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Meet the Board

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The School of Public Policy Alumni Chapter Board represents an expansive network of more than 3,000 SPP alumni.

Through professional development events, community service programs, social activities and support of the School’s various academic initiatives, the alumni network plays an integral role in advancing our mission. Join us at an alumni event or contact us to learn more about getting involved.

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Headshot of Hugo Cantu
 
President

Policy Analyst, Prince George’s County Council

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Hugo E. Cantu was elected to the Alumni Board in June 2020 for a two-year term. He graduated in May 2020 with a B.A. in Public Policy and a minor in Real Estate Development, making Hugo the first President of the SPP Alumni board to graduate from the undergraduate program. He is a member of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), Engagement, and Steering committee. Hugo also holds an Associate Degree in Business Administration from Montgomery College. In his time at the University of Maryland, Hugo has served as a Public Policy Ambassador, an Orientation Advisor, and an Executive Board member and co-founder of UMD’s Public Policy Professional Fraternity, Kappa Omega Alpha. He served on the Presidential Transfer Committee for President Darryl Pines as a member of the University Relations and Communications, and Alumni Association subcommittee. Hugo is a Policy Analyst for Council Member Monique Anderson-Walker of the 8th District in Prince George’s County. In his free time, Hugo enjoys cooking, reading, and watching sports.

Seannice Bamiro headshot
 
Vice President, Co-Chair, Engagement Committee

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Seanniece Bamiro serves on the SPP Steering and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committees. She is a policy advocate with a passion for equity and reforming the criminal/legal system. She is an alumnus of both UMBC and the University of Maryland, College Park. She graduated from SPP in 2015 with a specialization in Social Policy. During her time at SPP, Seanniece completed an independent study on racial bias in drug policies and how those policies created mass incarceration. She along with Dawy Rkasnuam, Amy Fischer, Jocelyn O’Rourke and Marcus Gaddy hosted the School of Public Policy’s first Policy Matters forum which addressed police accountability in the aftermath of the Mike Brown shooting. She completed her Capstone Project with Family League of Baltimore advocating for school-wide free breakfast and lunch in Maryland and specifically in Baltimore City Public Schools. The policy was later adopted as Maryland law. Following graduation, she went on to help build the policy department at Family League of Baltimore and increase their presence in advocating for policies that impact the education, health and overall well-being of young people. She is currently organizing around ending the school-to-prison pipeline in Prince George’s County Public Schools to ensure that there are adequate amounts of counselors in schools and students are taught in environments where they are given multiple chances to learn and grow. She enjoys hiking, practicing mindfulness and meditation, being a part of the Harry Potter and Marvel Cinematic Universe fandoms and listening to The Friendzone podcast.

Headshot of Ella Clarke
 
Co-Chair, DEI Committee

Community Planning and Development Specialist & Presidential Management Fellow, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

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Ella Clarke joined the School of Public Policy Alumni Chapter Board in 2021 and serves on the Steering Committee and as the co-chair for the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee. She holds a Master of Public Policy, (‘21), a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science & Policy (‘14), and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Language & Literature (‘14), all from the University of Maryland. She is currently a 2021 Presidential Management Fellow and Community Planning and Development Specialist at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Her work focuses on climate adaptation, resilience, and equity. While in her Masters program, Ella worked part time for the World Resources Institute’s New Climate Economy and served as a graduate assistant for Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, supporting the Global Environment Facility. She also served as the 2020-2021 Policy Student Government Association’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion and was a member of the Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Taskforce. Prior to returning to UMD for her Masters degree, Ella was a nonprofit philanthropy professional in the San Francisco Bay Area with five years of experience in development, communications, event planning, and project management. She is fluent in Spanish and a California native. In her spare time, Ella loves baking, lifting, camping, and hiking with her husband and their shelter pup, Marla. 

