TFAS is pleased to welcome 18 rising stars who are working to improve public policy from the nation’s capital as the 2019-20 TFAS Public Policy Fellows. The Fellows will spend the next year engaged in networking and educational events centered around the theme, “The Experiment in Self-Government.”
This year’s cohort has already proven to be well-equipped with the knowledge and experience needed to meticulously discuss the fellowship curriculum. As intellectually-curious young leaders at some of D.C.’s most prominent think tanks, congressional offices and distinguished news outlets, the selected Fellows possess not only relevant professional experience, but also a thirst for exploring fundamental issues in a free society.
The 2019-20 class of TFAS Public Policy Fellows are well-prepared to engage in substantive conversations on ‘The Experiment in Self-Government’ and contribute to TFAS’s mission of fostering responsible citizenship.” – Public Policy Fellowship Director Brenda Hafera
As part of the competitive application process, candidates are asked to list three books that have impacted their way of thinking. This year’s Fellows overwhelmingly indicated they were influenced by works from classic philosophers, America’s Founding Fathers and TFAS alumni authors. Taking the top spots as some of the most popular responses were “The Conscience of a Conservative” by Barry Goldwater; “Democracy in America” by Alexis de Tocqueville; and “The Law” by Frédéric Bastiat.
Through their Fellowship theme, “The Experiment in Self-Government,” Fellows will discuss the fundamental questions and challenges a free society must address in order to flourish, as well as the unique advantages it can enjoy, through monthly discussion sessions and two weekend retreats.
Led by TFAS faculty, alumni and friends who are key public policy leaders, economists and journalists, Fellowship discussions will focus on “Statesmanship and Political Wisdom,” “The Lincoln-Douglas Debates,” “Religious Freedom as an Answer to Religious Division” and much more.
The TFAS Public Policy Fellowship is an annual academic and professional development program that allows young professionals to foster strong connections with peers working in public policy while building an understanding of the principles of government through deliberation and debate.
The program officially kicks off on Sept. 10 with a welcome reception at TFAS Headquarters. Learn more about this year’s TFAS Public Policy class below and stay up to date with the Fellows by following @TFASorg on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
2019-20 Public Policy Fellows
Education: Rutgers University
Home State: New Jersey
Matthew Aquino was born and raised in New Jersey where he attended Rutgers University. After completing a Bachelor of Arts in history and political science, he studied abroad at the Moscow Humanities University in Russia and later at Middlebury College Davis School of Russian in Vermont.
Matthew was previously an intern at the Cato Institute where he conducted research on American foreign policy toward North Korea and was also a research fellow at the Eurasian Research and Analysis Institute.
Education: University of Oklahoma
Home State: New York
Robert Bellafiore is a policy advisor at the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee Social Capital Project, where he studies how public policy can strengthen America’s associational life. Previously, he worked as a policy analyst at the Tax Foundation, focusing on the economics of federal tax policy.
In the summer of 2018, Robert participated in the Hertog Foundation’s Political Studies program, a seminar on political philosophy, statesmanship and public policy. He is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, where he studied economics and philosophy and was involved with the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and the Institute for Humane Studies. Originally from Albany, New York, Robert enjoys playing jazz and classical piano.
Education: University of San Diego, George Mason University
Home State: California
Trevor Carlsen is the manager of external affairs at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. In this role, he is responsible for the Hoover Institution’s relationships with federal policymakers and D.C. area think tanks and research centers.
Prior to joining the Hoover Institution, Trevor worked as assistant director of outreach and as an outreach associate at the Mercatus Center. While at Mercatus, Trevor worked on outreach efforts for a number of policy areas including healthcare, regulation, workforce and federal fiscal policy.
Trevor began his career in the Koch Intern Program. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of San Diego and a Master of Public Policy from George Mason University.
Education: University of St. Gallen, Duke University
Home Country: Switzerland
Elise Amez-Droz is a program associate at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. In this position, she drives the Mercatus Center’s healthcare research strategy, tracks the performance of research products, communicates about the role of markets in healthcare to academic and policy audiences and writes about the regulatory barriers that hinder access to affordable, high-quality healthcare services.
