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.



2021–22 MPPA Student Leadership Council Members



Maria Ullmann

Ryan O'Donnelle

Maria Ullmann is currently working for the City of Chicago in the Mayor's Office as a Project Coordinator for the Office of Community Engagement and the Office of Equity and Racial Justice. Maria is a member of the Young Leaders Fund through the Chicago Community Trust, where she along with the fund have empowered grassroots nonprofit organizations in the Chicagoland area and provided them with the tools to grow their programs. On the weekends, she works at a local specialty coffee shop as a barista! 



Joe Giamberdino

Joe Giamberdino

Joe was born and raised in St. Charles, Illinois, and presently lives in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. He holds his bachelor's degree in international studies and religious studies from Macalester College, in St. Paul, Minnesota, graduating in 2015. Joe is a proud Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV), having served as a youth development volunteer in the town of Junín, Peru (13,500 feet of altitude in the Andes Mountains!) from 2017 to 2019. At present, Joe works for an energy and utility nonprofit that advocates for Illinois consumers. When not studying or working, he enjoys reading history books, running along the shores of Lake Michigan, and spending time with his family.



Sarah Stefaniu

Edward Macias

Sarah Stefaniu is from Chicago and is currently midway through her studies in the MPPA program. She completed her undergraduate studies at Loyola University Chicago in 2017 with a BBA in Finance and Marketing. She currently works full-time as an Account Manager for Google's Government & Advocacy vertical where she supports the digital outreach efforts of 65 U.S. federal government agencies. Outside of work and graduate school, Sarah serves as a young professional board member for Street Samaritans (based in Chicago), the United Nations Association's National Capital Area (based in Washington, D.C.), and the OneMama Organization (based in Uganda, Africa). She also enjoys playing basketball in her free time as a retired D1 athlete for Loyola Chicago's women's varsity basketball team. 



Melissa Calypso

Shedra Rakeshaw

Melissa Calypso hails from Chicago and is completing her studies in the MPPA program. She completed her undergraduate studies at Northeastern Illinois University with a B.A. in Communications and Media. Melissa currently works full-time at a nonprofit reporting on policy issues in oral health. Outside of work and graduate school, Melissa enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, volunteering in her community, and reading. Her greatest blessings are her nephew Donovan, and nieces Kayla and Lyric.




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.





Carlina Lominy

Navi Dhaliwal

Carlina Lominy is a first-year graduate student in the Accelerated MPPA program specializing in Public Policy. She graduated from Clark Atlanta University, in Atlanta, GA in May 2020 with a Bachelor's degree in Political Science. Carlina is a first generation college graduate and graduate student who is passionate about education and health policy. She has always been interested in understanding the roles of policy in social, educational and economical settings. Carlina aspires to become a legislator to dedicate her time and service to working for the improvement of the traditionally marginalized. After graduation, Carlina hopes to work somewhere in secondary school education or health policy.



Jessica Gimeno

Navi Dhaliwal

Jessica is the Communications Director at the Healthcare Rights Coalition and a Protect Our Care coalition partner. Motivated by her experiences living with myasthenia gravis (a rare neuromuscular disease) and four other chronic illnesses, Jessica decided to return to Northwestern and get her MPPA to help improve the quality of life for disabled Americans. She graduated cum laude from Northwestern with a B.S. in Communications and a Second Major in Political Science. As an undergrad, Jessica competed for Northwestern’s Speech Team. She was a National Semi-Finalist in Impromptu Speaking, a National Quarter-Finalist in Extemporaneous Speaking, and Northwestern’s first State Champion in Impromptu Speaking. Outside of her nonprofit work, Jessica is also a keynote speaker. Her award-winning TEDx Talk, “How to Get Stuff Done When You Are Depressed,” has generated over two-million views. She writes and vlogs about surviving pain with style and humor on her website, Fashionably ill ®. Jessica has been featured on NBC News, BuzzFeed, MSNBC, and most recently the Whitney Reynolds Show (on PBS and Amazon Prime).

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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