Each year, the McCourt Policy Innovation Lab selects a new group of passionate and skilled students to propel its mission.

The 2017-2018 Policy Innovators are:

Catherine Lyons - Co-Director

Catherine is a second-year Master of Public Policy student at the McCourt School. She comes to Washington, DC from Los Angeles, California, where she was Southern California Director for FWD.us, a bipartisan nonprofit advocacy organization focused on passing immigration reform. Previously, she led the housing and community development policy work for a business-led nonprofit in the San Francisco Bay Area. She also served as an AmeriCorps member in New Orleans after graduating from the University of Southern California. 

Moha Thakur

Moha is currently a Master of Public Policy candidate at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. She has experience in financial reporting and management of public grant funding, and was most recently a research assistant in the area of critical infrastructure and cyber security. A graduate of the Australian National University in Canberra, she's enjoying the new experiences of daily life on the other side of the world and hoping her insights can be applied here too. Her interests are focused in urban infrastructure and planning policy.

Anna Vasylytsya

Anna is a second year graduate student at the McCourt School of Public Policy. Her areas of study are international development, environmental policy, and the intersection of both. After interning for a community development organization in Hanoi, she experienced firsthand the importance of understanding the local context in community development. She has lived in the DC metropolitan area for the past sixteen years and is excited to participate in the work of the Innovation Lab in the local community. Anna enjoys hiking and backpacking and can often be found exploring the forests and parks in the area.

Harper Sutherland

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Harper Sutherland moved to D.C. last year to attend graduate school at Georgetown's McCourt School of Public Policy. She graduated in 2014 from Harvard University, where she concentrated in South Asian Studies, learning Hindi, Urdu and Bengali, and wrote her senior thesis on the post-independence experiences of Indian royal families. Following that, her research took a sharp turn into public transportation. Harper received a Fulbright-Nehru Student Research scholarship to study the consumer experience of public bus passengers in New Delhi. In her free time, Harper loves handcrafts, particularly knitting, and reading mysteries.

Katie Baskett

Katie, a native of Louisville, KY, is a Master of Public Policy student at McCourt. She first explored urban social and economic topics through internships in education reform in Washington, DC and with a downtown development organization in Kentucky. Subsequently, she spent three years working in client relations for a marketing firm. She's excited to combine skills learned from previous experiences with the MPP training in order to approach the complex urban issues faced by DC communities.

Kelsey Berkowitz


Kelsey is originally from Massachusetts and has lived in the DC area for 5 years. She is interested in workforce development policy as a way to address poverty and social mobility. Before attending Georgetown she worked as a legislative/policy researcher for a group of lobbyists, working primarily with local government clients. In this role she learned about urban issues and community development. She's looking to apply those experiences and interests to help advance the work of the Innovation Lab.

Krista D'Alessandro


Krista D’Alessandro is currently a Master of Public Policy candidate at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, prior to which she worked at an underserved Denver Public School as a Math Teaching Fellow in her home state of Colorado. In addition to her work teaching low-income youth, she served as a volunteer researcher at the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, focusing specifically on the connection between unemployed workers and private occupational schools. She is passionate about social policies relating to women and gender as well as economic and educational inequality, and is extremely excited to work with key community leaders in D.C. through the Policy Innovation Lab.

Amanda Wyma

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Amanda is a first-year student at the McCourt School of Public Policy. She came to Georgetown after two years working on a Department of Justice grant expanding healthcare services to victims of sexual assault. Having lived in two major cities prior to coming to Washington, D.C., she’s looking forward to seeing how the lab might be able to learn from other urban areas tackling similar challenges in innovative ways.  

Kamila Saldanha

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Kamila is a first-year MPP candidate at the McCourt School. Prior to attending graduate school, she earned her B.A. in Economics and Political Science from St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi and served as a consultant with Edelman, a leading communications marketing firm. She is interested in economic, foreign and transport policy and has explored these through internships at Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations, as well as, Resurgent India and Janaagraha – two advocacy non-profits engaged in active civic participation and urban governance. 