 

Headshot of Libby Farrell
 
Co-Chair, Communications Committee

Graduate Student at Sciences Po Paris, Master of Public Policy, Cultural Policy and Management

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Libby Farrell was elected to the School of Public Policy Alumni Board for a one-year term in June 2021, where she began serving as Co-Chair of the Communications Committee. She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from the University of Maryland in December 2019. Having been enrolled in the University Honors program within the Honors College for the entirety of her undergraduate studies, Libby received her Honors Citation in December 2019. As an undergraduate student, Libby served as an official student ambassador to the School of Public Policy (SPP) for two years, where she represented the interests of undergraduate policy students and worked with incoming students interested in the SPP. From December 2019 to August 2021, Libby served as the Director of Communications for a Delegate in the Maryland General Assembly. Libby is passionate about amplifying the voices of marginalized communities through diverse communications strategies and policies. Currently, Libby is a full-time graduate student at Sciences Po Paris (Institut d'études politiques de Paris) in the Master of Public Policy program, where she is focusing on cultural policy and management. Outside of her work and studies, Libby enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with animals.

Headshot of Claire Haas
 
Co-Chair, Steering Committee

Research Associate, Institute for Defense Analyses

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Claire Haas joined the School of Public Policy Alumni Chapter Board in 2021 and serves on the Steering and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committees. She holds her Master of Public Policy (‘21) specializing in International Security and Economic Policy, her Bachelor of Science in Economics (‘19), and her Bachelor of Arts in Government & Politics (‘19)—all received summa cum laude from the University of Maryland. While completing her Master’s, Claire was the Policy Student Government Association Academic Initiatives Director, the Brody Scholar, and a Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) researcher. Claire is now a Research Associate at the Institute for Defense Analyses where she works at the nexus of operations, policy, and technology to objectively answer the most challenging U.S. security and science policy questions. She also remains connected with CISSM working on projects that seek to better understand strategic use of the cyber domain. The U.S. Department of State and the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) are among her other security-focused employers. In her free time, Claire runs, reads, and takes on too many home improvement projects.

 

Headshot of Elise Johnson
 
Co-Chair, Engagement Committee

Senior Research Associate, National Academy of Public Administration

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Elise Johnson joined the School of Public Policy Alumni Board in June 2021 to serve a two-year term. She graduated from the University of Maryland in May 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy, a Bachelor of Arts in Government & Politics, and a Minor in Spanish. Elise also completed the two-year Public Leadership College Park Scholars Program as an undergraduate. During her time in the School of Public Policy, she served on the Dean’s Student Advisory Council for two years. Some of her other campus involvement included being an undergraduate research assistant for the Center for American Politics & Citizenship, a tutor at a local elementary school, and a peer mentor for the Public Leadership Scholars Program. As a Senior Research Associate at the National Academy of Public Administration, Elise conducts organizational assessments for federal agencies and non-governmental organizations to solve their critical management and governance challenges. In her spare time, Elise enjoys spending time outdoors, cheering on UMD sports teams, and participating in trivia nights with friends.

 

Headshot of Mollie Laniado

 

Co-Chair, Communications Committee  

Communications Coordinator, Feldman Strategies

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Mollie Laniado began serving on the School of Public Policy Alumni Board for a two-year term in June 2021. She graduated cum laude from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy and a minor from the Robert H. Smith School of Business. Finding a passion in combining her public policy education with communications, Mollie got her start in the halls of the Congress, serving to generate media attention and connect constituents to Congressional activities across a wide variety of policy areas. She now serves as Communications Coordinator at Feldman Strategies, helping to tell the stories of those in many different policy spaces and using strategic communications to connect her clients’ missions with the masses. While not at work, Mollie enjoys travelling, surrounding herself with as many dogs as possible, and watching basketball.

Headshot of Raymond Nevo
 
Co-Chair, Steering Committee

State & Equity Policy Manager, National Housing Trust

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Raymond has served on the Alumni Board since July 2020, and currently serves as Co-Chair of the Steering Committee, and member of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Committee. He graduated in May 2020 with a B.A. in Public Policy. During his time at UMD, he served as the Public Policy Representative in the University Senate, President of the SPP Social Policy Council, and original member of the Diversity Inclusion Belonging (DIB) Taskforce. His experience at UMD strengthened his passion for housing, energy, environmental and racial equity and justice, and led him to the National Housing Trust (NHT).  Through the Energy Efficiency For All (EEFA) project - which NHT is a national partner of - Raymond leads two State coalitions of housing, energy, and environmental policy experts who advocate for affordable, safe, and healthy housing in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Additionally, he leads the Racial Equity Working Group for all 12 EEFA state coalitions, and serves on the Advisory Council of the Network for Energy, Water, and Health in Affordable Buildings (NEWHAB). In March 2021 Raymond became a candidate for the District Two seat on the Prince George’s County Council and looks forward to sharing his experience and expertise with his community leading up to Election Day, June 28, 2022. In his spare time, which he swears still exists, Raymond is a flying trapeze artist and instructor at Trapeze School New York, located in the Navy Yard neighborhood of Southeast Washington, DC.