Elise is a Young Voices contributor and a founding member of the host committee of the Adam Smith Society’s D.C. professional chapter.
She holds a Master of Management Studies from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. During her time in the Research Triangle, she acted in the capacity of project manager and executive director of operations at Duke Interdisciplinary Social Innovators, a graduate student association that provides consulting services to local nonprofit organizations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of St. Gallen in her native Switzerland.
Elise was a member of the 2018-19 Koch Associate Program, the fall 2019 Generation Liberty Fellowship and the spring 2019 Writing Fellows program at America’s Future Foundation, and she was a summer 2019 Areté Academy Delegate.
Education: University of Alabama at Birmingham
Home State: Alabama
Elizabeth Earwood is currently the legislative correspondent for Congressman Gary Palmer of Alabama’s 6th congressional district. It is a particular honor for her to serve in this office as she is from Alabaster, Alabama, within Congressman Palmer’s district. She began in this office in May 2017 after she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her interest and knowledge in government increased during her time interning for former Senator Jeff Sessions and at the state government level with the Alabama Law Institute and Alabama Policy Institute.
Elizabeth’s interest in policy and politics is founded in her passion to see families flourish. She believes families are the fundamental building block for society, and as such, governments should focus on their duty to uphold justice and freedom in a way that allows families to flourish. She is thankful for her time on the Hill; it provides her the opportunity to serve her home state and expand her knowledge of current policy issues.
When she is not responding to constituent mail or researching policy, you may find her reading World Magazine, running on the National Mall, watching movies with her roommates or participating in services at Capitol Hill Baptist Church.
Education: University of Missouri
Home State: Missouri
Rachelle Engen serves as the educational choice fellow at the Institute for Justice, where she helps ensure families have the right to control their own destinies by means of educational choice. She is guided by her strong belief that parents, not government officials, know what kind of educational environment will best suit their children’s needs.
Rachelle works with legislators and policymakers across the nation to help expand current private educational choice programs and pass new programs. From the east coast to the west coast, Rachelle travels the country educating legislators about private educational choice programs and how they operate, explaining the many benefits of educational choice and how it can have positive lasting and lifelong impacts on children and debunking many of the myths that surround such programs. She frequently testifies as a subject matter expert in committee hearings and before legislative bodies and caucuses encouraging legislators to support more educational choice for children.
Rachelle graduated in May 2017 from the University of Missouri with honors with degrees in political science and political communication. While there, she lobbied with Concerned Women for America, interned with Representative Vicky Hartzler and Senator Roy Blunt, served on the editorial board for the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy’s Journal on Constitutional Democracy, and was a research fellow with the Political Communication Institute.
In her free time, Rachelle enjoys drinking copious amounts of coffee, exploring all D.C. has to offer, traveling to new places and serving on the alumni board for the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy.
Education: Wheaton College
Home State: Minnesota
Abigail Guidera is the program manager of domestic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). In this role, she manages the department’s research portfolio and helps guide its communication and marketing efforts. Previously, she was the executive assistant to AEI president Arthur Brooks, prior to which she worked briefly in AEI’s development department.
Abigail graduated cum laude from Wheaton College in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in both political science and history, where her studies focused primarily on modern political thought and European history. Additionally, she participated in academic programs through AEI, the Hertog Foundation and Pepperdine University, studying topics such as the morality of democratic capitalism, the American founding and the relationship between religion and foreign and domestic policy.
Alexander Hyatt ’16
Education: Bryn Athyn College
Home State: Pennsylvania
Alexander Hyatt ’16 grew up in the northeast suburbs of Philadelphia in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. In January of 2019, he moved to D.C. to intern at The Heritage Foundation’s IT department, predominantly working with their email marketing technology. Alex has been with the organization ever since, and now he works full time as a data specialist in the development department.
