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Public Policy Alumni Advisory Council

A distinguished group of alumni have volunteered to serve as mentors for students interested in graduate school and careers in all areas of public policy.

Lauren Bell ’18 – Ready Nation

Lauren Bell ’18 graduated with majors in Politics and Economics and a minor in Legal Studies. While at Lake Forest, she served as president of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity and interned at both the Chicago History Museum and Kemper Insurance. After graduating, she joined Teach For America where she taught high school math to a diverse, low-income student population in Kansas City, Missouri. After earning her Master's in Secondary Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and completing her commitment with Teach For America in 2020, she began her career in public policy by working for Missouri State Senator Lauren Arthur to revitalize the state housing trust fund and served as the campaign manager for a candidate for Kentucky's 56th House District. Since then, Lauren relocated to Washington, DC and currently works for Ready Nation, a nonprofit membership organization of over 3,000 business leaders who advocate for effective, bipartisan investments in early education.

Liz (Bortolussi) Ledger ’12 – Center for Homeland Defense and Security

Liz (Bortolussi) Ledger ’12 graduated with majors in International Relations and French and a minor in Sociology. While at Lake Forest she studied abroad in Paris where she completed an internship at a law firm and studied "In the Loop" in downtown Chicago where she completed a second internship at World Chicago. Liz earned her Master’s degree in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in 2013. Since then, Liz's career has been within government entities focused on national security policy, including at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security and at the Institute for Security Governance in Monterey, CA. Liz is currently a Financial Analyst for the Texas Military Department at Camp Mabry in Austin, TX.

David Browne ’04 – USAID in Uganda

David Browne ’04 graduated with a double major in Business and Communications.  After Lake Forest, he worked for Chase Bank as a personal banker and later as a management consultant at CSC Consulting. David earned a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University and is a Certified Public Accountant. He joined the U.S. Agency for International Development as a Financial Management Officer in 2010, having served in Bolivia, Bangladesh, and West Bank/Gaza.  Currently, David serves as the Controller for the U.S. Mission for USAID in Uganda where he is responsible for the financial management, oversight, reporting, auditing, and risk management of USAID development programs in the country.

Lisa Browne ’03 – U.S. Department of State

Lisa Y. Browne ’03 graduated with a double major in International Relations and Business. While at Lake Forest, she was active in student government, having been elected as Secretary and Treasurer, was a Richter Scholar, and the recipient of the Oppenheimer Award. Previously, Lisa served as a Director for the International Organizations Directorate at the National Security Council. She also held the positions of Regional Policy Coordinator for Africa, Public Diplomacy Coordinator for South and Central Asia, and South and Central Asia Team Lead at the Department of State. Lisa holds a Master’s of Public Health (MPH) specializing in Health Policy and Management, a J.D, and a Master’s of Law (LLM) in International and Comparative Commercial Law. Lisa currently serves as a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources at the U.S. Department of State.

Sarah Brune ’13 – Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago

Sarah Brune ’13 graduated with majors in Politics and Communication. While at Lake Forest, she served as Vice President of Student Government, President of the Panhellenic Council, and interned for Chicago Alderman Harry Osterman in the Edgewater neighborhood. After graduation, Sarah served as the Executive Director of Reform for Illinois, a longstanding statewide advocacy organization, where she passed campaign finance reform legislation and served as a media expert on government and political ethics. Recently, she worked as Press Secretary for a Mayoral candidate in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. She is currently the Director of Public Policy for Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, where she works to advance access to affordable homeownership.

Lucy-George Cooper’14 – State of South Dakota

Lucy-George Cooper ‘14 graduated with majors in International Relations and Economics and a French minor. While at Lake Forest, she studied abroad in Botswana, was co-captain of the tennis team, and VPCD of Tri-Delta. Directly after college she worked on a US Senate race in her home state of South Dakota and then served as a legislative aide and secretary for the State's legislative session. Afterwards, Lucy served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo and then as a teaching assistant in France. Upon returning to the US, she began working for the State of South Dakota in Social Services where she currently focuses on federal and state regulation of government assistance programs.

