MarissaEsthimer_WEB copyMarissa Esthimer is a second-year Master of Public Policy (MPP) candidate concentrating on social policy at the George Washington University. Originally from Buffalo, NY, she graduated from Cornell University in 2012 with a B.A. in government and anthropology and a minor in international relations. She is currently a student trainee at the U.S. Government Accountability Office, and previously spent nearly five years working on the communications team at the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank focused on the movement of people across borders. With her degree, she hopes to work on policies impacting minority and low-income communities. In her spare time, she enjoys running, attending live performances, and trying new restaurants.

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.

Executive Blog Editor


Jessica Blackband is a second-year MPP candidate concentrating on environmental regulation at the George Washington University. She is currently a student trainee at the U.S. Government Accountability Office and spent a summer as an intern in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within OMB. Prior to pursuing her long-standing interest in public policy, she worked in science communications at a climate change research center and a regional wildlife conservation organization. She graduated from Florida State University in 2015 with a B.A. in philosophy and a B.S. in environmental studies. She enjoys hiking, yoga, exploring museums, and coffee.

Event Coordinator

Samantha Sears Headshot

Samantha Sears is a second-year MPP candidate at the George Washington University. She completed her B.A. in communication studies with a minor in pre-law studies at California State University, Fullerton. Sam had internships in the entertainment, non-profit, and magazine industries, and during her senior year of undergrad, she created her own event planning company and later sold it to pursue her goals in policy. Although Sam works as a full-time substitute teacher for Arlington Public Schools, her passion is reshaping the stigmas and discrimination facing those struggling through disorders associated with behavioral health. She interns for Health RIGHT 360 to advocate for the behavioral health cause in Congress. You can find Sam on her days off shopping the day away at Pentagon City and Tysons Corner.





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