In 2018, Alex graduated from Bryn Athyn College with a degree in human society – an interdisciplinary program that consists of four subfields: anthropology, history, political science and religion – and a double minor in math and data science. There, he also served as president of BAC’s student government while balancing time on the lacrosse, ice hockey and cross-country teams.
Alex is a TFAS alumnus, having participated in TFAS Prague in 2016. He attended Charles University and Aristotle University’s 2017 Summer Seminar on Nationalism, Religion and Violence in Greece. He also lived in Australia for six months to play lacrosse in 2018.
Education: University of Chicago
Eliora Katz is a research assistant in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution where she focuses on Iran and Political Islam. She studied philosophy, political science and Persian at the University of Chicago. Previously, Eliora was a Bartley Fellow on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal and a fellow at United Nations Watch in Geneva.
Education: Arizona State University, University of Illinois
Home State: Arizona
Kamron Kompani is deputy director of the student division at The Federalist Society. In this role, he works with over 200 student chapters around the country to promote debate and discussion on important legal and policy issues on law school campuses.
Kamron was born and raised in Arizona and graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He then moved to the Midwest to study law, earning his Juris Doctor from University of Illinois College of Law with pro bono distinction. While in law school, Kamron interned at the McLean County State’s Attorney’s Office in the felony division, primarily working with attorneys on sexual assault cases. He also worked both as a remote extern and as a summer law clerk at the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix. As a 3L, Kamron received a Rickert Award for Excellence in Service from the College of Law, in large part due to the accomplishments of his Federalist Society chapter. He is licensed to practice in Arizona.
Kamron was a certified personal trainer for six years and spends most of his time outside of work lifting weights and eating. He is on the search for the best restaurants around the country. Kamron also loyally supports all his Phoenix sports teams, even after enduring many years of disappointment. He has a goal of watching a game at every Major League ballpark.
Education: University of Florida
Home State: Florida
Daniela Lozano is currently the development director at In Defense of Christians. She oversees and manages the organization’s fundraising efforts. Prior to joining IDC, she worked as the foundation and policy grants manger for the Competitive Enterprise Institute. In fall 2017, she participated in the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. She has also taken part in the Koch Internship Program, the Koch Associate Program, and the Tallahassee Semester Internship Program for The Bob Graham Center for Public Service.
Daniela graduated from the University of Florida with a dual degree in political science and international studies and a minor in international development and humanitarian assistance. She was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and grew up in South Florida.
Education: University of North Carolina Charlotte
Home State: North Carolina
Paul Mullen currently serves as a marketing associate at The Heritage Foundation. His key roles include marketing campaign strategy, market research, target segmentation and product development. A native North Carolinian, Paul was raised in Charlotte and earned a Bachelor of Science in business marketing in 2014 from the Belk College of Business at the University of North Carolina Charlotte.
Before joining Heritage, he worked as an independent marketing consultant and served as campaigns chair for the Mecklenburg County Republican Party. During the 2016 election season, Paul had the honor to serve as campaign manager for Dr. Leon Threatt, candidate for U.S. Congress in North Carolina’s 12th District. Prior to the campaign trail, he worked for two years at a digital marketing and branding firm in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Paul lives on Capitol Hill and his passions include: free market principles, entrepreneurship, cryptocurrency, piano and the Carolina Panthers.
Education: Miami University in Ohio
Home State: Ohio
Zachary Novak is a paralegal at Ogletree Deakins’ Washington, D.C., office, where he primarily aids in business immigration cases. Previously, he worked for Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen, & Loewy in Washington, D.C., the world’s largest immigration law practice. Zach is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, and moved to D.C. one year after graduating from Miami University in Ohio in 2016 with Bachelor of Arts in international studies and political science and minors in Latin American studies and Spanish.
To hone his understanding of some of the most pressing domestic and international issues today, he has participated in several academic programs, including the Philos Project’s 2018 Philos Leadership Institute, a two-week immersion program to examine the various political, cultural, religious and socioeconomic factors affecting foreign policy and religious liberty in the Middle East.