Sandra de la Riva ’15 – Language and Sociologist Consultant

Sandra de la Riva ‘15 graduated with majors in International Relations and French. As a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship winner, while at Lake Forest College, Sandra studied abroad in Paris where she completed two internships with France Amérique and French Connection Films. Additionally, she took part in the Border Studies program where she traveled to Arizona and Mexico to learn about immigration and worker rights in Mexico. She was an Ally, and was part of the dance team, Latinos Unidos, French Club, Spanish club, and model UN. Sandra earned her Master’s degree in Sociology from the University of Strasbourg in 2020. During her graduate studies, she worked as an international group coordinator and translator for an educational organization specialized in study abroad programs. Currently, Sandra is a language and sociologist consultant focusing on human and worker rights.

Loveena Dookhony ’05 – World Health Organization

Loveena Dookhony ‘05 graduated with a major in Economics.  A native of Mauritius, Africa, Loveena holds an MPA from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, with a specialization in African development. She started her career at the World Bank in Washington, DC, in the Development Data Group as a Gender Analyst from 2007 to 2011 to undertake statistical analyses quantifying gender empowerment. Loveena was also the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Manager at the SADC Parliamentary forum in Namibia for the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and Good Governance project.  She also worked as M&E Manager for Prévention, Information, Lutte contre le Sida (PILS), a grassroots NGO which is the Principal Recipient of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB & Malaria. She has been working with the World Health Organization since 2017 in different capacities, including at Unitaid/WHO, in Geneva, Switzerland as M&E Manager and for WHO on the Ebola response.

Nelka Fernando ’08 – Google Payments and Alphabet

Nelka Fernando ’08 graduated with a major in Economics and a minor in Urban Studies. Nelka then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Public Policy from George Washington University in 2010. Nelka has worked for the U.S Treasury Department and Department of Homeland Security, serving as an Operations Risk Analyst focused on understanding national security threats and as a Policy Advisor within the Illicit Finance and Proceeds of Crime Group developing strategies and managing global programs related to transnational organized crime and emerging financial crime risks. She has also worked for an NGO focused on sustainable transportation and union issues. Presently Nelka is a compliance leader with experience working for the U.S government, global banks, and technology firms. She has led a global operations team tasked with identifying and understanding complex financial crime compliance matters for Google Payments and Alphabet and has worked on building innovative compliance programs for global financial institutions with a focus on efficiently identifying and managing financial crime risks.

Farida (Frida) Gadzhimirzaeva ’11 – Norwegian Refugee Council

Farida (Frida) Gadzhimirzaeva ‘11 graduated with a major in International Relations and minors in Economics and Spanish. While at Lake Forest, Frida studied abroad in Spain, completed internships at the South African Consulate in Chicago and at Prairie State Legal Services.  Frida earned her Master’s in International Policy Studies and Conflict Resolution at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and worked for several non-government organizations and think tanks including the Atlantic Council and Truman Center for National Policy in Washington, DC. Frida has lived and worked on 5 continents, recently in Asia and Africa. Frida is currently based in Colombia where she works for the Norwegian Refugee Council, a leading humanitarian agency providing assistance and protection to refugees and internally displaced persons across Colombia, Ecuador and Panama. Frida is fluent in English, Russian and Spanish.

Mandy Gaulke ’09 – Kansas State University

Mandy Gaulke ’09 graduated with majors in Economics and Spanish and a minor in mathematics. While at Lake Forest, Mandy worked as a tutor for the economics department, was part of Senior 25, and was chosen as Lake Forest’s 2008 Student Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois. After graduation she attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison and completed her Master’s and PhD in economics. After graduating in 2015, she joined Kansas State University’s Department of Economics as an Assistant Professor. Her research focuses on health and education and has been published in outlets including the Journal of Health Economics and the Journal of the American Medical Association. Mandy won the Davids-Dunham Award (2020) for her efforts to support more diversity in economics.

Josh Georgeff ’16 – Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Josh Georgeff ’16 graduated with majors in Finance and Political Science. While at Lake Forest, Josh had internships at Morgan Stanley and Amphenol, tutored high school student athletes at Beyond Sports Foundation, and competed on the swim team. After Lake Forest, Josh began his career in corporate treasury at CME Group, where he led cash and liquidity management functions and contributed to capital structure decisions. Currently, Josh sits on the Trading Desk at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, conducting open market operations and performing market analysis, with a focus on US Treasuries. Josh also serves on the board of The Ideal Candidate, a nonprofit training academy that builds essential life and professional skills for young adults from underprivileged communities.