Delisha Thompson headshot
 
Secretary, Co-Chair, Diversity  Committee 

Princeton in Asia Fellow
University Professor, Donghai University, Taichung, Taiwan

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Delisha Thompson completed the MPP degree in Spring 2018 with no concentration, and her B.A. in Government and Politics with a concentration in East Asian Studies at the University of Maryland in Spring 14. Delisha serves on the School of Public Policy Alumni Chapter Board’s Marketing and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committees. During her time at the School of Public Policy, she was the lead Graduate Assistant for the College Park Scholars Public Leadership Program. She taught undergraduate capstone courses and collaborated with students to create social advocacy projects. She also mentored and supervised five capstone teams of 28 students. One of her student groups, Kicks 4 Kids, won $1,000 prize for their project. Delisha also worked with SPARC on their #30DaysTooLate campaign, which aimed to shine a light on inadequacies in mental health care on UMD’s campus. SPARC won 2nd place in the Do Good Challenge in Spring 18 with research provided by Ms. Thompson’s capstone project. Delisha’s master's capstone focused on improving mental health policy at the University of Maryland; she worked with Resident Life and the University Health Center to provide policy recommendations to College Park Scholars for how to improve mental health resiliency in their students. Currently, Ms. Thompson is working as a Princeton in Asia fellow at Donghai University. She functions as both a cultural ambassador and an English/history teacher.

Headshot of Steph Wagner
 
Treasurer

Energy Policy Research Intern, WE ACT for Environmental Justice

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Steph Wagner joined the School of Public Policy Alumni Board in June 2021 for a one-year term and serves on the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee. After earning her Associates Degree in Liberal Arts & Sciences, Steph transferred to the University of Maryland in 2019. She graduated in December 2020 with a B.A. in Public Policy with a focus in Public Leadership. During her time at UMD, Steph was a council member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Board as well as a cohort member of the Rawlings Undergraduate Leadership Fellows. While she has a general interest in housing, energy, and environmental policy, affordable housing and utility are her bread and butter. She fell in love with all three policy areas through her courses, the Sierra Club Maryland Chapter, and her current internship. In her free time, Steph plays Dungeons & Dragons, hikes, listens to too many podcasts on playback x2 speed, and occasionally refurbishes items into art.

Jessica Frech headshot
 
Past President

Energy Program Specialist, U.S. Navy’s Energy Security Program Office

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Jessica Messier, formerly Frech, serves as Past President on the School of Public Policy Alumni Chapter Board and is SPP’s Representative on the UMD Alumni Association Board of Governors. Jessica served as President of the SPP Alumni Chapter Board from July 2019 to July 2021. She graduated from the School of Public Policy’s graduate school in May 2019 with a Masters of Public Policy focused on energy and environmental policy and holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Resource Economics. During her time in the graduate program, Jessica served as the Policy Student Government Association’s Service Director and the Co-President of the SPP Environmental Council. She also held a research assistant position with the Center for Global Sustainability. Before beginning the program, Jessica worked in the solar industry for three years as a market and pricing analyst. During her last semester in school and post graduation, Jessica worked as an energy management analyst for the City of Alexandria, VA. Currently, Jessica works for the United States Navy’s Energy Security Program Office as an energy program specialist.

Whitney Dixon Headshot
 
Member At-Large

Foreign Service Officer, US Department of State

 

Whitney Barreau completed a Master of Public Policy degree in International Security and Economic Policy at the University of Maryland. She is an Economic Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore, focusing on digitalization,  sustainability, agricultural technology, and technical cooperation. Before that, Whitney was a Consular Officer in Port-au-Prince, Haiti assisting Americans during COVID-19 and civil unrest. Whitney joined the SPP Alumni Board in 2018, subsequently founding the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and serving as the Chairwoman for its first year of implementation. Whitney was the School of Public Policy's representative on the Alumni Association's Board of Governors from 2019-2021. Before obtaining her Masters, she earned a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from George Washington University. Whitney has studied Spanish, French, Haitian Creole, Moroccan Arabic, and Chinese.