Zach also participated in the “Civility and Public Discourse” advanced institute through the Hertog Foundation and is a member of the young professional chapter of the Alexander Hamilton Society.
Education: Benedictine College
Home State: Kansas
Christiana Reasor graduated in 2017 from Benedictine College with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and economics. In 2017, she moved from Kansas to Washington, D.C., and began working for former Congressman Lynn Jenkins while also attending graduate school to earn a master’ s degree in national security.
Currently, Christiana is serving as a legislative assistant for Congressman Steve Watkins and covers the Education and Labor Committee, Agriculture, Financial Services and Tax legislative portfolios.
Education: University of Florida
Home State: Florida
Prior to living in the D.C. area, Mike Torounian grew up in the small South Florida town, Jensen Beach. He is a proud alumnus of the University of Florida, graduating with a degree in sociology and a minor in innovation. While at the University of Florida, Mike was heavily involved with Florida politics on both a local and state level through College Republicans and several campaigns. After college, he interned at the Leadership Institute and the Koch Institute.
Mike is big fan of both college and professional sports. He is an avid supporter of the University of Florida and the professional teams in Philadelphia. In addition to his love of politics and sports, he enjoys fishing, shooting and golfing.
Mike works at a lobbying firm focused on assisting technology companies with the federal procurement process. These companies are seeking contracts with the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, as well as the Department of Health and Human Services.
Education: Washington and Lee University
Home State: California
Hailing from the Central Valley of California, Keeghan Sweeney is currently the special assistant to the director at the Ronald Reagan Institute (RRI). At RRI, his work focuses on the intersection of national security and technology and ensuring the principles of our 40th President continue to impact the next generation of American policy makers. He also supports the Reagan National Defense Forum (RNDF) and is the producer of the soon-to-launch Reaganism Podcast. Additionally, he is the editor of a volume of speeches given by ten notable public officials including Senator John McCain and former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Keeghan graduated from Washington and Lee University in 2018 where he studied global politics and completed a yearlong independent study on the causes of Saudi Arabia’s recent turn towards an activist foreign policy. Before graduating, Keeghan co-founded the Washington and Lee Chapter of the Alexander Hamilton Society to promote a values-based U.S. foreign policy on campus and spent a semester abroad studying in Amman, Jordan.
His previous work experience includes internships at the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense on Policy in the Pentagon. In his free time, Keeghan enjoys playing Irish and Bluegrass music, reading and getting outside of Washington whenever possible.
Education: University of Birmingham
Home Country: England
Ben Woodward is the deputy director of career programs at the Leadership Institute. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing LI’s career trainings and working with recruiters in the movement to identify talented candidates for open positions.
Prior to working at LI, Ben worked in the UK Parliament as a researcher to the Chairman of the Committee for Arms Export Controls; Hon. Chris White MP, and previously as a caseworker for Paul Uppal MP. Ben also interned at the Leadership Institute, working for LI’s president, Morton Blackwell.
Ben grew up in Halesowen, a small industrial town in the UK. He studied political science at the University of Birmingham. While at university, Ben worked at a movie theater to help pay for internship opportunities. In his spare time, Ben enjoys traveling, cooking and fitness.
Kylee Zempel ’17
Education: Maranatha Baptist University
Home State: Wisconsin
Kylee Zempel ’17 is an assistant editor at The Federalist. Previously, she worked as the magazine copy editor for the Washington Examiner, as an editor/producer at National Geographic and as a research fellow with Consumers’ Research, where she reported consumer news on issues related to healthcare, finance, energy, and technology.
A 2017 TFAS Journalism + Communications student and then a 2018 TFAS program advisor, Kylee holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication arts and an Associate of Science in criminal justice. During her undergrad, she also held internships with Radio America in Arlington, Virginia, and with Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch in Wisconsin. Originally from Wisconsin, Kylee now lives in Washington, D.C., where she continues to write independently on politics and culture, specifically focusing on gender issues.
She spent about a year researching, writing about and then speaking on feminism and the transgender revolution.