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


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.




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.




Leah Kelly

Leah is a full-time student in the MPPA program. She received her B.A. from Pitzer College in Claremont, CA in 2021 with a major in Sociology and International/Intercultural Studies and a minor in French. She previously worked for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C. As a current Chicagoan, you can find her volunteering at the local animal shelter and playing in a community band.



Amear Alhadidi

Amear is in his fourth year of the MPPA program (Global Policy focus) and is looking forward to graduating this Spring, 2023. In 2013, he graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a BA in Political Science. Afterwards, he moved to Amman, Jordan and was a communications officer for Mizan, a human rights law office. He then moved back to Las Vegas and worked for the Regional Transportation Commission on the Southern Nevada Strong team (the first regional plan for Southern Nevada) as an office assistant. Currently, he is a program assistant for the Master of Science in Law (MSL) program at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Outside of school and work he enjoys reading (mostly course books for now), video & card games (RPGs and MTG), going to the gym, and biking (single gear).



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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