Planning Committee

For information on upcoming events, sponsorship opportunities or press inquiries, please contact the Symposium Planning Committee at policysymposium@prgs.edu.

Pardee RAND

Pardee RAND

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Gulrez Shah Azhar

Gulrez Shah Azhar is a doctoral candidate at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and an assistant policy analyst at the RAND Corporation. Previously he was a senior lecturer and assistant professor at the Indian Institute of Public Health, part of the Public Health Foundation of India. There he worked on issues of environmental health, climate change, and infectious diseases, focusing on surveillance and early-warning systems. His work to develop a Heat Action Plan for Ahmedabad—the first for any city in south Asia—was widely recognized.

Before that, Azhar was with the Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health Cluster at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. He worked on a systematic review of self-management of NCDs and on developing a prioritized research agenda for NCD research in LMICs. His other research has been on the utilization of healthcare services and a systematic review of DOTS-based treatment of tuberculosis in India.

He completed his M.P.H. through the universities of Sheffield and Copenhagen and the École des Hautes Études en Santé Publique (EHESP) in Rennes, France. He is also a medical doctor with post-graduate medical residency training in community medicine from the J N Medical College, AMU, India. He is the winner of the Erasmus Mundus scholarship of the European Commission and several other research grants including from the Wellcome Trust. He has published in several journals, presented at various conferences, and done short courses and trainings in related subjects. His interests are in health, environment, population, and development issues.

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Juliana Chen

Juliana Chen is a doctoral candidate at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and an assistant policy analyst at RAND. She earned a master's degree in environmental management with a concentration in environmental economics and policy from Duke University and a B.A. in physics and economics from the University of Chicago.

Prior to joining Pardee RAND, she worked for five years as a researcher at international development organizations in Washington, D.C. She was a consultant in the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program, where she evaluated the economic and health impacts of a global hygiene and sanitation intervention on early childhood development. She was also a research fellow in the Inter-American Development Bank's research department, where she worked on randomized controlled trials of education interventions in Latin America and developed a structural economic model of the allocation of parental time to children and labor. Her research interests include women and children, economic development, education, environmental health, and Latin America.

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PhuongGiang Nguyen

PhuongGiang Nguyen is an assistant policy analyst at The RAND Corporation and a PhD student at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She received a Master of Science in Public Health at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where she studied health policy/management with special emphases on econometrics and decision modelling. Her master paper involved an analysis of the association between hospital profitability and patient health outcomes.

Nguyen’s policy experiences center on evaluations and quantitative analyses. She interned with the U.S. Agency for International Development in Ethiopia, where she worked on an expenditure analysis of PEPFAR programs, developed a GIS database to improve data collection and project tracking, and supported evaluations of programs on water/sanitation, food security, HIV/AIDS, and health management information systems. As a research assistant with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy/University of New Mexico, she contributed to data analyses and process/outcomes evaluations of several U.S.-Mexico binational/Border health projects, including a community health worker intervention, as well as projects on gender health and constrained social choices.

Nguyen is proficient in Vietnamese and conversational in French and Spanish. Her interests include health economics, international development, and program monitoring/evaluation.

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Sujeong Park

Sujeong Park is a doctoral candidate at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and an assistant policy analyst at RAND. She has an M.A. in economics from Seoul National University, specializing in regional information, and a B.A. in management science from KAIST (formerly the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology). She has worked on several policy-related projects, including an economic impact analysis of invasive diseases and insects in the agricultural industry and analyses of consumers' willingness to pay for a biodiversity label on food products. She previously worked in Kenya as a project manager for with the Korea International Cooperation Agency, supporting projects to assist single mothers. Her research interests include social capital, public safety, poverty, regional development, and corporate social responsibility.

