The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) is pleased to welcome a new cohort of policy professionals to the 2021-2022 Public Policy Fellowship in Washington, D.C. This outstanding group hails from the Pacific Northwest to the East Coast, and they bring a diverse set of backgrounds and viewpoints to the table. A majority of the Fellows have experience working on Capitol Hill and many were inspired to pursue careers in policy based on their upbringings and hometowns. Several in the group are also alumni of TFAS Academic Internship programs.
The Fellowship provides a structured space for young professionals in the policy arena to learn, explore, network and grow. Monthly meetings foster space for conversation, the exploration of ideas, vigorous debate and a genuine learning experience in pursuit of what is true. The first of these occurred in September with an in-depth conversation on American civil society.
Featured speaker and TFAS alumnus Tim Carney, Novak ’03, drew on his expertise and his latest book, “Alienated America,” to speak with the Fellows about American civil society and how alienation is detrimental to the American Dream. When conducting research for his book, Carney investigated social phenomena that have contributed to the isolation of individuals from the things that yield life, liberty and happiness.
Fellows discussed the challenges facing American communities and how building civil society through participation in civic groups, community involvement and voting can protect the country from becoming both alienated and collectivist. They reflected on American community as observed in Carney’s book, as well as Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America.”
“It was clear to me in our brief time that the new Fellowship class is a serious bunch of young professionals dedicated to thinking through the questions of community, government and markets,” Carney said.
As TFAS’s new manager of continuing education programs, Ryan Wolfe oversees the planning and curriculum of the Public Policy Fellowship. He says he is excited to be working with his first group of Fellows and is encouraged by their commitment to a free society.
“This year’s class of Public Policy Fellows are a selective group of young professionals interested in not only deepening their understanding of liberty, limited government and free markets, but also working as courageous leaders to advance these principles in their careers,” Wolfe said.
This year’s class of Public Policy Fellows are a selective group of young professionals interested in not only deepening their understanding of liberty, limited government and free markets, but also working as courageous leaders to advance these principles in their careers.” – Ryan Wolfe, Manager of Continuing Education Programs
The group of 15 new Fellows is comprised of young professionals working at think tanks, government affairs offices, Capitol Hill offices and prestigious institutions across D.C. The cohort was happy to kick off their Fellowship in person, and they are looking forward to more exciting educational events over the next nine months, beginning with a fall retreat to Gettysburg in October.
To learn more about these Fellows, read their biographies below.
2021-22 Public Policy Fellows
Education: Furman University
Hometown: Worcester, Massachusetts
A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, Christian Alexandrou received his bachelor’s degree in politics and international affairs with a concentration on foreign policy and poverty studies from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. While at Furman, he gained professional experience at the Office of U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and the Massachusetts Superior Court under the Hon. James R. Lemire. After graduating, Christian participated in a year of service with the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry’s St. Francis Inn site in northeast Philadelphia to assist those struggling within the opioid epidemic and homelessness crisis. Soon after, he ventured to Washington, D.C., eager for exposure in the policy arena. He now serves as the assistant director of external relations at the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies. He joined the Society’s team in November 2019. In his downtime, Christian enjoys sharing with others his love of Greece and his culture’s food, reading poetry aloud (as inspired by John Keating from Dead Poets Society), and attending services and fellowship at his local church.
Education: Patrick Henry College, Pepperdine University
Hometown: Clemson, South Carolina
Joshua Arnold hails from Clemson, South Carolina, where he was homeschooled with his five siblings. He graduated from Patrick Henry College with a bachelor’s degree in government and an emphasis in American politics and policy. He later attended the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and graduated as valedictorian with a master’s in public policy with an emphasis on economics and American policy. Joshua lives on Capitol Hill with his wife Elizabeth and is a member of Capitol Hill Baptist Church. He enjoys board games, reading, puns, cooking and ultimate frisbee. He is passionate about promoting human flourishing through public policy research and analysis with an eye toward cultivating virtue and sound economic principles. Joshua is the media manager for Family Research Council, where he works under the vice president of communications to coordinate interview requests, draft press releases, edit and pitch op-eds, write for the Washington Update, assist in various capacities with FRC’s daily program, Washington Watch, and other tasks as needed. Before joining Family Research Council, Joshua also worked for the National Pro-Life Alliance and parentalrights.org, and he interned in the White House Office of Speechwriting.