Alex Gilbert ’12 – Payne Institute for Public Policy

Alex Gilbert ‘12 majored in International Relations and Environmental Studies at Lake Forest.  Alex competed on the Mock Trial team, advancing to nationals twice, and also served as a student ambassador and member of student government. While on Semester at Sea, he conducted research on environmental policy in five countries. Following Lake Forest, Alex earned a Master’s of Energy Regulation and Law from the Vermont Law School. After working in the private sector on energy market and climate policy issues, Alex became Project Manager at the Nuclear Innovation Alliance, where he leads projects on regulation, legislation, and commercialization to enable advanced nuclear reactors to mitigate climate change. Alex is a fellow at the Payne Institute for Public Policy, where he researches energy, environmental, and outer space governance.

Ashley Gora ’14 – Big Sur Land Trust

Ashley Gora ‘14 graduated with majors in International Relations and Spanish. While at Lake Forest, Ashley studied abroad in Granada, Spain and completed two service learning internships and a fellowship in Monteverde, Costa Rica through the generosity of the Grace Elizabeth Groner Foundation. Ashley holds a joint MBA and Master’s degree in International Environmental Policy with a focus on Social Enterprise and Finance from the Middlebury Institute in 2017. Ashley currently works as Development Manager for Big Sur Land Trust. She serves as Treasurer for the Alliance for the Monteverde Institute and volunteers as a field assistant at the MAPS bird banding station in Fort Ord in Salinas, CA.

Maggie Hennessy ’14 – MDRC (formerly Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation)

Maggie Hennessy ‘14 graduated with majors in Economics and International Relations. While at Lake Forest, Maggie studied abroad in Botswana, worked in student government, and was active with Model United Nations. She also worked as a research assistant for Professor Felkey and Professor Marquardt while also tutoring for the Economics department. Immediately after college, Maggie worked at a big data tech startup until the company completed its initial public offering in 2016. After that experience, Maggie completed her Master’s of Public Affairs at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin. Maggie has worked on public policy across various roles at organizations including NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, the Better Life Lab at New America, and the Child and Family Research Partnership. Currently Maggie is a Research Analyst at MDRC, a nonprofit organization specializing in large-scale social policy evaluations.

Nafis Islam ’06 – Imagine Worldwide

Nafis Islam ’06 graduated with a major in Economics. He earned his MPP from American University. Nafis Islam is the Director of Development at Imagine Worldwide. He has over 15 years of experience in developing programs and partnerships for global development and humanitarian organizations. Prior to Imagine, Nafis developed government and private philanthropic partnerships for CARE. As a Senior Director of Development, he cultivated relationships with various foundations and stewarded a portfolio of projects which includes agriculture, climate change and health. Nafis also oversaw and implemented prospecting research and engagement strategy. Nafis has managed the full proposal development cycle of USAID procurements in 60+ countries across multiple program areas. He led the food security portfolio and designed large, multi-sector resilience proposals.

John Karner ’05 – City of Greeley, Colorado

John Karner ’05 graduated with majors in Economics and Politics. While at Lake Forest, John was a leader on the men’s soccer team. After graduation, John was a management consultant with Accenture before completing his MPP from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy. He has worked in Chicago’s Mayor Office during the Richard M. Daley administration and as senior advisor to the Chief Financial Officers’ Council in Washington D.C where he worked with the Executive Office of the President, Office of Budget and Management to help manage execution of the President’s Management Agenda and support the development of sound financial management policy for the U.S. government. Currently, John is Director of Finance for the City of Greeley, Colorado, where he manages the financial operations of the City and oversees the City’s annual budget of $500 million.

Mackenzie Knowling ’07 – PYXERA Global

Mackenzie Knowling ’07 graduated with a double major in Economics and International Relations at Lake Forest and earned an MPP from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy from the University of Michigan. At Lake Forest, she was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta and student government, selected as a member of Senior 25, and worked as a tutor for the economics department. Upon graduation, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala supporting the creation of coffee cooperatives to provide improved market opportunities for indigenous farmers. Mackenzie also worked in rural Ethiopia, managing an agriculture and cooperative project for an international NGO. After returning to the States, Mackenzie joined PYXERA Global, a non-profit based in Washington, D.C. where she currently works as a Key Client Manager providing strategic advising to Fortune 500 companies on their Corporate Social Responsibly, Sustainability and ESG programs and initiatives.