Yan Wang

Yan Wang is a doctoral candidate at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and an assistant policy analyst at RAND. Prior to RAND, Yan worked as an officer at the Ministry of Health, People’s Republic of China for six years. She was specialized in guiding the private resources for public health objectives. As a project manager, she oversaw more than 10 public-private partnerships with combined budgets of $20 million. She also carried out quantitative and qualitative research for the health care reform initiatives in China. Especially, she evaluated the feasibility of centralized purchasing of medical devices and conducted the research of reforming public hospitals using public-private partnership model. In addition, she supported China’s health diplomacy in African countries and managed one of China Foreign Aid Projects. Yan holds a Master of Public Policy (MPP) with a concentration in health policy at the University of Chicago and an MSc in International Management from Loughborough University, UK. She is fluent in English and Chinese. At RAND, her research interests include health economics, cost-effectiveness in health care, public-private partnership, public health, global health, program evaluation and foreign aid.

USC

USC

Madison Thesing

Madison is a second year Master’s in Public Administration student at University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy. At Price, she is the Programming Chair for The Graduate Policy and Administration Community (GPAC) representing over 400 Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Policy students at USC. Madison graduated from Willamette University, a small private liberal arts college in Salem, OR. She is passionate about local government and community development. Currently, she serves as an Administrative Intern at the City of Santa Monica.

Chris Copolillo

Chris Copolillo

Chris Copolillo is driven by the desire to take a leadership role in creating a society that promotes justice and opportunity for all people, and believes that we move closer to achieving these aims by practicing and teaching habitual giving. He has worked in various roles in nonprofits, education, and politics, and is interested in opportunities that draw upon these interests and skills and present chances for intellectual growth.

UCLA

UCLA

Tony Castelletto

Anthony Castelletto

Tony Castelletto is a first year Master of Public Policy student at UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs. Educated in Physics, Physical Chemistry, Cognitive Science, and Information Science Tony draws from his diverse background to solve difficult problems for the public good. His policy interests are Climate Change, Sustainability, Science and Technology. Prior to entering the Master of Public Policy Program at UCLA's Luskin School, Tony worked in a number of areas including Satellite Ground Control, Network Engineering, Library Science, and Natural Language Processing. He has helped to publish several foreign language dictionaries. As an IT and Computer Science Professional, Tony worked on numerous NASA projects through the University of Michigan's Space Physics Laboratory where he worked to manage data and operations. He moved on to work at the MERIT Network Operations Center where he worked as an Internet Engineer as the Internet transitioned from NSF management to private operation. Tony's career took him up the ladder of networking protocols as he took up new duties developing web infrastructure and applications for several departments at the University of Michigan. During this time, Tony began to consider the cultural and social aspects of Information Systems. This led him pursue a Master of Library and Information Science. While studying for his master's degree, Tony worked as a data curator for the Linguistic Data Consortium where he helped to publish data-sets for research into Linguistics and Natural Language Processing. In this capacity, Tony played critical roles in the compilation and publication of dictionaries for the Tamil, Yoruba, Gullah, Lucumi, and Mawukakan languages. Tony continued his studies as a PhD student in Information Studies where his research centered on Hastily Formed Networks in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief. Tony switched into Public Policy to tackle the issues of Climate Change and Sustainability. He plans on working as a policy analyst in government following graduation.

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Patrick Co

Patrick Co is a Masters of Public Policy student at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs as well as the professional development chair for the student body association. Having attended UC Berkeley and the College of San Mateo, his focus is on education policy and international development. His academic interests include domestic and international higher education topics such as community college and four-year college education, counseling, career development, and equity. Currently he is interning at the Japan Foundation, assisting them in their study of the trends in Japanese language education in the U.S. He holds two bachelor’s degrees in Integrative Biology and Japanese Language, and is conversational in Filipino and Japanese.

Sydney Ganon

Before moving to Los Angeles, Sydney was the Manager of Parent and Community Engagement at KIPP NYC public charter schools in New York. In that position, she helped parent and family groups to advocate for charter schools in New York City and Albany. Prior to her work in community engagement, she worked in fundraising and volunteer management for KIPP NYC. Sydney earned her bachelor's degree in Anthropology and English at the University of Vermont. She currently attends UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs where she is earning her Master of Public Policy (MPP) with a focus in K-12 urban education policy and quantitative analysis.