Kathleen Sawa


Kathleen is a first-year student at the McCourt School of Public Policy. She moved here from Southern California after spending three years working in higher education as an internships coordinator at the University of California Riverside. She is excited to combine her studies at McCourt with skills gained from previous internships and work experiences to continue engaging with policy and solving problems at a community level. 

Tingjie Meng


Tingjie Meng is from Shanghai, China. She graduated from the School of Economics, Fudan University. She had experiences in financial risk management, wealth management, and foreign exchange administration. Now she is a Master of Public Policy candidate at the McCourt School, Georgetown University, seeking chances to make full use of her knowledge and experience to work for the community. 

Elle Loveseth

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Elle is currently a Master of Public Policy candidate at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. After pursuing an undergraduate degree at UCLA, Elle spent two years assisting disabled Americans as they navigated through the Social Security Disability application process. Since then, her career has focused on supporting the democratization of health services and removing barriers to accessing healthcare. She looks forward to working side by side with the local DC community to  improve access to critical services while supporting the identity of the community.

Robin Nichols


Robin is a first-year student at the McCourt School working towards a Master's in Public Policy. She originally hails from the Washington, DC area, and has enjoyed living and working in the city for the past four years. Most recently, Robin worked as an IT Consultant with Accenture Federal Services, where she developed skills in Project Management, Data Analytics, Cross-Cultural Training, and Logistics Management. Prior to her time at Accenture, Robin spent 14 months in Managua, Nicaragua working for a community development NGO. She is pursuing the MPP degree to pivot her career more directly towards public service and civic engagement.

Sovannaroth Tey

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Sovannaroth is currently a graduate student at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) on exchange to the McCourt School of Public Policy (MSPP), Georgetown University. He is working toward a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and a specialization track in Economic Policy Analysis with skills ranging from econometrics (STATA), cost-benefit analysis, to behavioural economics and spatial data modeling (GIS). He interned at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) where he drafted a joint ADB-World Economic Forum (WEF) research paper on the impacts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on ASEAN regional integration. He is passionate about incorporating design thinking into national- and regional-level policymaking with a specific focus on economic development, energy access, and urban planning.

Spike Jurewicz


Spike is a Master in Policy Management student at the McCourt School.  An Air Force officer, he has deployed to South Korea, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the Middle East, and also travelled extensively throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.  Previous studies include Behavioral Science at the U.S. Air Force Academy and Philosophy at Virginia Tech.  Nick enjoys the practical dimensions of public policy and hopes his unique perspective will serve the Policy Innovation Lab team well.

Lesley Hsu

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Lesley is a Master of Public Policy candidate at the McCourt School of Public Policy. Before coming to McCourt, she worked for a few years in New York at an NGO that focused on advocacy relating to international justice, conflict prevention, and good global governance. Her interests include transatlantic relations and international development, especially concerning economic empowerment, as well as checking out interesting art. She's excited to become involved in the Lab and learn more about the DC community.

Rachel Grich


Rachel Grich, originally from the Bay Area, is a first-year dual Master of Business Administration and Master of Public Policy student at Georgetown University. She graduated from Northeastern University in Boston with a Finance and Political Science degree, and has since worked as a Management Consultant both the public and private sector. With a passion for education and urban economic development, Rachel has decided to return to school to make a career pivot. She hopes to use her business background to become a project manager for the government, non-profit or social business. Rachel is excited to participate in the Policy Innovation Lab to learn more about the DC local community and help design solutions for its urban challenges.

Jolene Lester


Jolene is a Master’s in Policy Management student at the McCourt School of Public Policy. She came to McCourt from federal government where she served as an appointee in President Obama’s administration as the White House Liaison at the General Services Administration (GSA). Her previous roles within the administration include serving as Special Assistant to the Administrator of GSA and time as an Economics Associate within the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. Prior to moving to DC, she worked in Florida in the nonprofit sector with a focus on stakeholder relationships, fund development, and community organizing as well as on the 2008 Obama for America campaign across five states. Her additional previous work includes a year of service with AmeriCorps in Boston, MA after graduating from Villanova University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and minor in sociology. Jolene is focusing her graduate studies on urban policy, community development, and the cross-section of public and private sectors.

Vadim Abanin

Ramy Zeid

Meg Pursely

Brent Howell