The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) is delighted to welcome the 2022-23 recipients of the Public Policy Fellowship in Washington, D.C. The cohort consists of 20 young professionals who are working in the public policy sector.
This year’s curriculum will focus on the question, “What is conservatism?” Fellows will examine post-war conservatism and the efforts made by intellectuals such as F.A. Hayek, Russell Kirk and Frank Meyer to reconcile the conflicts between freedom and order in public policy. The post-war conservative philosophy of fusionism and its connections to both the American Founding and contemporary policy challenges will receive special attention in this session. The Fellowship includes two weekend retreats in addition to monthly evening sessions which will run from September 2022 through May 2023.
Connor Torossian ’17, PPF ’22, participated in the Business and Government Relations TFAS program track in 2017 and is returning to TFAS as a Public Policy Fellow this year. He shared his TFAS experience thus far and looks forward to developing his professional skills during his fellowship.
“I’m very grateful for what TFAS has taught me – it’s the reason why I’m on the Hill today and I’m thriving in large part to TFAS and the network that it’s provided me with,” Connor said. “I really look forward to what this fellowship improves for my professional development.”
The Public Policy Fellowship curriculum revitalization is one part of the newly launched Future of Freedom Initiative at TFAS, funded by the John William Pope Foundation. Thanks to this grant, TFAS is engaging these emerging leaders in broad and thoughtful discussion and collaboration about how to advance the principles of freedom and the Western rule-of-law tradition.
Alex Pritzen, PPF ’22, currently works on Amazon’s Business Development team where he focuses on creating partnerships and fostering growth with small and medium-sized enterprises across the United States. He looks forward to participating with TFAS and helping to answer “What is conservatism?”
“I think [TFAS] is developing something specifically about how to answer ‘What is conservatism?’ in a very unique way that a lot of other programs, fellowships and think-tanks aren’t really doing right now,” Alex said.
To learn more about these Fellows, read their biographies below.
2022-23 PUBLIC POLICY FELLOWS
The Council of Independent Colleges
Faith Brown is a programs manager at The Council of Independent Colleges, where she oversees CIC’s Tuition Exchange Program to provide affordable educational opportunities for students at private colleges and universities. A Michigan native, she attended Hope College and graduated in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy. She is an alumna of the American Enterprise Institute’s Executive Council Program and Young Scholars Program, where she conducted independent research and published on special education policy in the District of Columbia. Faith’s academic and professional interests include American education policy and the philosophy of education.
Alliance Defending Freedom
Daniel Cochrane leads research and program development for Alliance Defending Freedom’s Viewpoint Diversity Score initiative, a groundbreaking new project to educate, equip and galvanize business leaders to respect free speech and religious freedom. The project has received numerous accolades and was selected as one of three recipients of The Heritage Foundation’s inaugural Innovation Prize in recognition of its potential to advance a culture of freedom.
Prior to this role, Daniel served in the office of ADF’s President and CEO where he helped manage multi-organization coalition efforts focused on life, free speech and parental rights. He was recently selected as a Don Lavoie Fellow in political economy and public policy at the Mercatus Center in 2020 and is an alumnus of the Koch Internship Program and Koch Fellowship Program at the Charles Koch Institute. Daniel earned a bachelor of arts in government from Patrick Henry College and holds a certificate in applied religion in public policy from the Pepperdine School of Public Policy. He currently resides in northern Virginia.
Office of Sen. Mike Lee
Sam Crofts is a legislative assistant in the Office of Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, where he staffs the senator on national security, foreign policy and intelligence issues. Previously, he staffed Senator Lee on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and is an alumnus of the Heritage Congressional Fellowship.
Prior to joining Senator Lee’s Office, Sam served as the president of the BYU College Republicans, and completed internships with the Utah House of Representatives, Americans for Tax Reform and the Libertas Institute through the Koch Internship Program. He is fluent in Spanish. A Utah native, he currently resides in Arlington with his wife, Sydnie.
