While the policy arena always needs smart, committed, passionate and trained leaders, the LBJ School's newest alumni have entered it facing the unique challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and social and political upheaval. From social media risk policy to advancing women's economic empowerment to global public health policy, take a look at where a few of the Class of 2020 have landed.
The class graduation speaker
Mohamed Abufalgha (MGPS '20) is currently a research data specialist at the Arab Barometer, a nonpartisan research network that provides information about social, political and economic attitudes across the Arab world. There he focuses on conducting data validation, cleaning, analysis and visualization of its public opinion surveys. "I'm enjoying my work as it provides me with valuable insights into public opinions in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as it is helping me connect with scholars and policymakers both in the U.S. and in the region," he said.
Working to support women through the law
Abby Attia (MGPS '20) is currently a program associate at the American Bar Association: the Rule of Law Initiative, where she works to enhance the capacity of civil society organizations to strengthen their response to gender-based violence; advance the women, peace and security agenda; and support women's economic empowerment. She just celebrated one year with the ABA in Washington, DC.
Social media influencer
Joel Carter (MGPS '20) is applying his focus on international finance to global business solutions at TikTok, working on a team tasked with ensuring that users have a safe experience. He works at the nexus of technology and policy to provide insight about risk related to the platform. His work informs policy to respond to novel threats and strengthen the platform’s integrity.
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Protecting the vote and serving Texans
Sarah Gonzalez Claytor (MPAff '20) is back in Austin after a brief stint in Dallas due to the pandemic. "I was able to work with national nonprofit Spread the Vote to support and encourage voters in the 2020 historic election with record-smashing turnout," she said. "Now, I am back at the Capitol working for LBJ alum and Travis County state Sen. Sarah Eckhardt (MPAff '98). It's an honor to work for Sen. Eckhardt, who was the first female Travis County Judge and the first woman to represent SD-14. This session and the subsequent special sessions have definitely been exciting, with two quorum breaks and a 15-hour filibuster! I look forward to continue to work to represent the constituents of SD-14, including UT Austin and LBJ students."
Building security in space
Charlotte Gorman (MGPS '20) is currently a space policy advisor at the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy. Since joining government in June 2020 via the McCain Fellowship, Charlotte has completed rotations working on humanitarian policy issues and Afghanistan strategy and policy. "I carry the lessons I learned at LBJ with me every day working on foreign policy problems at the Pentagon, whether it's writing memos, reading an intelligence product, or interacting with interagency counterparts."
Ensuring access, equity and progress for special education students
Salimah Jasani (MPAFF-DC '19) is working as a school-age performance specialist at the Maryland State Department of Education. Arriving at the LBJ School after working for Teach for America and as a special education teacher in Maryland, Salimah spent her Policy Apprenticeship as a fellow in the Office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi focused on education, labor, agriculture and veterans' issues. Now she provides technical and programmatic assistance to local school systems and focuses on implementing policy.
On the front line in public health
Kat Sisler (MPAff, MPH '20) is an evaluation fellow within the Center for Global Health, Division of Global HIV and TB at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. "Being at the CDC during a global pandemic has been a unique opportunity to say the least!" she said. "The challenge with public health is that if it's successful, nothing happens, and that can be a tough idea to explain and sell to the public. I'm grateful for my time in the dual MPAff/MPH program that prepared me for the variety of roles and responsibilities I'd have during my time with the CDC."