Kurt Klein

Kurt Klein

Kurt Klein is a second year Masters of Public Policy student at UCLA. His primary policy interests are climate resilience and adaptation in the developing world and the formulation of responsible policy towards nations with nuclear weapons. Last November, he co-authored the JustJobs Network report The Changing Climate of Livelihoods: Case Studies from Bangladesh, India and Indonesia. He also was a Graduate Research Assistant at the UCLA Blum Center on the project Social Cohesion in Latin America: Implications for the United States. At UCLA, Kurt is the Managing Editor at The Generation, the school’s student operated foreign affairs magazine. His writings span from laying out a pathway for the United States to end its embargo with Cuba to discussing moral authority in US foreign policy with former US Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul. He previously lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina for eight years, speaks Spanish fluently, and is well-versed in Latin American politics. Kurt will begin working towards his PhD at the Pardee RAND Graduate School this September.

Lexi Liu

Lexi is a second- year Master of Public Policy student at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, where she specializes in housing policy and data management. Lexi is currently working on a project to make the government more accountable by collecting and updating data from California Public Records and the Census Bureau. During the summer, Lexi was a research intern with the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), where she analyzed the housing policy in California and assessed financial strategies employed by low- income households to cope with the high cost of living.

Prior to UCLA, Lexi interned at the the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) to improve the ideas of sustainability and investment on clean energy by engaging in environmental campaigns and media outreach.

Pepperdine

Pepperdine

Denise Garcia

Denise Garcia

Denise Garcia is a master of public policy candidate in the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University where she is specializing in Economics and State and Local Policy. From 2014-2015 Denise served as the First Year Representative for the Churchill Society and currently serves as the organization’s President. In 2014, she completed a two-month internship at the Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv, Israel, helping the organization implement several peace-building projects. Denise was born and raised in Upland, California and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology from the University of La Verne. Denise is currently an intern with the City of Malibu, working in the Administrative Services Department.

Johnathan Tamayo

Johnathan Tamayo is a Master of Public Policy candidate at Pepperdine's School of Public Policy, with a double-specialization in Economics and International Relations. At the School of Public Policy, Johnathan is the Editor-in-Chief of the Pepperdine Policy Review, an annual student run academic journal, and Vice President of the Churchill Society, a student organization dedicated to study of leadership, prudence, and community in public policy. He obtained his BA in Economics from California State University Northridge with a minor in Business Management. He has a professional background in aerospace, but has turned his attention to making positive changes in the community at large through public policy. Johnathan is currently working in the realm of gang violence reduction, but ultimately plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Policy Analysis followed by a career in fostering security and economic development in the Middle East.

Whitney Whittington

Whitney Whittington is a native of Arkansas but has traveled all over the world. Starting in high school, she was involved in mission work among various islands of the Philippines. Throughout college, she taught at three separate high schools, was an orphanage dorm counselor, conducted educational seminars and feedings in tribal areas and worked on the Council of Public Health and Drug Abuse. During the summer of 2014, she spent time in Honduras doing medical missions and learning more about the policies and procedures of the Honduran foster care system. Whitney is currently a student at Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy and hopes to enroll in a PhD program upon graduation.

Claremont

Claremont

Roger J. Chin

Roger J. Chin is a Ph.D. student in Political Science and Information Systems at Claremont Graduate University. Prior to pursuing his Ph.D., he worked for several years as a criminal justice practitioner focusing on public policy implementation. He utilizes a mixed method approach in quantitative, spatial, and qualitative policy analysis. His work in the public sector and research publications spans criminal justice policies; social policies; policy implementation, design, and evaluation; public-private partnerships; and leadership. He received his Master of Arts in Public Policy from Claremont Graduate University, Master of Public Administration from California State University, San Bernardino, and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego.

Lily Rowen

Lily Rowen is a PhD student in Political Science at Claremont Graduate University. Her academic concentrations are in Public Policy and American Politics. Lily holds a Master of the Arts degree in Women’s Studies from Claremont Graduate University and a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Religious Studies from Occidental College. Before pursuing her PhD, Lily worked for the Homeless Action Committee, a non-profit organization that provides direct services to people experiencing homelessness. Lily’s research interests include homelessness, housing policy, and identity politics.