Jazz Lewis headshot
 
Member At-Large

Maryland State Delegate & Senior Policy Advisor to U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Washington DC

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Jazz Lewis graduated from the Maryland School of Public Policy in 2014 with a Master of Public Policy Degree, specializing in International Development and Federal Acquisition. He is a double terp, having graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s Degree in Government & Politics in 2014. He currently works as a Senior Policy Advisor for U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, advocating for small and minority business, transit, and criminal justice reform issues. Jazz successfully worked with congressional staff to increase set aside funds for minority financial institutions, credit unions, and community development organizations to help in the response to the COVID-19 health pandemic and subsequent financial shutdown. He previously served as Executive Director of Hoyer for Congress, the campaign committee for Congressman Hoyer. Jazz also serves in the Maryland House of Delegates as the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus and as Subcommittee Chair of the Family Law subcommittee in the Maryland House Judiciary Committee. He has represented the 24th legislative District in Maryland since 2017. In his spare time, Jazz likes to play the guitar, play pool and sports, and binge-watch worthy television shows.

Headshot of Jeffrey Mounts
 
Member, Steering Committee

Comptroller, U.S. Department of State

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Jeffrey C. Mounts is the Comptroller and head of the Bureau of the Comptroller and Global Financial Services (CGFS) at the U.S. Department of State and currently the Acting Chief Financial Officer.

As Comptroller, Mr. Mounts carries out the delegated authorities and responsibilities of the Department’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and serves as the Department’s statutory Deputy Chief Financial Officer (DCFO).  The Comptroller leads the Department’s global financial management activities, systems, and services.  The Comptroller serves as the primary financial management advisor to the Under Secretary for Management and other Department executives and acts as the Department’s external liaison on all matters relating to the Department’s worldwide financial management operations.

Mr. Mounts is also the U.S. representative on the United Nations International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) having served in this capacity since January 2018.  The ICSC is an independent expert body established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1974.  The ICSC’s mandate covers all facets of staff employment conditions.

Mr. Mounts has 30 years of federal financial management and human capital compensation experience, including executive leadership and subject matter expertise in personnel and pay policy, worldwide payment execution and banking services, after-employment pension and benefit administration, enterprise systems development and program management, and global shared services implementation and operation.

Mr. Mounts holds a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) from the University of Maryland School of Law, a Master of Public Management (M.P.M.) from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Political Science and Education from South Dakota State University.

 

Headshot of Keara Richardson
 
Member At-Large

Data and Analytics Associate, Springboard Collaborative

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Keara joined the School of Public Policy Alumni Board in June 2021 for a two-year term and serves on the Communications Committee. Keara earned her Master’s degree in Public Policy in 2021 with a focus in education policy. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Keara began her interest in education after working as a substitute teacher after earning her Bachelor’s degree from Xavier University. Currently, Keara works as the Data and Analytics Associate at Springboard Collaborative, a nonprofit organization that  coaches teachers and parents to help kids read on grade level and  help schools to dramatically improve outcomes by harnessing the untapped potential in family engagement. In her free time, Keara enjoys baking, drawing, and exploring the DMV area. 

 

Headshot of Li Xia
 
Member At-Large

China Program Manager, Climate Reality X Phoenix TV Co. Ltd

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Li Xia joined the School of Public Policy Alumni Board in June 2021 for a two-year term and serves on the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee. Li earned her master’s degree from the School of Public Policy in 2016 with a focus on environmental and energy policy. Grew up in one of the most bio-culturally diverse regions in Yunnan, China, Li witnessed the evolving relationship between environment and development and found her passion in sustainable development during her time at the University of Maryland. Currently, Li is the China Program Manager of The Climate Reality Project x Phoenix TV Co. Ltd, where she supports strategic partnership building and climate communication outreach in China. Previously, Li worked as policy specialist at The Climate Reality Project and the Wilson Center’s China Environmental Forum. In her free time, Li enjoys movies, '60s rock, and outdoor activities.