American Enterprise Institute
Guy Denton is Jonah Goldberg’s research assistant at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributor to The Dispatch. He previously interned at AEI, the James Wilson Institute, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He was also a participant in AEI’s Summer Honors Program and a Political Studies Fellow with the Hertog Foundation. In 2020, he graduated from the University of Birmingham in England, where he was born and raised. He has wanted to become an American for as long as he can remember, and after spending years attempting to immigrate to the United States, he moved to Washington, D.C., in January 2022.
American Enterprise Institute
James Desio is the deputy director of media relations at the American Enterprise Institute and oversees the integration of social media into the work of the media team. In addition, he promotes the work of AEI scholars who focus on domestic policy, specifically education, poverty, agriculture, housing, tech and energy.
Before joining AEI, James worked at IMGE, where he advised political campaigns on communications and digital strategy. He worked at IMGE for four years and two election cycles. He has a bachelor of arts degree in history and foreign affairs from the University of Virginia.
He is originally from Alexandria, Virginia, and owns an English Springer Spaniel named Ellie. His hobbies include tennis, golf, baseball, American political history, international relations and cooking (food of any kind).
John Dominguez is a management consultant at Ignyte Group, a Washington, D.C.-based digital transformation consultancy. Before joining Ignyte, he lived in Pittsburgh serving as a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs. In 2020, he graduated from Cornell University with a degree in industrial and labor relations.
In addition to his full-time work, John has participated in various honors programs. In 2022, he served as a USA Youth Delegate to the G20 Youth Summit (Y20) in Indonesia. The Y20 is the oldest G20 engagement group where G20 member delegates meet to craft policy recommendations which are delivered to heads-of-state in lieu of the G20 Leaders Summit. As the youth employment delegate, he negotiated for an apprenticeship pathway as an alternative to university education, a “First-Time Entrepreneur Interest Rate Discount,” and a mandatory price disclosure measure in healthcare to drive a more competitive, innovative, and affordable marketplace.
In 2021, John was an inaugural Hertog Foundation “Great Leaders & Great Biographies” Fellow, where he studied the leadership of Charles de Gaulle. As a Spring Academy Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, his capstone researching a more effective FDA regulatory framework was recognized as one of the “Top Capstones” in his class. He’s published in numerous publications such as The National Interest, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
In his free time, Dominguez reads fantasy fiction, watches historical dramas and studies theology.
Republican Study Committee
Ted Ellis is director of coalitions for the Republican Study Committee under Chairman Jim Banks of Indiana. In his previous role as director of coalitions at Americans for Prosperity, he worked to bring policymakers together around a shared vision for empowerment and prosperity that emphasizes economic opportunity and equal justice for all. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Roanoke College and studied at St. Anne’s College, University of Oxford. Ted is a proud native son of Texas and hails from Franklin, Tennessee.
The Herald Group
Jack Fencl is currently an associate at The Herald Group, having joined the firm in June 2022. A proud West Virginia native, Jack recently graduated from Washington and Lee University with a bachelor of arts in politics and English.
During his time at Washington and Lee, Jack was involved in numerous campus traditions, including the Mock Convention political research project, the Executive Committee of the Student Body, and the W&L Spectator, the school’s student-run conservative magazine. While at W&L, Jack also worked for the DC-based taxpayer advocacy organization Americans for Tax Reform as both a State and Federal Affairs Associate.
Outside of work, Jack enjoys writing about conservative politics and current events. When not working or writing, he spends his time playing board games, reading fiction and watching St. Louis Cardinals baseball.
Clara Johsens was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. She graduated from Hillsdale College in Michigan in 2019 with degrees in history and French. While in college, she was heavily involved in the local community mentoring high school students and working with the elderly at a nursing home. Following graduation, Clara worked in development at Stand Together with a focus on innovative education. She is now the program manager at Napa Legal, where she works to promote religious liberty and help faith-based nonprofits flourish. Clara is a classical flutist and runs a small jewelry business with her husband.
