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.



2023–2024 MPPA Student Leadership Council Members



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.





Maggie Mullen

Maggie MullenMaggie Mullen is a part-time student in the MPPA program, pursuing the data analysis concentration. She graduated from DePaul University in 2022 with a BA in Political Science and Economics. During her undergraduate education, she worked in student affairs, supporting students through their education and encouraging them to create the college experience that they wanted.

During her MPPA program, Maggie has maintained a strong interest in education and housing policy. She currently works at an affordable housing developer, helping to make housing more accessible to people across the country.





Hannah Buhlmann

Hannah BuhlmannHannah Buhlmann is a part-time MPPA student with a focus on public policy. Originally from Los Angeles, Hannah moved to the Midwest to attend Michigan State University, where she graduated in May 2022 with a degree in Political Science. During her time so far in the MPPA program, Hannah has found a passion for working in environmental and electric vehicle policy and has become the midwest policy manager for Chargepoint.






Rebecca Johnson

Rebecca JohnsonRebecca is a part-time fully remote student in the MPPA program, looking forward to graduating in the Spring of 2024. In 2018, she graduated with a BA in Political Science from Temple University, in Philadelphia. After which, she worked on frontline campaigns for a few years, both in Pennsylvania and across the US. In 2022, while managing a statewide program for John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro, she ran two ballot measures to end the abuse of solitary confinement in county jails. After speaking to many formerly incarcerated people in the pursuit of passing the ballot measure, she decided to dedicate herself more fully to reforming the mass incarceration system in America. She currently works at a non-profit, called PA Prison Society, as the Eastern Regional Monitoring manager. Here she manages a team of volunteers that visit with currently incarcerated people and attempt to advocate for them and address their issues inside the facility, as well as conducting regular walkthroughs of the prisons and jails to monitor their overall condition. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing, yoga, and spending time with friends and family. She also volunteers with South Philadelphia Community Fridges to prevent food waste and feed people in her neighborhood.





Raina Mertz

Raina MertzRaina Mertz is a MPPA candidate at Northwestern University, with a specialization in Global Politics. Raina graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay with a BA in Democracy & Justice Studies and Political Science, with a focus on Women’s and Gender Studies.

Outside of academics, Raina has an interest in social activism and leads a book club designed to turn “fans into activists.” Raina lives in Chicago with her partner and her chihuahua, Sasha.






Joey Starr

Joey StarrJoey recently graduated from the MPPA program in 2021. He holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of South Alabama. He spent two years in AmeriCorps in Austin, Texas. He spent most of his career in utility energy efficiency programs in Illinois and Georgia. He has recently moved back to Chicago and works for a nonprofit as an outreach manager, coordinating with utilities, government agencies, and HVAC manufacturers to increase heat pump adoption in the Midwest. In his free time, he enjoys riding his bicycle and playing video games.


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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