CALEB ASHLEY ’18
Education: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Hometown: Greensboro, North Carolina
Caleb Ashley ’18 is a content specialist for a public relations firm in Alexandria, Virginia. Caleb has a wide range of experience ghostwriting opinion columns on various topics ranging from regulatory issues to foreign policy and is currently a contributor for Young Voices. Before working as a content specialist, he interned with Congressman Mark Walker and Citizens Against Government Waste. He participated in the TFAS D.C. Academic Internship track on Public Policy + Economics in 2018 and served as a program advisor for The Fund for American Studies the following year. Caleb earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019 with a double major in economics, and peace, war and defense.
Education: Swarthmore College
Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Gil Guerra is an academic programs associate at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he helps oversee AEI’s outreach to college students. He is also a co-host of the podcast “Panorama: On Politics, Latinos, and Conservatism.” Prior to joining AEI, Gil completed fellowships with the Hudson Institute Political Studies Program and the Hertog Foundation Political Studies Program. He is also an alumnus of the AEI Summer Honors Program in Democratic Capitalism. His writing has been published in American Purpose and the Washington Examiner, and his interviews in English and Spanish have appeared on Spotify Mexico, NBC Latino and the National Institute for Latino Policy. Gil graduated from Swarthmore College with a bachelor’s degree in political science with honors.
Education: University of Georgia
Hometown: Powder Springs, Georgia
Emily Johnson is the external affairs manager at ClearPath, a nonprofit organization focused on advancing policies that accelerate innovations that reduce emissions in the energy and industrial sectors. Before joining ClearPath, Emily was a research associate at Tiber Creek Group (then Peck Madigan Jones), a bipartisan government relations firm, where she focused on issues related to financial services and international trade. Prior to that role, she was an account executive at Edelman on the financial policy and public affairs team, where she worked with a variety of corporate, public affairs and crisis clients on content development, messaging strategy and stakeholder engagement. In 2017, Emily earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Georgia, where she studied public relations and communications. She is originally from Powder Springs, Georgia.
MADISON LEBLANC ’17
Education: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Hometown: Sulphur, Louisiana
Madison LeBlanc ’17 is a southwest Louisiana native with a political science degree and a minor in leadership communications from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She currently serves as a legislative staffer for Congressman Clay Higgins (R-LA-03). Her policy portfolio includes homeland security, immigration, defense, foreign affairs, law enforcement/crime and space, among others. She has a certification in defense strategy and policy development from the United States Army War College. Growing up in a small town on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Madison experienced many devastating hurricanes and was intrigued by the federal government’s response. The domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty promised by the Constitution seemed to evade southwest Louisiana’s taxpayers in their desperate time of need. The desire for her home state to be noticed prompted her to venture to D.C. to explore politics as a TFAS student in the Leadership + the American Presidency program track in 2017. In her free time, Madison enjoys traveling, hiking and hosting themed events with her friends.
Education: Wichita State University
Hometown: Wichita, Kansas
Angela Lingg is a sixth generation Kansan who stays in touch with her Kansas roots by working for a member of the Kansas congressional delegation. Through her work as a press secretary, she has had the opportunity to help shape messaging on public policy through press releases and social media, work with state and national reporters, and book and prepare interviews with state and national media outlets. One of the most rewarding parts of her job is working for Kansans and helping connect constituents with resources and information to help them thrive. She graduated from Wichita State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and began her career on Capitol Hill as an intern. When she isn’t on Capitol Hill or working in Kansas, Angela enjoys traveling, exploring D.C., trying new foods, reading and serving in her church.
Education: Minnesota State University Moorhead
Hometown: Bismarck, North Dakota
Drew Lingle was born and raised in Bismarck, North Dakota. He attended Minnesota State University Moorhead where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history and was an All-Conference NCAA Division II football player. He is employed in the office of U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) as a legislative staffer. Previously, he worked in the office of Senate Republican Whip John Thune (R-SD). Drew’s legislative portfolio includes agriculture, trade, telecommunications and environmental issues. Delivering wins for North Dakota’s farmers and oilfield workers motivates him. By working in Washington, he ensures that they have a seat at the table. He enjoys opportunities to visit farms in different states to see the real-world impact that Washington has on the producers who feed and fuel the nation. Drew enjoys golfing, fitness and watching sports. In the future, he hopes to continue working in public policy to advance the interests of rural America and ensure the economic viability of rural communities.
