Incoming Students

Julian Doumit graduated from Central Washington University in 2016 with a B.S. in economics and a minor in finance. While there, he conducted research on international economic policy and fiscal responsibility, all while writing and editing for the school newspaper. Extraordinary life experiences inevitably made him want to pursue a career more meaningful than what the business world could offer him, leading him to pursue a MPP at Portland State. 

Masaki Fujimoto graduated with a B.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of Aizu and worked as a software engineer and a magazine editor in Japan. He came to the United States in 2014 to attend Portland Community College where he graduated with a Associate Degree of Gerontology. Japan is known for its super-aging society. He hopes to apply the study at the MPP Program to help a small step forward for better society for all the generation.


Stephanie Gonzales holds a B.S. in Chemistry from Oregon State University, with a focus in Science Education. Through her time at OSU, she worked closely with the College of Engineering teaching and coordinating K-12 Science Education programs. In 2015, she moved to Portland to work for Oregon MESA, an engineering non-profit that serves 400 under-served 6-12 grade students in Salem and Portland. Her work there as the College and Careers Program Coordinator focuses on working with students and families to access higher education, through hands-on engagement. She is particularly interested in addressing policy that affect the needs of families of color, undocumented students, and low-income schools, such as education, immigration, and social issues.

Hillary Hahn earned a B.A in English and Women & Gender Studies from the University of Oregon. She interned for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon and worked as a grassroots fundraiser for many environment and public health campaigns. Hillary supported community efforts to end the cycle of poverty during her two years of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA. For the last three years, she has worked for Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East and is passionate about creating sustainable affordable housing solutions in Portland. Her interests include assessing the role of housing and social policy in affecting poverty, exploring the overlap of equity, equality, housing and wealth distribution, and assessing how policy can promote the elimination of multi-generational poverty. Her goal is to discover how to make public service delivery more efficient through advocacy and community collaborations


Anita Haidary is the co-founder of Young Women for Change, a grassroots movement consisting of Afghan volunteers committed to empowering Afghan women through social and economic participation, politics and advocacy. She has previous experience working as a producer for TOLO TV, Afghan Human Rights Research and Advocacy Consortium and Equality for Peace and Democracy. She is a member of the Afghan Women’s Advocacy Coalition. October 2013, Anita was featured on the Bush Center Blog’s Leading Change series and in November 2013, Anita was a featured speaker at the Advancing Afghan Women: Promoting Peace and Progress in Afghanistan Conference at Georgetown University where she shared the stage with USAWC honorary co-chairs Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton as well as Secretary John Kerry. Anita’s film, This is My City Too, is one of seven entries from Mount Holyoke College, recently won best film at the Five College Film Festival of the Five College Consortium. Anita was invited to speak at a private luncheon in 2013’s  Clinton Global Initiative University  at Arizona State University. After graduating in 2014 from Mount Holyoke College where she majored in International Relations and Film Studies, Anita returned to Afghanistan and in October 2014 she was hired as Media and Youth Affairs Advisor to First Lady of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. In 2016, she was hired by World Food Program United Nations to develop the National School Feeding Policy in cooperation with Ministry of Education. In January 2017, she was hired as project manager for Afghan Children Read. Her skills include management, team-building, research, media production both television and radio, fundraising, policy development and proposal writing.


Kelsey Hill graduated from University of Maryland with a major in Cultural Anthropology focusing on Environmental Impact with a minor in Sustainability Studies.


Elise Cordle Kennedy has a Bachelor of Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a Masters of Music and Artistic Diploma in Opera from Indiana University. Elise worked for several years as a professional opera singer before making the transition to working in the non-profit sector. She is currently the Development Officer for a multi-cultural youth leadership non-profit called REAP, which operates programs in Portland metro area schools. Before that, she was the Development Assistant at Northwest Outward Bound School. Elise's interests relate to the study of equity, inclusion and poverty reduction. On the international level, she is interested in policy working towards equity and education for young women in low-income countries.


