2011 Summer Fellows
These badasses come from across the globe to spend their summer in Oregon, rocking for democracy and learning how to be the next super-organizers and uber-leaders.
Matt Blanchard is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and recent graduate of Centenary College, a liberal arts school in Shreveport, LA. A chemistry major, he worked on a multi-year research project characterizing the synthesis of carbon nanotubes and presented his research at two national meetings of the American Chemical Society. In his undergraduate years, Matt served on Student Government and has held the position of Student Body President for the past year. He also worked with the Campaign for America during the 2008 Presidential election in northwest Louisiana. His interests include long walks outdoors, pop-lock-and-drop it music, and cheap Mexican food.
Bryan Chiem, a native of San Jose, California, is currently a student at the University of California, Merced where he studies Computer Science and Engineering. As a pioneering student to the university, he has left his mark with the establishment of several organizations and has quickly grown to be recognized as a cultural advocate. Earlier in the year, he had the fortunate opportunity of organizing with leaders from all across the state on behalf of advancing Southeast Asian communities. He is a firm believer in the arts of expression and spends his free time wrecking the cypher.
Greg Conyers is a junior at Brown University, where he studies English and the liberal arts. He facilitates creative arts workshops at the Rhode Island prison, leads the Brown Outing Club, and tutors writing. Greg has worked in recent years as a mountain guide in Alaska, an English teacher in Ecuador, a bike-law intern in Portland, and as a bike mechanic. His interests include public-interest work, education, mountaineering, literature, and the countryside.
Sara Cowles recently graduated from Northern Michigan University, where she received her degree in Public Administration. A Florida native, Sara transferred to the Midwest on an athletic scholarship where she pursued a career in Olympic-style Weightlifting. Competing across the country and world has allowed her to experience many different cultures and perspectives, which has greatly influenced her political identity. Sara has possessed a spirit of volunteerism and activism from a young age, thanks in large part to her very supportive family.
Adriana Diaz is a newly graduated Eastern Washington University alumni, with two BA degrees in Government and Women’s and Gender Studies. Currently working as a Community Organizer Intern for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, Adriana intends to continue into a career path that will enable her to continue fighting for reproductive health and rights. Additionally, she is Head of Sales and Marketing for Fusion Flours LLC, a small business based out of Spokane, WA. Her hobbies include weightlifting, going out to eat, and Nietzschean Feminist theory.
Elliott Finn grew up outside of Corvallis, Oregon. He now attends Oregon State University majoring in biology and environmental economics, policy, and management (EEPM). He loves the outdoors- camping, backpacking and hiking. These endeavors led him to the environmental movement where he actively organizes on campus and in the community. Elliott recently had the fortune to receive a Udall Scholarship in the environmental field. Interestingly, he also worked for two years on an independent research project investigating red-sided garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis) pheromone.
Jordan Fuit proudly hails from Ogden, Utah. She graduated from Weber State University in April of 2011 with a B.S. in Philosophy and a minor in Linguistics. Throughout college, she successfully competed in (awesomely nerdy) philosophical-theory-based Ethics debate and served as the Supplemental Instructor for Deductive Logic. She spent her educational career committed to academic excellence, and plans to attend law school in the fall of 2012. In any spare time she finds, she camps, hikes, skis, drinks too much coffee and reads philosophy journals and Chuck Palahniuk books under her covers by flashlight.
Samantha Green is a rising senior at American University in Washington, D.C. She is pursuing a dual degree in Political Science and CLEG, an interdisciplinary major including Communications, Legal Studies, Economics and Government. As a member of the School of Public Affairs Leadership Program, Sami has enjoyed the opportunity to work for national organizations as well as engage in and run for local D.C. politics. Prior to attending AU, Sami became passionately involved in working on international human rights issues in India and advocating for education reform. Sami spent the past semester studying abroad in Beijing, China and has had a passion for adventure and traveling the world.
