Executive Board

Karen Caspa, Editor-in-Chief

Karen Caspa is the Editor-in-Chief of the Public Purpose Journal and a second-year Master of Public Administration with an interest in international and nonprofit management.  She currently works at the National Democratic Institute’s (NDI) Latin America and Caribbean office, an international nonprofit organization that works to strengthen democracy in the region as well as advocate for the inclusion of women, youth, and indigenous communities in politics. Karen attended the University of California, Davis, where she graduated with a degree in political science and a minor in Latin American studies. As an undergraduate student, she interned with the United Nations, where her interest for education policy began, and thus hopes to continue working on education projects and policies. In her free time, Karen enjoys running, listening to podcasts, and reading. 

Anish Nalla, President

Anish Nalla is a second year masters Candidate in the Masters of Public Administration program. After graduating from Emory University in Atlanta, Anish has served at all levels of the Government including at Walter Reed Medical Center, the United States Senate, and at government relations firms across DC. In his free time Anish enjoys spending time watching soccer, reading, and playing video games.

PPJ Online Editor 2021-2022

Michelle Kumar, Managing Online Editor

Michelle Kumar is a second-year MPP student focusing on comparative policy. Before coming to American she received her undergraduate degree in international studies and ethics & public policy from the University of Iowa. Her policy interests center on how we can learn from other countries to address the nexus between racial justice, health, housing, infrastructure, education and climate issues in the U.S., particularly as they relate to immigrant and diaspora populations. Currently, she works as a research analyst for the Bipartisan Policy Center. In her free time, Michelle enjoys baking, reading and exploring D.C. to find the best places to eat.

Dakota Engel, Managing Print Editor

Dakota Engel is a second-year Justice, Law, and Criminology student with an interest in the school-to-prison pipeline, death penalty abolition, and transnational crime. Prior to attending American University, she served as a fifth-grade teacher in North Carolina. She currently works for the Department of Justice. In her free time, Dakota loves reading political memoirs, hiking with her dog, and running.

Juan Carlos Guerrera, Communications Director

Juan is the Communications Director and in his final year of the MPP program. He’s from Los Angeles California but came to DC to demystify data at AU. In his free time he likes cooking different dishes and catching sunrises.

Rachel Timmons, Finance Director

Rachel is the Finance Director and in her second year of the MPA program. She moved to DC from St. Louis last year, where she worked in restaurant management. Covid made her finally rest and take stock of her interests – because she loves tackling complex problems, she decided that AU is the place to be! She enjoys reading (and arguing) about social policy and learning why programs work or fail; that’s why the Public Purpose Journal drew her in. It’s a forum for us all to discuss what is happening in the news and policy world so that we can learn from each other and make impactful change. This fall, Rachel is excited to be a research intern at OpenSecrets as well as taking a bite out of crime with McGruff the Crime Dog at The National Crime Prevention Council. In her free time, she loves hiking and sitting outside on blankets or patios.

Resident Editors

Ashraya Kalavakunta

Ashraya Kalavakunta

Ashraya Kalavakunta is a second year MPP student concentrating in international development and public management. She has a special interest in sustainable development and women and children’s rights. Ashraya graduated with a B.A. in political science and international affairs from the University of California, Riverside. She worked as a consultant on water and public transportation projects before moving to DC for grad school. In her free time she likes exploring new food places, hiking, and tutoring.

Breckyn Ryg

Breckyn Ryg is a second-year Master of Public Policy (MPP) student concentrating in social, racial, and criminal justice policy. She received her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Neurobiology and Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is native to the Milwaukee, WI area. Her research and policy interests center on antiracist, public health approaches to systemic inequities, particularly relating to criminal and juvenile justice, socioeconomic disadvantage, urban neighborhoods, and transportation. She has worked in a variety of public and private spheres. In her free time, she loves hiking, cooking, eating, dancing, traveling, and singing in the AU Chorus!

Ashraya Kalavakunta

David Yao

David Yao is a first-year Master of Public Administration student with a concentration in health policy. He was born in Taiwan but now his family lives in Seattle, Washington. He also earned his B.A. in political science and history from American University. After graduating, he hopes to work for a nonprofit or on Capitol Hill.

Kennedy Greenstein

Kennedy Greenstein is a first year MPP. She is originally from Seattle, WA and did her undergraduate work in Denver, CO. In the past she worked for my as an ambassador for the business school and as a rowing team coach. Her interests involve studying foreign policy and hopefully working for an NGO after graduation.

Ashraya Kalavakunta

Subiksha Ramakrishnan

Subiksha Ramakrishnan is a first year MPP.  Her policy interests revolve around international development, manufacturing jobs in the US, and environmental policy. Subi has a degree in new media journalism and also worked as a social media manager and video producer for a newsroom in India. She is also a podcast assistant with the School of Communications. Subi enjoys video editing, video production, feature writing, and report writing.

