The MPPA Student Leadership Council

The MPPA Student Leadership Council and Alumni Board works to create opportunities and events that allow students and alumni to grow their knowledge of public policy and their professional networks. The Council began in fall 2016 with a kickoff event that brought current students together with alums, the first Public Policy Trivia Night. Since then they have hosted a number of events and brought in guest speakers from organizations such as the Illinois Campaign for Change, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Illinois City/County Management Association.

For more information about the MPPA Student Leadership Council and student events/opportunities, please contact


Vision and Mission Statements

Vision Statement

Graduates of Northwestern's public policy and administration program will feel a sense of comradery with their classmates and a deep understanding of the public policy field in practice.

Mission Statement

The MPPA Student Leadership Council strives to serve the program by broadening awareness of public policy in practice and building a sense of community and inclusion in the graduate program.



2022–23 MPPA Student Leadership Council Members



Nader Hamdan

Navi Dhaliwal

Nader Hamdan is an MPPA student currently working full-time as the Youth Programs Manager at the Mecca Center, a community center in the south suburbs of Chicago. He finds interest in housing policy and education. Nader has interned and volunteered at a number of organizations, including ICIRR, IMAN, and DuPage United. In his free time he enjoys exploring the city and reading nonfiction.




Tarek Luay Tahat

Tarek Tahat

Tarek is a current MPPA student that is pursuing a concentration on Global Policy. He recently graduated overseas from Gulf University for Science and Technology. He has received a bachelor's in international business. He is currently a fellow of
National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC). He is currently working at Arab American Family Services (AAFS). During his free time, he likes to read fiction/ nonfiction, hang out with friends and family, and watch shows that catch his interest.




Clara Matheessen

Clara MattheessenClara Mattheessen graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a BA in History and a minor in Business Administration. She returned a year later to study for her teacher's certification. After she completed student teaching, she taught social studies at a small rural school in central Illinois for two years before subbing for a quarter. Clara's focus is traditionally surrounding social policy or educational policy. She volunteers at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and serve on the professional and personal development committee for the Tau Beta Sigma Alumni Association. When she is not studying or volunteering, you can find her pursuing a record shop or enjoying time with her family.




Jackson Griffith

Jackson Griffith

Hello! My name is Jackson Griffith and I'm the event coordinator for the MPPA SLC! Prior to coming to Northwestern, I received my BBA in finance at Texas Tech University. Outside school, I enjoy exercise, public affairs, and spending time with friends and family.








Brendan C. Vargas

Brendan VargasBrendan currently serves as a Staff Member for the U.S. Senate Office of Senator Jacky Rosen focusing on Veterans Outreach, Defense and National Security in the State Office in Nevada, prior to that he served in the U.S. Air Force for 22 years retiring as a Senior Master Sergeant and is a Veteran of Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Brendan is a 2017 Graduate of the Northwestern MPPA Program.



Networking Opportunities and Events Calendar

Each quarter, the Council hosts First Friday socials on the first Friday of the quarter. Visit the MPPA Student Council's Planit Purple calendar to check for upcoming events.

If you are interested in receiving more information, be sure to opt-in to the SLC mailing list by filling out the form  here. 

First Fridays Offer Students Space for Networking

First Fridays are held on the first Friday of each quarter. Students from the Northwestern Master’s of Public Policy and Administration program are invited to our virtual event every first Friday of the quarter at 6pm. Zoom details are provided in Canvas. First Fridays is an opportunity to connect with classmates, and to discuss upcoming classes, aspects of the program, and public policy. The council believes it is important to cultivate a sense of community within the program and welcomes all students to participate in this quarterly event. These events have remained virtual; however, we hope to have future first Fridays in person! 

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