Christopher Holland graduated this spring from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with a degree in American Studies. While at Williams he studied critical, cultural, and political theory, as well as race, gender, and sexuality studies. Most recently, Christopher was the political coordinator of the Queer Student Union. In his sophomore year, he attended a semester at the Williams-Mystic program in interdisciplinary maritime studies, which included a ten-day sailing voyage and a trip to the Oregon Coast to study the many different processes of the sea. In his spare time, he wrote editorials for his college’s newspaper and got a lot more interested in drag.
Kyle Huelsman is a student of the University of Colorado at Boulder where he is majoring in Sociology and Ethnic Studies, minoring in Women and Gender Studies, and a recent graduate of the INVST Community leadership program. He is currently engaged in immigrant rights work at the state level. In the last year, he has worked with various organizations to facilitate lobbying trainings, press conferences, and grassroots organizing. He is a recipient of an AmeriCorps scholarship that documents his 900 hours of community service in the last two years and has been on the Dean’s list for four consecutive semesters.
Alvin Ma is an alumnus of Gonzaga University, where he studied political science and economics. He brings a wealth of different perspectives from his time spent as a camp counselor for children, a student council vice president, a student board member for Sodexo and a resident assistant. He currently works for the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon as it’s legislative coordinator, mobilizing community members to work with the legislative process for the betterment of Oregon’s Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Alvin is a native of Vancouver, WA and enjoys hiking, biking, cooking and spontaneous dance parties.
Mark Magellan graduated from the University of Virginia last May where he studied English Literature and Spanish. During his time at UVA he was actively involved in community outreach groups as well as student run organizations such as the Big Sibling Program, the International Buddy Program, and the ribbon society, TILKA. He also studied abroad at the Universitat de Barcelona and at University College in Oxford. Since graduating he has been a man on the move, traveling around Europe and South America, and now resides in Los Angeles where he works for the Youth Policy Institute. He enjoys good music, good people, and confirmatory adventure.
Lauren McCullough is an undergraduate at Whitman College, where she is majoring in Social Justice and Social Change with a Politics minor. She’s worked as an activist and organizer on various environmental and social justice campaigns in her campus and community. She also founded the campus Food Justice group, coordinated the campus-wide recycling program for a year, and is particularly passionate about issues related to the global food system. When she’s not in class or working, Lauren enjoys running, drinking tea, cooking and reading.
Edgar Mendez is a politics student at Willamette University, where he is involved in Model United Nations and College Democrats. He was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and lived with his family in Brooklyn, New York for many years before moving to Portland. He speaks Spanish and loves to talk about music. He has previously worked as a Youth Volunteer Coordinator with the Cascade Aids Project doing peer education work and also worked as an aide in the Oregon State Legislature. He is a huge policy wonk, and is especially passionate about progressive fiscal values and issues of equity in our economy.
Jubel Miah holds a Bachelor’s in Political Science from SUNY Cortland. He currently spends his time working on immigration issues and promoting civic leadership in immigrant communities with a new nonprofit called the New American Leaders Project. His passion for politics and social change has taken him to diverse places from the New York State Assembly to community based organizations. He is a 2010 public ally. When Jubel is not trying to save the world, he enjoys sports, movies and being outdoors.
Savannah Naffziger was born in Honolulu, but raised in Eugene, Oregon. She attended Reed College in Portland. During college, she co-managed the Reed Annual Fund Phonathon, led several student groups, and worked as the Community Outreach Intern for Zenger Farm. She majored in Linguistics and wrote her undergraduate thesis on the role of gender in political speech, specifically that of Margaret Thatcher. For the past year, she has been living in Boston, fundraising and grant writing for the Global Autism Project. In her spare time (haha), Savannah enjoys cooking, canning and food preservation, and dancing to trashy music.
Anna O’Kain is a rising senior at Pitzer College in Claremont, CA, where she developed her own major in Critical Development Studies. A Portland native, she enjoys alternative music and the great outdoors. A little over a year ago, Anna studied abroad in Nepal, studying the democratizing effects of women-run radio on community development. In Claremont, Anna enjoys spending time with friends, playing music, and participating in student politics. Most recently, she was the only student elected to serve on the search committee for the next Dean of Faculty at Pitzer.