Barrett Lewis graduated from the University of Arkansas with a B.A. in Political Science in 2013. Since then, he relocated to Portland to consider his next step, culminating in the decision to pursue a Masters of Public Policy. Barrett is interested in tech policy, specifically the effects of job automation and growth of A.I. on the labor force, as well as health care policy. Barrett intends to stay in Oregon, and focus on local government in the Portland metro area.

Michaela Madrid is a recent graduate from Black Hills State University with a BS in Sociology and Political Science. During her studies, she often focused on issues of race and equality with a special interest in Native American issues. She is currently working at the U.S. Department of Interior - Indian Affairs, Office of Self Governance after interning at the Office's Washington, D.C. headquarters. Being a proudly enrolled member of the Lower Brule Lakota Sioux Tribe, Michaela hopes to help shape policy that will have a positive impact on the everyday lives of Native Americans on and off the reservation.

Matt Plotnick graduated from Syracuse University in 2014 with a B.A. in English & Textual Studies.  After spending over a year working as a research analyst with a major NYC law firm, Matt spent a year serving with AmeriCorps at McCarver Elementary School in Tacoma, Washington. Currently he is a Case Manager with Annex II, a juvenile re-entry program that is a part of Janus Youth Programs and the Oregon Youth Authority. Matt is focused on criminal justice reform, and specifically the reformation of the juvenile justice system both in Oregon and across the United States


Raised in Chicago, Katia Selezneva received her B.A. in Political Science with a minor in International Studies from University of Illinois at Chicago. Since moving to Portland in 2015, Katia has been working directly with the city’s growing homeless population and advocating for families and individuals dealing with housing instability. Katia prides herself in providing supportive services to marginalized populations. She has extensive experience working directly with youth in the New York’s foster care system, and with adults in psychiatric long-term care system. Her interests lie in advancing public policy that promotes more effective, culturally-responsive safety net programs, and prosperity opportunities for low-income families and vulnerable populations. 

Brandon Sheldon graduated from Portland State University in 2016 with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Law and Legal studies. During his time at Portland State he worked as an intern for a freshmen state representative in the Oregon legislature, working with constituents and learning the legislative process. He also interned within the Washington County District Attorney’s office in the victim’s assistance unit, helping victims of crime to understand their role in the legal process, and to enforce and inform victims of their legal rights. In 2017, Brandon volunteered with Washington County Disability, Aging, and Veteran Services as a veteran service officer case aide, assisting the officers in advocating for disabled veterans to the Veterans Administration. His policy interests include: state and federal election policy, U.S foreign policy, and social policy.

Kaylee Shields was born in Portland but moved to Arizona when she was nine. I made my way back to the PNW for undergrad at University of Oregon. From there I graduated in 2016 with focuses in Family and Human Services and Special Education. During my time spent in Eugene I worked and interned in various direct service positions that have influenced who I am and why my passion lies where it does. An internship with a program affiliated with the U of O, Early Childhood CARES (ECCARES), and a job as a Personal Support Worker(PSW) for Lane County Developmental Disabilities were two of the most influential experiences. ECCARES is a program that offers early intervention and early childhood special education services to families and their children ages 0-5. As a PSW I worked in-home with a family for over 2 years, giving me a great deal of insight into what life can be like for a child with a disability and what life can be for their family as well. From these two amazing opportunities, I found my desire to make positive change in order to support children and families whose lives involve disability. Over the last four years I have learned there is a limit to what can be accomplished within direct service, which is what brings me to the Masters of Public Policy program at Portland State University. I'm very happy to be back in Portland and am very eager to start the MPP program to continue on my path bringing me closer to my end career goal, which is to work in the Human Service Department for the State of Oregon supporting individuals with disabilities through program evaluation and policy analysis.   


Jon Walker is a freelance journalist who mainly covers health care policy, drug policy reform, and technology. He worked previously as the senior policy analyst for the progressive website Firedoglake.  He is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the Future of Marijuana Policy. Jon received his Bachelor's degree from Wesleyan University. He moved to the Portland area in 2016 after living in Washington, D.C. for the past decade.