Maggie Lenkart ’18 – Communications Specialist at the Illinois State Capitol

Maggie Lenkart ’18 graduated with a double major in Environmental Studies and Politics. Following graduation, she returned to her hometown of Springfield, Illinois to pursue her Master of Science degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in Environmental Policy at the University of Illinois – Springfield. There, she also participated in the Graduate Public Service Internship Program, where she worked for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Justice. Upon completion of her MS, she participated in the Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program where she worked as a full-time staffer with the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus. She was offered to stay on staff after the end of the internship in June, where she is now currently working as a communications specialist at the Capitol.

Carolyn Lowry ’08 – Public Policy Counsel at TikTok

Carolyn Lowry ‘08 graduated with majors in Economics and International Relations. While at Lake Forest, she interned with a public health NGO and a public finance consulting firm, and spent a semester abroad in Freiburg, Germany studying EU politics and economics. After graduation, Carolyn began her career as an Honors Paralegal at the Federal Trade Commission. Carolyn received her JD from George Washington University and was a Fellow for three years with the Bryce Harlow Foundation.  Upon graduating, Carolyn worked at Nixon Peabody LLP and K&L Gates LLP, focusing on corporate law and public policy. She currently works at TikTok as Public Policy Counsel. Outside of work, Carolyn serves on the Alumni Board of the Bryce Harlow Foundation, is a board member with the Junior League of Washington, and is a representative on the Lake Forest College Alumni Board.

Sarah Marrinan ’09 – North Pacific Fishery Management Council

Sarah Marrinan ‘09 graduated with a dual major in Economics and Communication. She was a captain of the cross -country team, studied abroad in New Zealand, and held several internships, including a position with the Ragdale Foundation. She received a Master's degree from the University of Maine in Resource Economics and Policy in 2012. Following graduate school, Sarah worked as a fellow at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Center for Environmental Economics in Washington, D.C. hosted through the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Technology Research. Since 2014, Sarah has worked as a Fisheries Economist with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Anchorage, AK. Within that time, Sarah has conducted and presented numerous analyses to assist in the decision-making process for federal fisheries management in the North Pacific. She is the coordinator for the NPFMC's Social Science Planning Team and has mentored NPFMC staff members.

Gabby Monahova ’10 – NERA Economic Consulting

Gabby Monahova ‘10 graduated with majors in Economics and International Relations and a minor in Mathematics. During her junior year, Gabby studied abroad in Freiburg, Germany as part of an EU-immersion program that gave students the chance to learn about the structure and governance of the European Union. Gabby received her PhD in Economics in 2015 from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, specializing in Industrial Organization and Health Economics.  After graduate school, Gabby joined the Antitrust and Competition practice at NERA Economic Consulting in the Washington, DC office where she works on antitrust cases in front of various government agencies including the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice.

Scott Pozil ’93 – U.S. Trade Negotiator

Scott Pozil ’93 graduated with majors in Economics and Politics. While at Lake Forest, Scott was involved with the Garrick Players, the Stentor, and student government. He also served as a peer teacher. Scott joined the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1996 as a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF). He worked as an international trade specialist in the Trade Information Center (TIC) from 1996-1997, and then in the Middletown, CT Export Assistance Center from 1997-2001. Scott joined the Foreign Commercial Service in 2001. From 2013 through 2016, Scott was the Counselor for Commercial Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia. While there he managed a team of Commercial Officers and developed commercial programs and initiatives with an aim to increase U.S. exports and inbound investment to the United States. As of September, 2020, Scott is the Counselor for Commercial Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Paris and the Regional Senior Commercial Officer for Western and Southern Europe.

