability for policies and procedures.

haley & rbgHaley Dunn completed her MPP in May 2018 with a concentration in program evaluation and now works as an analyst in the public sector. Prior to attending Trachtenberg, Haley went to Hobart and William Smith Colleges, double-majoring in philosophy and social justice, before toiling away at a law firm in Boston. She is most passionate about criminal justice issues, particularly drug policy, mass incarceration, and racial disparities. In her free time, she enjoys roller derby, visiting museums, dancing, and traveling.

hernandogruesoHernando Grueso is a PhD student at the Trachtenberg School focusing on program evaluation. His research interest is in the evaluation of international development programs. He has worked as a consultant in Latin America for the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He also holds an MPA from Cornell University and a double bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science from Universidad de los Andes, Colombia.


isabellahigginsIsabella Higgins is a second-year MPP with a concentration in population health. She is from Raleigh, North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for her undergraduate studies in Women’s and Gender Studies and Sociology. After graduating, Isabella worked in research and programming addressing both domestic and global family planning access. She currently works as a Program Intern at the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association.

mccallhopkinMcCall Pitcher Hopkin is a second-year MPP candidate at the Trachtenberg School. She grew up in Park City, Utah and loves the mountains. McCall started her policy career with United Way of Salt Lake and has since worked on higher education issues at Education Reform Now, the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA). McCall’s policy interests include college affordability and completion, federal financial aid, and how education interacts with the labor market. She holds a BA in history and political science from Brigham Young University and enjoys playing the piano and petting everyone’s dogs in DC.

matthewpickeringMatthew Pickering is a second-year MPP student at the Trachtenberg School. He is originally from central Pennsylvania but lived in Philadelphia for several years during and after his undergraduate studies, where he first practiced architecture and later worked as a planner for the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. His policy interests lie in urban and fiscal policy with a special interest in community and economic development issues. Matthew has worked as a research assistant at the GW Institute for Public Policy and completed an internship at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities since starting his graduate degree. After graduating he hopes to work in the community development field. Matthew is an architecture enthusiast and loves reading graphic novels. He is also interested in the ways that design intersects with policy and, in particular, how it can influence equity.

margaretsmithMargaret Smith is a second-year PhD student in the public management field. Maggie is an active duty U.S. Army Cyber Officer with over 14 years of experience as both an enlisted Soldier and commissioned Officer. She earned her commission and MPP with a focus in Homeland Security and Intelligence Policy at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. She is a trained senior watch officer, cyberspace operations planner, offensive cyberspace operations mission commander, and will take a position at the United States Military Academy’s Army Cyber Institute following Trachtenberg. Maggie is currently investigating how technology is changing women’s contributions to violent extremism and women’s connectivity to violent networks.

elissawalkerElisa Walker is second-year MPP student focusing on social policy. She also works as a Social Insurance Specialist at the Social Security Administration, where she leads an interagency project piloting early interventions to help people who develop potentially disabling conditions remain at or return to work. She previously served as a consultant and special assistant to SSA’s Deputy Commissioner for Retirement and Disability Policy. Before joining SSA in 2015, she was a policy analyst at the National Academy of Social Insurance, where she analyzed Social Security financing, policy options, and disability insurance. She co-authored several Academy publications, including Americans Make Hard Choices on Social Security: A Survey with Trade-Off Analysis. Elisa received the Frances Perkins Center’s 2015 Open Door Award, given annually to an emerging leader in social justice and economic security, and a 2016 Commissioner’s Team Award. She holds a BA in sociology and Spanish from the University of Mary Washington.

Associate Editors

fbtmdnKendall Banks is a first-year Master of Public Administration (MPA) candidate at the Trachtenberg School, concentrating in program evaluation. Originally from the suburbs of New York City, Kendall graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor’s in Human Development, and has since had a variety of experiences in the private and public sectors. Kendall came to Washington, DC to pursue her MPA after four years living and working in various nonprofit and USAID projects in Central America and Mexico. She currently works as an Analyst Intern at the U.S. Government Accountability Office. When not studying, Kendall loves to travel, salsa dance, ride horses, and read whatever she can get her hands on!

erikchenErik Chen is a first-year MPA student at the Trachtenberg School. Born in Queens, Erik carries a big-city spirit, experiencing stints in Chicago and Boston during the formative years of his childhood before returning to NYC for college. He attended NYU where he received his BA in economics and minor in computer science. Prior to moving to DC to pursue his studies, Erik spent two years working in the private sector supporting the Municipal Markets trading desk at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He is currently an intern at HealthHIV focusing on LGBT Health policy and advocacy. In his free time, Erik loves to cook, explore neighborhoods, and train in mixed martial arts.

davidgellmanDavid Gellman is a first-year MPA candidate focusing on politics, policy, and administration at the Trachtenberg School. Originally from Miami, FL, he graduated from Georgetown University with a BA in government and a minor in Spanish. He most recently worked in a boutique government affairs firm on K Street and spent several years as a legislative staffer on Capitol Hill. He enjoys travel, food, and watching basketball when he isn’t studying.


carlygordonCarly Gordon is a second-year MPA student with academic interests in higher education policy, program evaluation, and community development. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in Spanish and psychology (and a minor in global sustainability), she stayed in Charlottesville to serve locally with AmeriCorps. As an adviser with the Virginia College Advising Corps program, she worked on addressing the widening gap in college access for low income, first generation, and other underrepresented students. When she isn’t petting doggos, baking, or exploring DC, she works as a Graduate Intern at Excelencia in Education elevating evidence-based programs that accelerate Latinx achievement.

mirandahinesMiranda Hines is a first-year MPP candidate at the Trachtenberg School. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a BA in political science and second major in English literature. Outside of class, Miranda is currently a graduate assistant in the Trachtenberg School and a member of the GW-USIP Mentorship Program.


amiller.pngAndrew Miller is a second-year MPA candidate with a concentration in budget and public finance at the Trachtenberg School. He grew up in Fairfax, VA before graduating in 2015 with a BA in public policy and international relations from the University of Delaware (go blue hens!). Andrew has worked in the United States Senate since 2015 and is also involved with the Trachtenberg Student Organization at GW.


emmapellerinEmma Pellerin is a first-year MPP candidate focusing on education policy. A native of southeastern Connecticut, she graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 2012 with a degree in English and political science. She joined the 2012 Teach for America-Baltimore corps as a ninth grade English teacher and earned her Master’s degree in secondary education from Johns Hopkins University School of Education in 2014. Since leaving the classroom, Emma has worked as an organizer with Hillary for America and Educators for Excellence. She currently works on the operations team at LearnZillion and enjoys reading, cooking, and knitting in her spare time.

jackiewheelerJackie Wheeler is a first-year MPA candidate at the Trachtenberg School. Originally from a small town outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, Jackie graduated from the University of Washington in 2013 with a BA in politics, philosophy, and economics. Before moving to Washington, DC for graduate school, she was an Elections Administrator for the Washington Office of the Secretary of State in Olympia, WA.  Jackie hopes to use her degree to develop voter-centric election policy that ensures elections are fair, accurate, and accessible. During her free time, she enjoys rooting for Seattle sports teams, hiking, and visiting family in North Carolina and Washington State.

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