Office of Sen. Ben Sasse
Michael Lucchese is from Chicago, Illinois, and works in the Office of Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska. He is a graduate of Hillsdale College, where he majored in American Studies and minored in journalism. He is also a 2021-2022 James Madison Fellow at Hillsdale College, a 2018 alumnus of the Röpke-Wojtyła Fellowship at Catholic University of America’s Busch School of Business and a 2017 alumnus of the Hudson Institute’s Political Studies Program.
Office of Rep. Jake LaTurner
Jake Middlebrooks currently serves as the legislative director in Office of Rep. Jake LaTurner of Kansas. Prior to this role, he was a professional staff member for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where he primarily focused on workforce development and child welfare policy. He has also worked as a health and tax policy fellow for another member of the Kansas House delegation and as a district aide for a member of the Florida State House. A native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Jake attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he graduated with a degree in public health and he is still celebrating the Tar Heels’ Final Four win over Duke and Coach K.
Bobby Miller is a juris doctor and master of arts candidate at the Georgetown University Law Center and School of Foreign Service from Englewood, New Jersey. Bobby is an New York University graduate and a lifelong conservative. In college, Bobby interned on Capitol Hill twice, for the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Representative Claudia Tenney (NY-22) and served as president of the NYU College Republicans. As a law student, Bobby continues to play an active role in campus politics. He is the Federalist Society alumni chair, Conservative & Libertarian Student Association events director and Georgetown Law Advocates for Life treasurer.
Next year, as he takes classes for his joint degree in the evening, he will be working at National Review as a Collegiate Network fellow pursuing his passion for political journalism. Bobby enjoys writing about jurisprudential philosophy, hot-button legal issues, international affairs and internecine conservative debates. His pieces have been published in The Wall Street Journal, National Review, The Spectator World and The Times of Israel. Boby has also been interviewed by Fox News, Bloomberg News, Reuters and The BBC.
Office of Rep. August Pfluger
Meredith Moore is originally from Llano, Texas, and graduated from the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). She received a bachelor of arts in psychology, and minors in legal studies and intelligence and security. Upon graduating in 2020, Meredith began graduate school at The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina. She recently earned her master’s in intelligence and security and a certificate in leadership studies.
While she is a proud Texan, Meredith has loved living and working in D.C. In both work and school, she has focused on learning and engaging in counterterrorism efforts, national security, and human intelligence. She looks forward to learning more about conservatism in policy and international affairs, so that she will better understand how to connect related concepts to intelligence efforts.
Outside of work and school, Meredith enjoys spending her time outdoors on walks, snowboarding, hunting or traveling. She often looks forward to going back to Texas to visit home or her family’s ranch but is eager to continue experiencing the opportunities D.C. has to offer.
Alex Pritzen is from Chicago, Illinois, and currently holds a position on Amazon’s Business Development team where he focuses on creating partnerships and fostering growth with small and medium-sized enterprises across the United States. Alex graduated from Boston University in 2019, where he majored in international relations with a focus on security studies in East Asia. Alex pursued coursework in Chinese and public policy at Fudan University in Shanghai, and also continued his studies at Smolny College in St. Petersburg with a focus on Russian language and literature.
Over the past several years, Alex has continued his work in a professional corporate setting and has made politics and the study of public policy a hobby. He hopes to engage in this political environment more professionally moving on, and he is eager to connect with like-minded peers and forge a greater understanding of the question this fellowship presents: “What is Conservatism?” Alex plans to bring the realist perspective that he’s gained from working in Amazon’s corporate environment, while also taking inspiration from the teachings and attitudes of great thinkers such as John Locke, Russell Kirk and Harry Jaffa.