Karla Saavedra Betancourt ’15 – United Nations Foundation Digital Impact Alliance

Karla Saavedra Betancourt ’15 graduated with a major in International Relations and a minor in Legal Studies. While at Lake Forest, Karla was a UWC Davis Scholar and Global Enrichment Scholar and studied abroad in Granada, Spain, did a semester “In The Loop,” and was involved with Model UN and the International Students Association. Immediately after graduation, Karla worked as a Paralegal at Baker McKenzie.  Karla received her JD from the University of Wisconsin Law School in May of 2021.  During her law studies, Karla was an Associate Editor at the Wisconsin International Law Journal. Feeding her passion for global development, Karla has worked as a legal extern at the Inter-American Development Bank and as a Technology and Innovation consultant at the World Bank’s Legal Vice-presidency. In 2021, Karla started working as a United Nations Foundation Digital Impact Alliance Fellow.

Kaitlyn Schroeder ’12 – Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in Seattle

Kaitlyn Schroeder ‘12 graduated with a major in International Relations and minors in Economics and Spanish. While at Lake Forest, Kaitlyn studied abroad in Spain and "In the Loop," where she completed internships with SETEM and the US Fund for UNICEF. While on campus, Kaitlyn was involved in various student organizations including STAND, Circle K, and Amnesty International. After graduation, Kaitlyn served in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. Kaitlyn earned her JD from Cornell Law School in 2018.  As a law student, she clerked for the ACLU of Missouri and spent a semester as a foreign exchange student at the University of Chile School of Law. Currently, Kaitlyn works as a staff attorney with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in Seattle, WA.

Laney Shaler ’08 – Chief of Staff for Equity & Engagement for Denver Public Schools

Laney Shaler ‘08 graduated with majors in Economics and International Relations and a minor in Spanish. She was president of the College Democrats, wrote for the newspaper, and served as a research assistant in the Department of Economics. Laney studied in London while at Lake Forest and believes her time abroad fueled her interest in public policy. Upon graduation, Laney joined Teach For America, which honed her policy interest in public education. Her passion for education continued in her studies at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy where she earned her MPP. Her career in education began by working on education issues for the City of Chicago and for Chicago Public Schools. Currently Laney serves as the Chief of Staff for Equity & Engagement for Denver Public Schools.

Nelma Trindade ’19 – Angola UWC National Committee

Nelma da Trindade ‘19 graduated with majors in Economics and International Relations. While at Lake Forest, Nelma was a member of the African student’s organization on campus (UMOJA), completed an internship at the Illinois Guardianship & Advocacy Commission, served as a Resident Assistant, and worked as an Inter-Library student assistant. After graduating, Nelma returned to her home country, Angola, where she currently works as a language instructor and volunteers in various NGOs, as well as for the Angola UWC National Committee. Nelma plans to pursue a Master’s degree or a PhD in Development Economics.

Ellen White Bates-Jefferys ’08 – Innovations for Poverty Action, Visiting Scholar at Northwestern

Ellen Bates-Jefferys ‘08 graduated with a double major in Economics and Religion. She studied in India, completed an internship with a public finance company, and was a member of Tri Delta. Immediately following graduation, Ellen served in the Peace Corps, working in Senegal for three years where she worked on small enterprise development and gender equity projects. Upon returning to the US, she managed data for a nonprofit loan firm in Minneapolis before obtaining her graduate degree at Duke University in International Development Policy with a concentration in Applied Economics. She worked as the Sub-Saharan Program Officer with Heartland Alliance International in Chicago before taking a job at the research organization Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA). She began her career at IPA overseeing behavioral science randomized controlled trials in Liberia. She now manages two IPA global initiatives focusing on intimate partner violence and human trafficking research in lower- and middle-income countries. She is currently based out of Evanston, where she is also a visiting scholar at Northwestern University’s Global Poverty Reduction Lab.

Mariyana Zapryanova ’09 – Smith College

Mariyana Zapryanova ’09 graduated summa cum laude with a double major in Economics and Mathematics and a minor in French. Mariyana earned her PhD in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has been on the faculty at Smith College since 2015, where she is an Assistant Professor of Economics. Mariyana is also a member of the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group. Her research interests are in law & economics and in the economics of crime. Her research has been published in many journals including Journal of Law and Economics, Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, and the B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy. Through her scholarly work, she seeks to answer some of the following public policy questions: What is the effect of time in prison and time on parole on reoffending? How do prison composition and characteristics affect recidivism rates? Do various justice-related policies curb racial disparities in the criminal justice system?