Columnists

Christen Blades

Christen Blades is a second year graduate student who is pursuing her master’s in political science with a concentration in comparative politics. In 2020, she received her B.A. in history from Bridgewater College. Besides being a student, she is the historian for American University’s Graduate Black Student Union and is a high school English teacher.

Joi Lee

Joi Lee is a first year MPP student with an interest in residential policy and health entrepreneurship. Before obtaining her MD/PhD, she looks to strengthen her understanding of residential policies and their influence on factors related to comprehensive care in historically Black neighborhoods. She is originally from Orange County, California where she developed her passion for healthcare services in vulnerable patient care. As a fellow and research assistant at The University of California San Francisco, she founded and led initiatives to reduce health disparities nationally and globally, and continues to advocate for policies and structures that endorse leadership by the communities most impacted. Her aim is to strengthen and create national systems of comprehensive care in historical Black neighborhoods that lack resources, personnel and funding for autonomous medical structures.

Cam Napier headshot

Cam Napier

Cam Napier is a second-year Master of Public Policy student at American University’s School of Public Affairs with specific interests in equitable urban growth and climate and environment policy. He is originally from Nashville, Tennessee, and graduated from Rhodes College with a degree in urban studies and a minor in music. Cam currently works as a policy analyst for a government affairs and consulting firm in downtown Washington, D.C. In addition to scholarship and professional experience in public policy, Cam enjoys jazz and blues music, film photography, and creative writing. Following graduation from American University, he plans to pursue a career working in social and political research or continue pursuing government affairs.

Andres Blume

Andres Blume is a Master of Public Policy student at American University’s School of Public Affairs. Originally from Peru, he did his undergraduate in communication and advertising at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP). Since then, he has worked on education projects in the Peruvian private and public sectors. Currently, Andres is working as a Graduate Research Assistant for AU’s School of Education. He is interested in education and tech policy and plans to complete a concentration

Madelyn Amos

Madelyn Amos is a first year Master of Public Administration student with interests in environmental policy, grassroots advocacy, and gender politics. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019 with a double major in Public Policy and Gender Studies. She previously worked for the Democratic Party of Illinois as a campaign manager and oppositional researcher in Chicago and currently works for the Feminist Majority, advocating for reproductive justice. In her free time, Madelyn enjoys yoga, reading, and searching for the best Thai food in DC.

Christopher Fields

Chris Fields is a second-year Master of Public Administration student concentrating in policy analysis. He is originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in journalism and mass communication. After spending the previous eight years working in social media, he is looking forward to expanding his writing beyond 280 characters.

Savannah Millard

Savannah recently moved to the DC area in August. She is pursuing a Master’s in Justice, Law, & Criminology. Savannah is a cat mom of three: Houdini, Sookie, and Clementine. In her free time, she volunteers at humane society shelters. Additionally, she loves to read and hopes to have a haunted library someday. She has a B.A. in English Literature and is a certified paralegal.

Trevaughn Smith

Trevaughn Smith is a second-year Master of Public Policy student concentrating in Cybersecurity Policy at American University, with interests ranging from data privacy and ethics to computer security. He attended Hartwick College where he graduated with degrees in political science and computer science. Trevaughn currently works at Middle Seat Digital, a full-service digital firm that works exclusively with progressive candidates and causes across the country. When not working or representing graduate students as the President of GSC at the School of Public Affairs, he enjoys talking about the state of the tech world, cybersecurity policy, books to read, and finding things to eat.

Amma-Sika Adomako

Amma-Sika Adomako is a first year MPP student with interests in international development, comparative pol, and African economies. Prior to joining American University, she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal, West Africa. She currently works at the General Services Administration. During her spare time, Amma-Sika loves cuddling up to a good read, watching films with her husband, or indulging in other arts.

Shelby Patterson

Shelby N. Patterson is a first-year MPP student. She is an honor graduate of Clemson University with a BA in secondary education English and Winthrop University with an MEd in curriculum and instruction and English. A former teacher, Shels endears supporting families and communities through educational opportunities and community engagement programming. She currently works as the coordinator of the Eagle Endowment for Public and Community Service and a program assistant in the Sine Institute of Policy and Politics. Shels enjoys spending time with family and friends, sports, exploring nature, visiting museum exhibits, meeting new people, dancing, cooking new recipes, and travelling. Upon graduation from AU, Shels will continue her doctoral program and pursue a second career in public policy and management.

Tevin Williams

Tevin Williams is currently a FOIA professional working with a large sized federal government department and is a second-year Master of Public Policy student at American University’s School of Public Affairs with an interest in public health policy. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Justice Studies from Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from Adler University. His research and area of interest are primarily public health policy at the federal government level.

Join Our Team

The PPJ is looking for graduate students at American University’s School of Public Affairs to join the team as authors, columnists, or resident editors!