Lilianna Oustinovskaya is a recent graduate of California State University, Northridge with a degree in journalism. Born in Tbilisi, Georgia and raised in Russia, she is fluent in Russian and has been fortunate enough to travel around Europe. She spent last summer interning in Washington, DC, covering Capitol Hill. Future plans include going to graduate school to get her master’s in public policy. Interests include travel, movies, books and watching episodes of “Portlandia” over and over again, which is sure to annoy everyone she meets in Portland this summer.
Jonathan Paik recently graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in History. During his time as a University student, he spent a year studying abroad in Italy and traveling extensively throughout the continent of Europe as well as throughout the Middle East. He worked as a teacher’s assistant for a class on communication within a diverse society and was voted “Staff Member of the Year” amongst teaching assistants. Having his world-view expanded, Jonathan now has the prominent goal to create awareness and discussion of ethnic/racial diversity within local and political communities.
Amber Phillips, originally from Columbus, Ohio, is a rising senior at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, where she is double majoring in Social Work and Cultural Studies. At Chatham, Amber served as President of the Class of 2012 for two consecutive years and later served as Executive President of Chatham College for Women Student Government during her junior year. Amber discovered an early passion for people, community engagement, and politics in high school as a member of the Columbus Youth Commission. Overall, Amber strives to uplift all people using her strengths as a leader, enjoys spending time with her friends and family, loves to sing, laughs often, and has hair almost as big as her personality.
Madelin Siedler grew up in now-famed Wasilla, Alaska and became interested in the political world as a youth environmental activist. She is now a rising senior at Bard College in upstate New York, where she spends her days as a Political Studies major, Peer Health Educator, resident oboist and gym-rat. Due to her penchant for trivia, especially in the realms of popular culture and pharmacology, her friends call her “RAM.” She hopes to pursue a lifelong career in sexual health education and reproductive rights advocacy, and plans to pay for her higher education at least in part by turning her love of aerobics into a night job as a certified fitness instructor.
Jessica Ventura is a first generation college student who will be completing a Bachelors of Science in Economics from Portland State University. While at Portland State, Jessica has been president of the Pre-Law Society, Board Chair for Student Legal Services, and has been a Judicial Judge for student government. Jessica is a legislative intern for Oregon Senate Pro Tempore Ginny Burdick. She enjoys politics and is very interested in marriage equality, immigration reform, and economic issues. In her spare time she likes to train for her marathon, read, play on her PS3, and spend time with the family.
Reggi Williams was born and raised in Rockford, IL and completed a Bachelors degree in Spanish linguistic and cultural studies at Chicago State University. She jump-started her political career during the 2008 presidential election by canvassing door-to-door, phone-banking, and registering voters in Illinois, and later served as an intern with the District Office of Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16) of Chicago while participating in the Minority Internship Program at CSU. At present, Williams seeks to promote access to formal education as well as awareness of social issues which directly impact the lives of women, racial and ethnic minorities, and children in underserved communities.
Nadia Yassin is a rising senior at Santa Clara University in California, where she studies Political Science and Economics. During her time at SCU, she has been active both as a member and as a leader of many clubs and organizations, and has always possessed a passion for diversity and social justice. In the past year, she has taken a special interest in the refugee population in CA, and has worked toward providing array of social services for those located in the Bay Area. In her free time, she can be found reading books, watching movies, baking cookies, doing yoga, listening to music or embarking on spontaneous adventures.
Sophia Zaman is a rising senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she studies Political Science and Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies. She serves as a counselor advocate with the Everywoman’s Center, working with survivors of sexual assault, and also counsels inmates before their release from the Hampshire County Jail in MA. Currently, she’s the Undergraduate Organizing Director at the Center for Education Policy & Advocacy where she works on issues of access and affordability to public higher education. In her spare time, Sophia enjoys spontaneous dance parties, cooking in other people’s kitchens, and laughing until she can’t breathe at nothing in particular.