Outside of the (working from home) office, you can find Alex running around D.C. training for his first marathon, walking his Golden Retriever puppy, Pike, around the Georgetown Waterfront, or reading Commentary Magazine, National Review and The Wall Street Journal on a park bench.
American Enterprise Institute
Sydney Riley is an academic programs senior associate at the American Enterprise Institute. At AEI she focuses on topics in social, cultural and constitutional studies and facilitates student programming at the undergraduate and graduate levels. This past academic year, Sydney founded the 1789 Fellowship in American Political Thought and Modern Practice, a two-week residential program for young professionals to study political theory and public policy. Before joining the team, she spent the 2019–2020 academic year teaching English in Dobruška, Czech Republic, with the Fulbright Program.
She is an alumna of the Hudson Institute Political Studies program and the Danish Institute of Study Abroad, European Politics Cohort. Sydney is a graduate of Villanova University, where she received an honors bachelor of arts in politics, philosophy and humanities.
United States Congressional Joint Economic Committee
Isabel Soto is a congressional staffer. Previously she was director of labor market policy at the American Action Forum. Her work has been featured by a number of media outlets including CNBC’s Squawk Box, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Prior to joining AAF, Isabel worked at the Aspen Institute with David Brooks on his initiative, Weave: The Social Fabric Project, which focused on understanding and strengthening associational life in the U.S. Isabel is a member of the American Enterprise Institute’s Millennial Leadership Network. She is an alumna of AEI academic programs and the Hertog Foundation’s Political Studies Program. Isabel is a graduate of Davidson College and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Applied Economics at American University.
Price St. Clair
Price St. Clair is a reporter for The Dispatch, where he specializes in explainers. He grew up in Boone, North Carolina—a university town in the Blue Ridge Mountains—and graduated from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a deepened curiosity about the intersection of religion and public life. While at Furman, he served on the editorial board for the student newspaper, The Paladin, and interned for the Riley Institute, where he worked to foster civil and substantive public policy conversations on campus. In his spare time, you can usually find him running or riding his bike, thinking about pluralism and polarization.
Office of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers
A native of Montana, Heidi Thom grew up in Billings and attended college at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, where she earned degrees in marketing and graphic design. She previously interned at The Heritage Foundation and worked at Young America’s Foundation as a program assistant. Heidi went on to staff Rep. Greg Gianforte of Montana in the 116th Congress. Heidi currently lives in Washington, D.C. and works in the Office of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington’s legislative team. Heidi is passionate about advancing social conservative policies and restoring the American family, with a specific interest in social and pro-life policy issues.
Office of Rep. Glenn Grothman
Connor Torossian was born and raised in Long Island, New York. He attended Elon University for his undergraduate degree where he completed a double major in policy studies and political science. Connor participated in the TFAS Business and Government Relations program track in the summer of 2017. After graduating, Connor began working as a deputy communications director and executive assistant for the Office of Congressman Morgan Griffith of Virginia where he also began pursuing a postgraduate degree in legislative affairs from George Washington University.
After a stint with Congressman Griffith, Connor transitioned to the Office of Congressman Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin where he has now been for nearly two and a half years. During his time with Congressman Grothman, he has been promoted twice and completed his postgraduate degree. Connor handles several policy areas for Congressman Grothman as his Legislative Assistant including the Education and Labor Committee, healthcare, trade, transportation, energy and more.
The Heritage Foundation
Emma Waters is a research associate in the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Life, Religion and Family at The Heritage Foundation. Through this role, she continues her study of domestic marriage and family policy. Prior to this, she served as the coalitions manager of American Moment. As the 2021 Valedictorian of Lee University, Emma received the American Enterprise Institute’s Initiative on Faith and Public Young Scholar Award in 2020-2021 where she completed an independent research project on Child Support policy, including in-depth qualitative interviews with non-resident fathers. Congruently, she interned with AEI’s Poverty Studies department. Other fellowships include the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s Honors Fellowship, the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation and the Constitutional Fellows Program with The American Conservative.