Education: Georgetown University
Hometown: Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan
Erica Lizza is a paralegal at Cooper & Kirk, a law firm specializing in constitutional, regulatory and commercial disputes and litigation. She is an alumna of the American Enterprise Institute’s Summer Honors Program, the Executive Council Program, and is an active member of the AEI alumni network. Erica is also a 2021 Civitas Dei Fellow through the Catholic University of America’s Institute of Human Ecology. Her academic and professional interests include the relationship between religion, human rights and the law. She is a 2019 graduate of Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. At Georgetown, she majored in international politics and earned a certificate in religion, ethics and world affairs.
Education: Eastern Connecticut State University
Hometown: Wilton, Connecticut
Michael Mastrianna is a philanthropy associate at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. A Connecticut native, he attended Eastern Connecticut State University and graduated in 2016. During his undergraduate studies, Michael was the president and co-founder of the College Republicans and Young Americans for Liberty chapters at his university. He participated in the Koch Internship Program following graduation and previously served as a Leadership Institute field representative in the Texas and Oklahoma region, assisting conservative and libertarian college students start and maintain effective clubs on campus. Most recently, Michael worked as a marketing and communications associate and assistant to the president, CEO and COO at Atlas Network.
PATRICK MCGARRY, JR. ’17
Education: Seattle University
Hometown: Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Patrick McGarry, Jr. ’17 is a regulatory associate at Stateside Associates, where he monitors regulatory changes in the healthcare industry at the state level. Before joining Stateside Associates, Patrick served as a legislative correspondent in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, focusing on rural healthcare, telecommunications, transportation and infrastructure, and economic development. He also has research experience at state-level think tanks, international chambers of commerce and political action committees. Originally from Colorado, Patrick graduated magna cum laude from Seattle University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a double minor in nonprofit and public administration and theater performance. He participated in the TFAS Capital Semester Fall program in 2017, and he was a 2018 fellow with the American Enterprise Institute and the State Policy Network.
Education: Baylor University
Hometown: East Winthrop, Maine
Rebecca Richards is a program manager at the Fund for Academic Renewal, a program of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, where she helps donors to higher education target their philanthropy. Originally from Maine, Rebecca graduated in 2018 from Baylor University with a University Scholar’s Degree, concentrating in philosophy. She participated in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core honors program and spent her junior year at Oxford University. During college, Rebecca worked as a research assistant on the Federalist Papers, in state policy research, and as an archivist transcribing an artist’s journals from the 1860s. After graduation, she studied the intersection of culture, politics and history through the John Jay Fellowship in Philadelphia. She also participated in Pepperdine University’s D.C. Policy Scholars Program in the summer of 2021.
EMILY TUREK ’18
Education: Drake University
Hometown: Orange City, Iowa
Emily Turek ’18 currently serves as a government affairs and policy coordinator for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). In this role, Emily facilitates policy and legislative initiatives pertaining to health policy and higher education issues that impact schools of nursing. Prior to her current position, she was a U.S. Senate staffer serving her home state of Iowa. In alignment with her passion in public health policy, Emily has focused on healthcare strategies and policy in past work at the Heritage Foundation, Iowa Senate, and national and tribal government affairs organizations. Emily participated in the TFAS D.C. Academic Internship track on Public Policy + Economics in the summer of 2018. She earned dual bachelor’s degrees in public relations and policy with a focus on economic systems from Drake University.
Education: American University, University of Virginia
Hometown: Eugene, Oregon
TJ Whittle recently served as a law clerk to the Hon. Ryan T. Holte of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and will begin work this fall in the Washington, D.C., office of the law firm McGuireWoods LLP. He received a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served as president of the St. Thomas More Society and was the Originalism Symposium Chair for the UVA Federalist Society. He was also the executive editor of the Virginia Journal of Criminal Law and an executive editor of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. Before law school, TJ worked as a research assistant at the Ethics and Public Policy Center on religious liberty, legal and political issues. He was later an editor at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where he worked on a range of articles on economic and regulatory policy. TJ holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and political science from American University.
Education: University of Dallas
Hometown: Olympia, Washington
Paul Zepeda was born and raised in Olympia, Washington. He attended the University of Dallas, where he majored in both history and German and studied abroad in Rome. After driving across the country, Paul landed in D.C. and has just finished his second year in the nation’s capital. He serves as the administrative assistant at the Center for American Studies at the Heritage Foundation, where he helps to promote a deeper analysis and positive perception of the American founding, the experiment in self-government and their place in the story of Western civilization. Outside of the office, Paul enjoys reading classic literature and biographies, exploring the city and the greater East Coast, and cycling around the district.